This episode came across to me as pretty lightweight, at least by 3-gatsu no Lion‘s standards. I’d also argue that this episode was a little bit disjointed too. The jump to Yamazaki’s perspective was strange and the second part did this strange jump back and forth between Rei’s victory celebration and his surprise meet-up with Hina. I assume this is how this content played out in the manga though it probably worked better as individual chapters and not strung together for a single anime episode. Still, nothing about this episode is bad by any means. Even at its worst, 3-gatsu is still very entertaining.
In the show’s defense, I do appreciate a more in-depth look at Yamazaki’s character, especially now that it lacks the filter of Rei’s rage. While his appearance is quite intimidating, Yamazaki’s personality really does not match it. At a glance, I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that this guy is also a pigeon caretaker who also gardens. And as it turns out, the man feels a ton of pressure in regards to his shogi career. Part of that stems from the unfair remarks of his peers who ask when he’ll become meijin. That’s a pretty cruel thing to ask, even if it’s ignorant or unintentional. I think Yamazaki said it best, it’s like asking someone in a more common profession when they’ll become a manager. Like any other job hierarchy, shogi just doesn’t work like that.
Later in the vignette, 3-gatsu presents a really great visual metaphor that sums up how Yamazaki is actually intimidated by younger shogi players such as Rei and Nikaidou. I love the imagery of jumping off a cliff, plunging into the ocean in search of treasure which represents success in your shogi career. While Yamazaki has to catch his breath after every victory or loss, Rei and Nikaidou keep jumping off the cliff for their next search, determined to keep trying even if to a fault. It’s less so much getting the treasure and more just how often the young prodigies keep jumping into the ocean that symbolizes Yamazaki’s fear. This man really does want to pursue his shogi career but his latest experiences has made him realize a noticeable gap in resolve compared to the other players. Overall, this scene is a great visualization of shogi’s hyper-competitive nature.
As for the second half of this episode, it was largely a nice, fun antic with the Kawamotos with a couple of important takeaways. It should be noted that despite celebrating his big victory, Rei is the one who is treating everybody to dinner. I can’t say I’m surprised; the boy has become so modest and selfless that treating the ones who ought to treat him doesn’t seem far-fetched. And in a way, Rei does end up using his funds to help this family like he originally planned, even if it’s something as simple as dinner. I love how Akari and Hinata just go all-out with this meal. There’s been a lot of scenes in the past where this family’s very concerned about budget so clearly, they want to take serious advantage of Rei paying for the food. I get Someji’s shock at this but let’s be real here: who doesn’t like free food?
I don’t know if it’s necessary to show more of Rei paying Hina a surprise visit. I think the emotional impact was achieved last episode. Still, this was a very charming scene and a nice reprieve from Hina’s recent struggles. It was especially adorable seeing Hina wear Rei’s jacket and glasses (the latter of which he has to take since they’re prescribed). Out of context, it kind of looks like Hina’s trying to cosplay as her friend. I suppose one thing I am curious about is how effective that jacket helped Hina out. Did it actually help her remove some unwanted attention placed on her? I suppose given her glee after the trip, it must’ve worked. Other than that, I don’t really have anything new to add to this scene though my original take still stands. This was an amazingly selfless act on Rei’s part and any scene where Hina is happy is great to watch.