Rei continues to explore the mind of fellow shogi players in this new episode of 3-gatsu no Lion; the experience isn’t quite as heartwarming as the last time, but perhaps more revealing.
The structure is very similar to that of the last episode. Rei starts by listening to Kyouko going on about what a desperate situation his next opponent is in. The vivid early morning colors give off an air of purity that contrasts in every way with Kyouko’s behavior. She’s trying to unsettle Rei (it’s striking that he’s the only one wearing dark colors), who can’t stand her and the way he wants to hear her stories.
All of the pre-match scenes serve to remind us of Rei’s complex relationship with his family. As someone who’s always been his father’s favorite despite not being related to him by blood, he can’t help but feel the same thing Kyouko does: that his arrival has ruined the life of a once harmonious family. That it’s all his fault.
The match, once again, ends quickly. However this time we get the review part, where the match is once again played out for each player to see their mistakes. The opponent soon gets tired of seeing his mistakes laid out so clearly, and leaves… forgetting the Christmas present he’d prepared for his daughter. Rei chases after him, but is received very coldly: the gift is annoyedly taken from his hands.
The use of colors contrasts that of earlier in the episode. While Kyouko’s scene was bright and almost overwhelmingly white, here everything looks meek with very little contrast. This shows the differences in mood; one was intensely emotional, the other almost solemn. Every moment of the match was almost funnily ceremonious, adding to the sentiment that it was a march toward an inevitable death (and it was not too far from that). Finally, one will note that while Rei’s bottle stands cleanly on his plate until the end, Yasui’s is carelessly lying, with some tea spilling from it. This displays the difference in the two’s psychological states – one is fully focused while the other is distressed – while also serving as a callback to the old man’s bad drinking habits after he loses.
The final part, however, may just be the most striking. Rei can’t avoid the truth: he sees this man hurting and the consequences his defeat will have, yet… he has to win. It’s an instinct. No matter how pitiable the opponent is, his hands will reach for victory. On the other hand, Rei is still a meek guy keeping much hurt to himself. As a result, there’s an interesting duality to his breakdown scene: yes, he runs, spits more than blunt words about the “weaklings” whom he regularly hammers, but he makes sure to do it in a place where not a soul will hear him, and ends up pitifully falling to the ground, his face distorted from the tears. He may acknowledge that a winning beast lives within him, especially as shogi is all he has; but he can’t pretend to be an imposing and bold man, either.
This scene is definitely a turning point in that it marks the moment he acknowledges his inner desire to win: but don’t think his troubles are over. He’s still the exact same kid as before, simply with one more realization in his bag.
Now while we’re hoping Rei doesn’t spend the rest of his years staring at the losers on the other side of the shogi and actually moves forward so as to see what the winners look like, this was an admirable entry of 3-gatsu no Lion. One thing the show generally lacked was any striking progress on the protagonist’s part; while he’d slowly been changing, we finally have a true turning point in his story.
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