[Readers Request] 3-gatsu no Lion Episode 11 & 12
As if the emotional stress left by his matches with Mr. Yasui and Mr. Matsunaga weren’t enough, Rei is hit by a terrible fever. His fever isn’t super surprising as the last episode ended with Rei collapsing onto the ground after an amazing, emotional outburst. Luckily for him, his shogi matches for the year are already finished. His fever however, is unrelenting, bombarding him with visions as the dark room traps him with his thoughts.
The fever sequence is beautifully done, as we’ve come to expect of 3gatsu. Waves, stairs, drops of water, all of them come together to form an understandable mold of Rei’s psyche and what’s going on in between all of that shogi. The room is dark and depressing with only a sliver of light peeking through the curtains. Meanwhile, his visions are similarly dull and full of grey. Shaft chooses to have waves splashing over the floor of his room, almost flooding it entirely. However, the highlight of the sequence is the subject matter of Rei’s visions. He describes an endless escalator in which he stands alone as he ascends upwards, a natural parallel with his journey as a shogi player.
He’s only rescued by the sound of his doorbell, ushering in the Kawamoto family to break apart the depressing gloom and replace it with their own eccentricity. 3gatsu does as it has been the past ten episodes, balancing the depressing sequences with uplifting slice of life. The interactions are adorable, with the motherly Akari immediately feeling Rei’s forehead for a fever. Hina goes in next as Akari’s second in command, while the oblivious Momo stares at Rei’s shogi set. The timid Rei has almost no time to react as the Kawamoto family swoops him up and takes him to their home. The scene of Rei being taken care of at their home is quite warming, literally. Not only do we see the results of great character chemistry coming to fruit, the orangeish hue of the scene really gives a good feel for the home-like nature of the Kawamoto house.
However, all the good 3gatsu displays is always balanced with the melancholy. The first being the fact that Rei missed many calls from Mr. Kouda, revealing that Mr. Kouda was indeed worried about Rei. This completely destroys my initial thought that Mr. Kouda harbored bad feelings for Rei, and it honestly makes me very happy for him. Akari chips in her own sadness when she admits that Rei helps the house from feeling lonely, triggering another feels trip and a bit of despair that the wholesome Kawamoto’s have been subject to such emotional turmoil.
We also get a bit more Akari’s auntie, who employs her at the bar. It’s nice to see she’s a good person, although a bit money-obsessed. She does raise a good point in that Akari should be allowed to take a break from all that housework and go out sometimes. Although Akari herself may not think that’s best, it might just be because she feels way too obligated to her motherly duties. I mentioned in a previous review how the idea of Akari giving up her youth to take care of her family is a huge sacrifice, and it’s nice to see the aunt feel the same way, albeit with a slightly bigger interest in the money.
The episode ends with a curious Rei trying to determine why the Kawamoto home is such a cozy place. 3gatsu answers it for the viewer by contrasting the two differing dreams in each respective location. While the lonely escalator ride reflects the solitude of Rei’s room/shogi den, his memory of his mother scolding him is a much happier one. As he prepares to fall asleep, he sees stickers on a drawer akin to the same ones his mother scolded him for, connecting the Kawamoto home to his original family.
Overall, the episode strikes a beautiful balance between the melancholy of Rei’s past and possible future, along with the irresistible chemistry of the Kawamoto home.
A new opening! I was a fan of the previous one, and I’m still trying to get a feel for this new, upbeat one, but it’s pretty enjoyable at first hearing. It starts off as a pretty standard opening that introduces characters in an upbeat fashion, but it then transitions into this pencil drawn sequence that’s absolutely stunning. They somehow made Nikaidou look like a badass, only for Gotou’s blue eyes to put him to shame immediately after. There’s also more imagery of Rei continuing on the shogi path despite the terrible conditions that await him. He collapses in the blizzard but is motivated to keep moving on by a vision of his family. In an amazing transition, that vision of his family becomes the Kawamoto’s in reality, showcasing the mastery Shaft has over visual storytelling.
The episode begins with the resurgence of Rei’s health, with the worst of his fever quickly fleeting away. He returns to the solitude of his dark room and ponders on how lively it was at the Kawamoto’s, yet how silent it is in his own apartment. The sound of the air conditioning and the ticking clock are all he can hear, piercing through the unbearable silence. The color palette returns to black and white, signalling Rei’s depressive feelings. Rei recognizes the feeling that is creeping up on him, and rightfully decides to go on a walk.
This leads to an interesting comparison of the Kawamoto house with a kotatsu. When you’re under its roof, you’re warm, cozy, you never want to leave. But once you do leave, you’re painfully reminded of what you’re returning to. For Rei this effect is only magnified by how cold his life is outside of the kotatsu. This thought clearly nags at him, but with the Lion King Tournament on the horizon, he realizes that’s the only thing to focus on.
At the tournament itself, we’re gifted by both Mr. Smith’s and Rei’s opponents. Rei’s enemy bombards him with puns and horrible jokes, sending Rei into fits of exhaustion from all the cringe. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith’s opponent eagerly takes a greedy play and is ultimately punished by Mr. Smith’s hidden plans. It was quite cute seeing both Rei and his opponent pause their game for the sake of admiring Smith’s handiwork, showing their unified respect despite their dramatically different personalities.
To my surprise, Smith’s next opponent was Gotou! I didn’t think he even played shogi, but this was a pleasant revelation. I’ve been aching to learn more about Gotou since his initial reveal, and his conversation with Rei during this episode is quite something. The interaction makes him out to be quite a villain, but there’s likely much more to the story than what I can see on the surface. Referencing Kyouko as a stalker was quite a bold move, and it’s a bit unnerving for anyone to call the tempest that is Kyouko, a stalker. If anything it speaks to his arrogance, or perhaps puts into scale how scary Gotou actually is. We also discovered through the chairman that Gotou’s wife is in the hospital, so this story gets like ten times more complicated. Super eager to learn more!
It wouldn’t be a good 3gatsu episode without a dose of the Kawamoto’s, and this episode rewards us with their presence towards the end. Rei brings Akari a butt load of fish thanks to the chairman, triggering an ecstatic reaction from Akari as she can now save on food funds. Rei is eventually asked by Momo to stay the night and complete a jigsaw puzzle the following day, but Rei is forced to deny it because he wants to fight Gotou on the shogi board. In some ways, it may be even more satisfying than punching Gotou in the face, and thankfully, the Kawamoto’s wish him luck in his match.
Overall, the episode balances humor, drama, and of course the reveal of Gotou! Very excited for the rest of the tournament and I really hope we see a Gotou and Rei match, although I’d understand if it’s a bit too early.