RogerBW's Blog

3-gatsu no Lion season 1 24 February 2019

2016-2017 seinen manga adaptation in 22 episodes: AniDB, vt "March Comes in Like a Lion". Kiriyama Rei is a young professional shōgi player, but is profoundly lonely.

The manga series is up to fourteen volumes, and in the usual manner of anime adaptation of a long-running story there's an emphasis on cramming in all the high points and all the major characters, sometimes at the expense of narrative progression, and certainly being willing to drop storylines with no resolution, perhaps in the hope that they'll be picked up again later. Certainly there's nothing like a conclusion at the end of this first series.

On the other hand, there is progress: in spite of all the flashbacks to his horrible earlier life, Rei starts to realise that it is actually possible to form friendships and might even sometimes be a good idea. (And of course there's that Japanese flavour of "whoever you are, being a loner is Bad", which is quite unlike the Anglo-American version while carrying basically the same message.)

Female characters are mostly lacking: Rei has a friendship with three sisters, one of whom is clearly destined to be his romantic interest, but they're literally supporting characters, focused entirely on keeping a household running and making life easier for Grandfather who makes traditional Japanese sweets, occasionally also feeding Rei when he washes up on their doorstep. Rei's adoptive sister is a stock Bad/Crazy Girl. And that's it; we meet no female players (which may be accurate to real life, since as far as I can see women are effectively relegated to separate competitive categories, but the series is happy to present an implausibly good young male player, so…)

The manga series apparently has commentaries by a high-rated professional player, but I didn't get much sense of the game from the anime; there are occasional mentions of specific tactics, but they came over to me as "Oh no, I did (jargon), and now he can attack by (jargon). But maybe if I (jargon)?" It probably doesn't help that I don't read the Chinese characters with which the pieces are universally labelled.

While there's a fair bit of personal drama, shōgi is the focus: there's no procedural plot as there was with Shion no Ou (2007) and its murder mystery. This makes Rei end up seeming self-obsessed and whiny, if only because we're privy to much of his interior monologue.

Adaptation is a little rougher than usual; there are many moments that call out to manga visual convention, like written notes and thinks-bubbles, and moments of visualised imagination (e.g. Rei picturing himself drowning). The artwork is technically competent but never stunning, and ditto the soundtrack.

A second season was broadcast in 2017-2018.

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