March Comes in Like a Lion Ends

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4 Stars
March Comes in Like a Lion (Crunchyroll) is a fine show, but limited by the fact that it is based on an ongoing manga. As a result we have to settle for an ending that is basically OK, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered. This might still turn into something great if it gets another season or two to really wrap up the story but there is no guarantee that this will happen.

This is a challenging cerebral anime where much of the action takes place inside the head of Rei, the protagonist. It took some time for me to get drawn into it but I ultimately found it rewarding.

We have a morose withdrawn hero who initially seems off-putting but when we get to know him he turns out to be quite likeable. Rei is young and naive and he has suffered things that in an ideal world no child should ever have to endure. Yet he has an unbreakable spirit and always strives to do the right thing, assuming that he can figure out what that is.

I wrote a mostly complete introduction to the series here so I won’t repeat that. However the second cour added two new important characters:

Kai Shimada is a senior Shogi player who Harunobu regards as an older brother. He becomes an important influence on Rei. Like Rei he is introverted and withdrawn but he is a frighteningly intense Shogi player. He runs a practice workshop that Rei joins.

Touji Souya is the meijin, or top-ranked Shogi player. He is thus, presumably, the ultimate rival that Rei will eventually have to defeat. He rarely speaks and has an almost inhumanly calm and peaceful demeanor, which naturally tends to unnerve his hyper-competitive opponents.

The second cour spends so much time with these two characters and the high-stakes Lion King tournament that it feels like the Kawamoto sisters are getting shortchanged. That’s regrettable since whenever they’re onscreen they make a series that is otherwise a bit on the dark side seem bright and hopeful. One reason that I’d like to see another season is to see more of them.