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Manga: Sangatsu No Lion

3-gatsu no Lion (Sangatsu no Lion, lit. The Lion of March), subtitled as March Comes in Like a Lion, is a seinen Slice of Life/Drama manga series written by Honey and Clover's Chica Umino. It is currently serialized in Young Animal with seven volumes released.

Rei Kiriyama is an adolescent who recently started living alone, financed by his salary as a professional Shogi player. Despite his independence, however, he's yet to mature emotionally, and his problems continue to haunt him in his daily life. His relationship with his adoptive family is strained, and he has difficulties interacting with his fellow high school students. While he's able to manage a few cordial relationships with his peers in professional shogi, as well as his homeroom teacher, Rei has a relatively isolated lifestyle in a place that's almost unfamiliar to him.

Meanwhile, his professional career has entered a slump. Burdened with the heavy expectations placed on him as the fifth to become pro in middle school, his wins and losses are fluctuating as his record and progression into the ranks begin to stagnate. While he's yet to receive any significant negative attention, those that know of him the shogi community wonder what is happening with him as he continues to struggle in a game where he initially shown tremendous promise.

Acquainted with Rei are the three Kawamoto sisters: Akari, Hinata, and Momo. Unlike the sullen Rei, they live happily in their modest home, which they warmly welcome Rei into as if he were one of their own. Despite his reservations about becoming too close to the family, he frequently visits, interacting with them and receiving the kind of care and affection he never quite had while under his foster home.

This is the story of Rei's triumphs and failures, relationships new and old, and his growth as a person.

A character sheet is under construction. Before adding a trope to the series page, check if it doesn't already exist in the character sheet.

This series provides examples of:

  • Art Shift: Nikaidou's look of focus and determination when he's about to go up against Kiriyama, his long-time rival.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: This is how Rei describes Issa Matsumoto's shogi playing style.
  • Backstory: Rei's backstory, which is explained in a multi-chapter story arc and small vignettes and flashbacks spread throughout, is an integral part of the plot, as it is the reason for many of his negative traits at the onset of the story proper. He is frequently plagued by thoughts of it, and it constantly comes back to haunt him, usually in the form of Kyoko and her visits.
  • Bad Dreams: In the first chapter, Rei suffers through bad dreams while sleeping over at the Kawamoto residence after bottling up all of his negative emotions earlier in the day. While bringing him bedsheets to sleep with, Hina notices Rei crying in his sleep as she takes off his glasses.
  • Big Eater: Akari's three cats, most likely due to being spoiled with all the food she gives them, eat a lot of food. Ravenously.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Hina and Momo's reaction to learning that Rei is a pro shogi player is a loud, resounding, "EEEHHHH!?" after they finally process their new discovery.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Mecdnald" (sic) and the "Giga Mec."
  • Blush Sticker: These show up most frequently with Takahashi and Nikaidou.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Smith, poking fun of Nikaidou's "aura" before his match with Rei, jokingly comments that the story they're in is about to turn into a different kind of manga.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Rei, with his generally morose disposition, and Hina, with her cheerfulness and the way she interacts with Rei, form this kind of pair. However, unlike most examples there are no blatantly obvious romantic overtones in their relationship. At least not yet, anyway.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: Due to his past, Rei's persistent in living independently. He's also reluctant to get close to the Kawamoto family, despite their willingness to welcome him into their home, and will sometimes abstain from visiting when he has the choice. However, when he returns to his apartment after staying in their house and living with them for several days due to sickness, he's become much more aware of how empty and quiet his own place is, showing that he's not quite comfortable with being by himself as he initially thought.
  • Cathartic Scream: Rei belts one out amidst an empty street after his post-game encounter with Yasui, venting out the frustration he gained from Yasui during and after the match.
  • Chiaroscuro: Umino enjoys using this to emphasis Kyoko whenever she's being particularly malicious to Rei. This is also done with just about any scene in the series fueled by negative emotions.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: In the wake of his 3rd-dan promotion, Rei sees a documentary that he parallels with his own life. Seeing that broadcast convinces him to quickly get his own place the moment he becomes a professional, leading to his current living situation in the present. The broadcast in question was about cuckoos and brood parasitism. Rei sees himself as the cuckoo hatchling that pushed the other eggs, Kouda's real children, out of the "nest" to receive the full attention and care of the parent that's not truly his.
  • Comical Angry Face: Nikaidou's video-taped lecture to Rei induces one from the latter in Chapter 14, a noticeable change, even to others in-universe, from his usual calm or melancholic expressions.
  • Coming of Age Story: The plot of the manga is one for Rei, as many of the story arcs build upon his Character Development with the events that transpire and the life lessons he learns from them.
  • Conjunction Interruption: One example combines this with Rapid Fire Interrupting. In one conversation with his homeroom teacher Hayashida, Rei continuously tries to make a rebuttal against his attempts to convince him to return to his foster home and to join a study group with a "but," only to be repeatedly interrupted by the next part of Hayashida's spiel. When it seems like he's finally about to let Rei have a word in...
    Rei: ...But-
    Hayashida: Gah, geez! All that's been coming out of your mouth is, 'but, but, but!' It's be great if a hundred "buts" would make a door open, but to be perfectly honest, there are no doors like that!
    Rei: But-
    Hayashida: No buts!
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Rei is the most prone to using them, oddly enough. Umino restricts their usage to the more comedic moments; she lets the characters' facial expressions and body language convey their anger during dramatic scenes.
  • Crush Blush: Hinata turns extremely red at the presence or even mere mention of Takahashi.
  • Cue the Rain: A description of a stray lightning bolt and violent rain leads the chapter where Kyoko is first introduced in present time, signaling the negative effect she has on Rei's life.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The match between Rei and Shimada counts as one, as the latter almost immediately guides the former to his loss in the game before he even realized it. This scenario is specifically invoked through Nikaidou's request for Shimada to "knock [Rei's] brains out."
  • Cynicism Catalyst: The deaths of his parent and sister are a large part of what sets up the foundation for Rei's negative outlook on life.
  • A Day in the Limelight: One of the chapters is centered on and narrated by Smith, who muses over the preceding chapter's events revolving around Rei and later goes up against an antagonistic character Rei's set as his mark in a shogi tournament match.
  • Death Is a Sad Thing: Near the end of the Obon Festival, Hina, after making up an excuse to leave the house, runs off to an isolated area in the neighborhood to cry by herself, save for Rei who follows her and chooses to stay by her side as she cries.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best:
    • Many of Rei's happiest memories come from his biological parents during his early childhood. While Kouda himself is not bad, he's guilty of a bad case of Parental Obliviousness.
    • The Kawamoto sisters speak very fondly of their mother; Akari and Hina have strong memories of how well of a caretaker she was. Their father, on the other hand, is a mystery. Rei notices that they always speak of their mother and never of their father, leading Rei to theorize that something happened between the sisters and their father that doesn't exactly place him in a positive light.
  • Delayed Reaction: Takahashi brings a tape of Rei's losing MHK Cup match to the Kawamoto residence, not knowing that Rei has kept the fact that he's a professional shogi player a secret from Hina and Momo. When they see Rei on the television screen, it takes them several moments until they realize what the implications are of Rei being on broadcasted television.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Shimada serves as an "Unknown Known" for Rei. The latter was so mentally focused on engaging Gotou in the Shishi Ou Cup finals that he didn't even take the time to perceive the former as a threat to that goal and did little research on him. Rei only realizes his folly after suffering a humiliating defeat from the more experienced player.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Used for a minor, one-panel joke in Chapter 38. As Hina and Momo are watching a squirrel-related cartoon show, one of the Kawamotos' ever-hungry cats claims that they could go for some squirrel (before adding that they could instead eat just about anything, as per their usual M.O.). A note outside the margins of the panel tell the readers "Don't eat squirrels."
  • Eating Lunch Alone: When Hayashida doesn't join with him, Rei eats alone on the stairwell to the roof or the roof itself, since he's yet to forge any bonds with his classmates.
  • Empty Fridge Empty Life: Rei's home. The parallel could extend to his house as well, as he barely has it furnished, despite having an income as a professional shogi player.
  • Enter Stage Window: This occurs in one of Rei's recollections of his childhood spent in the Kouda household; Kyoko, has at least once, snuck into Rei's room this way to snuggle with him in his futon, presumably while in an emotionally fragile state.
  • Eye Pop: Rei's eyes pop out of his glasses when he sees that the introductory shogi guide that Nikaidou brought along to Hina's first shogi lesson was written by Nikaidou himself.
  • Festival Episode: The central focus of the Obon Festival arc is how the Kawamoto are coping with the death of their parents.
  • Flashback Echo: One instance uses a Type 1. While Rei is treating Momo's arm for some bruises she received from falling down, he recalls the sight of the injuries and internal bleeding of the arm of his deceased sister's corpse and begins crying in response.
  • Foil: Two characters serve as Rei's foils. Nikaidou is his foil in terms of philosphy and ideals, while Hina is his foil in terms of emotional disposition. Their personalities emphasize the traits that Rei himself lacks.
  • Food Porn: As with Honey and Clover, Umino gives loving detail to much of the food displayed in the manga, particularly Akari's homemade meals.
  • Friendless Background: Rei does not have any childhood friends within his normal life outside of shogi, and was, as he narrates, "always the kid that got bullied." He implies that his teenage years were not that much different when he specifically requests that Hayashida not say anything about his professional career to his classmates. Later volumes elaborate on this.
  • Gibberish of Love: This happens to Hinata a couple of times when it comes to meeting Takahashi.
  • Goal in Life: The series plays with this concept. In his back-story, Rei pushed himself hard in order to become a professional shogi player as early as possible. He succeeded by the time of the actual start of the story, and because of this, most believe he's already had his goal in life set and achieved since he was young. However, flashback chapters reveal ulterior motives in forcing himself to make such a significant lifestyle decision, and there are a few claims in both the narrative and dialogue that he does not even like the game itself as much as he probably should, despite his skills and scenes suggesting otherwise. His ambiguous feelings for the very game he's trying to build a livelihood on is one of the main focuses, leaving to question whether or not Rei has unconsciously developed, or will develop, a liking and sincere life goal in the game on his own terms despite his rather dubious initial intentions.
  • Heroic BSOD: Downplayed. After recalling the sight of his sister's corpse from Momo's injuries, Rei enters a state of depression for a couple of days and regresses back into keeping his distance from people, even from the Kawamoto family.
  • Imagine Spot: In a grim example of this trope, Rei imagines himself beating his adoptive father to death while Rei's paralleling beating his father in a professional shogi match to a news story of a man murdering his father with blunt force. Yikes.
  • In Medias Res: The story begins when Rei is already living on his own and has already met the Kawamoto family. Every few chapters, the story alternates between the present and several flashbacks showing how he met the Kawamotos and how he got to where he is today.
  • Japanese Architecture: The well-furnished Kawamoto household is a prime example of this, contrasting greatly with Rei's empty, Western-style apartment.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Rei states that he was always the one kid to get bullied during a flashback in his childhood.
  • Kotatsu: Rei and the Kawamoto family spend much time under one during his stay in their house around New Year's. He later uses this as similie for the differences between his time with the Kawamotos and his time alone in his own home.
    Rei: That house is like a kotatsu. When you go inside, it's so warm it feels like you're about to melt...But when you leave, you'll be reminded that your everyday life that felt fine before is freezing cold."
  • Kyu and Dan Ranks: Since part of this series does revolve around professional shogi, dan ranks of the players are dropped every now and then to give the readers a faint idea of their skill.
  • Lame Pun Reaction:
    • Hayashida utters a bad Japanese pun to Rei involving pork cutlets (katsu) and winning (also katsu) during their lunch as a way of encouraging Rei for his recent string of losses. Rei feels a chill (a Japanese visual cue for a pun that's found terrible) when he's told to "katsu" his battles while being given a pork cutlet.
    • Rei's almost driven insane by Takeshi Tsuji's onslaught of terrible, context-less puns during their shogi match.
  • Last Disrespects: Rather than attend his parents and sister's funeral just to mourn for them and comfort him, Rei's aunts and uncles are arguing over who takes over his grandfather's hospital in his father's place, with one aunt in particular expressing half-hearted sympathy and "promising" Rei that she will send him to a "nice" institution. Meanwhile, the rest of the family is gossiping about them. All this is punctuated when Kouda, a friend of his father's, glances toward his family and implicitly notes how none of them are paying attention and giving real comfort to Rei, before taking the initiative to take Rei in as his ward and student.
  • Ma'am Shock: Hinata calls Akari's more practical approach in making a bento "too plain" and "something that an old lady would make." Of course, Akari takes it as an indirect implication that she is one herself, and the two sisters get into a minor spat over it.
  • Obsessed with Food: Akari's cats, who are always staring longingly at food or otherwise begging for it when the cast isn't eating.
  • Oddly Visible Eyebrows: This is only noticeable with light-haired people, like Smith. Eventually, the same effect is also done with Rei's eyes whenever they're covered by the frames of his glasses; the covering sections of the frames will be omitted from the art to leave his eyes visible.
  • Oh Crap: Rei becomes shocked and nearly has a breakdown the moment he realizes that his underestimation of Shimada's skills during their first official shogi match together lead him to an unwinnable situation very early on before he even fully realized it.
  • Old Retainer: Hanaoka, Nikaidou's butler, who has been taking care of Nikaidou since he was a child.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The normally meek Rei eventually becomes irritated over Nikaidou's taped lecture over his MHK Cup loss and is vocal about it as he shouts back at the screen. Someji and Momo's reactions play it off like a joke as they look in amazement and surprise over Rei actually getting angry. However, Hina, in a slightly more serious moment, is happy to see a side of Rei that she never gets to see.
    Hina: It's great!
    Rei: *thinking she's talking about the commentary* Eh!? Just how is it great!?
    Hina: It's the first time I've seen Rei-chan speak with such a loud voice.
  • Opaque Lenses: Rei's glasses tend to have these a lot, though they do clear up when his eyes need to be seen.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Rei's dealt with a lot since his family's death. At their funeral, most of his remaining blood relatives were none too concerned about him, with one even promising to send him to a "nice" orphanage. His foster care was built upon a lie on how much he liked shogi, and even when he was taken in, there was friction between him and the real children in the family as he surpassed them in shogi and fell into the most favor with their father. These problems never really went away until he pushed himself forward into the professional shogi circuit and left home early to live on his own.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both of Rei's biological parents died in his childhood. The images of their covered and bruised bodies made a lasting impression on his mind.
  • Parental Favoritism: Rei's adoptive father, Kouda, leads a very shogi-centered life that extends even to his home. As such, his children's skill in shogi more-or-less determines the kind of attention he gives them. When Rei was taken in after his biological family's deaths, surpassing both of his adoptive siblings lead to him becoming the favorite, which in turn lead to them being forced to give up on shogi and his relationship with them becoming strained. Whether or not Kouda's aware of the emotional damage he's done to his children is left to be seen.
  • Parody Names: Momo compares Nikaidou to a in-universe fictional character named Bodoro.
  • Pungeon Master: Takeshi Tsujii, Rei's first opponent in the Shishi Ou Cup, is guilty of uttering really lame puns under his breath for no apparent reason.
  • Rapid Fire Interrupting: See the example for Conjunction Interruption.
  • Real Place Background: The story takes place in Tsukishima, Tokyo. The author points out the places of reference in the omake, and the commercials for the manga were filmed at many of the actual locations, as seen here.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nikaidou, in his zealous and infuriated commentary of Rei's MHK Cup match, attempts to tell Rei exactly why he's been doing poorly in shogi at the time.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Nikaidou's passion, enthusiasm, and strong determination make him the Red Oni, while Rei's calm intellectualism and introversion make him the Blue Oni.
  • Running Gag: Akari's cats always react wildly to the sight, and sometimes even mention, of food.
  • Say It with Hearts: Hina and her friend briefly speak this way, while fangirling over Takahashi during his first appearance. Variants occasionally appear with stars or flowers to signify joy or happiness.
  • Seemingly Profound Fool: Nikaidou, Matsumoto, and Yokomizo spy on Shimada and Gotou from some bushes afar, thinking that they are emitting a sort of sophisticated, intelligent aura that's expected of A-Class players as they get ready for their next game against each other. However, a few panels before show that their conversation is far from profound, and they're really just slugging childish insults at each other, with Shimada being accused of looking old and Gotou being accused of narcissism.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Due to the nature of the Kouda household as one dedicated to shogi, Rei is locked into one with his two foster siblings Ayumu and Kyoko in his backstory.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Kyoko is aggressive and extrovertive while her brother Ayumu is quiet and introvertive.
  • Sick Episode: In the wake of the New Year, Rei catches the common cold, leading to the Kawamoto sister's bringing him into their home for a couple of days to take care of him.
  • Shrines and Temples: Chapter 3 features Matsumoto praying at a Shinto shrine for victory in his match against Rei. Loudly.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: In Chapter 1, Hina offers some of the curry she and her sisters made to the shrine of their deceased mother and grandmother.
  • Slice of Life: When the story is not focused on the shogi matches specifically, it focuses on how becoming a professional has shaped Rei's daily life, as well as the time he spends with the Kawamoto family.
  • Sore Loser:
    • Matsunaga throws his captured pieces on the shogi board when Rei beats him.
    • Yasui drinks and gambles the rest of the night away whenever he loses a match.
  • Spit Take: Rei reacts with a spit take when the first thing he sees is Nikaidou in Takahashi's taping of Rei's MHK Cup match.
  • Sprouting Ears: Kyoko sprouts cat ears to show her excitement, usually when around Gotou.
  • Sugary Malice: Kyoko's retellings of the lives of Rei's upcoming opponents are laced with this undertone. When taken out of context, her dialogue sounds like she's concerned for the people she's talking about, but she's actually just telling Rei these stories for her own selfish reasons.
  • Switching P.O.V.: While there are several moments in the story where focus moves away from Rei in order to listen in on conversations between other characters, Hina and Hayashida both hold the special distinction of momentarily taking over the role of narrator at least once, particularly when their thoughts are focused on Rei's life.
  • Talking Animal: Akari's cats are given lines of "dialogue" that tell the reader what they're asking of their owners and what they are thinking- usually them asking or thinking about what's for dinner. However, they're not actually talking to the humans.
  • Through His Stomach: So far, Hina's attempts to get closer to Takahashi involve winning him over with meals that she cooked. Her first attempt ends in failure due to her shyness hindering her ability to give it after his game...which is probably for the best. The second attempt, with the advice from Akari, is a curry rice meal topped with kaarage and onsen egg. She fares much better.
  • Throwing the Fight: Kyoko has twice attempted to have Rei throw his professional matches in order to tarnish his professional career. He defies both attempts.
  • Tracking Device: When Akari makes an innocent inquiry on how Hanaoka was able to locate the Kawamoto residence during Nikaidou's first visit there, the butler lets slip that he has Nikaidou under his GPS before badly covering the statement up.
  • Underestimating Badassery: One character underestimates the abilities of one of his opponents in the Shishi Ou Cup, leading to his downfall. Specifically, it's Rei, who wrote Shimada off as just another opponent in his fervor to go up against Gotou. He realizes his faux pas mid-game when he's been backed into a disadvantage and becomes embarrassed over it. Soon after Rei's loss, it is revealed to the readers he's frequently been the contender in title matches.
  • Visible Silence: Rei is the most frequent violator of this due to his personality.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Rei barely throws up his alcohol off panel during his flashback of his first meeting with Akari and her family.
  • Weird Moon: An extremely thin and concave crescent moon unlikely to be seen in real life serves as Gotou's backdrop in one of Rei's flashbacks of being beaten up by him in the street.
  • Weird Sun: The sun in Chapter 5 has visible heatwaves used to emphasis how hot the summer day was in Rei's flashback with Nikaido.
  • Wingding Eyes:
    • When Momo meets Nikaidou for the first time while mistaking him for one of her beloved cartoon characters, Bodoro, her irises are filled with flower symbols as she's introducing herself, reflecting her excitement.
    • Hina has the same look when she spots an advertisment for the MecShake.
  • Year X: In Nikaidou's New Years card, the year is revealed to be 20XX, indicating that the story takes place within this century.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: At the end of his first year in high school, Rei is at a point where he feels as if he's accomplished nothing. Mr. Hayashida quickly counters with exactly why that's not the case.

    Tropes from Untranslated Chapters 
As the folder title indicates, this section is for tropes that appear exclusively in chapters yet to be translated to English, to be moved when said chapters (or at least the relevant story arcs) are reached. To those who only keep up with the translations, tread carefully.

  • Artificial Riverbank: The riverbank in Kyoto is the setting of the last scene of Volume 6, once again invoking the motif of rivers and its related symbolism toward healing/calming those near them, as Rei comforts a crying Hina when they meet along the bank.
  • Cry into Chest: This occurs in the closing pages of Volume 6, between Rei and Hina after he finds her near the river by herself during her school trip in Kyoto.
  • Gag Haircut: Hinata gets one of these in Chapter 89 while trying to invoke an Important Haircut, though it is only made as such through her exaggerated disapproval of her haircut and the comical way its presented as a result. Though once she stops caring about it in chapters afterward, it is no longer presented nearly as bad.
  • Important Haircut: Hinata attempts to invoke this after Takahashi leaves town, but it doesn't turn out as well as she had hoped.
  • Stock Shoujo Bullying Tactics: Hina becomes the victim of these starting from Volume 5. Of the ones that appear, there's the stealing of shoes, graffiti on desks and chalkboard, and class ostracization.

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alternative title(s): March Comes In Like A Lion
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