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.
Lately, I’ve been having this weird focus habit, just like the one Rei’s dad used to have when he was focusing on his shogi game. I’m not swinging like a pendant with my hand on my face (even though I tried it after the episode) but instead, each time I write an article about an episode I put music from the anime playing in the background.
3-gatsu no Lion has an amazing opening theme and an even better ending song, both from BUMP OF CHICKEN, and this review for Episode 8 is marked by their melodies. With Kyouko making an appearance, I really needed the extra boost. That girl has some deep issues.
Japanese Title: (将棋おしえて(承前) / 面影 / 遠雷①)
Chapter 15: Teach Me How to Play Shogi Part 2
I started playing shogi. I haven’t bought a board yet, and it’s kind of difficult to find people to play against where I live. That’s why I found the next best thing: online application. I mostly play with Japanese people who kick my butt, but I am getting there. Today I got one win in ten games. The app is very convenient because the pieces do not have the Japanese kanji, and they show the permitted moves of each piece. That doesn’t mean that the game gets any easier. I just don’t have to remember the names and moves. But, thanks to Nikaidou and his amazing book, I am determined to learn the characters. Shogi-land is an amazing place and Nikaidou is a very charismatic teacher. Giving the pieces personalities permits Momo and Hina to feel excited about shogi. I remember when my grandmother was trying to teach me chess. She used these teaching books that had the chess pieces anthropomorphized into knights and soldiers, not unlike the cat-soldiers of Nikaidou but in a more medieval version. She was my own Nikaidou, and if I love playing chess, I owe it to her and those books. It’s always about the teacher, isn’t it?
Nikaidou is both an amazing teacher and a considerate friend. For Rei he may be annoying, but in reality he is more annoyed by himself than he is with Nikaidou. Nikaidou is awesome. Nikaidou is Nikaidou. And Rei is a little jealous. In a great scene that serves as the anchor to the next chapter, Nikaidou makes sure that Rei has somewhere nice to sleep and brings him a very expensive couch. I wish Nikaidou was my friend.
Chapter 16: Image
Image. The image of Nikaidou and his passion for life. Despite being anemic, he doesn’t want to burden anyone with his ‘weakness.’ Instead he passionately supports the two things he cares the most about: shogi and his friends.
Everybody loves Nikaidou
Everybody loves Nikaidou, but not because he tries to make people love him. He is just himself. He teaches shogi because he cares about shogi. He brings the bed to Rei because he cares about Rei. He shouts at the camera because he is genuinely concerned about his best friend. He thinks of what he loves before he thinks about himself, essentially being selfish while being selfless: by taking care what he loves he is taking care of himself.
Image. The image that Rei has for himself. He realizes once more how selfish he is. How he despises the way he feels. The way he’s abandoned life. But the way he grabbed on shogi as though it were a lifeboat brought him something that he might have otherwise missed: friends.
The anchor to the next chapter was the sudden visit of his abusive sister.
Chapter 17: Distant Thunder
This was the best chapter so far. The last scene of the previous chapter, the brief flashback about the midday thunder, and the change in music set the mood for what was the most emotionally charged scene in the series. The tempo of the soundtrack spoke of danger, the atmosphere reeked of it. Everything but the interactions between brother and sister tingled my spider-sense. The casual talk between them was just a smoke screen that couldn’t hide the deeps scars of their relationship. Something had happened between Rei and Kyouko’s boyfriend, something that probably has to do with the fact that Rei is in love with her. And did she suggest that Rei forfeits his promotion match? Bitch.
Shogi Song: Today we learned about the Gold General and the Silver General. I’m sure that when the anime is completed, both the shogi song and the shogi book will be published. I am getting one as soon as it’s out.
Manga Shots: It is amazing how the anime pays tribute to the original manga by throwing still shots of the pages inside the episode. It’s difficult to note every little detail, not because I can’t pause the episode, but frankly because I am not the super amazing anime guru that can get the tiny details. I leave those to the Roger Eberts of the anime world. But these manga shots were so evident that you couldn’t miss them.
High Quality Publication: If you are wondering what all that jargon meant when Rei was inspecting Nikaidou’s book, here are a few definitions:
Deluxe: That probably means that the edition is not the same as a regular paperback. Usually, deluxe edition are quality hardcovers.
Gold Leaf: You must have seen books that have the pages shining gold when the books is closed. Like this:
This is called gilding, and it is an age old art which consists of applying gold in powder or thin sheet (gold leaf) form to an object – in this case, a book’s pages.
UV Processing: The UV processing protects the books from discoloring. Have you seen when old books lose their vibrant color due to prolonged exposure to sunlight? That kind of discoloring.
Endpapers and Endsheets: Endsheets, also known as endpapers or endleaves, are the pages you find at the beginning and end of many hardcover books that are used to glue the inside pages to the hardcover. They usually have pretty patterns or maps or weird shapes.
Each chapter in the anime adaptation of 3-gatsu no Lion corresponds to a chapter in the manga. The series is more like a rendition than an adaptation, but having read the manga thus far (those of you following my reviews know about my desire to read the manga after watching the series) I have to say that while the events are closely following those in the manga, there is a certain magic to be found in the way the production has animated the show. It stays true to the original and at the same time enhances the experience by dramatizing the action through sounds and images.
I am so happy that the anime will have two back-to-back cours and a movie right after that. I am a sucker for self-discovery journeys, and Rei’s is one of the best I’ve seen in a while. I am really curious to see if he does forfeit the match against the aging professional. I am one of those weird guys who is waiting for the anime episode before reading the manga, so I will have to endure for just one week.
Did you like the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to read the rest of our episodic reviews!
Broadcasting from October 8 at 23:00 via NHK General TV