It’s difficult to argue with Chika Umino’s clarity when it comes to human nature. After all, 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in like a Lion)is the proof that the lens through which she sees the world is undoubtedly realistic and transcends boundaries of gender and age. Yanagihara’s story is as powerful as everyone else’s in this story of shogi and strength of soul.
Japanese Title: 焼野が原① / 焼野が原②
Chapter 39 – Burnt Field (Part 1)
Yanagihara was one of the characters I was expecting to get an episode. No one, and I mean NO ONE, can be as cheerful as he is all the time and I was sure that there was a tragic story waiting to be told. Shimada’s story was there to give the extra weight the situation needed, as the Kishou Championship means very different but equally important things to the two life-long competitors.
Shimada has never won a championship. We already know that one of his deepest wishes is to become a champion and make his town proud. Those three old men from his village deserve that victory. Shimada deserves this title. Or so I thought, until this episode.
Yanagihara, however, is in the middle of a burnt field, one that has lit him up and refuses to let him go. The burnt field is an analogy used by one of his friends, Gen-chan, who has recently lost his job as a reporter. ‘Without my work,’ he says, ‘what’s left of me?’ That echoes strongly to Yanagihara’s situation. Without shogi, what is he? An old 66-year-old man. Now, at least, he is an old man who clings to the last thing that keeps him fighting: the dreams of all his friends who abandoned shogi to pursue other careers. That burden of promise, one that we often see in anime both realistic and fantastic, is imagined as competitor sashes that he always carries with him. The people are not there anymore. His youth is long gone. And those sashes, those promises, are the only thing that drives him forward.
Chapter 80 – Burnt Field (Part 2)
The second part of Yanagihara’s story focuses on the present. Yanagihara’s old body is reinforced by his daily morning routine. He takes medicine for his ailments and putting patches on his aching body. He needs those pills and that relief because Yanagihara is a slave to the promises we saw in the previous chapter. He needs to keep it up and go through that final battle with Shimada. While Nikaidou and Rei go through the most unorthodox moves, Yanagihara stands alone in the middle of that burnt field and the only thing he can do is burn with it. No matter who wins, the outcome is going to be sad.
School Photos: Slowly approaching my mid-thirties, I had a flashback rash as soon as I saw that group picture. I think that my mom still has many of them somewhere in a box in the garage (what a stereotype) and I suddenly felt an urge to revisit my school days. Do you remember your classmates? I’m not sure I remember them all. How about your teachers?
I am glad we got to see another ‘side story’ if you can call them as such. I feel like every person in the series is just another aspect of the whole, a connecting ring to a story that needs all sides to be told if we are to understand the complexity of their situation. I only hope we get to see more stories like these in the next couple of weeks. When the anime ends, maybe the manga will be enough to quench our thirst.
I root for…
Before seeing this episode, I would have definitely stood by Shimada’s side, but after seeing Yanagihara’s story, I am not really sure I want to root for any of them if I can’t root for both of them. I am sure that people will cheer for the one they sympathize the most with, but to be honest, I get both sides. Like the reporter said, this is going to be a tragic story no matter who wins.
Did you like Episode 39 of 3-gatsu no Lion? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to check the rest of our weekly reviews for Winter 2018 here on MANGA.TOKYO.
TV Anime 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in like a Lion)