3-gatsu no Lion – Episode 1

“See? There’s no place for you in this world.”

“There’s nothing.”

“You’ve gotten better.”

“You left so suddenly… Ayumu and Kyouko are worried about you.”

That’s a lie.

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The previous remarks were all that was spoken before Rei Kiriyama (Kengo Kawashini), 17-year old professional shogi player, uttered his first line of speech capping the former half of the episode. I may be looking too far ahead in this, but given how 3-gatsu no Lion presented its premier in a precise and methodological fashion, I can’t help but feel that Rei’s single line of dialogue — as with the rest of the “interpretations” I came up with one way or another — is actually a rejection of every word directed at him during the first half of this episode. It tells so much, yet is subtly hidden beneath 3-gatsu‘s tightly woven structure that it’s difficult to disregard something as unintentional considering that it perfectly fits into Rei’s personality and circumstances based on what I’ve seen so far.

There are tons of stuff worth chewing on here, and as epiphanies pop into my head one by one, I slowly start to appreciate 3-gatsu for how it managed to weave a substantially packed narrative into 25 minutes of immersive anime. The first episode doesn’t really provide any sort of immediate answers as it feels more like an appetizer; a preamble for what feels like a “shit’s about to go down” main dish. The former half, in particular, was painstakingly slow, yet there’s an ominous and calming feeling to it despite how suppressed Rei looks like with his emotions, and this was perfectly captured by a fleeting butterfly — unstable at its flight, sweetly bitter with its grace.

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It was quite difficult to point my finger and describe my sentiments into one concrete answer. For lack of better words, simply put, it feels like 3-gatsu is suppressing its emotions. It doesn’t want to communicate with us directly as it would rather convey feelings visually. In fact, this point towards how I perceived Rei’s character. Much like how 3-gatsu is presented — suppressed, precise, natural — Rei does the same, and his sadness would rather ooze out of the stitches while he’s sleeping as shown by his tears. He is definitely sad, he is showing signs of depression, but these are signs we didn’t recognize from his conscious will other than from his That’s a lie rejection, while the rest of these signs are nuanced in visual quirks.

Additionally, there are a number of motifs used this episode that may perhaps be a wink wink nudge nudge to Rei’s circumstances that contributed to the “suppressed” emotion I’m getting. One of the most striking semblance is 3-gatsu‘s usage of the moon towering above flicker of lights which is eerily reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Now, I don’t have any basis here to argue that it’s something the mangaka intended, but given my context of its interpretation, it kinda does make sense for it to be other than an aesthetic choice on behalf of the creator. There hasn’t been any de facto answer explaining why Van Gogh drew such painting, but general consensus says that it has something to do with depression, isolation, and or sadness. In as much as the painting reflect’s Van Gogh’s state of mind, it may also allude to Rei’s suppressed emotions.

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In fact, Rei’s name means zero, and the show ironically starts with the line “Zero? That’s a weird name” with a sinkhole and water backdrop. Perhaps the moon, shaped as “O”, was used to indicate his separation/seclusion from the world. Perhaps the moon was used to infer that the Mikazuki-do (half-moon something), a shop owned by a family who he is close with, represents hope. Perhaps the moon’s dull reflection on the river hints at something else. Water is another recurring theme that is strewn throughout this episode, and it may have been used to indicate Rei’s suppressed suffocation, drowning feeling, or perhaps even an attempted suicide. I honestly don’t know, and trying to conclude something from a single  episode alone is too far fetched to answer questions I’m grasping from straws.

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Short thoughts:

  • I’m a fan of SHAFT, mind you. Well, I haven’t watched the latest from their Monogatari series but whatever.
  • This doesn’t feel all that SHAFT-ty, in fact.
  • Dude, Kana Hanazawa is here. That’s an automatic 10/10 for ya.
  • I haven’t seen Honey and Clover yet, which is a series written by the same mangaka. Show’s been on my “To Watch” list since forever, but if 3-gatsu continues to be as enjoyable as this first episode, then H&C got itself a deal.
  • That part where the cats were circling Akari because of damn food was hilarious. Same thing happens to me but with 5 cats.
  • I actually thought we’re getting something similar to Shion no Ou.
  • I needed a double take to realize the cats were talking. In their heads. Wth.
  • KANA HANA WOOO!

Love it. Love the atmosphere. Feel like this is gonna be one of those slow burn slice-of-life I’m a sucker of. Anyways, that’s it for this week, folks! See you next episode!3gatsu7

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4 comments

  1. I added this earlier today on my Crunchyroll queue. I was trying to decide which of the Fall 2016 series to tackle next and I this review tilted it in 3-gatsu no Lion’s favor.

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    1. Yeah, same here actually! I was deliberating whether to blog about this or Occultic;Nine but 3-gatsu’s just too good to pass from.

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      1. Did you watch Occultic; Nine too? I have that one added as well haha. We appear to have similar tastes. I have only watched an episode of Izetta for the Fall 2016 but tomorrow I’m planning a serious binge

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      2. Yup! Occultic;Nine’s pretty crazy. It definitely has something planned given how its first episode turned out. Izetta’s pretty good too, tho it took a while for me to warm up to it.

        How about Yuri on ice? Everyone’s going gaga over that lol

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