March comes in like a lion
Episode 38

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 38 of
March comes in like a lion (TV 2) ?

March comes in like a lion's thirty-eighth episode opened with the sound of rain, as we retraced Rei and Souya's path through the oppressive typhoon. Touching on the same narrative beats as the last act of the previous episode, the only changes were the compression of movement and the absence of Rei's voice. It was clear to see we were experiencing the same trip from Souya's perspective: a place where the only sounds are those that make themselves physically evident, and time passes in a blur between brief conversations over a shogi board. The “white storm” of these past episode titles revealed itself to be the storm of Souya's personal world, a quiet, lonely, and distant place made clear in his glowing aura and grey, impenetrable gaze.

Focusing on Souya's reality made this episode's first act feel like a return to the first season's oppressive environmental storytelling, where personal realities like Rei's depression or fever would be conveyed through stifling sound design and nearly monochrome color palettes. The inescapable sound of the rain, evocative layouts within Rei's hotel room, and limited blue-grey colors all worked hard to settle us into Rei's headspace during this strange time. With the typhoon raging outside and the exhibition match still fresh in Rei's mind, the chairman's elaboration of what life must be like for Souya felt almost unnecessary. The quiet hotel room was itself an echo of Souya's world, a constrained place offering only the click of shogi tiles in Rei's head for company.

While some of March's shogi competitor spotlights have felt a little incongruous, articulating the full extent of Souya's disability actually felt key to Rei's journey. It makes sense that a younger Rei would be totally captivated by Souya; not only is Souya an incredible player, but he possesses an aura of unflappability that must have felt appealing to the lonely and insecure Rei. From his prodigy roots to his current isolation and focus on shogi over all else, Souya perfectly represents one route Rei could have taken in life, and the route he very likely would have taken if his world hadn't been brightened by all his current companions. Rei's daze through the following scenes and obsession with the sound of Souya's shogi tiles all emphasized how naturally Rei could fall into Souya's world. Rei certainly possesses both the obsessiveness and reclusive instincts necessary to eventually reach “I don't mind not being able to hear,” and his clear inclination toward that route added a menacing edge to his reflections on the lonely genius.

All of that focus on Rei potentially morphing into a lonely shogi hermit, and the aesthetic holism of its delivery, made for a pretty oppressive opening to this episode. In light of that, I appreciated the abrupt intermission with the Kawamotos, where they illustrated their top secret soft-boiled egg techniques. A sequence like this could easily run afoul of March's inclinations toward both disjointed episode construction and overlong comic routines, but this segment instead felt like a desperately necessary breather and just a charming segment in its own right. The gaiety of this sequence also offered the first counterpoint to Souya's lonely world, a counterargument that would be solidified through Rei's reunion with Nikaidou.

That reunion offered a terrific capstone to this episode and perfectly tied off Rei's brief infatuation with Souya's path. After a full episode of walking in a daze with Souya's tiles clicking in his head, it was hearing that Nikaidou was out of the hospital that finally brought a light back to his eyes. While Souya represents one professional endpoint for Rei, his friendships with Nikaidou and the Kawamotos seem to gesture toward a much happier future. And after all these episodes of fighting to “avenge” Nikaidou, seeing Nikaidou laughing about his latest tactical innovations felt like an unexpectedly appropriate endpoint for Rei's recent journey. The show seemed to understand the significance of this moment; buoyed by an urgent guitar track and warmed by watercolor backgrounds, Rei and Nikaidou's reunion was given all the aesthetic splendor it deserved. There is certainly an austere beauty to Souya's world, but I'm happy to see Rei return to his gentle home.

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.

discuss this in the forum (274 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

back to March comes in like a lion
Episode Review homepage / archives

Loading next article...