Vast differences from the first season
The second season of Sangatsu no Lion already shows some vast differences from the first season. Having dealt with some of his emotional issues in season one, Rei is an almost entirely different character and views not only shogi, but the world around him, in a new light.
The first episode of season two showed more of the mysterious shogi prodigy Souya. It seems that he and Rei are destined to clash at some point, and the show took steps to humanize Souya in preparation for this. Season one portrays Shouya as an unbeatable shogi player. However, it turns out that he has a win rate of just 70%. This change in perspective could be due to Rei’s newfound worldview – as he’s happier, previously unassailable opponents seem far more manageable.
The rest of episode 1 devotes itself to showing Rei’s interaction with the newly formed Shogi Science Club. It’s a strange concept, but there are more similarities between the two fields than it appears at first glance. For instance, Noguchi shows Rei how to make ramune using a series of logical steps, not unlike capturing the king in shogi.
Rei has discovered the joy that he had been missing out on all his life.
Rather than missing out on his high school experience by focusing solely on shogi, he has found that it has many transferable skills. Also, through his interactions with the science club members, he’s not only gained friends but an interest in something new.
This episode marks the first time the audience sees Rei actively pursue a social life. Before, he’d make token visits to Akari and her sisters, but often avoid doing so as not to inconvenience them. This time, however, he shows up just to socialize. This shows a side of Rei that has been as yet unexplored: what kind of person is he when he isn’t troubled or depressed?
How Rei treats Nikaido in the coming season is going to be particularly interesting to see. In previous episodes, Nikaido showed up intermittently as a nuisance that forced his presence upon Rei. In actuality, however, he has proven numerous times that he cares about Rei not only as a rival, but as a friend, and as a viewer, you can’t help but wonder whether Rei will realize this now.
Sangatsu no Lion’s second season is off to a strong start. While there was little in the way of plot progression, it started out by humanizing its central character and rallying his friends to his side. Will Rei manage to overcome his more troublesome opponents now that he has an expanding support network? We’ll have to wait and see, but his future looks far brighter than it did last season.