Following a terrible accident that claimed the life of Rei Kiriyama’s parents and younger sister, he was adopted by a family friend who trained him to excel in the game of shogi. Rei matured so much in the game that he began competing at the professional level starting in middle school. Now living on his own, using his winnings from shogi to be more independent, he struggles to balance the professional life of a shogi player with the life of a high school student. Rei often succumbs to the incredible pressure he feels from the shogi community, his adoptive family, and himself. Throughout his troubles, Rei finds solace in three neighbourly sisters: Hinata, Akari, and Momo Kawamoto.
March Comes In Like a Lion, with its three seasons produced by Studio Shaft (Bakemonogatari, Nisekoi), is a heartfelt tale of growth and resilience. A tale we believe you should start watching. In this article, we will discuss the narrative flow, character development, music, and animation, all key contributors to what makes this anime stand out. We hope you enjoy.
The central narrative voice of this anime is inside the head of Rei Kiriyama, his inner voice. The story of his past and his present, the way he describes the pressure he is under, or the depression he may be feeling is made more intimate for the audience by having it told to the viewer by the protagonist himself. We begin to see the world from his perspective. We become immersed in his emotions and experience the changes he experiences. This, combined with stellar character development, leads towards a certain catharsis for the viewer that may help them reflect on their own life and what they are going through.
One area where an anime with a good story can fall apart is neglecting the development of its protagonists and supporting cast. No one wants characters whose growth remains static throughout the course of a 12-episode or 24-episode season or series. Luckily, this is not an issue in March Comes in Like a Lion. Throughout the course of the anime, we get to see how Rei’s responses to his stresses in life begin to evolve as he learns from each new experience. Whether it is encountering rivals or managing traumatic memories. The game of shogi is used as the perfect metaphor to represent the mental state and challenges that Rei faces and what he does to tackle them.
March Comes in Like a Lion is accompanied by a beautiful score composed by Yukari Hashimoto. The music is comprised of beautiful string accompaniment often consisting of an acoustic guitar. The piano is present across various tracks and is often accompanied by wind instruments. This is particularly prevalent in songs such as “Important Time”. Other songs to check out include “June 8th” and “Shogi House”. The soundtrack at times touches on synthetic sounds a bit, which can be heard in “A Cry that Cannot be Expressed”. The music is aptly equipped to carry the emotion in each scene that the story brings which is only further exemplified by the fantastic animation.
The animation in March Comes in Like a Lion sets a standard for Studio Shaft that will be hard to beat. The animation can be best described as a watercolour painting mixed in with various bright colours and pastels during scenes of joy, thereby appearing almost like a wonderful dream inside Rei’s head. Yet when Rei becomes engrossed in his past, in depression, or when he begins to fall into listlessness, the animation turns to a dark grey and white colour palette, akin to a nightmare or a walk in the severe storm that is Rei’s mind. The animation plays as much a role in telling the story of Rei Kiriyama as the actual dialogue and music do.
March Comes in Like a Lion earns aces across the board for being an enjoyable and emotional rollercoaster of an anime. Now that you know more, do you plan on checking it out? or have you already seen it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.