Episode 24 of 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in like a Lion) justifies its decision to animate the manga chapters and keep going with the story the way it was meant to be told. Its characters are always there, letting us see little bits of them at a time, slowly weaving a development that is subtle and profound. These characters are alive, and the anime doesn’t need to explain every little bit through dialogue to get it.
Japanese Title: 混沌 / 隈倉
Chapter 48: Chaos
When I saw Godou, the first thing that came into my mind was ‘conflict.’ This was not going to end well. Rei would have a breakdown. Kyoko will enter the room yelling. A huge shogi piece is going to start the fight. Something not good. Yet, Godou came as a harbinger of justice. As two shogi nobodies (do we even know who they were?) were trash-talking Shimada while Rei and Nikaidou were preparing their weapons, Gotou just threw them off the ring with just one comment: if you haven’t ever been in a title match, you have no right to talk. He even compared them to trash a few lines later.
That and the flashback scenes later are two different Gotous that are actually the same person. The way he treats Kyoko is very consistent with his support of Shimada. He is a man of principles and he follows those principles to the letter. He is not the kindest of persons, but he is not the monster we might have considered him to be, judging him just by his relationship with Kyoko. That doesn’t mean he is a good person either. He is a strong shogi player who values strength in all its forms. Who were this small fry to even dare to speak about Shimada? Who is Rei to even suggest that he can judge his actions? If you want to be heard, for Gotou, you need to be strong enough to make the other hear you.
Chapter 49: Kumakura
Kumakura is just the point of reference to a theme that is mainly pointed towards Gotou. The 9th Dan challenger to the title surprises everyone by forfeiting a match that to everyone seemed playable. Yet, in their genius shogi eyes, it was evident that it would have been lost after 17 moves (I still can’t fathom how professional players can see so many moves ahead). His calm and composed manner is drawing awes from anyone and inspired every shogi player who wants to be like him. But crushing defeat is crushing defeat and the reality of that defeat was expressed behind the cameras. He literally destroyed a wall by kicking it with such fury that he almost created a hole to the other side.
The same applies to Gotou. He may be acting all tough on the outside but that scene with Kyoko confirms that he is a lonely, sad man that is in need of compassion and love. He is clearly using Kyoko, but he is using her because he desperately needs her affection, he craves her infatuation. He is afraid and he doesn’t want to be alone, no matter how many times he’d play the tough guy.
Nikaidou: How I missed the little devil. He is as energetic as ever, especially as he tries to instill his passion to play against Rei to Rei. Their clash as snake and rat (did that come from somewhere?) was amazing and served as a little comedic relief to an otherwise heavy on themes episode.
Don’t use words to fight. Settle it with shogi.
Themes & Trivia
Oni: Kyoko does look like an oni when she is angry, doesn’t she? But what exactly is an oni? They are one of the most popular mythic characters in Japanese art, literature, and theater. Their closest western relatives are demons that look more like ogres. They are part of a special Japanese class of supernatural creatures called the youkai. I’m sure you have heard of that term before, since many anime use them as themes with Natsume’s Book of Friends being one of the most famous examples in anime and Youkai Watch in video games.
Kumakura: The first part of his name sounds the same as the Japanese word for ‘bear.’ Quite a fitting name for someone who appears unbelievably cool in front of the cameras but breaks down walls backstage.
Covers: Like that famous proverb about books and covers goes, the main protagonists of these two chapters are not to be judged by what they show in front of others but from what they choose to show to the people (or the walls) they trust. My opinion on Gotou and Kyoko took a 180 turn as I now at least understand some of the reasons behind their action. I also acknowledge that they are only human, as we are all.
Another great episode for March Comes in like a Lion. I really want to put it in my list of thought-provoking anime of 2016-2017 along with the amazing Fune wo Amu and the extraordinary Showa Genroku Rakugo. Maybe I can put Kuzu no Honkai somewhere in there, but it doesn’t have the classic status the other two will certainly achieve in the future. If I ever create a list in the future with the Top 10 anime you need to see if you love the medium, these 3 are going to be in it.
Last two cours I covered for this anime were spent trying to find a villain. I am not sure where that need for an evil side comes (too many video games I guess) but I feel that March Comes in like a Lion is offering an alternative that has been quite the popular theme lately: maybe there is no absolute evil and the villains we make are just what stands between us and what we want to achieve or who we want to protect. Maybe good and evil are just human constructs, a way for us to cope with our own insecurities and a way to validate our view of the world. Maybe we are all heroes and villains.
Did you like Episode 24 of 3-gatsu no Lion? Let us know in the comments below and in our forum! Don’t forget to check the rest of our weekly anime reviews.
TV Anime 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in like a Lion)
Fall 2017 | Anime Info Page
TV anime official website: http://3lion-anime.com/
NHK program website: http://www.nhk.or.jp/anime/3lion/