March Comes in like a Lion

Alt title: 3-gatsu no Lion

TV (22 eps)
2016 - 2017
Fall 2016
4.358 out of 5 from 7,040 votes
Rank #340

Rei Kiriyama is a 17-year-old professional shogi player who suffers from anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Unwanted by his relatives after he loses his family in an accident, and resented by his adopted family's children, Rei moves into his own apartment in Tokyo to avoid inconveniencing others. He uses his talent at shogi to earn a living, but doesn't take care of himself, and is reluctant to ask others for help. Soon after his arrival, the boy meets the Kawamoto family: a trio of sisters and their grandfather who run a traditional Japanese pastry shop. They too have dealt with pain and loss, but their warmth and loving-kindness are balm for Rei's anguished spirit.

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The first thing when I saw “March Comes in Like a Lion” is a game anime about Shogi. But, it’s not really about the Japanese chess game. Instead, this anime is like a poetic. It describes the emotions of the main character and the perspective of other characters. The main protagonist, Rei Kiriyama, is a very complex character. On the way he is trying to get past various obstacles, this anime changed the slice of life genre into a unique story. Unlike such a genre in general, this show represented how dilemma mixes with feelings, experiences, and suffering. The same is true in the first minute of the first episode. This anime doesn’t require its narrative between characters but Rei’s content head describes every feeling of all characters. Rei Kiriyama is not the MC from a game or video game genre in general where they were always portrayed strong without any complexity mixed up. Rei is a young man and a Shogi talent professional besides having a successful life from the outside, it’s not really the case. He has to deal with all kinds of depression, deep internal problems, and many personal issues. We see his life and how he looks at others from his perspective. Using his glasses, he invited us to explore a variety of obstacles from his relationships, past, people he meets, his job, and people who influence himself. Discussing Rei Kiriyama itself is one of the main keys to why this anime could be very interesting. Sinking into the deepest sea, trying to swim but the deeper he sank, the darker and emptier the sea was. Rei feels isolated both in society, his family and friends. Not that he doesn’t have anyone but he has people who help him when he drowns. After the death of his family in an accident, Rei has nothing but to accept an offer whether he likes Shogi or not. He accepts it so he has a new family thanks to his adoptive father. However, he still drowned and felt that he was an outsider. Somehow, he finally chose to live alone so that there were no more people who felt hurt because of him. His meeting with Akari, Momo, and Hina has changed his life. He feels warmed differently when he always sank into his apartment where he lived. These three sisters caring for poor Rei with all their heart and even taking an abandoned cat have described how kind they were. Every time Rei feels empty, he has a place to hang so that his heart is filled again. Unfortunately, his expectations suddenly become unexpected after meeting with Kyouko Kouda, his adopted sister. She is like a queen regardless she is beautiful but every time she shows herself, Rei suddenly becomes silent. Even so, Kyouko is a complex character as well after what happens when they are still with their father.For Rei, he felt that he was always dependent on someone. Every time he felt alone, for some reason there would be someone who pulled him again. Fill his empty heart so that he doesn’t feel alone again. I like and hate Rei’s character at the same time. I like and sympathize with him because there are so many things he must go through at his young age. But I hated him because he never always took steps for himself. Often, he always thinks about the outcomes so he doesn’t repeat his mistakes again. Like a bird who stabbed his father. After stabbed him, he looked for a place to depend again. Therefore, Shogi is a dedication and reflection of his life. If there is no Shogi, Rei is nothing. He certainly had no purpose in his life other than continuing to move forward. “March Comes in Like a Lion” deals with someone’s solitude and depression. I really like this anime from the first episode and continue to like it to the end. The pace is different from the slice of life anime I’ve watched because this is a very, very different anime. It’s not really about Shogi, apart from you are non-Japanese viewers, you will be confused. There is also a cute cartoon segment explains the basic rules of the game. But, I didn’t really see this as a Shogi anime but instead, it really focused on its narrative and storyline of the main character. Shogi is just a reflection of Rei’s life because being a professional player is the only thing he has. In addition to having to be able to go forward along the dark road, he finally realized there was still light in his straight path. The most influential characters are the Kawamoto sisters. It was they who made Rei grow even more so that they would go forward. To continue to support what Rei really wanted to find. They not only exist as colorful cast or even sub-plots but they are there so that Rei can go and move forward. Because of them, Rei can trust all of his friends, the people he met at Shogi, and not for his ego anymore. He even saw Kyoko as broken glass but still stood firm. But what’s most important about his life is how much he influences others and what the true meaning of his influence was. And one important thing that teaches Rei the true meaning is Harunobu Nikadou. Nikadou shows as comic relief at first glance besides he always recognizes Rei as his best friend and archrival. However, he has things what Rei doesn’t have so they influence each other where Rei doesn’t realize it. At the hot sun besides fighting his disease, it turns out there are still people who care about Rei and one of the biggest influences when talking about Shogi. There is Kai Shimada as the most influential person later on. Masamune Goto as his adoptive father and other supporting characters who have their own narration for Rei himself too. While the plot doesn’t focus much on Shogi itself, it doesn’t try to focus more on such a game itself than the plot. So, you don’t need to worry about watching this. You don’t have to learn Shogi first. Shogi is a part of this game mind like chess where there are strategies and formations on it. The show is so sticking with it and doesn’t really focus on tropes about “from zero to hero”. Because it’s not about Rei who must be the top Shogi player. Shaft studio really did well in this show making “March Comes in Like a Lion” has its own unique style. In contrast to the Shaft direction in general, which is not infrequently there was also a head tilt, the art is well-drawn and so amazing spectacular. It’s like a superior animation while trying to be audiovisual with a realist narrative. There are so many metaphors when it comes to it and that’s being said, the character designs are also unique. The soundtrack is just really well-composed. It’s so melancholic and very suitable in describing the dilemma and feelings of the main and other characters. The opening theme songs really bought its visual into a poetic that illustrates the whole feeling of the character. This is not a comedy show but the show really sticks with it. The author and other staff didn’t forget to pay attention to the smallest details including the cats. Kengo Kawanishi as Rei Kiriyama is just powerful and amazing voice actor. Not all voice actors are able to express all kinds of feelings through their characters, but Kengo Kawanishi is one of them. Kana Hanazawa, Ai Kayano, and Misaki Kuno are also very cute in carrying their characters. One of them is Misaki Kuno as Momo. “March Comes in Like a Lion” speaking through its narrative, through its feeling, deals with psychology, so that it becomes a unique slice of life show. I love everything about this anime regardless of the pacing was a bit slow and dull in some segments. The relationship between characters is well-development, realism, and the Shogi scene is really interesting to follow. It’s not really a slice of life show even for the manga readers or anime watchers, you would find it hard. There are many complexities of each character. However, it’s a show that presents it with such a breathtaking direction.


I have been avoiding this anime for like two years now, thinking it was "Oh... another silly melodrama". So, I waited until the anime was finished airing, then I checked out a few clips of it and thought maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I thought. It turns out in some ways, I was right, there were a couple of overemotional parts but the anime in general was fairly decent. I was worried about how the story would turn out from the beginning. The anime is more like a Kyoani anime, since you have your male protagonist meet and befriend some girls. It has a little melodrama in it, but it doesn't try to pull at your emotions as often as a typical Kyoani anime. The story isn't anything really special. It's about this orphaned shogi player with a traumatic family background and he struggles with socializing and depression. It tends to be too slow-paced and struggles with inconsistent pacing. The first like 10 episodes of the series has Rei bonding with these three girls named Akari, Hinata, and Momo, but the rest of the series is about shogi and Rei withdraws from the girls more. One of the good things about the series is Rei's bondage with the three girls, the girls were my favorite character but in the teen episodes, the series throws that out the window and the girls are reduced to side characters. Add in a little excessive drama but we'll get to that with the characters. The show mainly focuses on Rei and to a lesser extent, Akari, Hinata, and Momo (before the teen episodes, that is). After that, the show starts focusing more on Rei's relationship with the secondary characters who didn't get much screentime during Rei's bondage with the girls. Those are Rei's family and his shogi associates. Rei is an okay character, it took me a lot of time for him to grow on me. He's a quiet character who struggles with depression which can make him come off as a crybaby to me. The three girls are adorable and they provide the levity and light-heartedness of the show and that's why they're my favorites. They're a good balance to the gloomy melodrama of Rei's life. They are also resilient, strong, caring people who are going through a hard time too but take each day as it comes and I respect that in characters. As for the secondary characters who Rei interacts with beside the girls, they don't really get much development. I remember Nikaido and Kyouko getting a little development and backstory but they are still weak characters as they do not get that much backstory or character development as to why they're the way they are so I couldn't sympathize or relate to them. They both just come off as arrogant, loud characters to me. So, overall, the secondary characters are weak and not compelling. The art and animation is the most beautiful, realistic I have ever seen in anime. Shaft's quality could rival that of Kyoani's art and animation. I do remember the character designs in the beginning were inconsistent since some of them didn't really fit the scenery but that was brief so that's forgivable. Do I recommend this anime? Maybe, it's not for everyone. It's not great but it was fairly decent to me. It turned out better than I thought it would be but I do think that the anime should've laid off some of the melodrama it had.


March comes in like a lion is about 17 year old Rei Kiriyama who became a professional shogi player when he was still in middle school - one of only five kids who managed to accomplish such a feat. That's why among the recommendations and similar anime you will find Hikaru no go, because they're both anime about board games. As a matter of fact, the comparison to Hikaru no go isn't very appropriate because in San gatsu no lion the board game - shogi, in this case - isn't the main focus point. I'd say March comes in like a lion resembles much more Honey and Clover - it's the same mangaka, the two anime feel very much alike, they've got the same atmosphere, they share the way certain themes are presented and dealt with; but while Honey and clover is mainly a romance anime, with some really good character development, March comes in like a lion is more a coming of age story - with some really good character development. Rei is a boy who's been deeply hurt and goes on hurting. He tries his best to rely only on himself and support himself thanks to shogi - but he has his own feelings to deal with and a deep and relentless yearning to blend in, be accepted and establish bonds with other people, which conflicts with his terrible timidity and the inability to speak his mind or ask for help. He is basically unaware of his own worth, unhappy about himself and his life, without a place to belong. But all the while trying so hard to go on, day after day. He's a fragile character, he would have the right to be angry at life, but instead he always blames himself, extremely conscious of his own shortcomings. Rei starts changing when he meets three sisters who live in the neighbouring block and welcome him open-heartedly into their home. Their warmth is complemented by the kindness of Rei's homeroom teacher, who pushes him into opening up to some of his fellow shogi players - and so slowly Rei starts building ties to other people as well as confidence in himself and so overcoming the dark well of depression he had got himself into. The other characters are also well built and fleshed out, but not to the same extent as Rei. I think maybe a little too much time was devoted to Shimada-san, another shogi player who Rei first meets as a rival but then becomes his mentor. I acknowledge he is an important figure in Rei's development, but I would have preferred instead to see more of Kyouko, Rei's sister, and to understand better the relationship between the two. And of course you really can't have enough of the three sisters, Akari, Hinata and Momo. The story has a slow start so it takes at least 5 or 6 episodes before it draws you in, but after that it really doesn't let go.  Animation and sound are extremely well done. The art is stylish and beautiful to look at. Op and ed songs are all great (the ones I recognized were Bump of chicken and YUKI, who also sang the Op in Honey and clover), but I also appreciated the background music as well as the voice actors. I really think that March comes in like a lion doesn't have many flaws for what concerns the production values, with great care taken for even the finest details. In conclusion, this is a gentle and heart-warming tale I highly recommend. I hear a second season is in the making - which is good news, some things at the moment are left hanging, like Rei's relationship with his adoptive sister as I mentioned before, but also his rival at shogi, a mysterious guy called Souya. I look forward to watching the second season and I hope other anime viewers are willing to give this anime a chance, I'd say it's well worth it. I know this review doesn't really do this anime justice, but if after reading this you think you might like it then please do give it a go and remember to watch at least the first 5 episodes before deciding whether to drop it or watch it to the end. 

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