To be honest, I’ve always found reviewing slice of life series to be difficult and unpleasant, doing it is just tedious.
In recent years the anime production standards have steadily dropped culminating with the winter 2017 season which is filled with generic otaku-targeted shows, and thus 3-gatsu no Lion distinguished itself by having a more “serious” tone and being better, compared to the vast number of shitty series that aired at the same time.
I usually avoid watching slice of life because, in most cases, the story is nothing special and the pacing is slow, leaving me unsatisfied and on the brink of falling asleep in front of the screen. Unfortunately that perfectly applies to 3-gatsu no Lion’s case.
3-gatsu no Lion revolves around Rei Kiriyama and his everyday life, portraying Rei’s struggles with his past as well as the difficulties he encounters as a professional Shogi player.
With the show being part of the SoL genre, one can anticipate the story being dull with a fundamentally slow pacing that gradually tests your patience for the duration of the 22 episodes, and that it does.
The story is simple, not original or engaging in any particular way, it holds no hidden messages or deep meanings and develops at a pace so slow that sometimes makes you doze-off in front of the screen. Well, to be honest, the show does hold a few "hidden messages" about family, life and such.
The show’s plot just plods along, inducing a comatose state that is very difficult to recover from.
To my pleasant surprise, 3-gatsu no Lion contains some drama as well as comedy having a few entertaining and gripping moments, covering and merging multiple tones, alternating introspective and dark scenes with lively and funny moments, features which helped progress the story in a more fluid way while the show did a fairly decent job explaining the Shogi game in a way that anyone can understand.
The short flashbacks to Rei’s past were some of the very few things I liked about the execution of this show, execution that was tedious except for a few exceptions to the rule.
Although 3-gatsu no Lion is a character-focused show I was not impressed with its performance in this category, not even in the slightest.
The characters are decently built also being decently developed but at the same time they are stagnant and ultimately feel bland. I personally did not find the characters to be likeable or relatable to nor particularly deep or intriguing.
Rei Kiriyama is a 17-year-old boy who had a harsh childhood during which he faced many difficulties and sad moments. The difficulties he experienced as a child traumatized him and drove him to become an introvert who spends most of his time alone, studying Shogi, game which is his “passion”.
By meeting the Kawamoto family, the changes in Rei’s behavior and personality are put into motion, he slowly meets and starts to interact with more people while exploring his own emotions and getting to better know himself.
Rei’s parents passed away due to a car accident when he was just a child, leaving him alone in a world he did not know or fully understand. After the loss of his family, Rei secluded himself in the Shogi game, considering he had nothing left aside from that game. No relatives were willing to care for him but fortunately, one of his father’s close friends was kind enough to welcome Rei in his home and treat him like part of the family, but in that man’s home Rei will continue to face difficulties and sadness, being resented by the other two children.
While trying to escape from that pressure, Rei decides to live alone in Tokyo and work as a professional Shogi player in order to pay for his expenses.
As the story develops so does Rei's character.
Kyouko Kouda, Rei’s older adoptive sister, is a self-centered and egoistic young woman who has no real worries other than her relationship with Gotou (the bad guy), a married older man who also happens to be a professional Shogi player.
Kyouko has no issues standing and watching Rei getting beaten by Gotou and when in need of help she has no issues going to Rei’s house looking for help like nothing ever happened. She is described as a “witch” by Momo, the youngest of the 3 Kawamoto sisters.
The animation and art are beautiful as well as the color palette which is very nice, featuring colors according to the tone each scene employs and clearly conveying the feelings and emotions the moment carries.
The character design could have been done better and there are some minor flaws in the animation but other than that I have nothing to complain about.
Both opening and ending themes are great, arousing and inducing a certain mindset for the viewer to have as well as setting the mood for the show.
The OST is very good, working in tandem with the animation and perfectly conveying the emotions each scene carries.
The voice actors did a great job interpreting the characters, I particularly liked the 3 sisters’ voices and also the voice of the pets.
I’ve always said “Why watch slice of life when you can go out and do the real thing?”.
Watching 3-gatsu no Lion was a fairly bad watching experience, the show being very dull but having some entertaining moments to maybe remember.
3-gatsu no Lion is a show that I found difficult to finish and that made me constantly feel like I was wasting my time. I would not recommend watching this show unless you are a fan of the slice of life genre or you want to fall asleep.