March comes in like a lion
Episode 12

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 12 of
March comes in like a lion ?

The new year has arrived for March comes in like a lion. Having recovered from his cold, Rei finds himself reflecting on his time at the Kawamoto home and comes to an unfortunate realization. The Kawamoto house is like a kotatsu: it makes you feel safe and warm when you're inside, but the moment you leave, you feel three times as cold as you did before.

The familiar imagery of Rei sinking beneath the water guided the first segment of this episode, as Rei went for a walk to clear his thoughts. We've had a wide variety of articulations on Rei's complex depression at this point, and this episode's new wrinkle felt very natural. When you're living in a fundamentally unhappy but manageable and consistent routine, you can sort of forget your unhappiness. By briefly escaping his loneliness, Rei reminded himself that he was lonely in the first place - “when I leave, I realize the daily life that I was fine with before is actually freezing cold.” Rei's response to this is to first try and think himself out of his feelings, and then to avoid the Kawamoto residence in order to avoid prompting pain. Rei still has a lot to learn.

Most of this episode wasn't doom and gloom, though - instead, the beginning of the Lion King Tournament prompted a bunch of scenes at the shogi association. The show's unfocused structure felt particularly prominent and disruptive through this material, but I did very much enjoy the segment taking place in the mind of Rei's friend's opponent. Having established the base tenets of shogi and created the cat-creatures as a visual reference point for shogi drama, March is able to deftly convey the finer points of matches without having to worry if the audience is completely aware of everything happening on the board. It's a very tricky thing to make a complex game like shogi comprehensible enough to carry drama, and I'm happy to see the show making use of the groundwork it's laid.

The shogi association's other key moment came when Rei ran into Gotou, the man who his sister is apparently clinging to. Gotou's behavior here was simplistic villainy, and we have almost no context for his relationship with Kyouko, so I didn't get much out of this particular showdown. Sequences like this also demonstrate the inherent awkwardness of March's narrative approach - this confrontation felt like it belonged near the beginning of an episode that would then offer context for their relationship, but because it was just one of many disorganized things happening in this episode, it didn't really land with much impact. That said, I did appreciate how the post-match material managed to convey the everyday nature of the association, with former and future opponents all hanging out and exchanging idle talk with the association president.

The episode ultimately ended where it began, with Rei reflecting on the Kawamoto's kotatsu-home. Tasked with bringing over fish from the president, Rei was unable to avoid their house and saw his old fears resurfacing as he arrived. But Rei was ultimately able to break free and talk honestly with Momo about how he needed to go home and study. This was a fairly unfocused episode, but I'm still a sucker for things like Momo telling Rei to do his best.

Overall: B-

March comes in like a lion is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.

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