March comes in like a lion
Episode 17

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 17 of
March comes in like a lion ?

March comes in like a lion hit it out of the park this week. There were no big matches or dramatic emotional revelations to offer catharsis here - just beautiful execution of the show's consistent fundamentals. March doesn't need big twists or other narrative gimmicks to impress; when it can articulate the world of Rei and his companions this well, the show is its own reward.

We opened at the beginning of the Lion King tournament, with Rei crossing the threshold of the event's hotel venue. While Rei seemed insecure about attending such a ritzy event, Nikaidou was all confidence, telling Rei that Shimada needed them there to show support. Nikaidou's attitude led Rei to a revelation that's been building for a long time, a revelation which was probably obvious to everyone aside from him - Nikaidou is actually more mature than he is. Nikaidou may act loud and presumptuous most of the time, but he's an emotionally generous and largely self-aware man in spite of that. His consistently strong characterization reflects March's generally sharp eye for human complexity.

That thoughtful characterization continued in Rei's confrontation with his stepfather, where we learned that Kyouko had been lying about how she was spending her time. The fact that Rei's stepfather had to ask Rei what was going on with his own daughter offered some painful context for their relationship, humanizing a man who's often been framed purely as an icon of shame for both Rei and his sister. Rei's adoptive father is a deeply flawed man, but he still cares about all of his children.

The first big visual setpiece came after that, as Rei stumbled into the genius Souya at the hotel garden. March let the beautiful backgrounds do much of the talking here, with the dreamlike nature of the moment coming through clearly in the mix of pure-white sky and delicate, obscuring foliage. The use of water as an echo of Rei's emotions was twisted in a new direction as well, as the pond offered a moment of personal reflection and the rain a kind of cleansing. Souya's overwhelming sense of presence came through clearly in this material, lending impact to Shimada's wane hope that he'd survive long enough to play in his own hometown.

The episode's second half was dominated by Kyouko, as Kyouko tends to do. Blaming Rei for her father's questions, the two of them sparred by the river before being interrupted by the three sisters. Kyouko's initial assessment of the situation was as ruthless as ever (“so that's the next home, huh?”), but her subsequent visit to Rei's house ended up being surprisingly charming. Kyouko snacking on all of the sisters' food demonstrated even more of this episode's visual power in a very different way. In contrast to the traditionally beautiful backgrounds and layouts of the first half, this sequence was full of great silly faces and super-deformed character art, making Kyouko seem just as approachable as any of the show's other characters.

Later that night, Kyouko's humanity was put on display in a more dramatic way. Thinking back on her confrontation with the sisters, Kyouko muttered that “if I really were a witch, I wouldn't have such pathetic hardships.” It's easy enough to understand where Kyouko's pain and lashing out are coming from on an intellectual level, but seeing her directly admit her fear and sense of aimlessness to Rei put those feelings in an immediate emotional context. The art design here was gorgeous as well, painting the two of them as drowning together in a sea of regrets.

Overall, this episode offered a comprehensive sampling of basically everything that makes March comes in like a lion great. From its thoughtful character work to its charming comedy, great control of tone, and beautiful visual embellishments, this was a satisfying episode from start to finish. March continues its terrific streak.

Overall: A

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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