March Comes in Like a Lion – Mid Season Review
Note: Due to injury, Linny will be taking a diminished roll through the Mid Season reviews. She will return for the full reviews at the end of the season.
March Comes in Like a Lion:
Original Air Dates: October 8th, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Rei Kiriyama is a 17-year old pro shogi player who is burdened with a deep sense of loneliness. He lives alone, separated from his adoptive family in an older part of Tokyo. As despair seems to slowly but surely swallow him up, his life changes for the better thanks to becoming acquainted with three sisters, Akari, Hinata, and Momo.
Mid Season (6 episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: March Comes in Like a Lion has decent characters, an engaging narrative, and all the makings that should provide audiences with a more dramatic, darker, mellowed in depression Slice of Life, yet botches the all so important execution.
Starting with what the series does get right, lets talk about its characters. Rei Kiriyama is a decent, fairly relatable depiction of a young man suffering from deep depression. He’s a troubled individual. For anyone who’s suffered from extremely dark thoughts, contemplated their life’s worth, and found themselves struggling to find the will to continue on, Rei captures a lot of that inner turmoil.
The girls he spends much of his free time with, Akari, Hinata, and Momo, are all quite adorable and might make audiences jealous as he spends night after night eating and socializing with this adorable family that’s acting as his sole form of emotional support. Akari herself is cute, sexy and also gives off a mother like charm in her efforts to incorporate Rei into the family. Hinata’s high school crush struggles are adorable, and Momo herself is irresistibly cute as the youngest member of the group.
Less successful are the shogi players Rei often finds himself interacting with. Characters like Harunobu and Issa are much less hit than miss. They’re boisterous, silly and feel like they add little to the series that Akari and her siblings already offer and in a much better capacity. As the series continues, more characters are introduced to varying degrees: Rei’s teacher, Takashi, plays a bit larger a role, and we meet a shogi player Rei idolized as a child. But it’s still Rei’s interactions with the three sisters that showcase where March is at its strongest.
March’s biggest issue however stems from its uneven approach to showcasing depression. I don’t know if its a meta commentary or not, but the series bounces between happy times and depressing darker themes at a moments notice, coming in at unexpected times. The trouble is that even if its a meta commentary, it feels disjointed and uneven. The darker themes aren’t nearly as present as the rest of the show’s atmosphere, making that first episode feel like a bit of a lie. The bubbly, happy atmosphere is the majority of March’s content, at least so far, so if you hopped on board for a darker, less bubbly slice of life know that that’s not really the case.
All this might be forgiven if the darker elements were executed with precision flair. But they aren’t. The subtlety with which March operated in Episode 1 is completely gone by the time we delve into Rei’s past. Instead viewers should expect walls of narration awaiting them, as the audience find themselves beaten over the head with how sad and depressing Rei’s life has been. The content is indeed distressing, but undermined entirely by March’s lack of finesse.
Ultimately March Comes in Like a Lion does stand out amongst the plethora of rather generic, formulaic slice of life. It has an inner, darker soul, but fails to utilize that atmosphere in the most effective manner. March is best for viewers who really just enjoy how cute the three siblings are, and are okay with wading through the rest to get to those adorable moments. If you’ve come to March hoping for a darker, more internal story, know that it fails to make good on the 1st episode’s promise.
Linny’s Addendum: The manga of March Comes in Like a Lion has its fair share of fans so there’s still hope that you might enjoy it even if we didn’t. As Tom mentioned, my biggest problem with March is how it tries too hard to push its symbolism to the point where it feels forced. For example, in one scene, Rei is watching a tv show talking about how cuckoo birds as babies are laid in the nest of other birds and as they hatch and grow, they kick out the eggs and babies of the original birds. Rei then says out loud that he is that cuckoo bird as he did something similar in his past. It’s like the show is terrified that viewers might miss its extremely blatant analogies. If you have no problems with that, then you should be able to enjoy the show. On the other hand, the female characters in the show are extremely adorable and Momo, the youngest of three sisters is sure to melt the hearts of viewers who adore cute toddler characters in anime. There are times when the show does do a good job of showing the emotional turmoil that people can face and that might end up being what fans latch on to as they relate to the emotions being portrayed. Overall, if you’re a sucker for adorable anime characters, Momo and Hinata might save the entire show for you..and there’s a chance that the portrayal of depression or mental angst may resonate with you. However, do go into this show knowing that the mood can jump around like crazy during a single episode and you never know how happy, silly or how randomly dark/forced it can get.