Hello everyone, my name is Scott. For those who are new, I love mech anime, which is why my blog is named the way it is. I step away from that realm a lot and I am doing so again today when talking about March Comes in like a Lion for the fourth time on this blog. This is my second OWL’S post, so I am still learning about how to write with these unique prompts in mind. I’m also nervous about following Venus from JapanimeTalks‘ great post, so check that one out here.
If you don’t know what OWLS (Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect) is or what they are about, click this link to learn more. It’s an incredibly fun group of people that want to spread some good messages to a world that needs it.
This month’s Owl’s prompt is called treasure. Here it is in whole:
“There are moments in our lives where we lose our sense of self-worth and value and as a result, we find ourselves deep in darkness or drowning in the ocean. However, every person in this world is a treasure—we treasure ourselves or we are treasured by others—and at times, we may need to be reminded of that.
For this month’s topic, we will be exploring pop culture characters who have suffered from mental illnesses, depression, and/or suicide. We will be discussing how these individuals cope with these issues, the reasons for their emotions, and how they handled the situations they are in.
***Mental illness, suicide, and depression are pretty serious topics and we hope that our OWLS post will give you some solace.”
Rie Kiriyama and Loss
(Usual spoiler warning here)
If there is one word to describe what March is about, it’s loss. Yes, this is an anime where characters play shogi, but that is merely a medium used for these characters to interact rather than the focus. Every character in this show has lost one or more family members they were closed to in death or some other way of significance, which puts each of them in a depressive state. It’s a very real thing, because I’ve experienced this myself as well and it took me a couple years to feel similar to being normal, whatever that is.
While each character is great and interesting, I am going to focus on the main character Rie Kiriyama here. Why? Because this post would go on for pages and pages on end if I didn’t. Also, as the main character, Rie Kiriyama, is the heart and soul of the show so I honestly shouldn’t talk about any other character. He isn’t just a platform for us to experience March Comes in like a Lion, his emotions are what grounds us to what is going on. Studio Shaft does a great job of putting us into his depressing world through the use of amazingly mood filled visuals.
Rie Kiriyama has been through a lot. At an early age, he lost his family in a car crash. Quickly after that, he was adopted by his father’s best friend. There, he lived life in a pressure cooker. Not literally, but that’s what his surroundings were like. He competed with his two adopted siblings over the right to play shoji outside of the house. Even things like Christmas gifts added fuel to this fire. Rie’s adoptive dad could give out the nicest gifts to his children, but if you don’t get a shoji board, you know you aren’t the favorite child. Somehow, Rie was the one who ended up with that shoji board. This pressure cooker of a life style really did nothing for his mental psyche and self esteem.
At the beginning of the series starts off with Rie Kiriyama living in his own apartment. He’s only a high schooler (who is one year behind everyone else), and yet he is a professional shogi player that gets a pay check and has got a degree of success from it all. That all said, he is mentally still a mess. He’s an anti social mess that barely cares for himself, because he is depressed. The major accident in his life and feelings towards it were stewed in that pressure cooker for years. This is only a minor theory of mine, but I think that March Comes in like a Lion is anime about Rie finally releasing the emotions that he has had for years. He doesn’t know how to do it, so that’s where his depression and social anxiety comes from. Having it all released at once like this isn’t healthy.
I would that a psychologist would be handy to put into different anime, including this one, but then we wouldn’t get so many analysis and points of view of the human condition.
The Road to Recovery
By the end of season one (there is going to be a season two this fall and I’m so excited about it), Rie’s life does improve. How? He starts a shogi club, works with a great professional player to improve his game, and generally becomes more social. That wasn’t an easy decision for him to make. Rie had to decide that this is something that he wanted to do and general, it’s helped him out a lot. He also has a family that he visits from time to time who also lost people and are as warm and loving as ever.
Does this mean that Rie every completely feels happy? No, there are more many instances where he goes back from being happy to back to a depressed state. Also, he second guesses himself a lot, asks if he deserves to be happy, and needs to be constantly reminded about all of the things that he has achieved. It may be a little frustrating from a narrative point of view, but this behavior is incredibly realistic. That is one of many reasons on why I love this series so much.
Like March Comes in like a Lion shows, if find yourself in a depressed state, don’t separate yourself from the world. It doesn’t help and only stews the conflict going on in your mind. Find some people and hang out with them. You don’t have to talk about what you are going through, but being around other people can make you feel better about yourself. I also recommend seeing a psychologist. A complete recovery will never happen completely, especially if you are feeling sad from loss because that’s a constant thing that’s always going to apart of you, but you can feel better about yourself.
I would like to thank anyone who is reading this for stopping by. I had fun and some self reflection writing this post. As short as it is, I hope I put a lot of good messages into it.
Next up is Hazelyn from Archi-Anime. I’m sure that it’s going to be great. Look forward to it.
Also, here is a post about our OWL book give away. Click the link if you want to get more involved and possibly get a free book.