Anime Review: March Comes In Like A Lion, Season 1

Details: Also known as Sangatsu no Lion. First aired in 2016 and currently airing its second season. There are twenty-two episodes in this first season, each around twenty-five minutes long.

March Comes In Like A Lion is a drama centered on a professional shogi (Japanese chess) player. It’s based on the similarly named manga whose creator is also the creator of Honey and Clover. Honey and Clover was an often bittersweet drama that I vaguely remember watching years ago. Similarly, March Comes In Like A Lion is also an often bittersweet drama that can make you laugh out loud as well as cry.

March Comes In Like A Lion is about Rei Kiriyama, a high school student who is also one of the youngest professional shogi players. In Rei’s short life, he’s suffered a great deal of tragedy and we follow Rei as he tries to overcome the trauma and loneliness of his life as he pursues a career in shogi.

March Comes In Like A Lion is one of the most uniquely looking anime that I’ve seen in a while. It’s beautiful, often times deviating from the established style to a more hand drawn, water colored look that is both visually appealing and helps emphasize emotions being expressed through the narrative. Themes that run throughout this show relate to loneliness, depression, abuse, and overcoming all those negative emotions and moving forward with your life. This is a very sweet and very sad anime and the art here is the primary vehicle in which that is expressed.

Despite this incredible art, I was mostly amazed at the pacing of this show. I didn’t feel like this show dragged at all. It moved along at the exact pace necessary to express a feeling or a plot point and kept me interested the whole time. The show spends a lot of time on jokes and gags, but those moments are not wasted in that they help emphasize the happy moments in the sea of depressing moments in Rei’s life. Usually, a show has many moments that drag for me or lose my interest, especially a drama. Here, I didn’t feel that way at all.

Worth mentioning is that while this show centers of shogi, the show doesn’t really delve into the tactics and inner workings of the game. This isn’t a show like Haikyu! and Kuroko no Basuke where shogi matches and developments within the matches are the primary focus of the show. March Comes In Like A Lion is undoubtedly a drama and even more so a comedy rather than a sports anime. I found myself laughing out loud many times, especially when they provided the inner narration to a cat or a dog.

Also worth mentioning is that there is little to no romance in this show. If you want to see someone fall in love, you’re not going to get that here.

The music is great and really fits the tone of the show. The voice acting is great, too.

Overall, this was a great show and I can easily recommend it to anyone. I’d also recommend you watch it with a box of tissues near you if you’re the type that cries easily.

Score: 8/10

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