「 3-Gatsu no Lion Zenpen 」Rei and the Various People He Encountered in the Flesh

First things first, I haven’t finished the anime. I was able to watch the first episode (and I actually liked it, especially the visuals), but I still haven’t continued it yet. I will, though, soon. Anyway, because of that, I actually didn’t know what to expect from it. But this adaptation stars Kamiki Ryunosuke and there’s no way I’ll let it pass, so I decided to watch it first. I figured I may enjoy it better because I have nothing to compare it with.

So here goes my thoughts about the first film. (There’s still the second/concluding part and I will talk about it on another post.)


San-Gatsu no Lion (or March Comes in Like a Lion) is a seinen manga series written and illustrated by Umino Chica (best known for her popular work Honey and Clover). It is about the story of a 17-year old shogi player named Kiriyama Rei as he struggles with the challenges of playing shogi and living an independent life.

In the movie, it is established from the start that Rei lost his family while he was young and someone took him in, then it cuts to the present Rei who lives in an apartment alone. As the story progresses, his past is gradually uncovered along with the struggles he experience as a shogi player.

The film somewhat felt slow during the start, but it picked up the pace as Rei’s character and situation is established. If you’re curious, this film covers up the story till Shimada vs Soya match.

Anyhow, the people that we find surrounding him are all relevant to Rei’s development. It’s just a bummer that we can’t really see much of each of them. His teacher Hayashida, Nikaido, the Kawamoto sisters, Kyoko, and Shimada — we know that he got to be with them and they helped him one way or another, but there’s not much screen time for everyone.

Though I don’t think it’s that lacking, I just felt that it would be nice to see more of the characters’ interactions with Rei, especially with the Kawamoto sisters, since reading the plot I expected we’d see much of them. The most we could see him interact with is with Nikaido. Rei’s interactions with others is one of the things I’m definitely looking forward to seeing in the anime adaptation. 

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Anyway, I know that the anime does its visual storytelling really well, judging from its first episode and the various scenes I’ve seen posted on Tumblr. I think the film did it well, too, though not as great. For one, the colors used for it are more on the dark, dull, and neutral side. Most of the clothes Rei wear are usually black, brown or gray. And I think it shows well Rei’s character and condition. The ones with more (bright) colors present are the scenes involving the Kawamoto sisters. And second, I think the cinematography is beautiful, too. I liked shots and angles chosen for the scenes and I believe each one speaks a lot about the situation and feelings the scene is establishing. Of course, the actors have a huge impact, too. After all, the people around Rei are important in the story for the development of his character.

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I’ve got to admit that my primary motivation for watching this is the lead actor Kamiki Ryunosuke. You’ll probably recognize his voice if you watched Kimi no Na wa. because he is Taki’s seiyuu. He was able to voice other characters from other movies as well. He acted in other live actions shows aside from this, like Rurouni Kenshin (as Seta Soujiro) and Bakuman (as Shujin). Anyway, before I fangirl over him, let me just say that I think he did well expressing Rei’s emotions. His facial expressions easily show if he’s feeling conflicted or sad or frustrated even without words. But his raging in anger acting should be improved more. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not that hair-crawling yet.

Meanwhile, here are some of the supporting casts and my thoughts about them.

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Here is Sometani Shota who acted as Rei’s friend and rival in shogi, Nikaido Harunobu. He’s the main lead for the award-winning film Himizu. He’s also Watanuki Kimihiro (xxxHolic), Shinichi Izumi (Parasyte), and Niizuma Eiji (Bakuman). I was surprised to see his name as part of the casts because I didn’t recognize him! He’s not really that fat, you see. The costume and make-up designers did a good job with his appearance. Anyway, his character is an amusing, passionate guy and, for me, he was able to deliver a good performance.

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Next is the popular female actress Arimura Kasumi (Hiyokko, Strobe Edge, Biri Gal). Of all the shows I’ve seen of her, I prefer the ones when she’s not acting the cutesy type of characters. This is why I somehow enjoyed her role here which is as Koda Kyoko, the daughter of Rei’s foster parents. Amusing because she and Kamiki acted as siblings in the drama series 11nin mo Iru! though I can’t quite remember which acts as the older and younger character. Anyhow, I still found her performance a bit underwhelming as compared to others’, especially during the times when she’s shown with Hideaki Ito‘s Goto. With her baby face, she looks like a kid trying to act like an adult.

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On the other hand, I liked the actor for Shimada Kai, Sasaki Kuranosuke (Iryu Team Medical Dragon, Shiroi Kyoto). His facial expressions and voice are so calming and his overall presence feels so mature, which is fitting of an experienced shogi player.

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I got so excited when I saw Takahashi Issei (Quartet, Tamiou) in the movie as Rei’s teacher Hayashida Takashi, but I’m sad that after the film, he apparently had only a few scenes. Those scenes are loveable, though! It established the fact that Hayashida is a shogi fan and someone who supports Rei in his career. I hope to see more of him on the kouhen.

Meanwhile, these four above are memorable shoji players. Hideaki Ito (Boku no Yabai Tsuma, Confession of Murder) who plays as Goto exudes that fearless aura rightful for his strong character. (By the way, I love how his character actually has some story, though it’s sad that it’s not elaborated more.) Meanwhile, Kase Ryo (Keizoku 2: SPEC, Gravity’s Clowns) acts as the Meijin Sayo, a character much different than Goto as he’s a calm and quiet character. Even without much lines, he has a powerful presence brought about by his actions and facial expressions.

Komoto Masahiro acted as Yasui Manabu, a shogi player who has a problem dealing with his daughter especially because of his own tendencies after losing shogi matches. I’ve seen him play supporting roles in various drama series and he’s always delivered good performances and this one here isn’t an exception.

Then, there’s also Okuno Eita who acted as Yamazaki Junkei, a shogi player who won the Newcomers’ Tournament for years. He doesn’t have much lines, too, but I liked his facial expressions especially around the latter part of his scene.

On the other hand, aside from Arimura Kasumi, I felt that the performance of the Kawamoto sisters are also underwhelming. Nitsu Chiise as Momo is cute, but her performance is nowhere near Ashida Mana‘s level yet. Kurashina Kana as Akari is indeed pretty, but I felt her acting was bland.

Meanwhile, Kiyohara Kaya as Hinata is all right. She was able to show more emotions. Or maybe it’s just really her character being more expressive. But I’m hoping they got to show better performances on the next part, especially because judging from the trailer, it’s more about them (well, Hinata, at least).

I’m definitely going to watch the next part soon! Then, after that, I’ll be watching the anime to see what I missed.

Here’s the trailer for the movie. There are some scenes which are apparently on the second part instead of the first, though.


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