March comes in like a lion – Episode 32

March veered away from the ongoing Hina-Rei drama again this week, instead focusing on Rei’s just-defeated opponent Junkei. In any other show, this would be a frustrating diversion, but Junkei’s story was just so damn charming that I was completely taken in by his worldview, anxieties, and utterly pure love of pigeons. Anybody who cares about pigeons this much can’t be a bad guy. Damnit March, you made me care about another one.

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

Extremey in character for March comes in like a lion to now focus on humanizing the guy who defeated Nikaidou

“If you work hard and perserve, you will succeed.” The hollowness of those words framed through Nikaidou’s constant effort and subsequent fall

Really great expression shift as he reacts to Nikaidou’s fall

Reflecting on the difficulty of actually finding success. It seems like he works at a farm, and is well-acquainted with hard, consistent labor

His old drunk friends asking if he makes great money, if he gets to go on TV. He seems more like the modest, spartan type

“I’d like to ask them the same boorish questions.” He’s a relatable enough guy

His profession is treated as a gimmick, not a real job

Right, Junkei is his name. And he raises pigeons

“I got into shogi and racing pigeons because of my grandfather, who loved both. He taught me.”

“Right now, both of them are slipping through my fingers”

He’s been downgraded in his professional grade twice

Nice use of the contrasting flapping match results and the pigeons flying away

Oh my god, his grief over losing his favorite racing pigeon, Silver. This guy is adorable

His anxiety about performing well in shogi, once again represented by the sunless sea

Shogi has always been difficult for him. This actually feels like the most relatable portrayal of shogi yet. Rei is a prodigy who’s been practicing literally for his life for as long as he can remember. Shogi isn’t as natural for Junkei – it’s a balance of suffering tempered by joy at improving or discovering new things, and lately, it’s felt like he hasn’t been improving at all

He’s been a professional for six years, and feels like he’s stuck in place

He’s actually incredibly intimidated by and envious of Rei and Nikaidou, who both seem to possess a strength and certainty he doesn’t. They don’t seem deterred by constantly coming up empty

“I wanted to win. I wanted to hold on to the one title I had left.”

And so he really did sort of try to undermine Nikaidou. But in the moment he realized what he’d done, he felt great shame. This guy is great

He sends flowers to Nikaidou, and then Silver returns. A shockingly effective reunion

“You’ve gotten thin, but you’ll grow strong and fly again.” A clear metaphor for his own progress

This scene of the sisters ordering desserts is a very nice break

Alright, the followup is taking pretty long

“Thank god. Hina is smiling.”

Rei’s appearance made Hina feel like she was at the river back home