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.
The latest episode of 3-Gatsu no Lion was not easy to follow. Rei is a complex personality and much of his psyche in this episode was unfolded amidst a succession of images and surreal effect graphics. The three-part Episode 6 was both plain and complicated, just like its protagonist.
Japanese Title: 神さまの子供 (その①) / 神さまの子供 (その②) / 神さまの子供 (その③)
The first part talked about journeys. What started with a very literal account of the places the Kawamoto family wants to visit, ended in Rei’s realization that he doesn’t have a certain place in his mind. Akari wants to go the beach and relax; Hina wants to Milky-land and Enoshima; Momo wants to dig for potatoes and go to soy sauce factory; Grandpa wants to visit a shrine. Rei, on the other hand, doesn’t want to go somewhere. He wants to go somewhere else. His need is not a place but a feeling. His need is to escape. His need was always to escape. From the student study camp he escaped having to socialize and maybe make some friends.
I was not disappointed for not going. I was disappointed in myself for being secretly relieved of getting out of it.
He escaped from feeling anything when Kyoko showered him with insults when he served as a scapegoat for her jealousy and hatred. He just accepted her words as fact. He escaped from his adopted family by becoming a shougi pro and renting his own apartment. He escaped from his whole existence by diving headlong into the game and making it the ‘place where he belongs to.’ And then, in an empty room without curtains or TV, he escaped from reality by sleeping it away. Depression was now his only reality. Depression and shougi. In his mind, living was compared to swimming alone in a vast, stormy sea. As long as he reached the first island, probably a metaphor for shougi, he found solace in not having to try for anything anymore. As long as he didn’t want anything; as long as he stopped thinking; that was his only goal. He had no will to fight anymore. No desire to keep on swimming. No need to get to the next island.
The second part talked about people. Rei referred to his idol, Master Souya, as the Child of God, alluding to the title of the episode. Of course, the real child of god that the title refers to is Rei, but that’s not the same as what our protagonist thinks. Amongst the shougi references and the comical bits, this part was about a boy that things little of himself, far less than what the people in his life think about him. His teacher admires him for everything he has achieved. The Kawamoto family cares about him as though they were really his relatives. Rei doesn’t believe in himself and the only thing that can make him change his mind is the passion he can find in other people like his arch nemesis and best friend, Nikaidou. Or the motherly care that he sees in Hina’s eyes in the conclusion of the three-part Child of God, which amazingly came after the credits. Always stay for the post-credits scene! It may be just a preview, or it may be just be something as sweet as the last scenes of this episode: Rei realized the bitter truth that he has only cared about himself and his own problems.
And then, in as sudden return to reality and normal plot advancement, Rei has to confront Hina’s crush (the baseball player) who suddenly comes to the fast food he and Hina are eating at.
Onomatopoeia: It’s not the first anime that uses manga-style onomatopoeia to express sounds, but I think it’s the first I’ve seen that literally reads the letters they use to express the sound. You can actually hear someone say Jiiiiii when Takahashi stares at Rei.
Post-Credits: The last part of the three-part Child of God episode was shown after the ending credits. I knew beforehand that there was going to be a third part, and I was quite surprised when I saw the credits following the end of the second part. In case you missed it, go back and stay for the credits. I don’t know if they did it on purpose, but I have repeatedly mentioned in my reviews that it’s a good habit to stay for the credits and previews. You may ultimately be greeted with nothing but an ending scene, but recently anime have started to include post-credits anime-art cards and special scenes.
Pro Pressure: Pro athletes on every sport, from chess to football and from shougi to League of Legends, devote themselves to it. Like Rei, when they don’t compete, they train. When they lose they pay the price, and only consecutive wins can keep you on track. For pros, winning is not only a matter of pride, but also of survival. Many times, their income depends on their performance, and while this may not be true for all sports, for the vast majority constant winning means greater earnings.
Another great episode for 3-gatsu no Lion. The character advancement is amazing, with every bit of dialogue building on each character’s individuality. Even Hayashida-sensei, in the few scenes we’ve seen him, managed to establish himself as a distinct personality and make a mark with his appearance. I could even feel a connection to Souya-sensei who appeared just a reference. I blame the direction and the beautiful piano pieces.
With every episode of 3-gatsu no Lion, I fall in love with Rei’s story. It’s a sad story, one that we see all around us in countless young beautiful. But it’s also beautiful and so real. I can’t wait for the live-action movie that will come out in March, 2017.
Did you like the episode? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews!
To be broadcast on October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV