• Titles: Sangatsu no Lion 2, 3-gatsu no Lion 2, March comes in like a lion Season 2
  • Genre: Drama, Sports(?), Slice of Life
  • Episodes: 22
  • Studio: Shaft

Rei is still moving forward, trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. But things are looking up. Not so long ago, Shogi was something he did. Something he excelled at and that paid the bills but not really something he enjoyed. Not to mention that it kept causing strain in his personal life. And so he was desperately trying to find his place all alone. But a year later, he has grown. He’s no longer alone, in fact, he finds friends wherever he goes. The sisters are always there for him, his teacher and friends from his new club make his school days fun. And the other players are now rivals and confidants. Rei has rediscovered his passion for Shogi and the future is full of promise. But when you let people into your heart, you start to take on their burdens and their pains. A sensitive guy like Rei still has some learning to do.

I liked the first season of March Comes in Like a Lion. Now that some time has passed, I think I can say that if I had gone in blind I probably would have loved it. It’s just that I had heard so much about it and so many people had told me this would become my favourite anime or something. That when I found it to be a very good show but nothing more, I was unduly disappointed. I approached season 2 much more reasonably.

Rei is looking a lot better these days

Production

Just like for season 1, Shaft is behind the production and it shows. This is a rather vague statement. OK, what I mean is that Shaft does visually striking anime. They really try things with their visuals and pretty much every show I have seen from SHAFT has some production elements to set it apart. And it’s always a different production element.

In March Comes in Like a Lion, there are of course the distinctive character designs and art styles. It’s not flashy but at the same time, I can’t really think of another anime that looks like it. If you show me a new character from the show without any clue, I would probably be able to tell you which anime they were from. Also, there’s a softness to the colour palette, the images often have a look of being rendered in soft pencils or maybe even crayons. And frequent art style departures are used mostly to communicate the characters’ emotions. It’s nice. A very good production.

you can just tell how she feels

Story & Characters

In case you didn’t read my review of season 1 and don’t have time for it, let me recap it very quickly. I can’t really separate my feelings for one season of the anime from the other so I will be comparing the two.

I enjoyed season 1 a lot but there were elements I liked less. I found Kyouko storyline superfluous and didn’t care for it in general. Also, I’m not usually a huge fan of stories that deal with depression and season 1 is very much about Rei’s depression. However, I also found that all the supporting characters were well-rounded and interesting. I was surprised that the Kawamoto sisters did not have a bigger role since they seem to be a big part of the promotion. However, I thought that actually worked even better as the fact that they were not too present really highlighted the contrast they added to Rei’s life and brought across his inner turmoil so much better. I also really liked the Shogi.

I watched season 2 of March Comes in Like a Lion at the same time as I watched Queen’s Gambit. Maybe that’s why this time around, I liked the Shogi even more. In fact, every episode that focused on Rei’s continuing professional career was absolutely great in my opinion. The rest…

of course, Nikaido is also always great

Kyouko returns at the beginning of the season and I still don’t care for the character. I actually don’t mind the character in isolation but I don’t think her arc brings anything to the story and it grinds the narrative to a halt for everything else. However, the season seems to just sort of abandon her and she disappears early on with little resolution to her personal plot thread.

There’s a small B-plot about Rei’s life at school now that he has joined a club and that was delightful. Like the sisters in season 1, it mostly serves as a contrast to the rest. Rei is enjoying Shogi a lot more but it remains a competitive sport that can become taxing and stressful. Also, Rei is personally in a much better place but the people in his life are not. All the episodes at school are lighthearted, often serve as comedy breaks and are generally joyful. Of course, I enjoyed that aspect a lot as well.

What really stuck out to me this season though, was Hinata’s storyline. Hina is the middle Kawamoto sister and this season she played a much bigger role. A lot of episodes are dedicated to her getting bullied at school and I thought those episodes where really mishandled.

I was always the weird immigrant kid so I get it

I believe the series really wanted us to sympathize and feel bad for Hina. And I did. However, they also consistently compared her experiences with Rei’s in the past and Nikaido and I just hated that. There’s an episode that is mostly dedicated to Nikaido. We learn that he has been bullied all his life for being a rich fat kid. That Rei is pretty much the only friend his age he has ever had. And that his condition has made life difficult since he was born, to the point that he spent a lot of his time not knowing if he would survive to see the next day. During that episode, Nikaido has collapsed and is in the hospital. At that point, the series is realistically hinting that he might not make it.

On the same day, Hinata was ignored during lunch by the other girls in class and comes home in tears. Now Hinata is a little girl being ignored by everyone in her class. Of course, she would be in tears. I would be too in her place and I feel bad for her. But the voice-over of the episode says textually, both Nikaido and Hinata have endured so much and tonight both are fighting in their own way. And I’m sorry, it’s not the same. This season does this a lot. There are many episodes dedicated to Hina’s troubles at school and they keep showing Rei traumatized by his family’s death and bullied by kids at school who are throwing cans full of rocks at him, then going home to a stepfamily who is antagonistic to him. And I just didn’t think the comparison worked or was necessary. Hina is going through something completely different and has her own circumstances.

In fact, when they stopped trying to compare Hinata’s situation to others, I enjoyed it way more and could empathize so much more clearly with her. It’s her story, there was no need to mix in everything else. At least in my opinion. It made a lot of those episodes weaker than they could have been.

hold on to that!

All this said, the element in season 2 of March Comes in Like a Lion that really wasn’t for me was this hinted at romance between Rei and Hina. It’s really not explicit or anything but throughout the season there are many moments that seem to indicate that Rei is developing romantic feelings for Hinata. I looked it up and it’s not my imagination. It seems that in the manga they basically confess so it’s canon. Although it’s subtle in the anime, there were enough hints for me to pick up on it. And I’m dense.

I like Hina well enough but she is the sister I’m least interested in by far. So I was already a little disappointed that she’s the one the season was focusing on. And a romance between her and Rei just really doesn’t work for me. I don’t get it at all. I really didn’t see any chemistry up to that point and for me it seemed completely out of nowhere. Not to mention that during the course of the season Rei is 18, I think he has a birthday and is 19 by the end. Hinata is 13. I just don’t ship it.

So where does that leave us? I don’t know. I really loved half the stuff in this season and just didn’t care for the other half. If you are a Hinata fan and the elements I noted aren’t things that would bother you, I would say season 2 is probably the better season. For me personally, it was a confusing experience and I still don’t quite know what to make of it.

Little Rei was absolutely adorable

Sometimes I think back and go no, that was a great season. Rei deepening his friendship with Nikaido was awesome. Those quiet moments with Souya were almost haunting. Getting to see Akari’s personal struggles as she had to essentially become a mother to her sisters while still a child herself was a deeply moving experience.

But then I start thinking of the abandoned plot threads, the clumsy treatment of some more delicate elements and certain episodes that just seem to go on forever and I’m like, hmm, I could have done without any of that. I’ll think about it some more.

You might like this anime if:

Like I mentioned, if you liked Hinata and if you think she would be a good match for Rei then this is a great season. Also if you liked season 1. This isn’t the type of show you can pick up at the second season anyways so you should really watch the first one before trying this one.

My favourite character:

It’s always Nikaido, although Akari made a really strong showing this season as well!

Suggested drink:

a cocktail General

  • Every time we see rosie cheeks Rei – take a sip
  • Every time the kitties talk – take a sip
  • Every time Momo is crying – oh no!
  • Every time Rei’s old teacher gets realy excited about something – rise your glass
  • Every time Hina’s sobbing – take a sip
  • Every time Smith has a match – cross your fingers
  • Every time the image becomes black and white – take a sip
  • Every time Shimada is on – raise your glass
  • Every time Rei attends his club activities – cheer
  • Every time anyone attemps to solve a problem with food – get a snack
  • Every time the chairman is preoccupied with publicity – take a sip
  • Every time Rei monologues in his head – put the drink down, you don’t want to start doing that as well
  • Every time Meijin Souya plays a game – pay attention
  • Every time the sisters cook – take a sip
  • Every time we see little Rei – awwwww

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

7 thoughts

  1. Probably because I didn’t catch on the comparison you mentioned (thank you for that), I enjoyed the bullying arc, especially the way they depicted Hina’s emotional turmoil with varied emotions. Although my favorite would be Yanagihara’s arc. I found it to be so powerful, both visually and narrative-wise.

  2. I thought Kyouko was fairly interesting and was REALLY disappointed they did not pursue her further. As it was, it left her hanging with a relationship to a much older man who was clearly abusive. In fact, it wasn’t until she was introduced that I really started getting interested. After that, I started getting interested in the Shogi.

    He did at one point say that his interest in the elder sister was more than platonic. But then being typical anime he had to fall for the young girl even though she is by far the less interesting of the two. It is a very rare anime indeed that highlights the charms of the slightly older woman. Hinata’s bullying arc was the least interesting of the entire show and I was bullied as a kid myself. She had a lifetime of NOT being bullied behind her to draw upon and eventually got off really easy.

    But if I forget about that arc, the entire rest of the show is unforgettable. The shogi was every bit as mesmerizing as the karuta in Chihayafuru. Particularly when they focused a bit on the older characters. It probably has the best New Year’s episode in all of anime. But that’s just my humble opinion.

  3. I never gave their age much thought, but I sort of assumed Hina was the closest in age to Rei among the mains after Nikaido. Never checked.

    I’d certaily watch another season; not sure how much source material is left, though. We might have to wait for a while. I don’t quite remember where the anime ended (I’ve never read the source), though. Maybe that’s all?

  4. I actually really liked the bullying ark. I totally missed the comparisons the show was making. Looking back (from what little I can remember) I can see it, though. As for the romance, yeah, it was obvious. I didn’t notice the age difference, since anime has the effect of blurring age for me; I’m never sure how old characters are (and even if I technically know I tend to not keep that in mind – due to character designs not always driving the point home). I was utterly neutral on the romance; neither for nor against – let them figure it out.

    I really liked Shimada this season (at least I think it was this season – the workshop and the Meijin tournament, I think? It’s been a while; some of that could easily have been in the first season – it really does feel like a single production).

    I had to look up who Souya was. The character felt like a ghost, maybe like an alternate future for Rei?

    This show (both seasons, because there’s precious little difference in quality) is definitely among the best stuff shaft has done for me. It does fall short of the very top favourite tier, but – well – most shows do, by nature of the tier.

    1. I looked up the exact ages afterwards but seeing that Hina was in middle school and just the behavior of the class, I always just thought she was osmehwre between 11 and 13. She seemed very realistic for a girl that age. While I always thought Rei was an adult. He’s dealing with existential angst and carrer pressure. His big cocerns are what course he wants to take his professional life in. For me the two were in completely different places in their lives and to be honest the age difference is better that I expected. I thought she was 11 and he was 21. I figured he probably got held back in school a bit becase he missed so many classes due to Shoji.
      I agree, this is some of Shafts best work. I wonder if they will be putting out more seasons. It.s the type of story that can go on forever but at the same time, it seemed like a good stopping point

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