March comes in like a lion
Episode 30

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 30 of
March comes in like a lion (TV 2) ?

Having undergone severe depressive spells, emotional abuse, and all manner of other troubles, Rei Kiriyama has emerged stronger than ever and prepared to put his own strength to work in helping the people he cares about. But as this episode demonstrated, sometimes strength and will aren't enough to fix the problems of the people you love. Sometimes problems are just complicated with no easy solution, and your presence won't necessarily help things along. Sometimes love means letting the people you care about make their own choices, however unhappy those choices may seem.

Rei was first forced to apply this wisdom to Hina's troubles, when he once more asked Hayashida what he could do to help. Hayashida's one piece of actionable advice was “tell Hina to take this to a teacher other than her homeroom teacher,” but aside from that, he mostly just validated Rei's choice to not dump his tournament winnings on his newfound family. He acknowledged that Rei's desire to be needed and feel strong was totally valid, but in this case, there's no way that having someone like Rei pay off their bills would make the Kawamotos happy. “First focus on the things you can actually do,” Hayashida stressed, leaving Rei to continue his path towards the Newcomer Tournament finals alone.

Rei's limited ability to help the people he cares about was then spun in a different direction, as he overheard Shimada and the club president discussing Nikaidou's flagging health. Smart closeups of Shimada's eyes and mouth emphasized his lies as he reassured Rei that everything was fine, and Rei's subsequent challenging of his words felt like a validation of both their characters. On Shimada's side, it's clear that he's come to see Rei like another son, so he doesn't want to burden him with the true weight of Nikaidou's condition. But on Rei's side, he's finally arrived at the point where he's healthy enough to want to shoulder his friends' burdens. Recognizing this, Shimada ended up taking Rei out to dinner and telling him the story of Shimada and Nikaidou's long friendship.

Shimada's monologue wasn't exactly revelatory, but it did offer more solid foundation to both his and particularly Nikaidou's characters. Nikaidou's shogi efforts even as a child demonstrated how he'd never idly sat on his parents' wealth, instead choosing a difficult path in spite of his infirmity. Incapable of demonstrating personal strength like other kids, Nikaidou turned shogi into his grand adventure, his beloved field of battle. I was genuinely touched by his breakdown when Shimada tried to go easy on him—it's clear that Nikaidou deeply values ideals of strength that are almost unpursuable due to his illness, so his “if I'm treated like a weakling even when I play shogi, where am I supposed to live” felt like it spoke to the heart of his character. That question also gestured back toward this episode's initial point: sometimes charity isn't the best way to help the people we care about, and sometimes we just can't help at all.

Following through on that line left this episode with a fairly bittersweet conclusion. No matter how much Rei wants to support Nikaidou, actively acknowledging Nikaidou's suffering would go against Nikaidou's most deeply held desires. Instead, Rei can only cry for his friend while agreeing to Shimada's demands, pledging to continue being “ruthless” with the boy who sees him as a rival. This episode lacked the visual elevation of the last few, but its precise articulation of this specific difficult struggle yielded its own unique kind of emotional depth. Rei has grown enough to want to help his friends, and through these conflicts, it seems he's also learning to stand back and admire them for their own strength.

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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