750https://i.ur.com/rKASj4r.jpg This review includes no spoilers and is meant for both seasonsWhen it comes to the slice of life genre. Its usually a hit or miss situation. Since its a genre that is one of the hardest to flesh out and give the viewers or readers alike something they would find worthwhile. In many cases things like character progression are uncommon and hard to fit in. I dont know how to explain it well but more or less its hard to create a story that elevates the slice of life elements in a good and enjoyable way. However there are few shows out there who can accomplish this and so much more. Sangatsu no Lion is such a phenomenon and it does it incredibly well and thorough. This anime takes the slice of life elements and digs deep into the emotional aspect to really give us a feeling of what those characters are feeling. The thing is its not just related to the main character. More or less anyone even a side figure you would find forgettable in the long run gets that time in the spotlight. Not to mention the author Umino Chika alongside the incredible Shaft studio does a tremendous job of adapting this story on the big screen. Its one of the few I would consider having a perfect adaptation. I have not read the manga myself yet but from what others are telling me. I am confident in saying so. 750https://media.giphy.com/media/jQJA1OGfCBVZ5qEj6y/giphy.gif StoryFirst off Sangatsu no Lion is a heavily characterdriven story there is in other words no set goal. Although once you start moving places you will see arcs with their own specific objective. That said Sangatsu no Lion wont give the answer straight to you. One has to look at the whole picture and piece together what its telling you. At least at some points. Shogi is a crucial component and tool in Sangatsu no Lion. Its used in the most unexpected ways. There are times when we get to learn the rules of shogi through some cute stories of cats. But at the end of the day I wouldnt be worried too much if you cant understand all those sharp and seriously indepth games. As long as you acknowledge that it tells a story through shogi you will be fine. Much of the psychological elements to behavior actions mannerism and all that good stuff is clearly conveyed through the games of shogi. Thats one of the reasons which make Sangatsu no Lion stand out from other anime. It does it delicately and is not afraid to play the long game. But at the end of it all. The payoff more than enough makes up for it if anything. Oh not only that. The sounds of shogi pieces smacking on the board are oddly satisfying. I cant be the only one that thought that right? On top of that Reis inner monologuing adds even more flavor to an already fantastic anime adaptation. Above all that Sangatsu no lion uses a good deal of metaphors through visual and psychological. In an incredibly fascinating captivating way. In other words its also a highly complex anime and certainly not for everyone but more on that later. Among others it does a great job of depicting life realistically. The good it carries the bad and how this affects anyone in either a terrible depressive. Or a more positive and happy way. In which case it shows us how loneliness affects our ways of thinking and how it can be dangerous to not surround yourself with warmth if possible. Moreover it shows the process of opening up to others in great detail like many other aspects. Its not as easy as it sounds a human being can be quite stubborn and shy even. It goes through all of that in extensive detail. Expect it to be quite comprehensive and delve deep so at the end of the road you will understand the character far better than you would think at first. I said it before and I will repeat it once more. Sangatsu no Lion is not afraid to bring up any side character and totally take them apart. So you can fully understand their reasoning and philosophy for life among so much else you have to watch to believe. Its true that Sangatsu no Lion tells a depressive and dark story but there is some comedy to be had. In fact it balances out that aspect so exceptionally well that it never ceases to astound me when the mood changes at the drop of a hat. Sangatsu no Lion will not only give you a highly impacting characterdriven story. But the wholesome moments which will heal you when you are down in the dumps are here too. Its so cute and fluffy all at once that it will definitely ease the pain from the more darker parts of the story. I mean if it was hopeless and gloomy all at times it might have ended up as a doubleedged sword. So this is a nice touch that gives your mind a break from the dark for a moment. When we do take a break you can also expect to see some foodrelated themes and in a general sense. My recommendation is to always have something to eat with you. Or you will for a fact regret it when you see some amazingly tastylooking anime food on your screen. Oh let me add this one too but I wont delve too deep into this topic for obvious reasons. Sangatsu no Lion does have a slow romance that in fact builds up over time as our character progress. Just dont watch it for that reason since you would come out disappointed if you are a hardcore romance fan I imagine. Its not the main topic. This anime is trying to mess around with. That said it gradually and tastefully builds up in the background and its so damn cute not gonna lie. I also want to point out that Sangatsu no Lion has one of my top favorite arcs in anime and manga as a whole. Only a few come close if you ask me. So studio shaft did a fantastic job of adapting this one arc especially. Everything to the direction and execution harmonized with each other perfectly and hit all the right notes. Its a common theme delved into anime or manga but only some manage to a great job of executing it. Sangatsu no Lion is one of those very few that actually went the extra mile and blew this one out of the park. Now the first season tells a great story by itself. Still the second season is in a completely different league altogether. But one thing is sure if it was not for the first season is a significant success hitting all the right notes in the right place. The second season would no doubt be near as emotionally impacting. Expect to cry expect to laugh and expect to notice many emotions you didnt think you already had. Sangatsu no Lion is one of a kind in that way. You will definitely not regret watching this classic if you are looking for an incredibly intricate characterdriven story with shogi elements and a dash of tasteful romance. SoundWhen it comes to the instruments effects any kind of sound at all in Sangatsu no Lion is impactful and feels real. Studio Shaft nails every little detail regardless of what type of mood we are in at the moment. It definitely complements nicely with the artstyle to boot which is another highly positive component. More on that soon. The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful and hits right on the dot with different vibes. You will be surprised at how one tune will make you all happygolucky inside but the next might gives you immense goosebumps and hit hard where it hurts the most. On top of that every opening song relies on symbolism and the songs by itself are topnotch. My favorite is the first opening song by Bump of Chicken and OMG I love the meaning of those lyrics. Its so vast and meaningful to Rei as a character. I also love the first and second ending song. One by the same artist and the other by Kenshi Yonezu. Both are wonderful and I love it way too much. Lets not forget about the first seasonopening two which is also just great. Not my cup of tea in terms of the song but its just as important and impacting as the rest of the opening and endings. ArtThe art tells its own story and thats not empty words mind you. Since studio Shaft does an absolutely phenomenal job of conveying all kinds of emotions feelings regret sorrow and even sadness through that simple but extremely expressive artstyle. On top of that the coloring is spoton. If its dark the art gets darkened and a more greyish tone but still being very colorful. For comedy it feels fluffy shiny and happy and so forth. It never ceases to astound me since the artstyle color palette always hits on the mark when it comes to our characters mood. This is Shaft we are talking about and it should be as expected. But this is no easy thing to make a reality so you have to give some insane credits for accomplishing this. Not to mention keeping it the norm as it gets even more intricate and intense as you move on to the second season. Lets also not forget to appreciate the highly detailed background. They are so damn beautiful and more or less each frame is worthy of becoming a wallpaper. Its amazing Shaft has been able to accomplish something like this and kept it going strong. I cant even imagine if the next seasons come around. It will surely be on another level once again. CharactersAs previously stated characters play a considerable role in Sangatsu no Lion. Lets talk about our main Rei Kiriyama for a moment. I dont know how to put it without falling into spoilers territory. However his progress from the first season to the second season is stunningly executed. It was realistic in terms of how long it took for him to change and accept reality and embrace it tightly. At first Rei comes off as a negative and depressive guy who just doesnt seem to have any purpose in life. He seems to be at the end of the road and could break at any point now. You cant really blame him either when you learn his side of the story and all hell he had to go through. Everyone is in for a surprise when they find out how he is still somewhat going and not completely given up at life. Regardless what I am trying to get across here is that Rei is an entirely different person from his first season counterpart. Without a shadow of out one of the bestwritten characters and the development is tastefully and very satisfying executed step by step. I am focusing more on Rei as to no spoil some other major characters. Dont let that make you assume they dont get the spotlight though. Since as I have made it abundantly clear by now they do and then some. 750https://media.giphy.com/media/W6dM1qB2HIr34MZ5Uh/giphy.gif The NegativeSuffice to say Sangatsu no Lion is not for everyone. The pacing is very slow but it gives room for additional brilliant and emotionally profound and thorough character development. That one arc especially just blew me away and I was an utter mess through it. Though thats only the beginning. During one of the shogi matches. I was conflicted with myself in whom I should root for. Both characters had their own noble reasons for fighting. However fleshing them out through emotionally packing backstory and shogi put me in a tight spot. Who did I fancy more? Who did I want to win? All kinds of similar thoughts were swirling inside my head. And I was at war with myself more times than I could possibly count. Sangatsu no Lion made me feel all sorts of emotions I thought I didnt have to put it plain and simple. But sadly not without faults. If I had to point out some issues It would have to be the inconsistency in pacing like you skipped an episode. This was not common but when it happened it was definitely a bothersome sensation. Sometimes it also felt like character bonds were established way too quickly with the supporting cast and not giving it enough room to develop first. On top of that Sangatsu no Lion has en huge cast and I wished many more got explored and revived attention. Regardless of all the mentioned problems do take it with a large grain of salt. While I did want somethings were handled even more delicately. At the end of the day I have much more praise than things to pick on with Sangatsu no Lion. Undoubtedly I had an absolute blast watching it and without a shadow of a doubt. Its now one of my alltime favorite anime and one of the best out there to boot no question asked. Not to mention its not like this is not something a sequel or reading ahead in the manga can fix so its really not that much a problem if you look it at that way. ConclusionI highly encourage and recommend Sangatsu no Lion with all my heart to everyone who wants to experience life and even characters depicted realistically in anime. And so much more you cant even begin to imagine. Its one of a kind and an absolute mustwatch absolutely. Definitely one of the few I would say you should watch at some point in your life. Sadly its clearly not for everyone since it handles some rather dense and complex topics. It all comes down to if you are interested in that kind of intensity. That said do not be afraid to give it a shot and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. Its a unique slice of life and not the usual kind executed with a lot of love and care. Every frame had a lot of love care put into it. Studio Shaft embedded it all in warm light and made it feel so alive and colorful. You can tell this is a director and production team that actually cares about the viewers. Sangatsu no Lion is undoubtedly a classic and one of the best anime I have watched in recent years.
94 /100
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