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.
3-Gatsu no Lion is about a very boring middle place in our very real everyday lives. Stories are of course based on reality, and most of them are actually retellings of events that may or may not have happened. Even science fiction and fantasy are more or less stories about things that could have been or may be based on things we already know.
Every character in this series is someone we more or less know. There is nothing to wow you or glue to you the screen, but the way the plot plays, this is one of those series that can make you wonder in the end how amazingly complex our lives are.
Japanese Title: ひな / ブイエス
In my first review I wrote about the division of each episode into two chapters. What I failed to notice though was that the first part of each episode has the name of one of the characters while the second part has a title related to the overall theme. I am not reading the manga, so I don’t know if the chapters are following those in the original, and I am not sure if there is a plan behind their order. Since 3-Gatsu No Lion is a character drama, the episode focused on developing the characters we already know. How about instead of a normal recap we just take a closer look on all the characters?
Kiriyama Rei: I like Kiriyama. He is honest, kind, and deeply troubled. He probably has a crush on Akari, or else he wouldn’t get jealous with Akari’s reaction towards his best friend/ archrival, Nikaidou Harunobu. He doesn’t realize it, but the Kawamotos are slowly becoming the family he never had (?). He is indirectly very fond of both the sisters and his ‘best friend’ and he is very lucky to have people around him that contrast the emptiness of his room. It’s also the first time that we get a glimpse of his past. I was sure that something incredibly traumatic must have happened to him to succumb to depression, but I wouldn’t have guessed that he was sexually harassed. I haven’t seen many anime tacking the subject of children molestation, and I am curious to see what happened to Rei.
I don’t understand women
Nikaidou Harunobu: There are a ton of things about Nikaidou and Kiriyama that are wrong and that I wish to avoid in my own life if possible, but one thing I do envy is their relationship. In my eyes, it’s this kind of connection that I identify as real friendship. Every word they say and every shogi move they do, every single interaction they have is meaningful and builds their connection. Even his connection to Momo and the rest of the sisters is so cute that I found myself smiling on every scene.
Kawamoto Momo: What can we say about Momo? She may be the youngest of the bunch, but her innocence serves as counterweight to the black cloud that looms above everyone else’s head. She is a child. She has that natural shield against reality that protects her and that enables her to see Nikaidou with the eyes of imagination and compare him to her favorite anime character, Bodoro. Momo’s presence is as important as the rest of the characters.
Kawamono Akari: If there is a mother-figure in the series, that’s Akari. She is not the perfect sister, far from it. But she is doing her best to keep this family together. She doesn’t have the perfect job; she is working as a hostess for a men’s club. And she is isn’t their mother, but she is there for her sisters whenever they need her and even acts like their mother, using her quotes and projecting the same warmth. Her infatuation with round and shiny things is a little peculiar, but Hina said that she likes taking stray cats and dogs and taking care of them until they are soft and fluffy. Maybe she just wants to keep Nikaidou round and chubby.
I’m sure sis will make you soft and fluffy in no time
Kawamono Hina: Hina was the protagonist of the first part. Half the episode was spent watching Hina get all pumped up about the boy she likes. He is the baseball star of the school and one of the cool guys. He is always admired by his teammates and sought after by the girls. She decides to make him a bentou as a token of her feelings and she puts all her energy into it. That’s adolescence for you. She wants to make the best bentou ever made, wear clothes that are stylish but won’t show that she is too eager to impress him, be on time but not too early. The animation and writing did a very good job in showing how a teenage girl in her age behaves: Her fangirly reactions, the sudden transition from being extremely happy to being awfully sad after failing to share the bentou with the boy she likes, being sure that her sister won’t understand her, Kiriyama’s words of camaraderie and Akari’s words of comfort. Everything she did and the way she behaved shouted realism. In the end, the food she had prepared tasted awful. Sometimes things turn out for the better.
Sweet, bitter, and sour. It tasted like the end of a first love
In between scenes: I don’t know if there is anime term that describes the scenes I am referring to. I am talking about the intervening scenes where the characters have weird faces and are placed in front of colorful backgrounds and oversized drawings of the things they are talking about. An example is the scene where Akari reads Hina’s grocery list. 3-Gatsu No Lion is full of similar scenes. They are mostly funny interludes.
Chestnuts: Chestnuts. Christmas. Chestnuts. Christmas. Chestnuts. Hot Chocolate by the Hearth. Chestnuts. Christmas. Anime. Heaven.
Parodied Brand Names: Most anime have a passive-aggressive policy when it comes to depicting brands. They can’t simply put the name of an existing brand in there, that’s copyright infringement. But when it comes to electronic devices and fast-food chains, you only have to change one letter and curve one part of the logo and then you have a brand new product that just looks like the original. Think of SONI and PARASONIC and LEGA. In this episode we had MecBurger. I suppose I don’t have to tell you about McDonalds, do I?
Here is a list of different variations of McDonalds in anime:
3-Gatsu No Lion is a character drama and it plays at its genre’s strengths. A few characters that are connected due to similarities and differences unique to each one of them. It’s a story about real life, about real people and real problems. I am guessing that there is more drama coming our way, especially with Kiriyama’s tragic past and Akari’s work at the hostess club.
Shogi is actually the last thing I’m interested in. I want to learn more about Rei and see how the Kawamotos are going to impact his life. I want to see his friendship with Nikaidou becoming stronger and if they are going to share the problems they face in their lives. I want to see a good character drama that will make me appreciate my own life a little more.
Did you like this episode of San-Gatsu no Lion? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to check the rest of this week’s episodic reviews.
To be broadcast on October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV