“Chapter 68 Black Mist / Chapter 69 Light”
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It’s been high time we give Lion the credit it deserves. With that in mind, I’m going to start doing weekly write-ups while Jel takes over the Round-Up with his Battle Royale.
Coming back from the holiday break, the moment all parties have been dreading comes to pass. Hina’s teacher suffers a breakdown from the classroom problems, and Hina needs to be brought in for a parent teacher conference to straighten things out.
If any of you out there are not watching March Comes In Like A Lion, I cannot express to you enough how much you are missing out on one of the most fantastic character dramas of our time. While it had bumps along its start, it seems that the story is really understanding what strikes a chord to the shared modern experience, and this bullying arc that Hina has been struggling through has been the epitome of that experience. I’ve never seen such a frank and uncompromising take on what being bullied really feels like, and the vast intricate web of problems its ugliness brings to bear. It seems that March was giving us a rest by its heavily shogi focused episode before the break, as this episode is so focused on Hina’s developing issue that Rei never even shows up at all.
It’s easy to think that those who are part of a failed system are simply bad people. We can think of grumpy DMV workers or businessmen of terrible corporations as being careless or even outright cruel. More often, the truth is more complicated than that, and people’s weakness is compounded by feeling trapped in a terrible situation. It’s here that we start to see things from the viewpoint of Hina’s teacher, an elderly woman who has seen Hina’s tragedy play before her eyes more times than she could care to mention. Did she maybe try to stop it at one point, only running into the same problems we see here, a lack of proof? At what point did she despair of the system and stop trying to get involved in her student’s problems? Whatever her whole story was, we only see the end, as she retires in shame and despair.
This culminates in a solid second half, starting with looking more into the weight that has been placed upon Akari’s role as surrogate mother in her household. It’s a heavy burden to be placed on someone in her early twenties, and we’ve seen how that burden has become harder and harder as Hina’s struggles have gone on. Her feelings of helplessness in her confrontation only make Hina’s strength that much more touching. She is still young, but she is growing up as her own person, and she wants Akari to know that she wants to support her too. Having the new teacher absolutely destroy the arguments her bully’s mother brings forth was another fist pump worthy scene. The quiet way he observes the behavior of her compared to Akari and Hina speaks volumes to how oftentimes problems like this are judgement of character and trustworthiness. This is a school, not a police station, so it’s obvious that there has to be another metric than just physical evidence to prove who is in the right.
While all my write-ups might not be quite as long as this, I just can’t get over how much March has been able to impress me week after week. In a season that has been widely a disappointment, it’s heartening to see the few high quality shows continuing over from last season have consistently brought their best material. I would even welcome a return of shogi, as even there the show has done a good job of showing how Rei’s development and drive have changed his focus in playing. After such a solid performance, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next.