Gonna try and tackle the first few episodes of 3-gatsu no Lion as fast as I can so that I’m not months behind. That said, I don’t plan on compromising my analyzes of this season.
Something that intrigued me about Souya’s title defense match wasn’t actually the match itself (though Souya’s trojan horse is very impressive) but rather what was happening around it. As Rei’s shogi colleagues watch the match on TV, it becomes apparent that Shimada is nowhere to be found. In fact, Shimada is still cooped up in his house, watching the match by himself. It’s a somewhat shocking sight since the man seemed to be enjoying the shogi event at his hometown in Season 1. Then again, 3-gatsu has almost never been very one-note with its depiction of depression. Someone who may be feeling down can nevertheless get caught in the levity of the moment. We’ve seen this happened a lot with Rei when he eats dinner with the Kawamoto sisters.
As one might expect, Shimada’s absence is noted by many, prompting some low rank players to make snide comments about them. This naturally upsets both Rei and Nikaidou. The two butt heads on some of the pettiest stuff but both share a profound respect for Shimada. As much as I wanted to see these two defend their mentor, they do risk coming across as really defensive apprentices. Frankly, it was probably for the better that someone as high ranking as Gotou shows up to smack some sense to the detractors.
Speaking of Gotou, that’s an awfully surprising moment for the character. Considering Gotou’s ego, you’d expect him to let the comments slide since not only did he play against Shimada in the tournament, he even lost to him. But intimidating as the man may appear, he does seem to give respect to those he thinks deserves it, even the ones who beat him. No doubt, that complicates Rei’s view on the man since he still resents him for his relationship with Kyouko but as a fellow shogi player, he can’t deny the man’s passion for the game.
The rest of the episode serves to humanize Gotou and Kyouko a bit more. Theses two’s relationship is as one-sided you’d expected but not necessarily in the way you’d think it’d be. As smitten as Kyouko is with Gotou, the latter is generally pretty indifferent towards the former’s advances. And sure, there is a less rude way to tell someone to back off but in Gotou’s defense, Kyouko is pretty darn intrusive — getting his dry cleaning and even tricking him into letting her into his apartment. Still, Gotou seems to still care a great deal about his ailing wife and while you do see Kyouko tied up in a pretty comprising way, the scene isn’t really sexual in nature. And to be fair, Kyouko largely helps the man on her own accord, even surprising the man with the lengths she’ll go to assist him.
One could argue that Rei may have been a bit presumptuous in how he demanded that Gotou should stay away from Kyouko. The relationship is certainly complicated but Gotou doesn’t indulge in it as much as one might think and he seems to just keep Kyouko around for the help she provides. And Kyouko is an an adult, one that is a product of some deeply flawed parenting, but an adult nonetheless. She is sort of free to do what she pleases and really, it ought to the responsibility of her parents to do something about this (though they sure suck at it). Besides…Kyouko really isn’t worth defending anyway.
As much as I appreciate this episode’s efforts to humanize Gotou and Kyouko and make them more interesting, I can’t forget that they are still two of the sleaziest characters in 3-gatsu no Lion. Gotou is still a massive piece of shit for beating up Rei for simply speaking his mind and Kyouko still remains one of the worst fictional sisters that I’ve seen in quite some time. Frankly, making Kyouko cute was just plain weird. I don’t know if someone who abuses and harasses her brother and lets an older man beat the hell out of him really deserves to be drawn with cat ears. I wonder if this is to make Hinata and Momo look even better. Not only are they better siblings than Rei’s legal stepsister, they pull off the moe with far less cringe.
I’m glad that the antagonists of 3-gatsu are looking less cartoonish now but honestly, I can’t wait for them to get their comeuppance for how they treated Rei. I suppose, it’s just a matter of time.