March Comes in Like a Lion - Anime Review
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 and a Half Stars)
Length: 44 Episodes (Two seasons)
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 8, 2016 to Mar 18, 2017 and Oct 14, 2017 to Mar 31, 2018
March Comes in Like a Lion is a story about Rei Kiriyama. A young up and coming professional shogi player. With the weight of being one of very few players to go pro so young, Rei struggles to battle his own emotional demons as he navigates the incredibly competitive world of shogi. After moving to Tokyo to escape his tense family home, Rei encounters the Kawamoto family and is taken in after they notice his lonely presence and lack of self-care. What follows is Rei going on an emotional journey as he learns to relate to others both inside and out of the shogi hall.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
“Jace, why would I ever care about people playing Shogi?”
And if that were the only thing this anime was about; I’d agree with you. The show is more of a character drama than a ‘sports anime’. The weight is placed on the thoughts and decisions of the players, rather than moves themselves, to the point where the actual act of playing shogi largely takes a backseat in the series. Which is great because it means you don’t require a knowledge of how the game works to understand the weight of the matches being played. Though if you care to find out, don’t worry, there’s a fun little section dedicated to teaching you.
The truth is that this is an anime about the weight of desire and expectation, and how it both draws you towards and splits you apart from the people you care for. It has some pretty intense themes, dealing with death, broken families, bullying, and depression, so I wouldn’t recommend it for someone looking for a comfy slice of life. But if you’re looking for a show that does a fantastic job of illustrating the struggles of both seeking and fearing your potential, as well as a candid look into the human condition, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
Shaft isn’t quite at it’s full Shaft-ness in this animation, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make it their own. Their fantastic use of non-traditional cinematography and exaggerated character models really helps to convey the emotion that is to central to the show, and the exceptional soundtrack further supports the tone and themes.
My only criticism is that because it does have some heavy themes and lacks ‘action’ so to speak, it can be a bit of a slog to get through for some. It took me three years on and off to finally finish the show, and while I’m extremely happy I did, it *did* take three years.
All in all, I give March Comes in Like a Lion four and a half stars. I wanted to give it the full five stars but the somewhat difficult watch made it impossible for me to award it full marks. If you’re interested in similar shows I would recommend it’s predecessor “Your Lie in April”, or potentially AnoHana. I do stand by my recommendation to give this show a go, however, as I think it has something to say to everyone.
Author: Jace Cowan
Manager - Let's Go Akamaru!