While I was sifting through the list of anime that was scheduled to air for this year's Fall season, 3-gatsu no Lion stood out for some reason, even among titles that featured professional ice skaters, immortal demi-humans and of course, your evergreen magical girls. Part of it was due to the allure of SHAFT's visuals, which I've enjoyed immensely in both seasons of Nisekoi and Koufuku Graffiti. Thankfully, the studio has continued to impress in the 8 episodes that have so far and I don't foresee the beautiful artwork's quality dropping anytime soon.
Visuals aside, 3-gatsu no Lion's plot drew me in as well. Protagonist Kiriyama Rei is a professional Shogi player at the tender age of 17 and his salary allows him to live alone, away from his foster family. The catch here is that he's haunted by a host of childhood problems and emotional immaturity. The anime focuses on him tackling these issues by building relationships with various people, be it his homeroom teacher at school, fellow professional Shogi players and the Kawamoto family.
Through the course of the anime so far, I'm impressed by how faithful the adaptation is, with each episode even noting which chapters of the manga are being adapted. This makes things easier for viewers who wish to continue with the manga after a certain episode or even after the whole season is done.
The colourful cast of characters complement Rei's awkwardness and insecurity perfectly. Even the Kawamoto family's pet cats provide frequent comic relief with their ravenous appetites and antics. Special praise is reserved for the rotund Nikaidou Harunobu, Rei's self-proclaimed rival in Shogi. His boisterous demeanour and aggressive style of play provides the perfect foil to Rei. Like the other characters in 3-gatsu no Lion, there's more than meets the eye with Harunobu and you soon understand why he's so passionate about Shogi.
I'm amazed at the use of colours in 3-gatsu no Lion. The liberal use of cool colours and dull tones in the first few episodes depict Rei's emotions and poor state of mind. As the episode count increased, so did the range of colours. The relationships he forged with the people around him allowed him to both express himself better and eventually get rid of the skeletons in his closet. Of course, Rei still faces roadblocks in his journey, like people in real life, but scenes in complete monochrome like the one you see above become increasingly infrequent.
Providing the widest range of colours would be the Kawamoto family. Each of their scenes are filled with bright, pastel tones and watching Momo is an instant perk-me-up, with how cute she is. Hina is perhaps the most relatable character, facing your usual host of teenage problems. Akari is the dependable older sister, essentially playing the role of a parent due to their parents passing away before the start of the series. There is nary a dull moment when the Kawamoto family is present, especially when Hina becomes interested in Shogi later on.
3-gatsu no Lion hasn't even reached its tenth episode but its an anime that I look forward to, week in and week out. I might even read the manga after the anime has finished airing early next year but for now, I'm content with the anime's pacing and if the TV version already looks so good, I can't imagine what SHAFT will improve on when the Blu-Rays are released.
Written by ET