March comes in like a lion – Episode 28

March comes in like a lion continued its phenomenal Hina-focused arc this week, offering plenty more compelling visual tricks, along with our closest look yet into Hina’s headspace. Rei is a great character, but it’s becoming clear that March’s ability to lean into the personal dramas of characters like Hina and Shimada is secretly one of the story’s greatest strengths. I’m guessing we’ll be nearing the end of this arc soon, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

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

Fuzzy times with the family, eating cherries Rei brought over. The show could certainly use some fluffier material to counterbalance the emotional weight of the last two episodes

Rei suggests a game of shogi to Hina. He’s trying to be more supportive in whatever way he can – unfortunately, he’s extremely bad at convincingly sandbagging. It sucks to not be able to help someone else find the fun in something you love

And now he realizes Hina is the one consoling him. Hina is strong

The visual comedy here also works well, both because it’s tonally of a piece with this whole chapter, and also because it’s snappy and charming. Good expression work

Such lovely shots of Hina this episode

Rei reflects on how often she’s smiled for the sake of others. We’re seeing lots of different sides of Hina now – Rei’s new position allows him to see her strength and vulnerability more clearly, which results in us even getting a variety of new expressions from Hina

More use of the water for Hina’s memories

“Your ranking in the class hierarchy dictates how loud you can laugh.” A sharp observation, but I’m not sure how well the water motif matches it

Also getting to see Hina be genuinely bitter

Terrific alternate art styles for some of these expressions

Also nice genuinely getting inside Hina’s head, like we did with Shimada

Takahashi, her crush, actually rescues her from the awkwardness at lunchtime. Rei told him about the situation

Rei really following through with his pledge to help here

Rei takes a fourth win

“I will become the Newcomer King!” It’s for Hina’s sake, but it’s still nice to see him acting genuinely motivated about shogi, as opposed to simply clinging to it because it’s all he has

And in the end, “I want to succeed in this because doing so will help me support the people I love” is a perfectly fine motivation anyway

The bullying intensifies, and she’s called out for “flirting around”

Good minimalist sound design in these school segments

Takahashi scares off the bullies

Rei feels guilty about introducing a new potential source of bullying

Takahashi remembers Chiho as well

God, I love this unique style of full-composition colors and white outlines for Hina’s outburst of rage

Even Hina, the kindest possible person, can’t help but wish bad things upon these classmates. Or at least that they’d understand the pain they caused

The bullying continues to intensify

Hina refuses to play along, and also doesn’t erase the message. She lets her teacher wallow in what she’s done

“She’s seething from the pit of her stomach.” More learning different sides of Hina, whereas before she was just a source of comfort

I like using Rei’s match to set up Hina’s choices as a sort of match of her own