I’ll preface this review by stating that I’m actually not a big fan of the “Slice of Life” genre. I’m also not a huge fan of the genre. However, March comes in like a lion got under my skin and caught me by complete surprise. This anime has a subtlety, beauty, and soft spoken sense of tension that constantly lingers throughout the season. It was definitely a series that blindsided me and made me feel more than I thought I would. I was constantly at the edge of my seat. And that’s not a bad thing.
The Story centers around 17 year old Rei Kiriyama, a professional Shogi player who loses his family at a young age. Being the only person on his immediate family, the members of his extended family quickly make plans to get rid of him and take over his family’s very successful hospital. He is then taken in by a professional Shogi player who was a close friend of his fathers and becomes a professional shogi player himself. This doesn’t come without its silver lining though. As his new found father figure has children of his own. Both of which wish to be professional shogi players in their own right. Rei dedicates himself to becoming a prolific player. This leads to a fair amount of tension and abuse, which then leads Rei to seek out housing of his own in Tokyo. Being antisocial and awkward, making friends and caring for himself becomes difficult. That is until he meets the Kawamoto sisters Momo, Hina, and Akari, all of which accept him into their family with open arms and help him overcome his personal trials and tribulations. Along the way, Rei finds out that he isn’t the only one who is facing hardship. From here on Rei, as well as the audience, is on the road to Rei’s rehabilitation and self improvement.
It’s no secret that Aniplex is known for their great work in both the audio and visual aspects of anime. March comes in like a lion is no exception. The art is well crafted to fit the series’ tone and personality. It does a fantastic job of mixing modern anime aesthetic with a beautiful pastel palette that truly makes the series stand out and look special. The emotions conveyed by the characters or felt in every scene and are displayed with every frame masterfully. It gives the show a life of its own. The color choice and lighting are superb. The finest details add to the overall experience and truly add to the scenes in ways I rarely see in anime. Subtle details such as picking specific points in a scene to focus on makes every scene stand out. The entire soundtrack is an eclectic collection filled with emotion and heart. You can feel the effort put into the musical pieces created for this series–each track tugging at your heart-strings, filling you with laughter, or making you feel the very same dread that the characters of the show are feeling in the moment. I couldn’t help but put the soundtrack on in the car while driving to work, shopping, or even studying because the music in this series was stuck to me so deeply. The OP and ED are both simple yet effective at conveying what Rei goes through throughout the series and his journey. Showing the audience his trials and tribulations from start to finish as well as his road to recovery.
March comes in like a lion hit me like a bullet train. It took me by surprise and made me feel harder than I had in a long time. Every moment I spent in this series felt real and deep. This series connected with me in ways I wasn’t ready for and forced me to face a wide spectrum of emotions like no other series has before. While watching this series I laughed out load, got mad, and fought back tears with every fiber of my being. Even the shogi parts, which I initially thought were going to be boring, ended up grabbing my attention. The way that this anime introduces the rules of the game is extremely well done and entertaining, which I won’t spoil here. When I started this series I had my reservations. But now I’m glad I gave this series my time. Even after having watched the first season I find myself looking forward to the second. Eagerly awaiting the next box set to release so that I can sink another five plus hours on this series that has engraved itself into my heart. If you haven’t watch this series, you owe it to yourself to start. It has easily become one of my top 5 series of all time and is an easy recommendation.
March comes in like a Lion Volume One Episodes: 1-11
Number of Discs: 3 Blu-ray Discs
Total Run Time: 300 minutes
Rating: 13 UP
Nuke the Fridge Score: 10 out of 10