March comes in like a lion
Episode 6

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 6 of
March comes in like a lion ?

“I'd helped out with chores at my old house, so I continued to do them. But if you're just doing it for yourself, it's a hassle even to cook rice, so I stopped.”

There were many striking lines in this week's March comes in like a lion, but that one in particular really stuck out to me. As someone who's struggled with depression for most of his adult life, that line pinpointed what can feel like your entire world at times. With nothing to look forward to and nothing to hold on to, the daily chores that used to feel simple now seem like heavy and pointless hurdles. Cooking in particular becomes a huge burden. You don't care about your body and nothing tastes like anything, so why go to all the trouble of performing wellness when nobody's even watching? You certainly won't feel better just because you managed to cook some rice.

Equally charged reflections and images ran up and down this episode, an episode almost entirely framed from Rei's most depressive of mindsets. As I've said before, this show's depiction of Rei's depression is easily March's strongest quality, so this focus made for a powerful, emotionally affecting experience. But at its best, this show can almost be too painful to watch.

Some of this episode's strength emerged directly from the acuity of the writing, like that reflection on cooking, but not all of these thoughts were directly related to depression. Earlier in the episode, I was struck by Rei's bitter reflections on how becoming self-sufficient didn't really solve the things he'd hoped it would. When we're young, uncertain, and possibly unhappy, it can be easy to believe that achieving a certain level of quasi-adult stability will essentially solve our emotional problems. But even when Rei achieved his immediate professional aspirations, nothing really changed - having a stable job doesn't alleviate your need to actually force yourself through all the days of your life. As Rei reflects later on, success comes with its own hurdles, like how the burden of being a “prodigy” means you're essentially waiting for the people who supported you to eventually express disappointment with your progress.

Other highlights were a result of this episode's unique imagery. Many of the head-tilt closeups here were as out of place as they've been elsewhere in the production, but the lengthy sequence of Rei swimming through a boundless ocean was a beautiful and well-chosen digression. The unusually protracted length of that sequence, along with the ostentatious repetition of Rei's “I swam… and swam” conveyed the lived experience of depression through pacing alone. That's often what it comes down to - you're swimming without purpose or destination, the world offering no motivation, your only tangible experience the immense physical burden of keeping yourself above the waves. All you know is you can't stop swimming, even if it doesn't make sense. As Rei reflects near the end, “I saw I have no reason to win, but why is it so painful when I lose?”

In short, probably don't watch this episode if you've been having a lousy day. The show's usual problems were still on display here, from the aforementioned head tilts to the oversold comedy, but its lengthy visit to Rei's head made for a clever and poignant evocation of his professional slump. We often draw away from others at times like that, but hopefully Rei's bond with the sisters will carry him through.

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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