March comes in like a lion
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 36 of
March comes in like a lion (TV 2) ?
With March comes in like a lion's lengthy Hina-focused arc having reached its conclusion last week, we were stuck in transition mode for this week's episode. There was some tidying up of loose Hina-related narrative ends, a brief check-in with a few other characters, and then some lead-in to Kiriyama's exhibition match with the highest-ranking shogi player, Meijin Souya. The episode lacked the dramatic clarity or individual highlights of the show's true all-stars, but it performed its role admirably while offering a variety of little pleasures along the way. March's long running time, occasionally awkward structural choices, and arc-based storytelling all mean it will inevitably turn out some workmanly episodes like this, but as far as role-fillers go, this was a very fine time.
The opening scene was a fine demonstration of this episode's quirky little highlights. The scene focused on Shimada and Yanagihara getting jealous and insecure over Rei and Souya's fancy match poster, which worked well to set up anticipation for that future match while also just working as charming comedy. After three seasons worth of secondary character development, March has successfully built up the members of the shogi association into stars in their own right, making it satisfying to follow little dramatic asides like this. The specific ways March has employed the inherently sympathetic and dignified Shimada also made it fun to see him at his most petty, whining about how Rei got a much fancier poster than he did.
The episode's most emotionally rewarding moment came next, when Rei ran into Hayashida while having lunch on the roof. This sequence's narrative goal was mostly just to tidy up the Hina arc's emotional loose ends, but I loved Hayashida's distinctive consolation of Rei. Hina wasn't really able to counter Rei's “I didn't do anything” with assurance beyond “you're an idiot!”, but the adult Hayashida was able to articulate her sentiment more clearly: “Results are important, but it's not results that reach people. The world doesn't revolve around results.” Rei might not yet be able to understand how important simply being there for the people you love can be, but it's good that he has compassionate guides like Hayashida there to help him.
The episode's second half was basically all buildup for Rei's exhibition match, with the show once again devoting significant time to emphasizing Souya's remarkable presence. I was a little fatigued by this episode's heavy use of footage from previous episodes by this point, but there were still gems to be found like the slow-burning payoff of Rei seeing his ridiculous match poster, and the unnerving strangeness of Souya's pre-match interview. Souya's words came off like canned responses from a mechanical device, further emphasizing his unreachable nature and perfectly leading into the terrific final sequence of his grand entrance.
Overall, this episode certainly wasn't a highlight, but it did a fine job of bridging the gap between two basically unrelated arcs. Even the fact that it relied so heavily on pre-existing footage felt smart in its own way; after all, with Rei and Souya's actual match coming up, I'd much rather have the production team focus on making sure that long-awaited showdown is articulated as beautifully as possible. The board has been set for a match several seasons in the making, and I'm excited to see Rei learn just how far he still has left to go.
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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