FIRST LOOK: MARCH COMES IN LIKE A LION
Life is full of misery. That's not me being wonderfully optimistic that's just a fact of life. Everyone suffers at some point in their lives. And while the amount of suffering isn't exactly equally distributed amongst the human population it's a feeling we've all encountered at least once. But just like it's a fact that life is full of misery it's also a fact that no life is nothing but misery. There's are always glimmers of hope. March Comes in Like a Lion is a show about these glimmers. Because no matter how dark it gets, there are always lights in the darkness and the darker it gets the more those lights will shine ever brighter.
The series centers around the character of Rei Kiriyama. A seventeen year old Shogi protege living on his own in the bustling megahub of sounds and noises that is Tokyo. Life has not been easy on Rei and it's left deep emotional scars on his psyche. I'm being intentionally vague about his backstory here because it's slowly revelead over the course of the series itself so to discuss it here would be majorly spoilerific. However that's not to say that he himself remains an enigma. From the very first scene onwards we get a very good idea of the kind of person he is. He's a very sensitive young man who's not very good with social interaction and suffers from a massive guilt complex and feeling of depression stemming from that.
His life changes for the better though when one night his fellow class mates drag him off to a nightclub where he meets Akari. A charming and friendly hostess who takes care of her two younger sisters. After his classmates bail on him Akari takes pity on Rei end eventually takes him home with her. From that moment on Rei becomes a part of their family. Life hasn't been easy for the three sisters either and continues to be a struggle every day. But they find solace and comfort in eachothers company. And for Rei it's the first time in his life he's really felt a genuine connection with other people. And maybe, just maybe...because of that...he might finally be able to heal his very wounded soul.
March Comes in Like a Lion is somewhere between a drama series and a slice of life show. It's a show about the beauty of every day life and the cleansing effect that human interaction can have on the soul. It's got extremely well written dialogues, lots of genuinely funny and very well timed comedy and fantastic character that you can't help but love. But really it's greatest strength by far has to be the way it can capture raw emotion like no other show I have seen. There are plenty of shows that make you feel because of the events unfolding on screen but few shows manages to accurately portray feeling even if what is occurring on screen isn't all that emotional. One of the most emotional scens in the show so far is in episode 2 when Rei finds out his fridge is empty and so he has to take a walkto the grocery store. The way he describes the city around him and the way the scene is staged is so heartfelt and oppresive it feels like your throat is being squeezed tight. And likewise the happy moments in the show truly feel like lights in the darkness. Even if you feel no connection to any of the characters the way this show manages to portray emotion so damn well makes it impossible not to feel something when watching it.
But in my opinion March Comes in Like a Lion isn't just the most well written show of the season. It's also the best looking one. Director Akiyuki Shinbou is well known for directing anime that are feasts of visual imagination like Madoka Magica and the Monogatari franchise. However his style for this series is a lot more understated though no less impressive. As I said March Comes in Like a Lion is a show that rides heavily on feeling and Shinbou's visuals reflect that beautifully with a really unique artstyle and some very evocative visuals that reflect the feelings expressed perfectly. Just take a look at the brilliant opening to see what I mean:
Speaking of the opening, the music for this show is also absolutally fantastic, once again complementing the writing and visuals perfectly while never trying to overtake either. And the choice for Bump of Chicken for both the OP and ED of the show is inspired. I'd never heard of this band before but both their songs for this show are teriffic and are a perfect fit for the series that this is. Suffice to say I'll be keeping my eye on them from now on.
As you might be able to tell I had a really hard time writng this piece. It's very hard to put into words what maes ths show so damn good. Mostly because what makes it so good are the thigns you can;t put into words. Even still I'm really glad I did bcause this show really deserves a bigger audeince. This is one of those very rare instences where the reception of a show in Japan and in the west couldn't be more different. In Japan this is a huge hit. Beating out the latest itterations of both DBZ and Pokemon in it's premiere week. However here in the west only a very select few are watching it. And this is the greatest shame ever because it oh so deserves widespread recognition. This is a show that does everything right and better than most other shows out there. It's far too early yet to pass final judgement but I truly feel that this has the potential to be one fo the best anime of all time.
Now you may think, that's all well and good but the season is almost over mate. Bit late much? In that case I am happy to tell you that this is a full 24 episode series so it's not even halfway done yet! So plenty of time to catch up and continue watching it well into the new year. And since the show is on hiatus for this week now would be a great time to catch up.
I'm hoping this piece will have peaked some people's interest and that hopefully we can put this show on the map for others as well. Because even if you only plan to watch one anime per season than make sure it's this one. Yes it is that good. Don't believe me? Just watch it for yourself. Trust me you won't regret it.
March Comes in Like a Lion can be streamed over on Crunchyroll.
First look: March Comes in Like a Lion
A first look at the brand new slice of life/drama anime series directed by Akiyuki Shinbou and based on the manga by Chica Umino: MARCH COMES IN...
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