3-gatsu no Lion got pretty emotional with Akari’s moment of self-doubt last episode so I guess to balance it out, the show presents Rei lamenting his support moves far more humorously. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Rei so determined to lose at shogi but in his defense, it would be worrisome if Hina couldn’t find enjoyment in such a pastime. How unfortunate that Rei is pretty bad at playing badly in shogi. For crying out loud, that handicap ought to give Hina a fighting chance. Even funnier is that Hina is still consoling Rei even though it probably should be the other way around.
It is great to see Rei playing shogi with Hina though. That was something they agreed to do back in Season 1 and it’s nice to see them play again in this time of need. And once again, we see how these two seem to be very comfortable around one another too. I’m curious as to whether or not Hina discloses what she’s telling Rei to Akari or her grandfather. With such a loving family, I’d be shocked if Hina was still reluctant to talk about school. I do understand why she’s able to talk to Rei more freely though. She’s opened up to Rei before and she’s probably even more willing to do so after Rei declared his oath to look after her.
At school, Hina’s crush, Takahashi, pays her a surprise visit and asks her to play catch with him. Apparently, Takahashi had a chance encounter with Rei and upon hearing about Hina’s dilemma, he chose to side with her. After hearing about how little support Hina has been getting at school, it’s nice to finally see someone willing to ally with her. I especially loved it when Takahashi demonstrates his freakishly strong baseball pitches to the bullies. Maybe he is oblivious that those girls were the ones picking on Hina though it was nice to see them intimidated for once.
The downside to Hina’s relationship with Takahashi though is that this does give the bullies some additional cannon fodder to use in their agenda against her. I’d say it’s astounding how extreme their language and actions got this episode but then again, this kind of stuff sadly happens a lot in schools. As humorous as Rei’s reaction to this was, I can’t blame him for feeling upset that there ended up being a caveat to enlisting Takahashi’s help.
At this point, it’s clear that this conflict is now strictly Hina’s fight. Just the fact that the bullies are trying to demean her with sexual slang certainly makes it so. And while Hina wanted justice for Chiho first and foremost, it might be for the best to keep her out of it. With Chiho now in rehab, there’s no way she’d want to confront the bullies at the state she’s currently in.
I was afraid that when Hina saw the insults on the chalkboard, she’d officially shut down but instead her decision to stay seated was her way of finally speaking up. Instead, she just lets the writing stay on the board, effectively denying her bullies a defeat and also forcing the teacher to realize that she sucks at her job (I really hate this lady by the way). And while I think it’s outright dumb for the teacher to ask the victim if she wrote the insults on the board (seriously?), I really love how calmly and assertively Hina defends herself.
The direction of this ending is quite powerful too. I really love how the classroom is colored in monochrome, reflecting the whole class’s unwillingness to play a part in this conflict. Hina meanwhile is drawn with color which fits her resolve to speak up. While this is all happening, Rei is off to play another tournament match. I initially thought this juxtaposition was a little random but the more I think about it, the more deliberate it seems. Sometimes, life really is just a game. In Hina’s case, she’s tired of losing to her opponents and regardless of what the outcome is next episode, it’s hard to deny that she’s finally made her move.