Early on in the thirteenth episode of Sangatsu no Lion’s second season, the girl that bullied Hina poses a question: why try anything? The remainder of the episode tries to build an answer. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a show with such a flair for emotional storytelling, Sangatsu delivers a truly touching and heartfelt moment that nails it perfectly.
First of all, though, the audience is shown that Hina’s school is committed to eradicating bullying in the long-term. Bullies excel at abusing power structures and once these are removed or changed, much of their ability to cause harm is removed also. There are numerous high-school anime that portray bullying, but few come close to being as realistic as Sangatsu no Lion. This isn’t a topic for a filler arc – it’s a serious issue and one that was treated with great respect by the show’s writers.
Rei made an appearance this time, too.
Although Hina’s troubles are over, he berates himself for not being part of the solution. This ties in with what we know about Rei holding himself responsible for events he could not have changed. Why try? Because, as Hina explains, his actions made all the difference to her when she was at her lowest point. Way back at the start of the season, Rei claimed that Hina was his saviour. Now, it looks like he was hers.
There is another issue here, though.
While it hasn’t been explicitly addressed yet in the show, Rei and Hina are beginning to get closer than most friends do. On the face of it, there’s no problem: they’re both around the same age, and they get along, right? However, while Hina’s family may not like to admit it, they occasionally rely on Rei to buy food for them. Also, Rei is hardly in the right frame of mind to be starting a relationship – his apartment is bare, he has trouble making friends, and could jeopardize the social circle he has by dating Hina.
Since the first episode, it’s been drilled into the viewer that Rei struggles socially. Sometimes, this leads him to do things that to him, seem innocent, but to others, come across as a bit creepy. For instance, when he interrupted Hina’s field trip to see her, or when he watches her sleeping during this episode. He’s definitely made good progress but these instances show that he still has a long way to go.
It’s been a while since we saw a game of shogi. That’s not a complaint – after all, this show has always been about the relationships between characters rather than the game itself. That said, with several tournaments rapidly approaching (not to mention a game against the mysterious Souya), Rei really has bigger problems right now. If he doesn’t start training hard, he’s going to have major issues down the line.