[Readers Request] 3-gatsu no Lion Episode 5 & 6
The feels train never stops with 3gatsu, and as we delve deeper into Rei’s history, the sympathy I feel for him grows ever stronger. The first half of episode five revolves around the agreement Rei made with the man from episode one, a man revealed to be Mr. Kouda. I initially believed that Mr. Kouda from episode one was Rei’s biological father, but this flashback reveals that is in fact not the case. Instead, this is the man who Rei had a connection with as a child through shogi, the man who took him in after his family’s tragic demise, and the man who eventually drifted from him.
We’re introduced to the Mr. Kouda through a flashback of Rei’s, where we’re brought into a traditional room with a Shogi board in the middle. Rei sits on one side and Mr. Kouda on the other. Now I found this scene quite sobering in its own right because Rei’s eyes light up as he plays. He describes the excitement and genuine connection he feels as he comes home to play Shogi, which makes the cold taste of reality hurt even more. We the viewers are cursed to know the fate of Rei’s relationship with that man, and can only imagine the feeling of betrayal Rei must’ve felt when it all fell through. Not only that, it’s revealed that Rei is bullied in school, which pushes the idea of his home and shogi sessions being a safe haven of sorts.
The present day story weaved into Rei’s past is that of Rei walking Momo home from school. It begins as a rather cute story, as is most thing where Momo is involved. However, it quickly takes a darker turn in true 3gatsu fashion as Rei patches up a scratched up Momo. He holds her arm and is reminded of the cold, dead arm of his younger sister after the accident. It’s a horrible memory and triggers a wave of tears from Rei.
This immediately takes us into a flashback of the funeral itself, where we’re given another dose of suffering as we see Rei listening to his evil aunt’s rambling. It’s been a while since I’ve hated a character so quickly from the start, but she’s definitely the most recent record. Not only has Rei lost his family, but he also has to listen to his aunt’s bullshit. It’s a complete tragedy, and Rei is only ‘saved’ by the arrival of Mr. Kouda. This is where the agreement comes in, where Rei officially binds his life to Shogi. He lies about liking Shogi, and perhaps it was true back then, but I believe the current Rei has come to enjoy it.
The second half of the episode focuses on Rei’s experience at his new home, and introduces the children of the family, Ayumu and Kyouko. Being a Shogi oriented family, Rei is pitted against the two children by a father who enjoys results. Eventually he beats the two out and steals the spotlight, sending them spiralling away from Shogi. Rei’s impact on the family is described by a bird documentary on TV as he realizes what he’s done to the family. He’s effectively killed the children and stolen their place. This convinces him to leave as soon as possible, hoping to prevent any further damage, but it’s far too late. Mr. Kouda has given up on his children, and the children have forsaken Shogi. I’m not sure where the relationship between Mr. Kouda and Rei turned so sour, but perhaps it was Mr. Kouda’s fault for forcing such a harsh way of life on all the children. My theory is that he took Rei’s decision to leave personally, almost as if Rei decided to leave after ruining everything. If anything, defeating Mr. Kouda and denying his entry into the federation was the final straw, officially cutting off any ties the two had.
Episode Six is titled, “Child of God,” and although Rei describes Touji Souya as one befitting of such a title, I’m not entirely sure. The entire episode revolved around Rei after all, going deeper into his insecurities and depression.
I’ve come to love the subtle storytelling of 3gatsu, something quite uncommon in a lot of other anime. This episode uses a series of metaphors to describe the issues lying deep within Kiriyama, and it all begins with a simple statement, “I want to go somewhere.” This triggers Akari’s family to describe their own ideal vacations. The adorable Momo misunderstands and mentions places she’s already visited, Hina says Milkyland or Enoshima, and Akari wants a tropical island for relaxation. This is when Rei realizes he doesn’t have any destination he wants to go to. It’s a simple dilemma at first glance, a cute slice of life scene, but over the rest of the episode, it reveals itself to be a description of his lack of motivation and ambition.
It was obvious from episode one that Rei has deeply rooted issues, and now it’s pretty much confirmed to be depression. Red flags included Kiriyama’s desire to sleep the days away, along with how he referred to his lifestyle as a drained battery. He then goes on to describe his choice to stagnate in the Shogi competitive scene, seeing little to no meaning in progressing through the rough seas that is the Shogi ranks.
Kiriyama has been idolized since childhood, being dubbed, “Future Master,” and having heavy expectations set upon him. However, even so or perhaps exactly because, Kiriyama cannot find the motivation to keep going on. He swam through the rough seas of Shogi because he needed to survive, and perhaps he hoped it would give him some meaning, but after landing on the island, he has no desire to keep struggling on. The first scene with dream destinations reveals that Kiriyama has no answer for the question, instead embracing isolation and stagnation. If it wasn’t for the positive influences of his teacher, Nikaidou, and Akari’s family, I’m certain that Rei would be in a far worse condition than he is now.
But perhaps the most beautiful thing to take away from this is the shot of the Akari family’s home towards the end. As Hina invites the glum Rei to her home, Kiriyama’s eyes light up. Perhaps the answer to the question in the first scene was not some foreign land or island resort, but their home instead. It’ll ultimately be up to Akari and her family to drag Kiriyama out of this hole, and with the help of people like Nikaidou, I know they can do it. This idea is further reinforced by the amazing transition of the girls doing hard work and chores, coming together to a shot of Rei in his bed. Sasuga Shaft!
Some other points from the episode to highlight are Rei’s meeting with Hina’s crush, along with the scenes with his school teacher. Hina’s awkward reaction is adorable, leaving Rei alone with the tall baseball player. Judging by his glare, I’m quite certain he likes Hina back, but we’ll see! As for the teacher, I’m glad Rei has a positive influence in school. They may not be the same age, but their conversations reveal that they’re good friends.
Overall, the episode was solid. Still looking forward to the rest of the show.