I went into this not expecting much but once again, was surprised by the sheer depth and handling of March comes in like a lion. It brings home the point that anime, as a medium, is extremely versatile, and naysayers who insist it is only for children are thoughtless hacks.
This anime might just be one of the best in 2017. I’m surprised how little it’s been mentioned in the sphere of anime youtubers, and I hope someone talks about it soon because it’s looking criminally underrated.
The story follows a 17 year old named Rei Kiriyama, who is living on his own due to certain circumstances. Being one of the youngest Shogi players to go pro, he’s able to support himself while schooling. Despite this, Rei is still burdened by his past, and is also struggling with his personal demons.
The first episode is especially powerful. It shows Rei waking up in a bare apartment filled only with necessities and using subtle imagery, told us about his life without boring exposition. I think the phrase ‘show, don’t tell’ perfectly describes March comes in like a lion.
It doesn’t drown the viewer in information and leaves us to piece together what we learn.
Also, despite the fact that the anime deals with heavy themes such as depression, it handles them with admirable grace, never once shying away from what society thinks is taboo. It presents things truthfully and earnestly, never needing to embellish or exaggerate. And for that, I cannot help but respect March comes in like a lion.
The story largely deals with Rei trying to cope with his current lifestyle, and saviour comes in the form of the Kawamoto sisters.
Like Rei, the three girls deal with their own demons; albeit of a different sort. Drawn to them like a moth to a flame, he can’t help but grow close to them. The first half of the anime is fantastic. Heck, I’d praise it to high heavens if you let me. The second half is passable, but I can’t blame it for not living up to the perfection that is the first half.
I’m amazed at how well-developed the entire cast of characters are. There were times were I found myself thinking, “Is this really an anime?” because each character is so lovingly developed, that it’s hard not to think they’re two dimensional beings on the screen.
A typical and unfortunate trait of anime is boiling down morality into black and white – the hero and the villain, the protagonist vs the antagonist. Several characters in the anime fit the mould of the villain pretty well…until you realize that this is only from Rei’s point of view. They too are flawed, and there isn’t a looming mastermind who’s the main cause of everything bad happening to our protagonist.
Everything in March comes in like a lion cannot be judged with a first impression. As the episodes roll by, the characters evolve in their own way, growing and learning from their experiences, or stagnating as they desperately search for a solution.
As the viewer, I got to see Rei’s journey alongside the Kawamoto sisters. He’s relatable because he’s genuine, and I think he would remind many people of themselves. There were times I found myself uncomfortable – scenes hitting too close to home drawing reactions from me that I never expected.
March comes in like a lion frequently uses dreamlike imagery to convey Rei, or someone else’s emotional and mental state. One such scene that impressed and terrified me was the opening scene in the first episode where the viewer is immediately greeted by a haunting whirlpool of black and white.
It brings to mind stuff of the supernatural nature, while accurately conveying what the he felt, to me. The anime pulls these kinds of emotional scenes very well and on multiple occasions, even.
Overall I think March comes in like a lion is a must-watch for anyone who calls themselves an anime fan. It knocked all my expectations out of the park, and I’m sure it will do the same for yours.