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.
Episode 16 of 3-gatsu no Lion played a nice little trick on the viewers. Everyone was eagerly waiting for the last match between Godou and Shimada. That was the main highlight, a source of anxiety for Rei, and a confrontation that could have taken a whole episode. We have seen how the series handles shogi matches, and this could have been epic. It could have been, but it never came to be, because there are actually more important things than a final match of a super important tournament.
Japanese Title: 夜を駆ける / 坂の途中
Chapter 32: Running through the Night
The title is somewhat misleading. It gives an urgency that we come to experience in just a fleeting moment of the chapter, when Rei runs to the Shogi Hall to see the final match between Gotou and Shimada. Before that, however, Rei comes to experience a pivotal experience that will shape his attitude towards life. One of my favorite supporting characters has always been Hayashida-sensei. Part my natural inclination towards educators and part his sudden insights to Rei’s situation, I always felt that his wisdom would eventually play a very important role in Rei’s development. Stories are always focusing to the journey of the individual – in this situation Rei’s – but it’s the contribution of the peripheral characters that shapes the path they take. A simple and non-invasive sub-plot brings sensei and Rei to the club room of the most amazingly weird school club in the history of school clubs: the After School Burner’s Club. The crazy scientists are as reclusive as Rei. They are probably not popular. I’m not sure if anyone but sensei knows that the club even exists. But in this particular situation they alone can help Rei create the chemistry essay he needs to stay in school. In the process, we see Rei interact, smile, agree, and in general have a good time. In other words, Rei managed to make some friends. If you missed the significance of the scene, think of this: it has nothing to do with shogi.
‘When you’ve got a problem you can’t fix yourself, like today, there’s a good chance that if you work together with someone else, you can overcome it,’ says sensei, in one of the most profound moments of the series. ‘That’s how the world works. We help each other,’ he continues in a calm but serious attempt to convince Rei that he is not alone unless he chooses to be. ‘If things seem hopeless when you’re alone, then rely on someone. Otherwise, no one will rely on you.’ TADAAAA. That last comment hit Rei like a revelation-hammer from Valhalla. The Kawamoto sisters: he’s always relied on them, but the sisters… They have never relied on him for anything. How does someone change that? Not easily, unless there is already an offer that can help someone take the path to that direction.
After such an amazing exchange between teacher and student, I didn’t care much about the game between Godou and Shimada. As Rei hurried to the shogi hall, the only thing that I really wanted was for Rei to join the workshop. And the writer knew that many viewers would have felt the same way I did. We haven’t had the chance to see a single move from the final match. It didn’t matter. There were a few scene twists that made us think that Godou won the match when in reality Shimada is the one who will face Master Souya, but to be honest, I saw Gotou smiling and I failed to hate him as much as I did in the previous episodes. My only concern rested with Shimada, Nikaidou, and Rei. Gotou was reduced to something unimportant… if only for now.
Chapter 33 – Middle of the Slope
The next chapter was full of shogi. We were bombarded with strategies and workshop details, as Rei and Nikaidou join Shimada and a new character (and very interesting) Morio Shigeta in a shogi workshop. Not much to comment here. It was a nice break for the seriousness of the rest of the chapters that focused on shogi, and on the different opinions professionals players hold. They are like feudal lords who protect their own land (that’s their opinion) against foreign invaders (that’s other player’s opinion). But it’s through these different schools of strategy that one gets to improve and advance his skill. You become better through others.
Shimada: Shimada is not Miyagi-san and definitely not Yoda. He is a human being that managed to inspire Rei into seeking help. He is a local hero of gigantic proportions. He is a role model whose flaws gave way to perseverance as soon as he heard the word ‘hope’:
The word hope gave him a gentle push. [He] is someone who walks forward alone with firm steps.
After School Burner’s Club: I’m sure there is some obscure feedback that I failed to understand. From the way they stood to the circled kanji on top, everything allured to the scene being a reference to something. If you know, please share your anime knowledge in the comments below. Nevertheless, the mustache gave the otherwise irrelevant character Noguchi a sense of importance. He is an NPC, but he is an important NPC. Also, the whole set-up of the club and its members reminded me of World War II secret labs. Soap? Really?
The Greatest Inventions…: …happen by accident. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of ‘greatness’ as in ‘usefulness’, since Coca-Cola is hardly a great invention, yet it has taken over the world as our main intake of liquid sugar. Did you know that the inventor of Coca Cola was actually trying to make a pain killer because he was wounded? Many of the inventions of the early 19th century started as something else. You just have to watch a few seasons of Little House in the Prairie and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Heidi and Clara: Hayashida-sensei refers to Heidi, a work of children’s fiction published in 1881 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri that was adapted into an anime in 1974, directed by Isao Takahata for Zuiyo Eizo (later, Nippon Animation), and was dubbed into various languages. The series was later compiled into an English-dubbed movie entitled The Story of Heidi. A CGI remake of the anime series was developed in 2015 by Studio100, the makers of Maya the Bee.
I must praise, once again, the music direction. As fans, we many times underestimate the work needed to create an anime. Each episode is the final result of hundreds of small decisions, and one of them is the music direction: what kind of fx goes where, and what kind of music should act as the background of which scene. Since each of these scenes is filled with emotion, the music can either make or break it. In the case of 3-gatsu no Lion, the music not only creates the right kind of mood, but overall enhances the experience.
Great episode that shows the diversity this show is capable of. The two cours will probably cover just a portion of Rei’s story, but that portion is enough. This is not the classic hero’s journey, but a collection of small achievements of a person who is struggling with his life. That doesn’t mean that I have forgotten about Gotou. It just means that there are more important things than hate.
Did you like Episode 16 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! We are also busy updating and creating new Anime Info pages for all upcoming seasons! Check them out.
Broadcasting from October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV