March comes in like a lion

March comes in like a lion

March comes in like a lion anime series cover art
March comes in like a lion


March comes in like a lion is the most recent Studio Shaft anime I’ve watched (season one so far). Shaft is the animation studio behind two of my favorite series, the Monogatari series and Madoka Magica, so with that in mind, I went in with high expectations for March comes in like a lion.

This series is also highly rated on MAL and I believe it also won best drama at this year’s Crunchyroll Anime Awards.

The story is about an orphaned high school boy who plays shogi professionally. For those who don’t know, shogi is basically the Japanese version of chess. While you don’t need to know how to play shogi to enjoy the series (it attempts to teach you along the way), it probably helps.

While it’s about shogi on the surface, it’s really about a loner who has distanced himself from this adoptive family and struggles to get through each day. Luckily for him, he’s made some friends along the way, although not by choice.


Rei Kiriyama is the protagonist of the series. When he was a child, his family died (I believe in a car crash) and he was adopted by a friend of his father because he was good at shogi. While I don’t think this was the sole reason for his adoption, it seems that this is what Rei believes.

After 10 years of living in the Kōda household, Rei moved out on his own because he felt that he was splitting the rest of the family apart. His older adoptive sister Kyōko was the driving force behind this since she felt Rei was getting more attention than she was.

I don’t have too much to say about Kyōko Kōda here other than that she seems like she’ll develop into the most interesting character of the series. We don’t see too much of her in season one, but she’s a broken girl who reminds me a lot of Asuka from Eva or Sayaka from Madoka.

The next character is Rei’s best friend (or so he calls himself) Harunobu Nikaidō. Nikaidō first became interested in Rei after they had a shogi match at a tournament when they were kids. Nikaidō liked that Rei didn’t go easy on him and proclaimed him his life long rival afterwards.

Since Nikaidō sees Rei as his rival and best friend, he always pushes Rei to do his best because he wants them both to succeed and play against each other as professionals. While Rei doesn’t always want Nikaidō around, he does seem to consider him his best friend as well.

The final three characters I want to talk about are the Kawamoto sisters: Akari, Hina, and Momo. These three girls live with their grandfather since their grandmother and mother both died (maybe a year before the series takes place). Their father is an unknown.

Akari is the oldest sister and is older than Rei, but I’m not sure by how much, at least a few years. She has become the surrogate mother figure for the two younger girls, mostly Momo. It was Akari who first brought Rei into the Kawamoto house and they all view him as family.

Hina is the middle sister and is in middle school, so that’s easy to remember. She’s my favorite character because of how she constantly overreacts. The faces she makes are perfect for reaction gifs like the one featured below which is from when the boy she likes said hi to her.

Momo is a preschooler who doesn’t remember how life was before it was just the three sisters and their grandfather. Like your typical preschooler, she’s generally carefree and doesn’t understand a lot of the things going on around her.

She also thinks Kyōko is a witch and the inner Madoka Magica fan in me can’t help but see that as a reference even though I know it’s most certainly not.

Hinata "Hina" Kawamoto from the anime March comes in like a lion
Hina Kawamoto


Despite the high praise this series, and this season specifically, has gotten, I rated it at 7/10. I enjoyed the series and found it to be engaging, but not to the point where I wanted to just sit down and binge it.

However, I recognize that this is just the first season and has probably only scratched the surface of the series and the character development within it. I’m expecting the second season to be even better than the first, much like how Saekano season one was a 7, but season two was a 9.

While I’m not sure if March comes in like a lion will break into my top 10, since that’s pretty difficult to do at this point, I do think it will end up in the 8+ category which is still an impressive feat.

My review of the second season is available here.

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