Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
How else can you describe Episode 21 of 3-gatsu no Lion but ‘fun’? It was carefree, light, with a kind of optimism only spring is able to bring. March really comes like a lion, strong and proud, and with it carries a feeling of happiness and optimism that was missing when the series started. This was a path from the bottom of a dark well to the ample light that only life in its purest form can shed.
Japanese Title: 桜の花の咲く頃 / 小さなつぶやき
I don’t want to dwell too much on the plot, because there are so many awesome trivia and highlights to talk about. Both chapters of Episode 21 took the focus out of Rei and placed it on Shimada and the Kawamoto family. Even if the events had no direct relation to our protagonist, he was still there, part of a story that begun, and will probably end, with him.
Both Chapter 43 – When the Cherry Blossoms Bloom and Chapter 44 – Small Murmur gave me small happy giggles throughout. Shimada-san went to his city in an apologizing mood and left a changed man. He realized that the people of this town would cheer him no matter what. ‘We’ll never change,’ they say, and Shimada takes the message. No need to rush. He only has to continue working hard and do what every human should do, strive every day to be a better version of himself. In Shimada’s case, a better shogi player and a better human being. He has shown that he can be both. He is an 8th dan master who is also an inspiring teacher. He is also very considerate of his hometown, having created the local shogi club and having done everything in his power to create a community in which the elderly won’t have to feel alone and isolated. The episode concluded with a very sweet half that focused on Hana, who just like Konatsu from the latest episode of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, is a ‘slave to her blood.’ This was a chapter full of ideas, marketing, brainstorming, cute pictures, and hungry cats. It was also full of dreams, full of a sweet nostalgia, and full of passion. Like grandfather like granddaughter (and a very sweet mother in the middle whom we never met), Hana loves sweets and Japanese culture and wants to learn the art and help with the shop. Just like a small murmur, Hinata ‘writes’ a sweet love confession that ends with an incredibly touching moment when she calls Rei as he arrives at the Kawamoto residence. Love is the only religion, always remember that.
No episode highlights on this episode, because I have so many things to say in the trivia. If you will, consider the whole episode one big highlight, because it really was. It made my day.
So many cooking trivia today. I don’t know about you, but creativity in food makes me happy. In fact, creativity in general makes me happy, but when it comes to food it just has that extra charm in it.
Onigiri: The rice balls that the Kawamoto family eats at the very start of the episode are called onigiri. They are also known as omusubi or nigirimeshi or just plain ‘rice ball.’ It’s a traditional Japanese food made from white rice and is formed in cylindrical (thus the ‘ball’) or triangular shapes. They are often wrapped in nori (seaweed). Since the second half of the episode had a focus on traditional Japanese cuisine, I have to add that traditionally an onigiri is filled with a salty or sour ingredient that is used as a natural preservative. Most common fillings are pickled ume or salted salmon. Onigiri are so popular in Japan that the trend started spreading all over the world, from Taiwan and China to Canada, Brazil, and London.
Daifuku: Another traditional Japanese sweet that is made from a small round rice cake called mochi, filled with a sweet ingredient like anko, red bean paste made from azuki beans. There are so many different variations, from daifuku that contain whole pieces of fruit to melon paste. The variation mentioned in the episode is ichigo daifuku, strawberry! This variation contains a strawberry and sometimes cream, and it’s the trademark daifuku of springtime.
Mitsumame: The sweet that Hana and Akari spend so much money on is mitsumame, a Japanese dessert made of small cubes of agar jelly, a white translucent jelly made from red algae or seaweed. As with all sweets, many variations exist, but it’s said that the prototype originates somewhere during the end of the Edo era.
Daruma: The shape of the sweet that Hana came with resembles a daruma doll (and it doesn’t try to hide it since the name of the sweet has the word in it). The hollow and round Japanese traditional doll is modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. They are considered a toy rich in symbolism and a talisman of good luck. They are a popular symbolic gift to express our encouragement. Daruma dolls come with the eyes unpainted. The receiver of the doll must decide on a goal and paint one eye. As soon as the goal is achieved, he paints the second eye.
On the other hand we had many shogi and Japanese trivia as well!
Yamagata Human Shogi: The Yamagata human shogi is a real event. Tendou is famous for being the city of shogi. Over 90% of the unique shogi pieces are produced there, and because of this the city is home to a variety of shogi events and museums! One of the biggest and most famous of these events is the human shogi. People are selected as shogi pieces and move on a game board by professional shogi players, drawing over 50,000 spectators from across the country. This event is held every year at the end of April in the large plaza in Tendou Park! Tendou Park is surrounded by sakura trees. Just imagine how awesome an experience this must be. Too bad it was raining in the anime. The events are always part of the Annual Tendo Sakura Festival that celebrates the arrival of spring in Tendo City.
Daimyou: The Daimyou were powerful Japanese feudal lords who were subordinate only to the Shogun, the military dictators of Japan and de facto rulers of the land until the Meiji period. When the last Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu relinquished the office to Emperor Meiji in 1867, the daimyou declined as well. In the term, dai (大) means ‘large’, and myou means ‘private land.’ The daimyou that is compared to Nikaidou is Takeda Shingen of Kai Province, a pre-eminent daimyou with exceptional military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku period.
Kobayakawa: On the other hand, Nikaidou’s opponent is compared to two members of a famous samurai clan, Kobayakawa. They lived during the Sengoku period. The two names mentioned by Shimada, Hideaki and Takakage, belong to two famous samurai of the Kobayakawa clan.
3-gatsu no Lion proved that you don’t need extravagant dialogues or super edgy action scenes to tell a story. I am probably repeating myself for the n’est time, but both the direction and the writing of this series is amazing. From the cleverly placed personal thoughts to the brainstorming season of the Kawamoto family, every scene and every word mattered. Nothing was wasted, and we were treated to a ‘small murmur’ of real people who live life the best way they know.
I am very curious to see how 3-gatsu no Lion is going to end its run. Chika Umino brought us an amazing story that shined through its realism, and I am really eager to go through all the episodes again to write a full series review. I am also looking forward to the live action movie.
Did you like Episode 22 of 3-gatsu no Lion? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic anime reviews! Before you go, you should check out our latest poll! MANGA.TOKYO wants your opinion on the Winter 2017 anime and your prediction on the Spring 2017 series. In return, we are giving away some amazing Kimi no Na wa anime goodies. You can learn more in the article below:
Broadcasting from October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV