This week we have 2 disjoined chapters, which are different in tones and more importantly in their point of view. We go through the first section from Smith-san perspective detailing his own thoughts towards the match against Gotou, and the latter part Rei took the stage, being on his way to challenge Gotou in next match, except things weren’t go according to plan either. If there is any mutual theme out of these two chapters, it’s this: know your own place in the shogi world.
3-gatsu no Lion sure has a very slow pace, and it’s most apparent here in the first 6 minutes when all the actions can be displayed in one brief sequence in other anime, but the show goes on and on, both in a good and bad ways. Look, for a show that relies heavily on building up and tender atmosphere, it makes sense that some scenes they need to drag out a bit longer to provide the mood; but truthfully, I don’t get the recap here. We don’t need that, tell me something else instead. The latter part, in contrast, followed Smith-san having breakfast (eating fresh, whole tomato!) played like a gif animation with its jerky movement and upbeat music and I’m digging it very much. If you decide to go off the track, then make it with styles. Thank you Shaft.
But to be honest, spending an entire chapter focused on Smith-san feel like a filler, side story because at the end of the day it doesn’t add up much to the mother narrative. Smith-san has never been anything other than Rei’s shogi-mate before so it’s hard to relate to him more than that. Telling the story in his point of view, however, still has its purpose because one-part of 3-gatsu is still stories about the life of shogi profession players anyways, and Smith-san’s perspective provides a more mature look at shogi than Rei’s, as he’s now in the middle of his career path. It’s true that when one becomes a professional, the only thing he knows best is his own ability comparing to others. This isn’t simply the lack of confident, but more in terms of actual level, the actual talent that separate those great players and the rest. Here in this chapter, Smith-san went all he got despite knowing full well that gap; but in the end what he found really was that he still has a long way to reach to the top, to perfect his style. It’s fine though, since not only he found these things, but a black tray cat in need of aid as well. Kudos for the show’s consistency of providing the world full of cats. Hungry cats, stray cats, owl cat, warrior cats, you name it.
It’s Rei, on the other hand, who needs to learn a hard lesson about knowing his own place in this shogi world. As his mind was occupied by the provocation of Gotou, he steps into the match against Shimada the 8th dan with his head in the cloud. The show smartly conveys that sense of thoughts as we see Shimada as a shadow, unimportant figure until Rei pays full attention to him. I love the smart storytelling that later fleshing out Shimada in his best possible way in just few details, both underlines how he truly cares about the kid Harunobu (“I want you to split Rei’s head in half”. What a great friend Harunobu is), and how good he’s actually is in shogi (well, he’s in 8th dan for a reason); leading Rei all the way to his destruction without him realizing it. Rei does need something like that (I don’t mean that splitting head in half metaphor. Too graphic! I’ll go with slapping in the face) for him to know that he isn’t that talented to underestimate other players and there is a long way for him as well to be ready for that fateful match. This is a minor 3-gatsu episode, but even so there’s still plenty good moments to recommend.