March Comes In Like a Lion was my favorite show from 2016 for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons I enjoyed the series so much was because of its characters. They were full of life and emotion, constantly changing moods and outlooks as the story progressed. The show did a great job of creating real emotion in its characters, no matter if they were happy or depressed. It made the characters relateable and made me sympathetic to their hardships as well as happy when they were having a good time.
Of all the characters, Rei was by far the most relateable to me. Some of his struggles and experiences are things that I had gone through at some point in my life. As an athlete in middle and high school I too came across many tough opponents who were better trained and more skilled, but by far the most challenging opponent I had ever come across was myself.
I started training in karate at a very young age, much like Rei with shogi. I was 6 when I first joined my local karate club, and kept training until I was around 20. Throughout my middle school and highschool years, I was fortunate enough to compete in several national championships as well as regional and provincial tournaments. Much like Rei’s success at a young age, I found something I was quite good at and enjoyed while I was young. I had remained the provincial champion for many years, and had even seen small success in larger tournaments.
What made Rei relateable to me wasn’t just because of this however, since his accomplishment is incredibly more difficult than what I had done. I only competed in my own age groups, whereas Rei becomes a professional competing against other adults while still in school. The thing that stuck close to home for me was the fact that Rei found himself stuck in his current rank, unable to move forward. It isn’t that his opponents are too tough or that he is not skilled enough to advance, it’s just that Rei has become complacent with his current rank. As long as he doesn’t drop down in rank, he will continue getting enough money to live off of and he can continue living his life in solidarity. Rei just doesn’t have the drive to push forward and improve beyond his current abilities, the same feelings I had when I was still in highschool competing in karate tournaments across the country.
Much like Rei, I saw some early success with karate at local tournaments and competitions. I was the provincial champion for many years, only being rivaled by two others in my division. If I didn’t win a tournament in my province, I came second after a close match. The problem was that my success never went beyond that, and to be truthful I never really wanted it to. I was happy with the local success I had achieved and the name I had made for myself to everyone who was involved with my provincial karate. Everyone was happy that I even had a chance to go and compete on a national level, winning anything was just bonus. Eventually my mindset had just become “these people are just better than me, so I’ll try my hardest and be happy with whatever result I get”. I was complacent, in truth I could have done much better beyond my provincial tournaments if I had just put the effort and training required into it. Like how Rei is fine with remaining in C rank if it means he can support himself, I was fine with finding success at a provincial level if it meant I was still seen as a skilled competitor.
Though I eventually gave up competing in order to focus on my studies in university, Rei hasn’t given up yet. As the season progressed he finds himself finding new inspiration to move on and keep struggling. Its refreshing to see a character find himself in an internal struggle such as this instead of having some stereotypical bad guy or super powerful rival to overcome. Rei’s first hurdle was himself, and before he could even think about progressing in his shogi career he needed to realign himself. Its a hurdle I never did jump over, so seeing Rei find new inspiration and fighting on really made me happy for him. I hope we someday get another season so we can continue to see Rei fight on and reach new heights.