March comes in like a lion – Episode 9

March comes in like a lion had a bit of a lesser episode this week, though Rei’s match against Mr. Matsunaga was still both entertaining and dramatically important. I continue to appreciate how thoughtfully March approaches character drama focused on someone who’s fundamentally unhappy – Rei’s daily life is full of failures, victories, and new emotional discoveries, but all of that occurs in the context of his more overarching depression. Some occasional lazy jokes are a fine price of admission to a show that handles March’s key variables this well.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below!

March comes in like a lion

Rei depressed on the train, mulling over Kyouko’s words as he heads to his match

Beautiful shots of his reflection in the glass, with the city whipping by behind

Considering being a professional shogi player for over forty years. This man is the opposite of Rei

And Rei’s already feeling uncertain about his career future

Mr. Matsunaga

This sequence at the shrine feels like a Nichijou gag, with Rei commenting on the old man doing a series of goofy pre-match rituals

As a teen, Rei sees significance and wisdom in every one of Matsunaga’s actions. As an old man, Matsunaga understands life is just something you keep doing. At a certain point, you can’t sweat every single action

Seeing Matsunaga’s stumbling as “psychological warfare”

The water bottle, as usual

“What will my life be like in forty years?”

As expected, we’re getting a much closer focus on this match, with the camera holding close inside Rei’s mind as he strategizes and responds to Matsunaga’s choices

Rei of course overthinks everything, and believes the lack of a plan on Matsunaga’s side is him being mindgamed

There’s a cliche narrative of someone who has no natural training in some game or instrument or whatnot not being “tethered” by the assumptions of that form, and thus developing strategies more practiced experts couldn’t think of. This narrative is self-congratulatory nonsense for lazy people – established theory for games exists because that’s how such games develop complexity, through layers of established “correct” actions eventually blending into a more complex map of potential strategies based on both positioning and your assumptions regarding the opponent’s goals and mindset. Rei is getting shaken here, but his opponent’s actions are ultimately either smart plays or not. It’s Rei’s own mental stability that’s the weak link

Rei makes the smart play, and it turns out his opponent just wasn’t thinking about the consequences of his line

This 8bit interlude. Hm

And the singing cat shogi song concludes, lol

And Matsunaga gets drunk and starts spilling his thoughts on everyone

And now he’s just rambling about his hometown

This sequence goes on a lot longer than it has to, and seems to think the old man making funny faces is a lot more funny or endearing than it is. But we don’t know this dude

Rei suddenly realizes how frail he is

This man is both more and less than he expected. He didn’t expect a person

The old man saw him as the grim reaper

This material is much better

Thinking about how to end his career with dignity, but struggling with the desire not to lose

“Do you like shogi?” “How the hell would I know?”

Matsunaga suffers the same fears Rei does. A critical realization

And Rei “beats” Shouko. He connect with Matsunaga, and Matsunaga decides to keep playing shogi