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.
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.
I loved this anime very much. Sangatsu no Lion exceeded my expectations in so many ways that it now a top favorite. Story I actually put off watching this anime because the summary of it did not caught my eye. Seeing how the rating was so good in this site I gave it a chance and I was amazingly surprised with what I saw. I would definitely state the story is quite original in some ways. While anime illustrating board games or sports is not uncommon, the added features such as the strong character of Rei and the good nature role of the three sisters make for a very good story. This anime is all about balance. Not only is the plot interesting and well executed but it also offers several other components to it. For example, the story is full of comedy, but it also shows some very emotional moments. Watching this anime I felt happiness, anger, sadness, hope, and compassion. If the story had been focused purely on shogi I think the result would not have been a good one. The strong and enigmatic character of Rei is what makes this story the more unique. His past is rather enticing and his resolve at present is inspirational. I loved the fact that the three sisters are a great buffer and support for him. As much as I enjoyed the execution of this story, I found myself a tad bored in some parts where the shogi matched dragged on (in my opinion). Towards the end I ended up skipping some of these parts as I found the overall story to be the best part of this anime. Animation I was blown away by the beautiful graphics of this anime. The amazing work of art came alive with the use of sharp colors, beautiful landscapes, and great camera angles full of symbolism. Kuddos to the mangaka because to me, the characters were well designed and were perceived as unique. The quality of the animation remained consistent from beginning to end. Sound I LOVED the soundtrack for this animation. Simply put: AMAZING! Characters Rei is the main character. Having had a traumatic past originated in the passing away of his family and the hardships that followed, his character is seen as unique in many ways and overall strong. He is rather quiet in nature and more than a bit awkward socially since he was bullied from a young age. What I liked most about him is the fact that he works hard, he is independent, and has a very insightful way of thinking when pondering about his past and present. I see a lot of growth as he starts to stand on his own in life and work towards a goal. Learning about his past kept me wanting to watch more as his story was very sad. His relationship with his “sister” is my favorite as she embodies the negative thoughts on him and reminds him of the dark past. The sisters on the other hand reflect on the future and happy memories. My favorite character was actually Kyouko, Rei’s “sister”. She is such a strong and stubborn child that reminded me so much of myself. The scene where she is put outside by her father as punishment for hitting Rei was so powerful to me… You could see the anger in her eyes and her proud stand. I think this character is deeply troubled so she comes across as evil. I would say she is more or less misunderstood and she plays a significant role in Rei’s life. I believe she loves Rei very much but since there is so much resentment, her pride will not allow her to show it. I love her strong character, straightforwardness and fierce personality. Nikaidou also caught my eye. He is the self-proclaimed best friend of Rei. I never came across a character like him that I fell in love with right off the bat. Who wouldn’t want a friend like him? I realize the three sisters have huge roles on this story but they have not made any lasting impressions on me other than their good nature. I honestly feel this story is full of great characters with a lot of depth. Overall I can see how from the first two or three episodes, people will either love this anime or hate it. In my opinion, this anime is best suited for more mature audiences that are patient with the plot development and enjoy character exploration. I personally think that the animation and sound were outstanding. Also, the characters have a lot to offer which makes it worthwhile to give this anime a chance. In short, I don’t think this anime is for everyone, but for those who can appreciate self-exploration and personal growth I think this is something worth watching.
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.
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