Anime Review: March Comes in Like a Lion Season 1 Part 2

By Drew Hurley 10.12.2018

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March Comes in Like a Lion Season 1 Part 2 (UK Rating: 15)

The previous collection of March Comes in Like a Lion left viewers hanging - a strangely enthralling series that delivered a quiet, slow-burning tale. Professional Shogi player, yet still high school student, Rei, is falling apart. Trying to live alone, manage school, and progress his Shogi career is not going well. He's falling behind in school, failing in his ranking matches and his mental health is suffering. Now Rei is learning the reality of his future as he watches a veteran senpai challenge for the title. Coming courtesy of Anime Limited, this second part contains episodes 12 - 22 and is available now.

In the first part, the truth to Rei's past was fully explained. The loss of his loving father that shattered his world - a new surrogate father who was only interested in his Shogi ability - entering into a broken family, filled with its own drama and issues. It was a hard enough life and one he had to walk away from thanks to the twisted relationship he was developing with his step-sister Kyoko, while she instead pursued an older, married man, much to her father's irritation.

Meanwhile, in the present day, he's struggling with depression and anxiety; and it's affecting his once promising future. He was the fifth child in history to become a professional Shogi player while still an adolescent, but now his ability seems to be crashing. He's losing matches and should he lose too many, to drop too many ranks, he won't be able to recover.

Rei has trouble seeing the bright aspects of his life. He has a group of friends who truly love and care about him; a teacher that is always going out of his way to help him; a family of sisters who do everything they can to make him part of their family; and a handful of fellow professional Shogi players, rivals, and friends who want him to succeed and want to push each other to do better.


 
The previous season hinted at tragedy in the lives of each of these friends; sadly, it's something not further explored here. Instead, the supporting cast is extended even further. Rei befriends a veteran eighth dan named Kei Shimada who defeats him in a tournament. The defeat rocks Rei to his core and puts him at his lowest point. It's the first of many things that make Rei question his decision to live as a pro-Shogi player. Across this season, Rei's life finally begins to become too much for him. He's about to be forced to re-sit a year in school; his losses continue to pile up in his professional career; and then there's the strange relationship with his sister…  It seems she inserts herself into his life at the worst possible time, causes chaos, and then vanishes again.

However, it's actually the defeat by Kei that is the catalyst for the majority of this season. Kei was asked to do this to Rei by Rei's friend Harunobu and, in doing so, ends up bringing Rei to join both Harunobu and Kei in a Shogi study group. After joining the group, Rei takes something of a backseat in the story for Kei to step up. Kei was a big fish in a little pond in his little, farming, hometown - the unbeatable Shogi master. That was until he came to Tokyo; he was quickly put in his place there, and took years to progress. Now, though, he's taking on the grand champion Soya in the Meijin tournament. This story fills the majority of this collection. Looking at Kei's back-story, his battles with stress and a stomach ulcer, the dream to play in his hometown - all the while Kei follows along acting as a helper to Kei.

As with the first part, the quality of the presentation is impressive. Produced by SHAFT, it's to be expected. The overall style perfectly captures the style of the manga and the series' obsession with using water in its metaphors delivers some darkly beautiful moments. Once again, the English and Japanese dubs are available here, and Wendy Lee continues to knock out solid English productions.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 1 Part 2 is something of a step backward after the first season. The second season focuses on Shogi much more heavily, with a considerable amount of time being spent playing out matches. It's enjoyable for those who know the game, but for those that don't, the jargon and moments are dull. The focus stepping away from Rei and focusing more on the supporting cast feels like a side-story and the lack of progression in Rei's overall tale is disappointing. Despite this, the series keeps its strangely captivating nature and solid storytelling.

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