For yet another episode, 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in like a Lion) uses its surreal imagery to tell a human story of weakness and hope. By taking the focus out of the obvious (that is the protagonist), we learn more about the humans behind the sport and how they deal with their lives. After all, this is not about shogi. This is about people.
Japanese Title: 銀の羽根 / 川景色
Chapter 64 – Silver Wings
I wasn’t expecting this chapter. The giant Rei played against in the finals seemed towering and overwhelming. We know that he used Nikaidou’s sickness to win and that was enough to paint him in the colors of villainy. But the series wasn’t ready to leave it at that. Junkei lives a quiet life alone with his racing pigeons. As he ruminates about popular expressions, we learn that his own mantra is less extravagant than the popular quotes we find online. He believes that if someone works really hard, then maybe he can find some success in what he does. He has no friends he can relate to, all of them pre-occupied with their middle-class lives. They know nothing of his anxieties and of his loneliness. About his shogi insecurities and the loss of his favorite pigeon.
Like Rei’s own anxiety imagery, Junkei’s fears are shown as a ruthless sea, with the only difference being the color palette; a dreading red and black abyss represents the endless possibilities in shogi. The countless moves a player can make and the countless countermoves he has to predict. And while for Rei and Nikaidou that struggle seems natural, for Junkei it is not; anymore, at least. By a direct comparison to our two protagonists, we learn that Junkei has lost the joy of discovering new things in shogi. Now the sport is agonizing and painful. Through that pain and the realization that each has her own path, he comes to an epiphany he must be proud of. Shame and pride sometimes follow each other, and Junkei had enough of the feeling of shame when Nikaidou collapsed in front of his eyes, knowing that he played a role in that.
That last scene of the chapter, with Silver returning and Junkei tending to it, was meant to be a ray of hope not only for Junkei but for every character in the series.
Chapter 65 – River Scenery
After that emotional chapter, Hina’s conclusion felt more like a sweet farewell to the episode. Planets and toppings and ice-cream and food and cold and hot and sweet and salty; this was more like a happy detour.
Food and Planets: The series’ imagery has always been surreal but that scene was over the top. I liked it so much that I want to make it into a wallpaper.
Themes & Trivia
Pigeon Racing: Yes, that’s a thing. In pigeon racing, people train certain breeds of racing pigeons whose aim is to return home from spots hundreds of kilometers away. The time it takes the animal to cover the specified distance is measured and the bird’s rate of travel is calculated and compared with all of the other pigeons in the race to determine which animal returned at the highest speed. I wonder if that’s how crow mail works in Game of Thrones.
Catchphrases: We all love catchphrases. Wise proverbs and dictums usually said by people whom we revere or respect or at least recognize their value. Yet, these aphorisms are usually shortened as to appeal more to the social media sharing crowd. Not that quotes haven’t been part of our culture for centuries. Books and magazines use quotes to support arguments and start articles with a relevant phrase. They provide authority and context. But, many times, they are just the thing we want to hear. Stripped down to the bare essentials, they are nothing but platitudes, empty slogans that make us feel better and, when shared, make us look smarter, or at least that’s what we think. Junkei, as most people who really strive to accomplish something, knows that there is wisdom to be found in these words, but only if you manage to find the words behind the words. The meaning behind the façade. Junkei went a bit too hard on the phrase, but ‘If you believe, your dream will come true’ surely can’t mean anything of substance. It sounds pretty and shines of hope, but there is more to achieving something than just believing that you can achieve it. If you think that’s common sense, I implore you to check all those feel-good sites and self-help books that are out there. You’d be surprised what people are willing to believe to make themselves feel better about the shithole they are living in.
Competitive sports stories tend to show just one side of the match. We are usually following the point of view of the protagonist as he makes his way to the top with the help of his friends. We are rarely allowed to see the side of the opponent, and if we do, it’s usually a sudden glimpse that will either enhance them as a villain or bring forth that ‘friends but rivals’ persona. It’s commendable how 3-gatsu no Lion dedicates whole chapters to these ‘opponents’ and takes the spotlight from Rei and puts it where it has to be, on the human beings that play shogi.
Do you want to tell a good story? You have to narrow it down to one person and one aspect of their situation. Focus on the individual and tell something that we know it to be true, even if we have never experienced a similar situation before. That is exactly what 3-gatsu no Lion is doing, and it’s doing it well.
Did you like Episode 32 of 3-gatsu no Lion? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check the rest of our reviews for Fall 2017!
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/