Now in his second year of high school, Rei Kiriyama continues pushing through his struggles in the professional shogi world as well as his personal life. Surrounded by vibrant personalities at the shogi hall, the school club, and in the local community, his solitary shell slowly begins to crack. Among them are the three Kawamoto sisters—Akari, Hinata, and Momo—who forge an affectionate and familial bond with Rei. Through these ties, he realizes that everyone is burdened by their own emotional hardships and begins learning how to rely on others while supporting them in return. Nonetheless, the life of a professional is not easy. Between tournaments, championships, and title matches, the pressure mounts as Rei advances through the ranks and encounters incredibly skilled opponents. As he manages his relationships with those who have grown close to him, the shogi player continues to search for the reason he plays the game that defines his career. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
One year after 3-gatsu no Lion’s first season, the second one / March Comes In Like A Lion 2nd Season has arrived. And it manged to be even more outstanding.
Seven months after the first season’s ending, we get to see the continuation of Rei’s journey; His journey to find happiness and a place where he belongs. Has he managed to overcome his emotional scars and find people he can call friends and family?
The second season starts in a truly heartwarming way that shows how much Rei has grown and how lucky he feels for finally finding friends he can have fun with at school, and a family in the Kawamoto household. When compared to his former self, a boy with a reclusive personality and depression caused by his traumas and insecurities, Rei has grown as a person in an amazing way. While he is still a flawed being and is still searching, he has slowly overcome most of his personal issues, gained confidence, started trusting others and being more open to them while creating meaningful relationships with them. And most importantly, he is able to smile and laugh honestly, from the bottom of his heart. His pure laugh at the end of episode 16, even though it might sound like a simple thing, was one of the most powerful scenes of this season.
His growth throughout the whole anime, whether it’s done through his everyday life or the competitive shogi scene, is truly impressive and refreshing.
Of course, Rei isn’t the only character to get the spotlight and, even though he is the protagonist, there were quite a few episodes where he felt like he was a side character. But when it comes to 3-gatsu a situation like this is welcome. Umino Chica has the talent to create amazingly realistic and unique characters. It’s never uninteresting to follow an episode or a whole arc focused on a side character, slowly see him being fleshed out, to learn his background, his personal thoughts, problems and worries.
There are a lot of characters like this from the professional shogi scene, like Yanagihara and Souya, but even some that got less focus like the pigeon man (Yamazaki) and others. No matter how much focus they got, they were all memorable characters with interesting personalities and backgrounds.
Other characters that we know from the first season, like Nikaidou, Shimada and many others, keep appearing and receiving their fair share of focus and development.
The Kawamoto sisters are shown a lot in this season, mainly because of a certain arc: The arc about Hina becoming a victim of bullying.
This is one of the greatest arcs of the story so far for many reasons. It depicts bullying, the reasons behind it, its consequences and the damage it can cause in a very realistic way, without exaggerating it. The main bully, Takagi, is a really mean girl, but through her meetings with the homeroom teacher we get to understand the reason and thoughts that led to her actions. This doesn’t make what she did any better, but it’s great to see that even a character like her is getting a realistic personality.
The one who supported the Kawamoto family was Rei, even if he thought that he couldn’t do anything for them. The Kawamoto sisters were the ones who gave him affection and treated him like family, and now he’s the one helping them. It’s nice to see how much Rei has developed and come to love the Kawamoto family through this.
Of course, the one who got the most focus and development in this arc was Hina and her relationship with Rei. Her emotions and thoughts were fleshed out incredibly through the whole arc. She showed how great a character and brave girl she is, and Rei even felt like he was saved by her words.
The rest of the Kawamoto family, mainly Akari, got a bit of focus in this arc, as well.
The storytelling is still done in a poetic way, with a slow pace that makes the viewer immersed into the story as it gradually progresses.
While the anime is dramatic for the most part, the lighthearted comedy is still here. The subtle comedy of 3-gatsu no Lion is pretty funny and it can bring a smile to the viewers’ face or laughter. It doesn’t feel forced and the balance between the dramatic and funny moments is perfect.
In the second season, too, shogi has an important role in the anime. The psychology during the matches is portrayed excellently. The great description of the characters’ thoughts and emotions during the matches, helps the audience that can’t understand shogi know what’s going on the board. During the matches, the characters also find the chance to get fleshed out and developed, which leads to the story’s progression.
Like in the first season, studio Shaft has followed every single scene and line of the source material faithfully. They have only mixed up a few chapters at the end of the anime to make a more suitable ending episode, but this doesn’t really pose a problem.
The story and character sections of the review have gotten a bit mixed up already, but when it comes to a character-driven story like this one, it’s hard to talk about the plot without mentioning the characters. But rather than a plot with a clear beginning and ending, 3-gatsu no Lion mostly consists of pieces of different characters’ lives presented in a realistic and human way.
3-gatsu no Lion does an exceptional work at presenting complex, deep, realistic characters and fleshing them out. Their personalities, backstories, flaws, thoughts, worries and emotions feel human and even relatable. The anime never forgets any of them, it keeps showing them to the audience and developing them, while they all have a part in Rei’s life, even if it is as an obstacle.
The relationships and interactions between the characters also feel very human and the chemistry between them is really nice.
Moving on the art and animation, it’s quite easy to notice that studio Shaft has put an even greater effort to the already awesome visuals of the first season. Umino Chica’s artstyle combined with Shaft’s powerful direction, fluid animation and unique touches is a delight to the eyes. The artwork seems experimental at times, but there is also a feel of realism in it.
The color palette is really nice and the colors are used correctly according to what each scene wants to convey. Dark colors show up in the dramatic scenes and brighter ones for the more lighthearted ones. The shift of the colors really adds to the mood and atmosphere and makes the audience understand better how the characters feel at that moment, especially when it comes to the serious and dramatic scenes and the shogi matches.
The use of metaphorical scenes with symbolism is truly masterful, and depicts the characters’ thoughts and emotions in a very creative way.
The character designs are still good and unique and the characters’ expressions are drawn in a great way.
The backgrounds are beautifully drawn and detailed.
The music of the show is truly captivating, the soundtrack has an active role in creating the appropriate mood for each scene and allows them to convey their feeling better.
The OPs and EDs, just like in the first season, are very good and memorable. It’s also a nice detail that the songs keep getting a bit cheerier and have brighter art as Rei gradually grows and becomes happier by overcoming some of his troubles. They are all nicely directed with great animation and the use of watercolor-like colors in some of them is beautiful.
The voice actors did an awesome job once again and managed to convey the characters’ feelings perfectly.
Even the animals’ little dialogues in their cute voices are pretty funny.
The sound effects are also used well.
3-gatsu no Lion is an anime with a unique take on the slice of life genre. It doesn’t just follow everyday adventures of characters’, but it also gives them a mature and human touch. The anime’s storytelling is truly intriguing with its heavy characterization and greatly used psychology. Its life lessons regarding different issues one can come across in life and growth of the characters can even influence the viewers. It’s a series that makes simple everyday things feel powerful and offers compelling drama. Along with the beautiful artwork and music, it can stir up the viewers’ emotions and tug at their heartstrings through both the dramatic and lighthearted scenes. Watching 3-gatsu no Lion is a breathtaking experience, a true masterpiece that keeps surpassing the viewers’ expectations and capturing their hearts.