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.
I used to love chess. Besides video games, chess was the only game that intrigued me enough to spend time with. I remember my grandmother teaching me the pieces and the moves in little made-up fantasy stories about two opposing countries at war.
The latest episode of 3-gatsu no Lion reminded me of those days. It reminded me how magical the simplest things felt if only someone had the perseverance and patience to make them feel that way.
Japanese Title: 神さまの子供 (その③)承前 / 大切なもの. 大切なこと. / 将棋おしえて
Assumptions shape the majority of what we experience in our little bubbles we call everyday life. Realizing as much is not a remedy that breaks the bubble, but it is certainly a first step. Rei can feel that there is something wrong with the way he lives, but he can’t put his finger on it.
I say I have no reason to win, but why is it so painful when I lose
His initial approach to Takahashi is similar. The baseball player is big and scary and Rei feels threatened, because he assesses the situation from his little bubble of assumptions. But instead of a target, Rei slowly realizes that he is a role model that the junior high student looks up to. His father and grandfather are both amateur shogi players, and bring Rei’s success as an example to follow. Takahashi wants to become a pro. Rei is his senpai. Even when Rei offers his advice, he is still unsure if he was able to make it count. If he could make a difference. But he does. And suddenly, Rei has a rare and meaningful connection with another human being. A connection he has only experienced so far, albeit in other forms, with the Kawamoto family and his best friend Nishioka. What made this particular interaction special was the teacher-student connotations that came with it. Rei offered and Takahashi received. Rei taught and Takahashi learned. And possibly, in a subconscious level, the same happened vice versa. After Takahashi leaves, Hana and Rei are both, for their own reasons, overwhelmed.
The rest of the episode continues on the same theme plus the necessary surreal comedic elements that we have already associated with the series. Through the VCR-recorded match of a match Rei lost and at which Nikaidou was the host, Rei feels the warmth of Nikaidou’s friendship, even if it makes him slightly angry. But anger is an emotion, and Rei is able to feel something and express it wholeheartedly.
Take better care of your shogi and yourself
That passion is what prompts Hana and Momo to ask Rei to teach them the game. Nikaidou takes up the challenge after the stiff and boring explanations of Rei with a book on shogi basics he wrote himself. Of course, the book has the pieces catmorphised (I just made up that word) into soldiers of opposing countries. I think that my grandma would have agreed with his teaching approach.
Surrealism: There is a certain surreal atmosphere in the series that makes me feel comfortable with even the craziest of scenes. Colors filling the background, cats talking, onomatopoeia being a little too vocal, emotions literally sparkling everywhere. As an old-timer whose first anime series were from the late seventies, early eighties, I remember that kind of style prevalent to most comedy titles. I don’t know if there is a name for it, so if you know please share it with me in the comments.
Nikaidou: Takahashi and Grandpa are not the only people jealous of the passion that characterized the friendship between Rei and Nikaidou. If ‘Bodoro’ taught us anything in the episodes so far is that a shounen kind of friendship can only bloom when the characters are fighting for a common goal or their paths coincide as they pursue separate objectives. Here, that goal, or purpose, is shogi.
VCR: Not Blu-ray? Not DVD? VCR? It makes me wonder. In which year is the anime taking place?
Shogi cat song: That song is really catchy. To be honest, it’s so catchy that after the episode I went online looking for shogi simulators. I have found a really good one; I have the link in the Themes and Trivia section.
Shogi: If now that you know a few things about the game you want to try your hand in a match, you don’t really have to move to Japan. Thanks to the internet you can play against the computer in this very handy and lightweight online version. I am still losing to the easiest AI.
Teaching Methods: Nikaidou’s method follows the very popular maxim ‘If you want to make something memorable, make it fun.’ Ok, I lied, there is no such maxim; I just made it up. But the notion behind that sentence is uses in countless teaching methods that employ games and a hands-on approach instead of stiff and boring lectures. Do you want to commit something to memory? Make an association with something your already know. Do you want to further bulletproof that association? Make it fun. And what is more fun than cats? Ok, I can think of many things, but you get my point.
Is truth embarrassing? When Rei spills the beans to Takahashi about the reason he returned to school, he felt embarrassed at the truth of his words. We are all a little embarrassed about our truths. About the reason we left college and went after that foolish dream. About the reason we broke up with that boy our mom loved and could have made us happy. About the reason we started taking drugs instead of admitting all the things that went wrong. I’m going a bit too far, and probably I have included more negative than positive examples, but the same happens with everything we should feel proud of, but we sadly don’t. Sometimes the truth may be embarrassing or downright frightening, but at the same time it might be the only thing that can liberate us.
The 22 episodes of 3-gatsu no Lion will end when the first part of the live action movie is set for release, March 18, 2017. The manga has been serializing from 2007 and has already published eleven volumes. Why am I throwing dates and numbers at you? I’m not an anime expert and never claimed to be one. I rarely read manga, mostly because I find the abundance of titles overwhelmingly terrifying. But I realized that if not for the anime, I would have never heard of 3-gatsu no Lion. That’s why I decided to start reading the manga, and hopefully be up to speed by the time the anime is over. I also want to learn shogi. I wish I had Nikaidou for a teacher, but his cat song has to suffice for now.
Not many people know this, but during my Master’s degree I was trained to be a teacher of English. I seldom practiced teaching after that. But even if I’m not actively teaching, I have my own views when it comes to educational practices, and Nikaidou would have agreed with them. I love the shogi cat song.
Did you like the episode? Have you bought your own shogi board? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews!
Broadcasting from October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV