March comes in like a lion
Episode 27

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 27 of
March comes in like a lion (TV 2) ?

This week's episode of March comes in like a lion could not measure up to last week's absurd visual execution. There were few aesthetic shifts we hadn't seen before, and none of the glorious animation highlights that seemed to pop up every few minutes last time. The episode's first half leaned too heavily on standard SHAFT visual tics, and several jokes felt far too dragged out. On top of that, this was one more episode that felt dramatically sabotaged by the show's strict adaptation structure, with its goofy first half and somber second half feeling like a very mismatched couplet.

And yet, by the end of the episode, I was sobbing over how sympathetically it illustrated the difficult emotions and clear love of this found family. Can I really ask for more?

So the first half of this episode was pretty routine March territory. Rei ended up taking his concerns about Hina to Hayashida, who did his best to explain the complexity of bullying and how listening to Hina's own desires would be the best path forward. There were some reasonable visual experiments here (like when Hayashida illustrated the theoretical consequences of interfering), but a lot more stuff like SHAFT's standard head tilts, as well as some jokes that were carried far longer than necessary. The most important emotional takeaway was Hayashida recognizing the absurdity of Rei's “life debt” to Hina. This episode didn't really cash in on that thread, but it was nice to have an adult's outsider perspective counterbalance Rei's own melodramatic thinking.

It was the episode's second half that brought in the heavy hits, when Rei ended up helping Akari carry home some groceries. Fussing over Rei's skinniness brought Akari's fundamental mom-nature to the fore, but when she got home, she could only think about her own failures as an adoptive parent. Thinking back to the night Hina announced her bullying, she felt ashamed that her first instinct was to ask Hina why she'd interfered. In comparison to her grandfather's immediate support of Hina's strength, she could only think about what might prevent her sister from being hurt, never considering her sister's own feelings.

Akari's self-doubt here was completely understandable and powerfully articulated. We've rarely gotten a chance to see Akari's own vulnerability, as she works very hard to stay strong for her sisters, but this rare scene between just her and Rei allowed her to open up about her own doubts and anxieties. There was a devastating simplicity to her frank flashbacks, as we witnessed her holding her sisters and stating “I didn't know anything at nineteen. But Mom was counting on me. So I tried as hard as I could.” We often equate character complexity with moral ambiguity, but Akari is both an incredibly decent person and also a layered, fallible one. A conflict as specific and empathetic as “I'd always taught her to be kind, but when that moment came, I only wanted her to be safe” felt incredibly true to her character, a stark articulation of the difficulties of parenting.

Fortunately, Rei actually had the right words to say for once. Having just been “saved” by Hina's clear, unbending sense of right and wrong, Rei stood as a living example of why Akari's “empty words” were so important. It was because Akari had tried so hard to teach Hina to be a good person that she'd stood up for her friend, and because she stood up for her friend that she'd been able to help Rei too. Akari's words weren't idle, hypocritical, or wrong—they had helped Hina grow into a great person, meaning that Akari had saved Rei as well.

Her pause in response, and slight tears as she asked “is curry fine for dinner,” felt like a crucial moment for both her and Rei. Not only was this an incredibly poignant moment, it was also a key step in Rei both “paying back” this family and actually joining it. The show let that moment speak for itself, keeping its visual intrusions and music light as the two exchanged their simple but emotionally profound words. Even when March isn't pulling off absurd feats of art design and animation, the emotional power of moments like this demonstrate that it's still a wonderful show.

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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