Wow, this episode! This is one of the strongest 3-gatsu episode that we’ve encountered so far, both rich in effective little moments, strong characters interactions and smart visual executions. Speeding up to three chapters per episode might be this episode’s most successful trick, because 1) these 3 chapters are interconnected by the same narrative themes and 2) it allows strong moments to sink in faster, and much sharper and 3) the amount of solid characters moments is definitely much higher than normal 3-gatsu episode and this is one of the rare times in 3-gatsu experience that I do feel like I’ve been sink
at the bottom of the sea with too much of a good things, for good reasons. The episode produces one of the most breathtaking visual that directly convey the mood and themes of the story. The water motif have been applied effectively throughout the series’ run, but here it adds another layer: both Rei and Kyouko are lost deep within the sea of life, suffocated by the pressure of everything around. The dim lights of her phone to create that light waves of sea is one of the show’s most sensitive visual-storytelling for me. Or the moment the rain just stop after Rei noticed Souya is equally impressive. Shaft carries this show with style, and this episode especially they brings out the best from its source, even the lighter scenes are brimming with finely-tuned touch.
Harunobu, as long last, has catched up with Rei, not only in their professional ranking sense, but also about their maturity. As Rei struggled with his forms and several depressions, Harunobu makes one steady step forward at a time, while fixedly aim at his goal ahead. Harunobu has gained a lot of strong material here and as of now I don’t mind to have his accompany at all. On the other spectrum, the sudden appearance of Souya gives the show the almost dreamlike quality. Souya here is portrayed as someone out of this world, the one who can stop the time, who is unchanged in his appearance after 10 odd years, an angel that so pure and powerful that it brings the force of destruction instead. When people compare him to demon, guess what really remind me of? The old shogi player Matsunaga commented about Rei himself as a “beautiful reaper”. Guess there’s not much difference between Souya and Rei then.
Kyouko also makes the most out of her screen time this week and this might be the first time we have a full picture of Kyouko and her relationship with Rei. In this episode, she’s in her usual spiteful mood at one time, become spirited and playful at other and then deeply vulnerable the next. Her bashing out on the sisters is heavy and malicious, yes, but it comes from her own pain and belief that Rei was the one wrecking her family. What she said isn’t entirely wrong though, As Rei found himself very much at home at the sisters’ house, but still hearing those intentions from a dark and mean perspective certainly is hard. Afterwards, after staying over Rei’s house though, Kyouko amps up her playfulness and really that light tone between them isn’t something we see very often, if at all. The comedy mostly works here and they give off a great chemistry with each other. Kyouko then breaks down, she’s unsure about how to deal with her life. At heart, both of them are pretty insecure individuals, sharing almost the same pain of trying to figure out the way through life. Their relationship, moreover, become much complex and Rei remarks so true in the end “we also haven’t been able to become siblings nor remain strangers”. This was a beautiful chapter.
But the greatest moments for me was when the sisters appearing while Rei and Kyouko having an arguments. At long last, the two forces of nature: the warm, light side from the sisters and the dark, destructive side from Kyouko finally collided and the result is a weird mixed of raw, dark feeling with surprisingly warm-hearted touch. Momo again steals her scene, Hina again is the voice of “follow your heart” sentiments and watching Hina fighting Kyouko might be the greatest pleasure ever (also: Momo calling her “witch”). Those contrasted forces produce such unique sparks that in my book this is one of the show’s brightest and most effective moments. 3-gatsu no Lion is going stronger than ever, and this solid episode comes totally expected because it draws from the current strengths the show has been well established throughout its run. The only downside with it is that now I won’t expect less from it. I know I have been spoiled with too much Kyouko’s and three sister’s moments but give me more doses of excellent characters writing please. Otherwise I would get really pissed-off, just like Hina-chan.