Undoubtedly one of March Comes in Like a Lion’s best qualities is its sophisticated storytelling and its ability to give every aspect of its story and characters a detailed and nuanced depiction. If it were not for the fact that it is revealed that his wife is stuck in a hospital about to die, Gotou would likely still be view as “just an asshole” as opposed to another human being dealing with problems whose origin are out of his control. One of the ways March Comes in Like a Lion uses to achieve the level of sophistication in its storytelling is by having a consistent metaphorical motif: water.
Water is everywhere in the show and is used in various ways to get across multiple ideas. As in many western countries, In Japan, water is representative both of purification and of rebirth. In many cases, it can also represent a sort of dichotomy, with water representing a new life and destruction. March Comes in Like a Lion shows the ways in which it can be used through well thought out visual storytelling. Take the show’s opening, for example, its first use of water as a storytelling device.
The show has had four openings so far, and both the form the water takes and the amount of it give a real look at how Rei is doing emotionally. The first opening show’s Rei, drowning a large body of water, presumably the ocean, as he later washes up on shore. Rei’s drowning in the ocean represents his emotional stagnation at the beginning of the show, do to his complicated relationship with many of his adopted family members. In the second opening, it shows Rei walking alongside the riverbank near his apartment, with the look of a bright sunny day. This display is likely a reference to the weight that is lifted off his soldiers as a slowly comes to realize that the Kawamoto sisters have become a stabilizing force in his life. The third opening shows Rei literally walking on water, both, from a western perspective, invoking the image of Jesus Christ, and showing his having conquered the emotional burdens that were earlier drowning him. And finally, the fourth opening not only shows Rei smiling in cheering, one part of the opening shows the water completely dried up, as if to suggest that not only are his own problems gone, but those of his friend Hina, who was being bullied for the majority of the second season’s first half, are gone as well.
Water also shows up as a descriptor of settings. More recently, in the battle with Rei versus Souya, Rei describes the encounter as feeling like a “storm.” It is interesting to note that this was also Rei referring to a literal storm that was coming through the area, so when the storm comes through and we see the characters facing the harsh weather looking for a place to stay after their Shogi match, it shows what exactly Rei meant.
Lastly, many characters in the show have described their own situations as feeling like they are drowning. Rei invokes the same imagery that was depicted in the show’s first opening when he describes life after his father died, saying that Shogi was like a life raft in the middle of an ocean. A scene during the show’s second season during the bully arc with Hina has her describe her own situation as drowning in the presence of her bullies.
To some, this level of repetition in visual storytelling might seem like a bad idea, but not only does it not overcrowd the visual elements of March Comes in Like a Lion, it gives the show’s characters a feeling of interconnectedness, enforcing the idea that no matter what they are all people dealing with their own problems, and that sometimes just a little love and attention can make things a bit better, even when it feels like they are drowning.
What else have you noticed about March Comes in Like a Lion? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos! Also, if you like what your reading and want to help support the blog, consider supporting The Aniwriter on Patreon. I plan on updating my Patreon page soon so stay tuned for that.