First off, I’d like to apologize for the sudden change in format. I figured that given the huge backlog I have of things to watch, I might as well just watch all of the episodes of a particular show until I’m up to speed, and comment from there. If I can complete all of them before week 12 rolls in, then good for me. Otherwise — yeah, I’ll try to make the title of each post as brainless to follow as possible.
And with that out of the way, we finally come to the close of March comes in like a Lion. It’s a strange feeling, really, after having been so accustomed to its presence. Its composition and flow actually mirrored the seasons in which it aired in real-time throughout most of its run, granting it some sort of metaphysical companionship on top of its already wonderfully composed characters. It truly is something special; despite having ended, there’s still so much that can be said about its touching story.
That said, the final three episodes of this show felt somewhat lacking. Granted the manga is still on-going, what this means is that the end of the Lion Tournament and inelegant defeat of Shimada seemed a little premature, if only to wind up with two more episodes that basically played around with its characters in what could be summarized as light-hearted fanfare.
And there’s nothing really wrong with that, other than it felt like the tension had been released a bit too early. But I did appreciate how the show tried to put things into perspective by returning to Rei’s being a student, and how he reflects himself in Shimada’s earnest longing to engage with the people dearest to him. But perhaps what struck me most about the closure of this arc was how the theme of stagnation was reborn into something a bit more positive. If stagnation was the death of a movement of a character — resulting in an isolation of the self in an endless spiral of self-pity — Shimada’s community of elderly people supporting him from the background reflects a stagnation that is depicted more along the lines of permanence. A permanence born from a bond of kindred spirits that remains, and will remain, unshaken despite any form of hardship.
And it’s this idea of permanence that enamors Rei when he reflects his own experiences on Shimada’s failures. That in spite of the unfortunate turnout at the Lion Tournament, Shimada’s earnest desire to connect and engage with the people dearest to him allowed him to move on and not give up on his desire to become the first Shougi Master from his town.
There’s a bit more about the topic of Failure in Anime that I’d like to talk about in a separate post, but suffice it to know that its use in these last few episodes struck a more humanistic tone that is more sensitive to the nature of defeat despite honest effort. Many shows fall into the trap of being too patronizing towards characters that experience defeat, offering a resolution that often feels contrived or out-of-tune with its characters. But March comes in like a Lion, thankfully, does not suffer this common pitfall. Shimada’s resolve centers around his own personality, and the visible effect this has on Rei is well-expressed when his own longing to become part of a community, himself, is presented in the form of the newly-formed Shougi/science club.
But why did I say I felt like the ending was a little lacking? Well, there’s still no resolution on Souya’s character. More importantly, there’s no closure on Kyouko’s dilemma, which I’m pretty sure has many, many implications on Rei’s newly-found sense of community. And lastly is how Rei and Hinata’s relationship is left somewhat hanging. Personally, I’m not in favor of turning this story into a romance, but there’s something interesting in how the last few episodes hint at an evolving relationship between the two. In particular, how Hinata directly confronts Kyouko as a sort of anti-thesis towards her character. In many ways throughout the entire show, Hinata has been a beacon of enlightenment — more so than any of the other Kawamoto’s — making her relationship somewhat crucial to the molding of an enlightened Rei. Again, romance need not be depicted to make this sort of thing work, but I think it’s important not to dismiss the importance of how special the relationship between the two is.
And that does it for this show! What did you guys think of March comes in like a Lion? Do share your comments below!