3-gatsu no Lion (Season 2) – Ep. 8

Good grief, it’s been a month and a half since I last covered 3-gatsu no Lion. Let’s fix that, shall we?

I make no promises as to how quickly I can catch up on this anime. I’ve learned that this show gets very heavy when it comes to its story, characters, and themes and it very rarely comes across as breezy to me. Simply put, this show demands my attention and even my shortest post(s) weren’t a bunch of quick and dirty paragraphs. That being said, I’m just happy to resume to 3-gatsu no Lion and I hope you’ll find these posts insightful and/or enjoyable. One thing that does help with catching up though is that apparently, 3-gatsu no Lion will be taking a three week hiatus starting on February 10th to avoid conflicting with the Winter Olympics. It sucks but considering how far behind I currently am, I could use the extra time.

I might’ve mentioned this in past posts but 3-gatsu Season 2 feels different from Season 1. When Rei’s story began, we saw him in a dark place; riddled with ennui and struggling with the loss of his family and his troubled childhood. As the story progresses, Rei starts to recover thanks to the help of his friends. Now it seems that Rei desires to return the debts he feels he owes to those people, particularly Hina, and the problem is that he has no idea how he can repay them.

Case in point, you find out in this episode that Rei has faced the reality that his savings plan probably won’t work. Not only is it daunting for him but just knowing the Kawamoto sisters, it’s hard to imagine them accepting the money (though Rei’s seriously selling himself short thinking that he’s just a stranger to them). That does leave Rei back to square one and while a solution might indeed be out there, it keeps eluding him. Understandably, Rei feels useless but I think him remaining as an active participant in this arc really speaks to how selfless he’s become. Nobody expects Rei to come up with an instant fix and the fact that he’s still trying is admirable. As corny as it is to say “it’s the thought that counts”, I think 3-gatsu argues that such a sentiment does ring true in life.

Once again, Rei has been seeking advice from Hayashida-sensei. I swear, the latter might be my favorite teacher character in all of anime. His reaction upon learning about Hina’s homeroom teacher was just priceless. As chilled as he can be, Hayashida-sensei can carry an awfully strong presence in his scenes. His experience as a teacher is evident in just how pissed off he is about how the situation has escalated. I think any respectable teacher who cares a lot about his or her students would naturally want to give that homeroom teacher a piece of their mind. It would be insane if Hayashida spoke on Hina’s behalf but honestly, I kind want to see that happen.

Strangely, it’s during Rei’s conversation with Hayashida-sensei that you learn about the Kawamoto sisters’ father. The story is simple: a man who seemingly chose to be another woman, but as Rei points out, the simplicity of it seems intentional on Akari’s part. I have a feeling that Akari is hesitating to explain everything to Rei. The direction is particularly noteworthy here. Centering Akari in the frame makes it feel like she’s opened up not just to Rei but also to us, the viewers.

After that scene, it’s back to shogi. I think when I started Season 1, I originally thought that the story cutting this often made it appear unfocused. As time went on though, I think that sort of narrative decision was intentional. In most cases, no one has a singular overarching event in their lives. All sorts of things can happen in a single day and I quite like that you see that play into with Rei’s story.

While Rei has made it to the finals, Nikaidou has sadly been eliminated, meaning that the two won’t be able to have a long-awaited rematch. More concerning than that, however, is that Nikaidou collapsed during his game and is now seeking medical attention at a hospital. There were hints about the character’s condition in the past but I never realized how life-threatening it is.

I think Shimada explained it best. Being from a wealthy background, there’s really no incentive for Nikaidou to be this passionate about shogi. He could’ve just been a spoiled brat like Shimada originally assumed he was. But the boy truly does take shogi seriously even in situations where he doesn’t need to and potentially at the cost of his own health.

That Nikaidou’s condition is seemingly tied to his shogi career contrasts interestingly with how Rei feels about shogi. Rei started playing shogi because his potential caught the eye of his would-be stepfather; he’s not adamantly fond of the sport but it was his ticket to survival. For the longest time, it was something Rei just did for the sake of utility. It keep him afloat and therefore he just keeps playing. Conversely, Nikaidou is very passionate about shogi, so much so that getting so hung up could very well kill him. He kept playing it for almost the exact opposite reason: he just loves shogi that much.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really love how Rei has come to respect and care about Nikaidou. Once he heard his self-proclaimed best friend/rival got sent to the hospital, he immediately got concerned. I particularly like how Rei caught onto the fact that Shimada tried to downplay the situation in front of him. There’s a good reason behind that; Nikaidou doesn’t want Rei to find out the truth surrounding his condition. But I think because of where their friendship is now, Rei deserves to know now more than ever. Evidently, Shimada recognizes this since he reveals more about the situation to Rei.

Much like with Hina, I think Rei has to wonder how he can help Nikaidou right now. A visit to the hospital would be a start but what would really make the boy happy is if Rei won the final tournament match for him. It wouldn’t help improve Nikaidou’s condition but it’s at least something and according to 3-gatsu no Lion, it’s the thought that counts.

 

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