3-gatsu no Lion is back again in the new year with another stellar episode. Structure-wise, I think this is one of the most confident episode 3-gatsu no Lion has delivered for a while, as the show handled multiple tones and aspects in Rei’s current life in one neat package. This episode begins with a deep look inside Rei’s depression, then move on to the noise and colorful life of his shogi life from his shogi-mates, then deliver one of the most intense moments when Rei meet Gotou, and later on back to the warm and cozy atmosphere of the sisters; the result is like a roller coaster of feeling: disturbing one moment, warm and heart-felt the next, all wonderfully tie up with Rei’s own emotion right in the center. Let’s get down to each of them below.
Shaft has always been superb when it comes to depicting Rei’s inner psyche, especially his insecurities towards the life he been living. Sharp lines with black and white imaginaries, water bubbles, the loud noises of his clock and his air conditioner, and even their extreme close-up, all successfully visualize his mental breaking point. It actually gives us the nausea effects that Rei is suffering, put us into his mindscape and for me this is one of the most real depiction of depressions in anime. Rei compares the three sisters’ house as kotatsu, a place so warm that it makes every other place seem colder and pale in comparison. Now he’s sitting in his house and realizes how lonely he is and he knows full well that he can’t rely emotionally to others; because once you rely on something you become dependent, and vulnerable as well, yet at the same time he can’t help but longing for one. I’m myself amazed with the complexity of personal struggles the show given to Rei. It’s not only his struggles but the same for all of us, it isn’t a temporary battle but a lifelong one and even then we might never find a true answer at the end of the road. Must be suck being human.
In a steep contrast to that dark void of his inner voice, the professional shogi players all serve as an energetic and hilarious facet to spice up his life a bit. All the matches this week aren’t about competition or ranking progression like other sport shows, but function more as bright, light moments in his life. The ninth dan who played against him this week fit well into that vein as his antics are decidedly quirky. I personally love the moments Smith-san won the match, the two were just staring and dissecting Smith’s tactics because it’s so damn unprofessional but simultaneously show how they love shogi at hearts. The shogi chairman also kicks things up a notch with his fishes. A lot of fishes. It’s a brief sequence but I’m totally feel the care of him towards Rei so I’m up to see more about him in the future.
But never before, even in Kyouko’s moments, the show has reached that much intense when Rei (to be more exact, we) finally meets Gotou in person. Unlike Kyouko where Rei’s feeling for her is a mixture of love, guilt, and heaps of pain, there is only pure hatred from him when it comes to Gotou; not that the guy has any better opinion towards Rei either. Now it sheds a rather intriguing twist to Gotou and Kyouko’s relationship: Gotou calls her “a stalker” and wants to get rid of her. Talking about perspective! Either they had been in an affair (his wife is “still” in the hospital) and now Gotou wants to cut his ties or all the intense love from Kyouko are just her feeling alone. Those possibilities are still pretty much unclear at this point; but one thing for sure that Kyouko is in a deeper sh*t than she thought and that Gotou is not a sane guy. Things pretty much set up for the match between those two (poor Smith-san) and I know everyone is pretty hyped up for that moments to come. Well, you better be.
The episode ends with the warmness moments inside the Kawamoto’s house and the show again handles those scenes with styles. Rei now aware that he feels at home in that house but in order to keep forward, he has to step out and walks on his own two feet. The moment when Rei hold Momo tight gets me every time for how emotionally honest it feels. This episode by far is the most tonal inconsistency the show had to encounter so far, but by focusing squarely on Rei’s feeling, those uneven in tones actually become an asset to underline the highs and lows of Rei’s current life; as a result this episode is one of the richest 3-gatsu no Lion had ever pulled off.