Image source: TVアニメ「3月のライオン」公式 on Twitter

The second season of March Comes in Like a Lion has started off diving into a very personal and emotional topic, and so far, its handling it brilliantly.

Right off the Bat, the Second Season of March Comes in Like a Lion Is Hitting a Personal Note for Me

[Note: This article contains spoilers up to the fifth episode of the second season of March Comes in Like a Lion.]

Bullying. Depending on your experiences as a child, this can either be a fairly interesting topic or a trigger that digs up emotional scars that may have been dormant for years. For Rei Kiriyama, the protagonist of March Comes in Like a Lion, his response to learning an important person in his life is being bullied is the latter.

In the second season of March Comes in Like a Lion, we learn that a young girl that Rei feels a great deal of debt to, Hinata Kawamoto, is being bullied at school. As further details come to light, we see that things are more complex than initially assumed.

School has entered a new year and Hinata has moved up from grade eight to nine. With that change, her childhood friend was targeted by a group of girls for seeming too friendly with boys and sucking up to teachers. Throughout the ordeal, while others would turn a blind eye to her friend’s torment, Hinata remained a steadfast friend—until even that was not enough and her friend transferred. A steadfast girl with a strong moral compass, Hinata couldn’t bear to see the bullies go unpunished for their malicious cruelty and lashed out at them. As a result, Hinata became the next target.

Upon learning of what has been going on, Rei, along with Hinata’s sisters and grandfather stood behind Hinata, praising her for her courage to stand up for what she believed in. However, with an issue like bullying, things can’t end there. In an attempt to see what he can do to help, Rei seeks the guidance of his old teacher, Mr. Hayashida.

Image source: TVアニメ「3月のライオン」公式 on Twitter

A supportive figure in Rei’s life, Takashi Hayashida is one of those teachers who genuinely cares for his students. Asked for advice, his first response—after initially assuming it is Rei who is being bullied—is to remark on Hinata’s bravery and that despite Hinata’s friend being forced to transfer, things could have gone much, much worse if Hinata hadn’t been there. Mr. Hayashida then shows Rei through a few simple internet searches just how much of a quagmire the issue of bullying is in schools—how things have been debated for years over and over and over again with no single all-encompassing solution being found. Everyone wants their own solution that will satisfy themselves, but what satisfies one person isn’t always what satisfies another.

One thing Mr. Hayashida makes sure to warn Rei is never to ignore the wishes of the victim. To talk to Hinata and find out what sort of solution she wants. Very often parents of bullies and their victims can get carried away in their thirst for justice that they end up ignoring the actual victim. Even trying to solve the issue by causing a fuss can have lasting problematic effects.

Where bullying is an issue in every school in every country, it can be particularly tricky in a society like Japan where schools are designed to be micro-societies. Isolation can be one of the cruelest forms of treatment and very often causing a ruckus between parents and teachers can result in their children labeled with a reputation that alienates them from their fellow students, intentional or not.

Image source: TVアニメ「3月のライオン」公式 on Twitter

Bullying is an extreme complex and difficult issue that requires different solutions for different situations. While it’s in our nature as humans to want a singular happy ending that ties up all lose ends, real life doesn’t work that way. It’s something that requires time and a delicate touch to solve, and in just a short six minute sequence March Comes in Like a Lion successfully conveys just how complicated that can be. Now that all the pieces have been laid out on the board, it’s going to be interesting watching how Rei will try to play his hand at solving the problem.

March Comes in Like a Lion can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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