As the bullying arc of March Comes in Like a Lion comes to a close, Hina, both the heroine and a victim in these episodes, seeks closure as well. Much of that comes in the form of a letter from Chiho, letting Hina know that things will be alright. The letter, even tinged as it is with melancholy, is much needed—Hina has been marching forward because she’s convicted that standing up is right, but the letter provides that something that shows it was all worth it.
But besides the letter, Hina must find a measure of closure regarding the bullies and how she feels toward them, at least in this moment in time. After the perpetrating girls apologize in front of the classroom (with Megumi’s “sorry” being most insincere), Hina chats with her teacher and asks if it’s okay if she doesn’t forgive them.
It’s a good question. Hina has demonstrated such character to this point, such a willingness to be an upstander when everyone else stands aside. Her sense of justice is high—why should she forgive someone who isn’t worthy of forgiveness? Who isn’t even seeking it?
We live in a culture that prizes how Hina thinks (even if we aren’t always willing to stand up like she does). But it also prizes forgiveness—how many stories do we see about people forgiving others for the cruel, sometimes violent things they’ve done, and then praise them for doing so? It’s even more impressed upon us if we’re Christians, since our faith rises and falls on the idea of forgiveness.
In the context of this conversation, though, I think Hina is questioning whether she needs to outwardly forgive Megumi, as Megumi has verbally offered her apology. Hina doesn’t want to do that. She refuses to be a hypocrite, offering her forgiveness for one who hasn’t really asked for it, whose heart doesn’t feel any sense of guilt.
No, Hina, you do not have to give your forgiveness to Megumi, who hasn’t asked for it. Not in the way that might be expected of you. But in your own, solid gold Hina way, you may want to give it anyway.
Toward the end of the episode, Hina tells Rei about how she found closure with classmates—not with the bullies, but with the bystanders, one of which tearfully apologies for not supporting her during the torment. She asks Hina to join them in baking cookies. Hina accepts and they have a nice time. Hina has forgiven those girls—she never had to say so, but the girls could see it in her actions, and it gave all those involved a sense of relief, a sense of closure.
If I know Hina—and maybe the show will never address this—she will forgive Megumi one day soon, and not because she’s expected to, but on her own terms. She’ll forgive Megumi because she’ll see her as someone flawed, someone in need of forgiveness, which is what I think we as the audience are slowly discovering as she’s being unraveled in all her adolescent apathy.
Once Hina gets through the anger, I believe she’ll offer that forgiveness, and as with the other girls, it may not be in words, but Megumi will be able to see it by how Hina acts, and as with the bystander girls, as with you and me and people we know all around us, grace offers something amazing to the giver and the receiver—Hina will be even freer and Megumi…well, Megumi might reject this offering and keep living life in the darkness, or she can experience something wonderful and be set free herself.
So no, Hina, you don’t have to forgive Megumi. But I think you will…and I think you and she will become all the better for it.
March Comes in Like a Lion can be streamed through Crunchyroll.