Throwback Thursday: 三月のライオン (Sangetsu no Lion)

As we close out 2020, and complete our 10th year anniversary celebration, we’ve been posting a final series of Throwback Thursday posts from writers, past and present, revisiting their former columns! Today we’re posting the fifth and final article in the series, returning most appropriately to Zeroe4’s “Throwback Thursday” column. We hope you enjoyed the trip back in time!

Firstly, introductions are in order. I am Zeroe4 and I was a blogger here prior to 2017, when I stepped down to get married and start art school. Now it’s my senior year of school and I was invited back by Twwk to pick up a post from my old column for the Tangles Tenth Anniversary. I sincerely hope that you all enjoy it.

Revolving around the life of Kiriyama Rei, Sangetsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion) follows his search for belonging. Kiriyama-san is an orphan whose parents died tragically in a car accident. He was taken in by a professional shōgi player and in order to fit in, threw himself into mastering the game. This ended up alienating him from his adopted family, as Kiriyama’s drive and talent led him to excel, while his adopted sister and brother couldn’t compete. Kiriyama was the only one that could earn the approval of his performance-oriented adoptive father, leading to jealousy among and verbally abuse by his siblings. Upon entering high school, Kiriyama moved out on his own to not be a further burden on his adopted family.

Sangetsu no Lion begins after Kiriyama has moved out on his own and deals with the loneliness he is experiencing. It begins with his professional experience as an upcoming shōgi pro, while also showing various relationships he has stumbled into, including a household of orphan sisters who take care of their grandfather’s candy shop. The show is a masterpiece of visual story telling. It focuses on relationships and how they affect Kiriyama’s psyche and personal growth. While the series is animated in third person, the art styles of the show change and blend as Kiriyama’s feeling grow and change. His loneliness is a world of abstract rough lines in black and white. His joy is a highly saturated view of the world around him, full of light and beauty. He experiences trauma from certain interactions and gets pulled out of his internal darkness by the people around him, and all of this is visual as well as narrated. I have never seen any media pull off the feel of loneliness and joy like this anime—and visual story telling is my specialty.

I am well aquainted with the loneliness of feeling like a burden. I am a TCK who has spent my whole life moving from place to place and people group to people group, never fitting in until I found people who saw who I really was under all of my facades and fears. Home is now where ever those people are, and I have friends in at least 30 countries. Most importantly, I carry the things I learned and the memories wherever I go. Some days it’s harder than others, but if people are there for you, you can never really forget. And as my wife reminds me often, that I am not as 邪魔 (jama – hinderance, obstacle, or nuisance) as I once thought.

Kiriyama’s story is a journey of healing and learning to be accepted. He finds restoration and seeks out the people in his life who genuinely love him, whether by choice or not. He gives in and learns to embrace those around him and becomes so much more than an orphan shōgi player: He becomes a friend and someone others can rely on. Never a burden, he begins to see what a blessing he really is because of the joy he brings to those around him.

Follow Zeroe4 on Instagram and Twitter. Featured illustration by Luo (reprinted w/permission). March Comes in Like a Lion can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

And check out the previous Throwback Thursday columns:


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