Sangatsu no Lion: A Review

If you remember Umino Chica, then you're probably a fan of Honey and Clover, her first work.  Everything that made Honey and Clover so memorable — the comedy; the colorful, wacky expressions; the sweet, unspoken subtleties — all of it is still present here in Sangatsu no Lion (in English: March Comes in Like a Lion).  As a newcomer to her work, I didn't expect much from the seemingly passive storytelling that goes on here but like all great stories it didn't take long until I became drawn in to the world that unfolded before me.

17 year-old Kiriyama Rei is a professional shogi player.  His family passed away while he was in middle school, and the only thing that kept him going on through life has now become his only passion in life.  He doesn't have any friends, outside of a few rival shogi players, but one day he meets Kawamoto Akari and her two younger sisters.  His life quickly becomes merged with the small family, marking the beginning of a charming new tale.

The plot summary seeed a bit awkward and straightforward, at first glance.

But Umino Chica herself said that a lot of her fellow peers and close friends also wondered why she chose such a strange theme for her newest work. 

In one of the chapters, she explains that it was a sudden spark of interest that drew her into the world of shogi.  She tried her hand at it for a little, and suddenly a revelation befell upon her, prompting her to create a story around not only just shogi, but the players behind the scenes as well.  Or something like that.

There's only four volumes out as of this post, so there's still a lot of time to flesh out more of the plot (which in my opinion is the only lacking part of the series).  The artwork is actually very beautiful — there's a quiet charm in the whimsical, cartoonish art that's easy to take in.  It certainly helps out the humorous scenes in a way that most typical seinen stories can't quite grasp. 

March Comes in Like a Lion has an anime adaptation sometime this year or later.  No word on it's release, but hopefully it gets a good studio translating it over to the flipside.  I for one will be on the lookout for it.

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