After riding on depression for a long time, 3-gatsu no Lion finally gives Rei some happiness and much anticipated progress.
Although he’s impressed by Takahashi at first, the roles are quickly reversed: as it turns out, the boy’s parents are shogi fans, and have presented Rei as the example he should follow if he’s serious about becoming a baseball professional.
While 3-gatsu has often been characterized by cold colors and dark contrasts, in Rei’s back are finally warm hues. He conveys his reason for returning to school (not wanting to run away), and Takahashi gets the message. Rei is rapturous: finally, someone understands him! Balls of light appear lighting up the world outside the window. After that he enjoys a meal with Hina and the family, and the symbolical value of water is put to use. The motherly, gentle blue pool that is source of all life rises into magical orbs, surrounding Rei with a sense of being alive we’d never seen him experience, one that even keeps him from sleeping.
But above all, he finally understands the need for progress. In the pleasure of finally being understood, he finds the needed drive to strive for what lies beyond the goal he’d set for himself, what lies on the other side of this emotional storm. This is an experience he wants to learn, and eventually maybe share with someone. This is huge, because stagnation had defined him and the show’s pace. But now he seems ready to move forward.
The second part is an equally joyful affair. Takahashi has come to the Kawamoto house in order to talk to Rei some more. Hina is tense, and we see flashbacks of the craziness that took place between her and Akari when she needed to decide on a meal to make in her big sis’ absence (the voiced cats add to the fun in this case, since sheer liveliness is the point). Thankfully the curry turned out well, and Takahashi is replete. He then shows a video of a televised match in which Rei lost. The losing move set the commentator, Nikaidou, into a fury. This is what has Takahashi curious: why is the man so upset when few would’ve thought of Rei’s move as bad? But the answer remains vague. We can only conclude that as his best friend and someone who knows Rei’s style, he felt it betrayed his usual successful play.
And he was right since Rei did lose the match. The soliloquy has our protagonist upset: just who does Nikaidou think he is?! They’re not even best friends! But nevertheless, he’s far from oblivious to the truth behind the words. He had stopped progressing for a long time, after all. We may go as far as to infer that the truthfulness is what actually upsets Rei.
Another lesson for the Kawamoto girls is that Rei is far from an amateur playing at school as he pretends, but in fact a professional. The surprise is mixed by the ecstasy of Rei having such a caring friend: and in this mix of intense emotions, glee wins, as Hina enthusiastically asks for Rei to teach her shogi.
He’s ecstatic that someone would finally give color to his isolated world. He’s even enthusiastic about buying shogi equipment specifically for the sake of teaching Hina! The girl’s glowing eyes and the bright colors that generally surround her give her a joyful quality which makes it obvious why Rei would be so happy to teach someone like her. But when the moment comes… he doesn’t quite know how to adapt his usually stern style to beginners going into this with a lighthearted feeling; as such, he leaves Hina and Momo behind. Nikaidou however, with his flamboyant character, is very good at teaching such people… leaving Rei isolated by the end of the episode. And yet, this isolation isn’t the depressing one we may have witnessed before: the dark tones clash with a caricatural face, making it obvious he’s still enjoying the moment.
This was a return to form for 3-gatsu no Lion. The languid mood of the past episodes was fine until progression stagnated; however, the show did well to capitalize on the important lesson Rei learned at the end of the last episode to deliver a genuinely uplifting entry. Rei finally understands he must progress, and consolidates a genuine bond with the Kawamoto girls; he’s taken a great step forward that we hope marks the start of a new phase in the series.
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