Image Source: 映画『3月のライオン』 on Twitter

In the first March comes in like a lion movie, pro shogi player Rei was forced to fight with his past. Now, Rei must come to terms with his present, as well as the future that faces him.

March comes in like a lion: Ai no Kōhen (March comes in like a lion: The Second Half of Love) continues Rei’s emotional journey as he aims to become a master shogi player. And despite the cheery title, this film is just as emotionally strangling as the first.

We Saw the First Live-Action March comes in like a lion Film

[This article contains major spoilers for both March comes in like a lion films.]

Rei (once again played by Ryūnosuke Kamiki) is continuing up the ladder of the shogi world, but things get complicated when the affairs of the Kawamoto sisters begin to have an affect on his life. Hinata, the middle sister, is being brutally bullied at school. And, the sisters’ father, who had abandoned them and their mother to elope with another woman who was pregnant with his child, has once again appeared, saying he wants to live with them again. Feeling that he is part of the Kawamoto family already, Rei attempts to solve both of the family’s problems and protect them.

Image Source: 映画『3月のライオン』 on Twitter

However, this is where the conflict of the movie comes in. Rei may be a genius shogi player, but he does not have the social understanding of those around him. If I had to describe Rei’s thought process in one word, it would be a “bullet.” Once he has his mind on something—in this case, protecting the Kawamoto sisters—he will blast forward without thinking about the consequences. If something is logical in his mind, he will not hesitate. This lack of caution ends up hurting those around him.

When Rei finds out that middle sister Hinata (Kayo Kiyohara) is being bullied after protecting her classmate, he starts trying to think up ways to save her. Instead of talking to her about it first, he tries to solve her problems for her with money, instead. Before his homeroom teacher tells him to ask Hinata what she wants, Rei is just sitting on the roof of his school with a calculator, figuring out how much it will cost to put Hinata through homeschooling or to hire a lawyer to possibly sue the school. Without even asking, he had planned to use his own money without the family’s permission to solve Hinata’s problems.

When the Kawamoto sisters’ deadbeat dad comes back into the picture, however, is where Rei really stumbles. Wanting to protect the place he finally found where he can belong, Rei says horrible (but true) things to the girls’ father right in front of them, including the fact that he doesn’t really love his kids. He’s not technically wrong. Logically, he is right in saying that the father has come back to use his kids. But by using logic and not emotion, Rei deeply hurts the sisters, who end up pushing him away.

Let’s review: Rei lost his entire family at a young age in an accident. He was taken in by a family with children who hated him and considered him what broke their home apart, chasing him out. Alone, he finally found people who accepted him for who he was and cared for him. And, once again, he loses it all. At this point, Rei begins falling, and falling fast. He gives up on everything except shogi, and begins exhibiting self-harming behaviors. Just when you thought Rei had reached his lowest point with the last movie, it’s even worse in the second film because Rei has experienced what it’s like to have something, making losing it even more painful.

Image Source: シネマカフェ on Twitter

And it’s not just Rei that has lost everything—Rei’s shogi opponent Gotō loses the person most precious to him, and like Rei, he pushes everything away from himself except shogi, including the person he was dating, Rei’s adoptive sister Kyoko. Kyoko, who had her dreams and father’s love taken away by Rei’s shogi skills, has now had the person she loves the most ripped from her hands by shogi. With no place to belong, she has to go back to the father who made her take up shogi in the first place and face her past.

Image Source: 映画『3月のライオン』 on Twitter

It’s only in the film’s final act that Rei and the others are all finally able to get at least some normalcy back in their lives. However, the film spends a bit too much time on the fall of its characters and not enough on the effort made to get what they once held back. Rei falls pretty darn deep into the pit of despair, yet his internal redemption is completed in the span of a minute. With two films and a combined running time of four hours, this important moment of Rei realizing what he’s done wrong and what he should do to fix things should not have been so short.

Image Source: MANTANWEB (まんたんウェブ) on Twitter

Another problem in terms of pacing is the relationship between Rei and the middle sister, Hinata. Throughout the films, Rei has been a brother figure to the middle school girl, and it was a heartwarming relationship. This is thrown awry with the sudden introduction of a romance plot halfway through the second film.

Maybe it would have been OK if there was closure, but after the one (very bold, I might add) instance of romance between the two, it is never mentioned again. While I understand the inclusion of the scene plot-wise, without context and time for the two to develop their relationship, it just feels kind of out-of-place and creepy. And, as I mentioned in my previous review, the Kawamoto sisters were not featured prominently in the first film, giving Rei and Hinata no time there either to establish a romance.

We Saw the First Live-Action March comes in like a lion Film

However, the final scene of the film is a satisfying one. Though it has its mishaps, the final March comes in like a lion film makes me feel like I’ve reached the proper conclusion for this emotional roller coaster of a tale.

The second March comes in like a lion live-action film premiered in Japan on April 22. There is no word of an English release yet.

Anime Basics: March comes in like a lion

The anime version of March comes in like a lion is available to watch on Daisuki and Crunchyroll now. You can read up on the details about the show on our Anime Basics page for the series before the anime’s second season premieres in Japan this fall.

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