The eleventh episode of Sangatsu no Lion’s second season was a slow-paced insight into the organizations Rei has surrounded himself with throughout his professional career. With very little plot progression, this episode instead focused on catching the audience up with the activities of the supporting cast.
Noguchi, the mustachioed third-year who runs the science/shogi club, made a welcome return. While he started as a one-note character, he actually has one of the highest potentials for character development. Disappointingly, though, in episode 11 he’s used merely to force Rei to take responsibility for the club.
Despite the many improvements Rei has made over the previous season, he still has a long way to go emotionally.
Even seeing his friends and colleagues congratulating him was enough to bring him to tears. After all, Rei doesn’t really have any experience with genuine, heartfelt praise – his childhood, as we’ve seen, was far from idyllic. We haven’t seen Kyouko in quite some time, but the mental scars she gave Rei are still very apparent. He’s very aware that his fame could disappear at any moment, and in some ways, feels as though he’s unworthy of the adoration of his peers.
These issues are only exacerbated by the sheer amount of pressure put upon him by the chairman of the shogi hall. Rei’s been giving his most recent games everything he has, and immediately after winning, he’s scheduled to play against Souya, the unbeatable, enigmatic meijin in a highly publicized game.
Souya is a particularly interesting character.
The viewer knows next to nothing about him except for that he’s considered unbeatable and that, like Rei, he became a professional shogi player right out of school. Given his estimated age is around 30, that means Rei has over a decade of pro-level experience to contend with.
It’s highly likely that we’ll find out more about Souya in the following episodes. After all, there’s no dramatic tension if the audience knows nothing about his motivations or personality. However, we can also expect to see Nikaido return in time for the final match of the current competition. This presents an opportunity for the plot to move in a different direction: will Nikaido still want Rei to train as hard as possible, even if it means he himself is left behind?
Ultimately, this episode was slightly disappointing. While it was nice to see some of the less popular characters again (Shimada, in particular), it lacked any real substance and relied far too heavily upon visual jokes to be particularly memorable. This is understandable, though. Sangastsu no Lion has always been a show that moves at a leisurely pace and Rei is currently between games. This time could be better utilized, but to its credit, few other anime spend so much time on their supporting casts as Sangatsu no Lion.