It can be difficult to portray victims of bullying in TV shows and anime. The ways a victim acts don’t often translate well to the screen and in the worst cases, makes for extremely boring content. While Sangatsu no Lion’s second season has been slow at times, its twelfth episode amped things up and showed the audience a fierce side of Hina that had not been seen before.
Hina refuses to be a victim any longer.
More than that, the school seems to have recognised that it has a serious problem. After all, when students transfer away and teachers collapse, bullying moves from being “kids will be kids” to something far more malevolent. In truth, the reason the bullying was allowed to go on for so long was due to the inability of Hina’s teacher to control the children in her class. As such, introducing the headteacher, someone with greater authority, is the best thing that could have happened.
This episode showed Akari struggling to accept that she can’t resolve every problem she and her sisters face. It’s only natural she’d feel guilty, given the promise she made to their mother, but, like Rei, she has to realize that she can rely upon others in times of need.
In a way, episode twelve saw the balance of power completely inverted.
Usually, Akari is the reassuring sister, while Hina attempts to resolve everything amicably. In this case, however, Hina learned that occasionally, confrontation is not only necessary, but healthy too. She managed to initiate a much-needed conversation in a way that her furious, bombastic grandfather probably couldn’t have.
In the episodes to come, it’s likely we’ll see Takagi change schools. Her mother is unable to accept any slight against her, and as Hina remarks, “they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong”. She did make a veiled threat against Akari early in the episode, although it’s not clear how this will impact the story down the line.
All too often, anime focus on unrealistic, fantastical stories that are difficult to relate to. Sangatsu no Lion, however, manages to perfectly encapsulate the feelings of helplessness and anxiety that come with being bullied. Perhaps more importantly, it shows that there is always a way out, even if the first person you tell can’t or won’t take action.
The supporting cast are Sangatsu’s greatest treasure. More than the shogi itself, more than Rei’s progression, more than the beautifully animated backgrounds. Some shows would have relegated Hina’s struggles to the background but the fact that this one didn’t shows it is prepared to tackle difficult issues in an easily accessible way. That alone makes this show worth a watch and if it continues this way, all the better.