March comes in like a lion Episode 25
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 25 of
March comes in like a lion (TV 2) ?
After two episodes that were each fairly messy for their own distinct reasons, March comes in like a lion's twenty-fifth episode finally returns the show to proper form. Featuring plenty of solid comedy, some clear development for Rei, and a welcome return to the Kawamoto household, this episode demonstrated a wide array of March's consistent strengths, firmly reminding me what makes this show special. It's nice to finally have the show back at its best.
We opened with the “June” segment, a chapter that demonstrated that March's comedy can work from time to time. The opening segment, where Smith and Matsumoto freaked out about Kumakura's giant shoes, was both a fine comedic concept and also well-placed. When March shifts rapidly from its somber to slapstick modes, it can feel a little abrasive (like in last week's episode). Sequestering the dedicated comedy bit as a self-contained pre-OP segment allowed it to breathe as a comedy sequence without detracting from the show proper's dramatic momentum.
More smart storytelling was on display in the following sequence, where Nikaidou used his lunch break to speechify on the structure of the upcoming newcomer's tournament. This was all important exposition, but simply having Rei monologue it to himself would have been both graceless and boring. Turning this into a speech by Nikaidou added a dash of comedy to the exposition and placed it in a believable narrative space. It makes sense given what we know of Nikaidou that he'd turn an “as we both know” monologue into a proud speech, and letting Rei react also helped underline how far Rei has come emotionally.
From a position of constant overbearing depression, Rei's actions all through these first three episodes have consistently demonstrated that he's at least got his head above water now. Watching Rei banter with Nikaidou and even feel embarrassed about his own cutthroat motivations emphasized the new array of feelings available to him. And his senior's remark, "You don't have to worry, Kiriyama. This was always a den of demons”, seemed to call back to Rei's greatest emotional outburst in the first season, when he raged at an opponent who diminished his years of practice. Rei feels ashamed of the “demon” inside him, but as he continues to move toward a healthier emotional place, he'll have to eventually accept and even embrace the competitive, self-focused part of himself. Simply living to accommodate others is no way to live.
Of course, solving a lifelong struggle with self-worth and depression isn't something that can be done in one convenient character arc. This episode's second half was a bitter reminder of that, when running into a bush frequented by ladybugs triggered some terrible memories for Rei. I really loved how such a random piece of scenery prompted such a massive emotional change in our hero. Our emotional scars are often like that—though we may have recovered from trauma on an immediate basis, any sharp reminder of the bad years can bring all those feelings of shame and worthlessness surging back. Just like how hearing a random melody can recall us back to the moment we first heard it, those who live with trauma of any kind exist in a world still scattered with landmines, the emotionally charged relics of battles we'll never truly forget.
That ladybug bush also prompted a stark visual shift in the episode, as we returned from recent episodes' early summer oranges to the deep blues of Rei's lonely lake. There were a wide variety of lovely compositions and backgrounds throughout this episode, with the water of Rei's feelings eventually segueing into the warmer blues of the Kawamoto house at night, a gentle darkness broken by countless stars. Coming in from the cold, Rei found himself followed by Hina, bearing tokens of what Rei immediately recognized as schoolyard bullying. Rei may never completely forget the pain he has suffered, but if his old wounds can help him comfort his new family, something good may come of his childhood yet.
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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