Rei is a professional shogi player, despite being only seventeen. He lives alone for the most part in a state of nigh-utmost depression with no family or friends, but for whatever reason, a nearby family invites him over for meals now and then. This ‘family’, who run a traditional sweets store, consists of three bright sisters, their grandfather and at least three cats.
Umino Chika is one of those creators who I have known about for ages and had some kind of admiration for just because of the way her art looks, and yet I’ve never actually seen or watched anything she’s responsible for. I keep adding it to that massive pile of stuff I’m supposed to get around to reading and watching, and yet I never do. One day, Honey and Clover, one day, Eden of the East, I swear. I totally will. 3gatsu no Lion is yet another one of her series I’ve been meaning to read all this time but haven’t, so I actually didn’t know a thing about it coming in, other than the fact that it was one of the most anticipated new shows of this season and the manga is insanely famous.
There’s not a lot to say in the synopsis because, to be honest, there’s a whole lot I don’t really understand. I honestly thought the family Rei was eating with was his actual family that he wanted to live apart from for some reason, but it isn’t. I had absolutely no idea who the old guy he was playing shogi against was, but looking it up later he’s a friend of his father’s who took him in after his parents died. I honestly don’t even know if his parents dying is a spoiler or not (I mean, I don’t see why it should be) but seriously – knowing this from the beginning would have made things a lot easier to follow. The first few minutes of this show are mostly spent following Rei around as he looks gloomy and upset. We eventually find out that this is in order to make the massive mood and style whiplash when he gets to the three sister’s house more striking, but it actually kind of put me off the show. I can’t really explain it, but something about the way it was portrayed just didn’t set well with me and came off as more pretentious than anything else – which is something I hate to write, because I hate to throw that word around and this show really is artistically beautiful. I’m just having a really hard time figuring out Rei as a main character and I hope this changes.
The sisters’ house is fun – it’s colourful and energetic and best of all the cats all have these weird little inner voices which is really adorable. The dichotomy between Rei’s obvious depression and this house is like two different shows slapped together. Everything about the parts with the sisters is so stylish and fun, and won me over on the show a lot more than any of the pensive scenes with Rei. The way they’re drawn also seems to suit the shows art style a lot better. I appreciate it when anime make interesting stylistic choices in order to imitate the style of the manga they’re based on as close as possible, but Rei’s weird sketchy mouth almost makes him look like a frowning clown sometimes.
I’m prepared to keep watching this one – especially because it ends with a new character being introduced – and see how things develop. I just hope Rei becomes more likeable as a character than he is right now. It looks like a really interesting show, but it also feels like this first episode is only a tiny crack on top of whatever deeper story lies beneath it. It’s not easy to make first impressions for shows like this, but I can at least say I’m ‘cautiously intrigued’.