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This is the character sheet for Chica Umino's March Comes in Like a Lion. All character, characterization, and other tropes from character-related indices go here. All names are in Western order. Page under construction.

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     Rei Kiriyama 

Rei Kiriyama

"I am a cuckoo, standing on top of the lives that were pushed aside. As they sing of spring, I hear a voice calling in the distance... And I think, if I ever really were a bird, then at least I would pass through the days oblivious to such agonizing torment as this."

Portrayed by: Kengo Kawanishi (anime), Yumi Uchiyama (young), Ryunosuke Kamiki (live action) (Japanese), Khoi Dao, Wendee Lee (young) (anime) (English)

Rei Kiriyama is the narrator and protagonist of the story. He is a teenage professional shogi player, currently ranked at 5th-dan. He is widely lauded in the shogi community as the fifth shogi player to become a professional in middle school. Using his salary combined with his life savings, he lives in own apartment while juggling between his official matches and high school. By the time the story begins, Rei is also a frequent visitor of the Kawamoto residence, where the family treats him as one of their own despite his initial reluctance to become close with them.

Outside his days with the Kawamoto family, however, Rei has many issues and emotional scars that plague him every day. His social skills leave much to be desired, and he typically spends time in school alone due to his inability to interact with his peers. His biological family's deaths from his early childhood still haunt him, and his strained relationship with his foster family is one of the main reasons of his early independence. Shogi itself is also a primary source of his problems, from problems of the present, such as the stagnation in his climbing of the ranks, to deep-seated issues relating to his past such as the bitterness it has caused between him and his foster siblings. Much of the story involves him coping with these issues and slowly moving past them.

  • All the Other Reindeer: He was isolated from his peers when he was younger, and he once mentioned that he was usually the target for bullying as a child.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: While he's never defined as having any kind of psychological or psychiatric disorders, he's frequently portrayed as a few steps outside the norm. He shows frequent evidence of clinical depression, and a very strong correlation to Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism, with his poor social skills, limited expression (children often called him a "robot"), inability to understand others' feelings, obsession with a singular subject, etc. His biological father is even shown to have had a habit of rocking when he concentrated, a very typical behavior of autism.
  • Being Good Sucks: His being a nice and dutiful to his adoptive family only served to make them aware of their own inadequacies, creating a hostile environment with his presence. By mere arithmetic, Rei realized that he had to make himself absent for both his and their sakes; as such, his adoptive mother, who helplessly watched everything unfold, realized that him leaving their household was an act of love towards them, rather than anything fueled by envy or resentment. She's even grateful at the fact that he visited when neither Ryouko or Ayumu were present, as that would have arose their misguided resentment towards him.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Towards Hina. Despite his meek exterior, Rei consistently acts to protect and console Hina, including getting in the way of boys who try to flirt with her, and following her on a school trip to console her when she's having a hard time. When Misaki questions whether Rei's fiercely protective attitude towards Hina might be romantic, Akari replies that she thinks its this trope due to a familial love towards the entire Kawamoto family that transcends romantic attraction. Only a handful of chapters later, Akari's theory is proven very, very wrong.
  • Broken Bird: Rei's complicated childhood has left him with a strained relationship with his adoptive family, socially reclusive, and thrust into adulthood and out on his own when he's not truly ready for it.
  • Character Development: As he comes to interact with the world around him (especially with regards to the Kawamoto family), he comes to understand a lot of his negative thought processes and gradually changes his outlook on aspects of his life.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Rei, with all of his meek personality, personal problems, and insecurities, fits this role to a T.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Rei has a tendency to underestimate his shogi opponents by thinking too far ahead, which provides him with heavy doses of humility when they subsequently hand his rear-end back to him. He is an excellent player indeed and a prodigy, but there are people in shogi that are miles ahead of him.
  • Ditzy Genius: Rei is generally intelligent, a genius when it comes to shogi, and more often than not, moments where he comes off awkwardly are simply due to his introverted nature. However, sometimes he will display a shocking lack of common sense - for example, at one point, Rei goes on the internet to figure out how to register getting engaged with the government. When he discovers the government doesn't keep track of such things, he rails about the state of society. Not to mention the fact that he was looking this up was because he announced his intent to marry Hina, a first-year high school student, without having mentioned his interest in her at all prior to this. He also later fails to understand why people are shocked by his proposal.
  • The Eeyore: While Rei is capable of showing other emotions such as shock or anger for more than a few seconds, he spends much time and narration in the manga contemplating on his issues and describing his emotional lows.
  • Enraged by Idiocy: While initially sympathetic toward Yasui's impending divorce, Rei becomes incensed when Yasui doesn't learn from his mistakes both inside professional shogi (choosing not to learn from his losses) and outside (opting to once again drink his loss away instead of spending his last Christmas with his daughter as a family and initially pretending to forget about the presents he bought). Implicitly blaming Rei for the latter is what sets it off.
  • Extreme Doormat: Rei is lacking in the ability to stand up for himself, a trait which is especially exaggerated when it comes to Kyouko, who regularly belittles him and even attempts to manipulate him into losing by providing sob stories about his opponents. It's heavily implied that he acts this way towards Kyouko because he feels both guilt for "stealing" her family and some measure of affection toward her.
    Rei: ...what I can't stand about these words fraught with poison is me who wants to hear them.
  • Family of Choice: Technically twice, but his relationship with the Kawamoto family fits the trope to a tee. While Rei does make an active decision to choose to join the Kouda household, it doesn't necessarily fit the trope since they lack the true bonds inherent in a family.
  • Friendless Background: Rei has never had much in the way of friends, and indeed, even as a young child, his status as a shogi prodigy led him to interact solely with adults and not other people his own age. Of course, Rei's incapability of making friends is informed by the fact that Rei is the point-of-view character and his own outlook on his life.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation : One of Rei's major flaws is his lack of self-esteem. His family issues that he blames himself for and his struggles as a professional shogi player despite being lauded as one of the few players to become pro in middle-school serve as few of the many factors that exacerbate his extremely low opinion of himself.
  • I Owe You My Life: A variant. Hina's struggle to cope with her isolation and refusal to yield to her classmate's bully has a cathartic effect on him, and he falls in love with her at this pont.
  • Love Redeems: Though he is still plagued with self-doubt and trust issues, his love for Hina and her family shows the measure of a man he is by providing the foundation of his newly-found confidence.
  • The Matchmaker: For Akari. Someji expresses concern to Rei that because Akari was thrust into the role of a Parental Substitute to her sisters (one of which is still a preschooler) she will never get to live her own life. Rei decides he's going to look for suitable candidates amongst his peer group.
  • Minor Living Alone: Rei started living in his own apartment at the age of 17, after starting high school a year late. Unlike most examples, he has a foster family to go back to, however he left after he found his presence damaging to the blood-related family members. His earnings as a shogi player are enough for him to sustain himself, even if he sends a portion of it back to the Kouda family.
  • My Hero, Zero: Rei's name uses the kanji for zero and nothingness. This case is subverted in the sense that this hasn't been played for the Rule of Cool. The story has yet to tell his parents' reasons for giving him the name. In fact, it just gives Kyouko more fuel to taunt him with.
    Kyouko: "Your name is Rei? What a weird name! But it suits you ... No home. No relatives. No school. No friends."
  • Nerds Are Innocent: He's mostly a bookworm and singularly-focused on shogi, so he doesn't understand any of the implications involved in hanging out at a house entirely populated by young girls, nor why anyone freaks out about it.
  • No Social Skills: Rei isn't particularly good at socializing with people, especially at school. He opts out of class events, and makes no visible effort to make friends with any of his classmates during his spare time at school. Hayashida is about the only person he has conversations with at school on a regular basis, and even then, they tend to get fairly one-sided. He gets better as the series progresses, although he's still prone to failing to understand various social norms.
  • Not So Different: He has been compared to Souya multiple times in the story due to both being shogi prodigies that became pros during middle school, are rather isolated from people and are very introverted. Shimada even states they have similar mindsets to each during one of their workshops.
  • Teen Genius: Rei is a genius primarily in shogi, where he is the fifth person ever to become a professional shogi player during middle school. However, being this is actually detrimental to his already weak ego.
  • Trauma Conga Line: His childhood in a nutshell can be described as this. His family all died on the same day, and he went to live with a foster family, where the older sister proceeded to relentlessly torment him. Said sister’s boyfriend would later badly beat him up.
  • The Un-Favourite: Due to the story lacking a narrator until Rei himself takes the mantle at the end of Chapter 1, Rei's initial recollections of his childhood earlier in the same chapter are presented in a way that leads readers into believing that he was the least favored of the three children raised by Kouda, as Rei recalls images of what looks like him and his progress in shogi being neglected in favor of attending to the other two children. However, a series of more detailed flashbacks later invert this perception and reveal that Rei himself became the favorite through being the best of the three in shogi, and that the other two were not given as much attention as him.

     Kawamoto Family 

Akari Kawamoto

Portrayed by: Ai Kayano (anime), Kana Kurashina (live action) (Japanese), Laura Post (anime) (English)

Akari is the eldest of the three Kawamoto sisters. She essentially acts as the surrogate mother for her younger sisters and Rei, in place of their real parents. Appropriately enough, she has a kind, motherly air about her and is generally the most mild-mannered and practical of her sisters.

She has a tendency to take care of animals she finds in poor shape and nurse them back to health. As her sister Hina notes, she encounters Rei in pretty much the same fashion, with him being the first time she's "brought a person back home." Finding Rei in a drunk state after being forced to drink by a bitter opponent that abandoned him afterward, Akari brings him into their home to recover, and it is at that point where Akari and the rest of her family are formally acquainted with Rei.

  • All the Other Reindeer: She is shown to be sad to have given up her youth and her dreams to lead her household and raise Hina and Momo, especially when she meets with her former high school classmates, who moved on to have families and went to college. Note that while she's sad, she's not regretful of her choices.
  • Chubby Chaser: As a result of her love for round and plump things, she appreciates people with a "full" figure. Her first meeting with Nikaidou shows a comical, quirky attraction to him, and clear dismay is shown in her face and monologue when he attempts to limit the amount of food he eats at her place.
  • Cool Big Sis: She's a very sweet and kind big sister to her family and extends this care to Rei as well.
  • Dude Magnet: Thanks to her young and attractive appearance, she's attracted a bunch of the male customers at Mikako's Ginza Bar.
  • Girl Next Door: Alongside Hina, Akari is Rei's girl across the river.
  • Guile Heroine: She's shown that she knows how to get people to walk to her beat. Considering she works at a bar, this isn't too surprising.
  • Little Black Dress: Akari wears dresses like these while working at Mikako's Ginza Bar. Along with a hairstyle change, this completely changes her image compared to when she's at home.
  • Motherly Side Plait: She usually wears her hair this way when she's not at work, fitting with how she's a mother figure to her younger sisters.
  • Nice Girl: She brought Rei into their home and makes every effort possible for him to feel included. For all intents and purposes, it's Akari who makes Rei part of the Kawamoto household.
  • Parental Substitute: Besides her sisters, Akari also serves as a surrogate mother figure for Rei, even lecturing Rei when he does things like not answering the phone when he's sick.
  • Promotion to Parent: With the death of the Kawamoto sisters' mother and the absence of their father, Akari more-or-less serves as the parental figure for her two younger sisters, caring for them and even arguing with them as a mother would, as noted when she realizes she had a similar argument with their mother as she did with Hina.
  • Supreme Chef: Many, many chapters are dedicated to Akari cooking something delicious for the Kawamoto family and Rei. Everyone who's tried her cooking has remarked on how good it is.
  • Stepford Smiler: Kiriyama only notices a little of this side of her when the subject of her family comes up. Later proven true when the Kawamoto's backstory with their father is revealed. Her being the eldest daughter, Seijirou's affairs and departure leave the deepest scar on Akari, as she partly blames herself for being unable to mend her parents' marriage.
  • Sweet Tooth: Alongside being a Big Eater, Akari is a sucker for sweets.
  • Younger than She Looks: Kyouko once mistook Akari for a house wife and the mother of Hinata and Momo. She's actually close to Kyouko's age.

Hinata "Hina" Kawamoto

"Usually, she would become spirited with a clap, depressed with a sigh, or outraged with a snap. However you look at it, she's very lively. I think that's her unique personality trait."
Portrayed by: Kana Hanazawa (anime), Kaya Kiyohara (live action) (Japanese), Kayli Mills (anime) (English)

Hinata is the middle child of the Kawamoto siblings. She is a middle school student whose positive attitude inspires Rei to try to overcome his depression.

  • Big Sister Worship: Somewhat downplayed through much of the series but she admires her sister a lot to the point of a slight inferiority complex. Seen early in her shame at having failed to give Takahashi her bento and certainty Akari'd never had such a problem, and later when her feelings for Rei start to grow stronger and instead of wanting to date him herself she decides to ship him with Akari, describing all the great things about her sister and how she'd definitely make him happy and keep him from leaving, even as tears pour down her face.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Hina's initial, unguided attempt at making bento for Takahashi results in a bad tasting meal, partially because of bad seasoning and partially because she mix-and-matches a lot of ingredients in an overzealous attempt at making an extravagant meal.
  • The Cutie: Hina's probably one of the cutest members of the cast, second only to her little sister. She lives her life with cheer, and approaches Rei's problems with a mild hint of optimism.
  • Determinator: When her friend is being ruthlessly bullied in class, everyone else diverts their gaze to avoid suffering the same fate, but Hina remains steadfast by her side until the day she finally moves to escape the trauma. When she becomes the next victim, she remains steadfast and strong, refusing to give in to their constant harassment. At the very start of the arc in chapter 52, she sobbingly declares that she'll never regret her actions because she knows she wasn't wrong.
  • Deuteragonist: Despite assuring Rei that Akari would "nurse him back to health" (read:help him through his emotional issues) like she did with the many animals she brought in, Hinata has the most significant interactions with Rei and a more proactive approach to his problems, as opposed to Akari's more passive stance. Starting from Volume 5, she has her own story arc that's not intrinsically related to Rei.
  • Genki Girl: This is essentially how Rei describes how Hina normally is in contrast to how she behaves around Takahashi.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Hina, who's at the age where she's going through the many follies of youth, sports these most of the time.
  • Hate at First Sight: She undoubtedly felt an immediate repulsion towards Kyouko after meeting her for the first time.
  • Joshikousei: Hina's middle school uniform is pretty standard. She graduates later on, though, and goes to Rei's high school, which doesn't have Sailor Fuku.
  • Oblivious to Love: Around the time Hina enters Rei's high school, Rei falls in love with Hina, but she remains completely oblivious. He even declares his intent to marry her in front of her deadbeat father, but after her initial freak-out she writes it off as him heroically "putting on an act" to get rid of her dad.
    • Gets even worse later: her own feelings for Rei grow stronger and stronger, but apparently no matter how many times her friends point it out to her she insists that it's not like that, even going so far as to ship him with her sister (while unconsciously sobbing).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Since she's referred to as "Hina-chan" most of the time by the other characters, readers tend to just refer to Hina, forgetting that her full name is Hinata.
  • Skirt over Slacks: Hina's casual style of dress mainly consists of dresses she wears over her jeans.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Toward Takahashi, a boy she's known since elementary school. She can barely manage small talk with him, often unable to speak properly when he shows up. Whenever she's at one of his baseball games she acts a pure fangirl.
  • They Do: As time goes by she starts to fully process Rei's confession and her own feelings for him, and has gotten together with him as of the latest chapters.
  • You Are Not My Father: A variant. During the sisters' final confrontation with Seijirou, as Akari wavers in her determination to cut off with Seijirou out of concern for Momo (which Seijirou is all too happy to exploit and point out), Hina puts her foot down and affirms that she'll stand by Akari's decision and when the time comes will explain to Momo the kind of person their father really is. This effectively puts an end to Seijirou's attempts to integrate himself into his daughters' life and he has not been heard of since.

Momo Kawamoto

Portrayed by: Misaki Kuno (anime), Chise Niitsu (live action) (Japanese), Xanthe Huynh (anime) (English)

Momo is the youngest of the Kawamoto siblings, being around preschool age. Despite growing up with neither of her parents - her father having abandoned the family for another woman and her mother dying during her infancy - she is well-cared for with her eldest sister and grandfather being her caretakers.

  • Cheerful Child: Just about anything she says and does is adorable.
  • The Cutie: She's just that cute.
  • Innocent Prodigy: Exaggerated by her grandpa, but Momo has a habit of coming up with great ideas for seasonal items for the candy shop.

Someji Kawamoto

Portrayed by: Shigeru Chiba (anime), Gin Maeda (live action), Marc Thompson (anime) (English)

Someji is the Kawamoto sisters' grandfather.

  • Cool Old Guy: Someji is pretty mellow and friendly to everyone. He also gives support to Rei when needed.
  • Doting Parent: Someji Kawamoto is particularly soft on his youngest granddaughter, Momo.
  • Parental Substitute: He becomes the Kawamoto sisters' guardian after their mother dies and his wife follows her in grief.
  • Self-Made Man: He lost his family when he was a child during the war and had to survive on his own. It's partly why he's so taken to Kiriyama, who underwent similar circumstances to earn a place for himself in the shogi world.
  • Shipper on Deck: From early on Someji tended to show an interest in Rei as a potential suitor to Hina, pushing him to go after her when she ran off on her own and generally welcoming him in. When he hears that Rei had declared his desire to marry her, after an initial exclamation he admits that he'd been thinking that'd be perfect for a long time, and reiterates this to Rei himself.

     Kouda Family 

Masachika Kouda

"Father really loved shogi. For better or worse, everything was shogi-centered. And so, those who loved him had to become strong in order to stay with in his sights..."

Portrayed by: Toru Okawa (anime), Etsushi Toyokawa (live action) (Japanese), Cam Clarke (anime) (English)

Kouda is an old friend of Rei's biological father from his shogi days and the eventual shogi teacher and guardian of Rei when his entire family dies from a vehicular accident. Though Rei is not formally adopted into his family, Kouda is essentially his foster father and allows Rei to call him as such whenever they are not focused on shogi.

  • Greater-Scope Villain: While he's not a true villain, his terrible upbringing of Rei and Kyouko directly caused much of the main conflict of the series and is the reason Kyouko is the Aloof Big Sister Bully she is and why she antagonizes Rei so much, and is also the reason Rei puts so much pressure on himself when it comes to shogi, as he has internalized the seriousness that Kouda takes it with.
  • Parents as People: Despite raising his children to be emotionally damaged, he's a kind man that tries his best but his love for shogi meant he would focus on that, serving almost as a dark mirror of what Rei might become if shogi consumes his life at the expense of all the people in it.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Kouda has shown no signs of realizing how badly his upbringing has damaged his three children emotionally. At least, as far as Rei's narration is capable of showing the readers, anyway.

Kyouko Kouda

"No matter how you looked at her, she was like a vehement, angry tempest... in shogi... in temperament... and in beauty."

Portrayed by: Marina Inoue (anime), Kasumi Arimura (live action) (Japanese), Lauren Landa (anime) (English)

Kyouko is Rei's elder foster sister by four years.

  • Aloof Big Sister: She's ultimately this for Rei, and maybe to Ayumu too, her biological brother, to an extent, in spite of her downright abusive behavior towards the former in both the past and the present.
  • Big Sister Bully: Most of her interactions with Rei consists of her finding some way to give him a hard time. Lessened as time goes on, although it never quite goes away until Chapter 139 of the manga where she resolves to exit his life.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Though they are in a mutually destructive relationship, it's shown that Rei and Kyouko deeply care for each other in a markedly twisted way and cannot avoid the others' company in spite of having a mountain of regret and resentment between them. Rei cannot close the door on her and Kyouko cannot stop looking for him. Considering how estranged Kyouko is from her own family, Rei is basically the closest thing she has to a familial bond. It's nothing close to good, though; she mostly looks for him to bully him like she would bully a little brother.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Kyouko has a lot of pride in herself that causes her to react this way. She verbalizes this to Rei when she attempts to leave the Kouda house; by that point, she is sick of being treated delicately and people feeling sorry for her.
  • The Dreaded: The Kawamoto sisters are immediately taken aback by the sight of Kyouko, as even Hina visits Rei to make sure that he's OK.
  • Femme Fatale: She's been called "as beautiful as a demon", even as a child.
  • Hate Sink: Her initial role in the series, along with being a Knight of Cerebus. This changes once her own Sympathetic P.O.V. is shown and she slowly but surely begins to soften up in her behavior toward Rei.
  • Heel Realization: While it starts to grow within her after she learns about the Kawamoto sisters, it crystallizes in Chapter 139, where she admits to herself that she has treated Rei terribly and that it was wrong of her to do so, and firmly decides that she will stay out of his life from now on and sincerely wishes him happiness in his life with the Kawamotos.
  • Hypocrite: After a chance encounter with the Kawamoto sisters during one of her meetings with Rei, she taunts him about what she assumes is a relationship of dependency from Rei toward the family, insinuating that he's bound to ruin another household like what happened with the Kouda's. She's saying this, mind you, when moments before, she was complaining about how her father halted her credit card for being secretive; Kyouko is still financially supported by her father while Rei struggles to be independent.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Played straight during her first appearences, and, for the standards of the series, the closest thing to one. She is one of the main reasons why Rei has the depression he has in the beginning of the story, and appears again (like a thunder in the middle of a storm) in his life when he was getting used to his new lifestyle to destabilize him psychologically and make him lose some of his matches. Downplayed later in the series as her character is fleshed out and the audience discovers how pitiful she is in truth, with her not acting that antagonistically to Rei (with a scene where she even pleads him to help her in a moment of weakness) and even having comical moments with Gotou.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: The basis for her behavior. She hungrily craves for the love she perceives she didn't get from her father, but has a remarkably caustic approach to compensate for the lack of it. She realizes way too late that she and Rei could have relied on each other if she had wanted it.
  • Light Is Not Good: She is blonde, has clear blue eyes and her clothes are usually colored in white or light tones, but she is not a positive character at all.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Kyouko has made at least two attempts to get Rei to take losses in his professional matches by appealing to his good nature through the sob stories of his upcoming opponents and baiting him with two possible scenarios that depend on his victory or defeat, with the implications that they'll be better off if he lost. She succeeds in at least shaking him up, but he's never gone so far as to contemplate on purposefully losing, and he is always aware that Kyouko's attempts at manipulation are just that because she's nowhere near as subtle as she would like to be.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Kyouko often jumps between signs of dislike and hate toward Rei, such as verbally belittling and goading him into failure in shogi, and showing signs of at least concern for the more general aspects of his well-being, such as recommending that he visit his adoptive father more often and checking his face for past scars.
  • Meaningful Name: Her name, Kyouko (香子), is derived from the kanji for the Lance piece in shogi, kyousha (香車). So far, this has only been pointed out explicitly in the second live action movie, where she laments that it probably wouldn't have been her name if they were a more "normal" family that didn't have shogi integrated into their lives.
  • My Greatest Failure: Through her interactions with Gotou, Kyouko comes to realize that she would much rather have had a healthy relationship with Rei and that they could have relied on each other, rather than stomping on him spitefully, when she sees just how much they have in common. This makes her want not to pick on him anymore, and she pledges to not interrupt his happy life with the Kawamoto sisters from here on out even though it pains her to do so.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: It's shown that Kyouko and Rei both want something that resembles a loving relationship with one another, but the venom between them is just too strong. Rei can barely talk to her without her rousing in anger and spite, while Kyouko cannot get her points across without hurting him.
  • The Resenter: Kyouko resents Rei for being the best in shogi (and by extension, gaining the attention of their father), and that resentment is carried with her attempts to lead him into failure, even when she's being fairly cordial to him otherwise.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Gotou openly referring to Kyouko as a stalker, even if half-jokingly, indicates that their relationship is not reciprocal, and she just shows up wherever he is without necessarily getting his approval. Apparently, he just allows her to follow him around for unknown reasons.
  • The Vamp: To Rei and Gotou. She is, for lack of a better descriptor, disturbingly beautiful, and a person that they just can't avoid in spite of their best efforts.

Ayumu Kouda

Portrayed by: Marina Inoue (Japanese), Janice Kawaye (credited as Janice Roman Roku) (English)

Ayumu is Rei's foster brother whom he shares the same age.

  • Can't Catch Up: Realizing that he can't ever beat his foster brother in shogi and his subsequent lack of skill towards it compared to both Rei and Kyouko made him give up shogi in all it's entirety.
  • Meaningful Name: The kanji in Ayumu's name (歩), is derived from the Pawn piece (歩兵), the fuhyo. Like Kyouko, this has only be explicitly pointed out in the live action adaptation.
  • Hikikomori: Rei heavily implies in the narration of his childhood that Ayumu became one (or is slowly becoming one) after realizing he could no longer keep up with Rei in shogi, mentioning that he holes himself up in his room and drowns himself in video games.
  • Prone to Tears: He cracked under all the pressure of having to live in a shogi-dominated household. Between Rei, who's had it rough in his life but managed to hold it all together, and Kyouko, whose fiery attitude kept her going in spite of her own issues similar to his and Rei's, Ayumu was the most sensitive of his siblings, and he's usually seen crying or sad-looking in most of Rei's flashbacks too.


Harunobu Nikaidou

"Even though this person in front of me was sweating bullets and was in a dire position, he still persisted on sitting there. All because he wanted to win..."

Portrayed by: Nobuhiko Okamoto (anime), Shota Sometani (live action) (Japanese), Zach Aguilar, Erica Mendez (young) (anime) (English)

Nikaidou is a man that Rei has known since childhood due to frequent meet-ups at youth shogi tournaments, and is the closest thing Rei can call a childhood friend.

  • Determinator: Nikaidou's approach toward shogi, even when he's playing during a hot day and is about to faint due to anemia.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: His Berserk Button is the prospect of others going easy on him in Shogi due to his illness.
  • Fat Best Friend: He's a Type C for Rei, not that much reference is made about his body weight.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: Discussed and defied. Nikaido is upset after he finds out Rei is in a relationship with Hina, because he thought that Rei's loneliness and desperation were what drove him to greater heights in shogi. He mentally compares this to his kidney disease, thinking that if a goddess were to descend and offer to take away his illness...and then before he can finish that thought, he realizes that he would accept that offer in a hot second, pain is unnecessary to drive you to greater heights in an art, and that he's happy for Rei after all.
  • Hot-Blooded: Despite being an Ill Boy, he's very energetic about everything he does. He loves Shogi because it's the one place where he can be hot blooded to his heart's content despite his illness.
  • Idiot Hair: Nikaidou is the only character that has one on a fairly consistent basis, only for it to go away during more serious scenes. Its existance is lampshaded when his appearance shifts back to normal from his temporary realistic-style Art Shift.
  • Ill Boy:
    • Despite all of his gusto, Nikaidou is sickly, and takes regular visits to the hospital. His illness is mentioned often by the cast, and it has manifested several times in the story in the form of anemia.
    • It's also shown that he has elimination problems manifested in renal disease, accounting for the possibility that he's not fat, but rather that he's excessively retaining fluids.
  • Large Ham: He's both truly large and truly hammy.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Bits of his character and backstory are based on those of the late Satoshi Murayama, a Western Japan shogi player who was considered on par with the 19th Lifetime Meijin, Yoshiharu Habu.
  • No Indoor Voice: Particularly as he's speaking with or addressing people he's familiar with, the man shows no restraint in the volume of his voice... even in places where it isn't exactly appropriate, at one point even forcing Rei to cover his ears during an entire conversation as Nikaidou follows along.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Comes from an extremely wealthy family, but is nice and generous to other people to an almost overbearing level. Examples include giving a self-published, lavishly printed children's shogi book to the Kawamoto siblings while teaching them shogi, bringing an expensive futon to Rei's apartment to sleep over and leaving it there as a housewarming gift, and taking a helicopter to visit Shimada when he wasn't feeling well.
  • Unknown Rival: Nikaidou treats Rei as the greatest rival he's had since childhood. Meanwhile, Rei, while acknowledging his determination in respect, does not show any signs of taking Nikaidou's claims of being his rival all that seriously.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Thinks of himself like The Rival in a hot-blooded shonen manga.

Tatsuyuki "Smith" Misumi

Portrayed by: Tomokazu Sugita (anime), Tomoya Nakamura (live action) (Japanese), Robbie Daymond (anime) (English)

  • Green-Eyed Monster: If someone is getting along better with his cat, he gets rather mad and then depressed.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Adopts a small abandoned kitten he names Ichigo in the chapter focusing on him and is shown to be really affectionate to the point of territoriality towards the feline.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Smith" is revealed to be a nickname long after the character's introduction. His real name is unceremoniously revealed to be Tatsuyuki Misumi.

Issa Matsumoto

"You could say he doesn't do anything except attack. I often debate whether he's a boar or a ball of fire."

Portrayed by: Subaru Kimura (anime), Hiroyuki Onoue (live action) (Japanese), Doug Erholtz (anime) (English)

  • Hot-Blooded: Issa Matsumoto is about as hot-blooded as one could be as a shogi player, vowing to defeat Kiriyama in an early match using his "Way of Shogi." It doesn't quite pan out like that.
  • Spiky Hair: His hairstyle consists of large, slightly exaggerated spikes, in contrast to just about everyone else in the cast with normal hairstyles, making him the only character with a somewhat silly, though still plausible, hairstyle,.

Touji Souya

Portrayed by: Akira Ishida (anime), Ryo Kase (live action) (Japanese), Todd Haberkorn (anime) (English)

He is the current Meijin of professional shogi, and he is also the holder of several other titles as well. Like Rei, he is also one of the players to become a professional in middle school. It is his achievements, as well as those of the other players to turn professional at that age, that set the high expectations that Rei struggles to live up to.

Rei himself has only encountered Souya once, early in his professional career.

  • The Ace: He's the shogi master, and many people aspire to either be him or defeat him. So far, he's been so unbeatable in shogi, that hopes of defeating him in a match are effectively crushed.
  • The Aloner: He appears alone, lost in his own world, in most of his on-screen appearance since his hearing disability and his naturally quiet disposition severely impairs his communication with other people.
  • Birds of a Feather: Shimada notes that Souya and Rei are pretty similar in both outlook and playstyle. Their similar appearances, dispositions, and backgrounds in their shogi career heavily reflect this.
  • Broken Ace: There are hints that he's this, in spite of his fame and legendary skill in shogi.
  • Child Prodigy: Similar to Rei, he also started out as a pro during his middle school years, quickly rising in the ranks of shogi fame until he became untouchable in skill.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: His eyes are perpetually blank, with no light reflecting off of them.
  • Manchild: After Nikaido collapes during a speed shogi battle with Souya with only a few moves away from victory, Souya sends Nikaido a kifu during his recuperation in the hospital, which shows the moves that Souya would have taken to turn the tide. This unwillingness to lose alerts Kiriyama that Souya might be quite childish, despite his unflappable manners. A later chapter focusing on Souya's family lets the audience in on an anecdote from Souya's grandmother about her grandson, and shows that Kiriyama's assessment is not very far from the truth.
  • Older Than They Look: He's Shimada's age, but appears 10-15 years younger.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Rarely smiles. You can count the number of times he has on one hand, and they probably don't even count as true smiles as far as the definition goes.
  • Plain Palate: Many other shogi pros eat a lot of sweets during games for quick energy. Souya cuts to the chase and dumps a bunch of flavorless glucose cubes into his drink.
  • The Quiet One: Won't speak unless addressed to. It's later revealed that Souya has a hearing disability, which might partly explain why.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Like Rei, he's rarely seen without his glasses and he barely changes his downright gloomy expression.
  • The Stoic: Rarely emotes and has kept that expression ever since his younger days.


Manabu Yasui

Portrayed by: Mitsuo Iwata (anime), Masahiro Komoto (live action) (Japanese), Joe J. Thomas (anime) (English)

Yasui is one of Rei's opponents that he faces near the end of the year. Like with the case of Matsunaga, Kyouko tells Rei of his sob story in a petty attempt to convince him to lose on purpose.

  • Drowning His Sorrows: Yasui has an alcohol problem that's tied to his losses.
  • The Gambling Addict: Along with the alcohol he drinks when he loses, he also gambles away the money he has.
  • Never My Fault: When Rei is pointing his problems in their after game review, he says it's pointless as the game is over and quickly leaves to get drunk. He even blames Rei for beating him on their last Christmas when Rei points out he doesn't practice and the reason for his divorce is because of his drinking habit.


Portrayed by: Hiroki Tochi (anime), Hideaki Ito (live action) (Japanese), Ray Chase (anime) (English)

Gotou is a 9th dan player known for his heavy play style, as well as his rather frightening expression, among his peers. He was, at one point, a pupil of Mr. Kouda, like Rei. He supports Kyouko in a fashion that's not immediately made entirely clear by the narrative. Rei regards him with a great deal of scorn due to his relationship with Kyouko, despite having a hospitalized wife. In return, he taunts Rei whenever they meet, being one of the few people shown to be capable of infuriating Rei.

  • Arch-Enemy: He serves as this to Rei prior to Seijirou's introduction.
  • Face of a Thug: Both Smith and Shimada comment on how scary Gotou's face is, the former even earlier stating that he has a Yakuza vibe to him.
  • Hidden Depths: It's shown that Gotou keeps Kyouko around because, as his wife is hospitalized, he is in dire need of companionship. He doesn't quite like this, though, as he keeps her at arm's length. Considering how caustic he is with everyone, it's no surprise that no one but Kyouko shows sincere care for him.
    • He also verbally kicks down two youngsters who was mocking Shimada's loss against Souya for not understanding how it's like being in a stressful Shogi match.
  • Jerkass: Aside from his Hidden Depths, he's very lacking in redeeming qualities and talks very disdainfully to others, particularly Rei.
  • Narcissist: In an attempt to to insult him, Shimada accuses Gotou of being one, due to having a well-built physique that one would not expect from a professional shogi player.
  • Smug Smiler: Gotou gives taunting smiles whenever he is taunting Rei and purposefully provoking him.
  • Troll: He really enjoys provoking Rei every time they meet.

Kai Shimada

Portrayed by: Shin-ichiro Miki (anime), Kuronosuke Sasaki (live action) (Japanese), Kirk Thornton (anime) (English)

Shimada is an 8th dan player with a long-standing stay in the A-class. He initially appears as Rei's semi-final match in the Shishi Ou Cup, serving as an obstacle for Rei's self-anticipated match against Gotou. Unfortunately for Rei, Rei grossly underestimates Shimada's abilities before and during their match, only to realize it too late and lose the game in an anticlimactic fashion.

  • A Hero to His Hometown: Shimada grew up in a tiny town and learned shogi from the old men there. While he's generally ignored by the public in favor of Souya, his hometown loves him, with a banner cheering for his success perpetually hung at its train station and the aforementioned old men visiting him periodically with endless compliments.
  • Big Brother Mentor: For Nikaidou and later Rei.
  • Butt-Monkey: Despite being one of the most skilled shogi players introduced in the series, Shimada constantly finds himself being the butt of the joke, both having his career overshadowed by Souya's and even his two disciples, Nikaidou and Rei getting better press reception for being young prodigies. And that doesn't even get into his physical appearance frequently getting compared negatively to Souya and Gotou.
  • Friend to All Children: He regularly has seminars to spread shogi to kids.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted. Hayashida states that at first he was overshadowed by Souya but through hard work, he's currently one of the top players.
  • Ill Boy: Downplayed. He has chronic stomach pains due to stress. He says that interestingly the pains always go away during a game, until it flares up during the Kyoto game. Seeing the kind of people Shimada had to play against day by day in A-class, Rei says that it's a miracle the nerves only give him stomachache.
  • Nice Guy: Despite Rei heavily underestimating him, he doesn't hold it against him and later offers Rei to join his workshop. He's always thinking of others and soft-spoken.
  • Younger Than They Look: It's been commented he looks more around Gotou's age than his own.

Namerikawa Izaya

A 7th-dan player with a scary demeanor, which isn't helped by his habit of staring directly at his opponents during games.

  • Creepy Good: Reportedly didn't inherit his family's funeral parlor because he looked too scary. However, he's actually a sweet guy who stares at his opponents because he's fascinated by people living their lives to the fullest.
  • The Dreaded: He's not the strongest pro in the series, but he's earned a reputation of crushing opponents during their rank-deciding matches.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Tall, gaunt, pale, and exclusively wears black funeral suits. The suit at least is justified because he sometimes needs to come in to help with his family's funeral services on short notice.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Namerikawa ends up making mundane, even nice things he does (feeding birds, going for a swim, inviting a few pros out for a drink) look incredibly terrifying without meaning to.

     Hina's Middle School 

Yuusuke Takahashi

Portrayed by: Yoshimasa Hosoya (anime) (Japanese), Chris Hackney (anime) (English)

  • The Ace: He's the best baseball player in his team and his fellow players hold him in high regard.
  • Chick Magnet: Besides Hina, he seems to have a following of female fans thanks to his sports reputation.
  • I'm Your Biggest Fan: Downplayed as Takahashi is not actually much of a shogi fan, but in his encounter with Rei he admits to him that he admires him as someone who was his age and didn't let fear deter him from following his passion.
  • Lovable Jock: His stoic appearance asside, Takahashi is rather laid back and friendly person. He even tries to stick up for Hina in his own way after he learns that she is being bullied.
  • The Stoic: Rarely changes his perpetually serious expression. The one time he did, it was pretty Funny.
  • Younger Than They Look: He's younger than Rei and is actually Hina's age, but his tall height and mature-looking build make him look older than he's supposed to be.

Chiho Sakura

Portrayed by: Asuka Nishi (Japanese), Brianna Knickerbocker (English)

Frequently appearing in flashbacks once Hina's bullying story arc begins, she is one of Hina's childhood friends. Bullied throughout their third-year in high school by a particular clique of girls, she's eventually driven to transfer out of school and move out of town. Defending Chiho before she leaves is what causes the shift of the bullying from her to Hina.

Takagi Megumi

Portrayed by: Aoi Yūki (Japanese), Ryan Bartley (English)

The ringleader behind a notorious bullying group in Hina's school, her actions are described as casting a dark shadow over all her classmates and homeroom teacher.

  • Arch-Enemy: To Hina. Even after her arc's resolution and making amends with her fellow bullies, Hina admits she cannot bring herself to ever forgive Takagi.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: When Takagi is in a pinch, she will lie out the skin of her teeth and paint herself as an oblivious victim.
  • Book Dumb: Mentioned occasionally, but most notably during her homeroom teacher's epic breakdown, where she despairs that Takagi has always been more fixated on tormenting other students than her studies.
  • The Bully: Infamous for this. It's described as having gone on for years without end to the distress of her teachers.
  • Diminishing Villain Threat: Following the bullying arc, Takagi has no real power or influence to harm Hina anymore despite still fashioning herself as Hina's Arch-Enemy.
  • The Dreaded: All of her classmates and homeroom teacher live in terror of and refuse to stand up to Takagi, fearing they will be the next victims of her bullying.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: After getting exposed as the class bully to the faculty, when questioned about her actions Takagi tries to place the blame on her strict parents and Japanese society in general. The faculty completely rebukes that as being justifiable.
  • Hate Sink: It's clear through Takagi's savage bullying and lack of remorse, she is meant to be despised by the audience through and through.
  • Jerkass: As expected of such a huge bully. However, Takagi cunningly keeps her true nature very concealed, using subtle means to hurt her victims. A classic sign of sociopathy.
  • Karma Houdini: Played with since on the one hand, from Hina's point of view, Takagi seemingly gets off the hook from bullying both her and Chiho with simply having to apologize in front of the class. To drive it further, Takagi is blatantly insincere with her apology. On the other, Takagi is actually now under strict survellience from the faculty for the remainder of her time in middle school, so she's now unable to carry on acting the way she had been up til then, forcing her to face her anxiety-inducing studies without distraction.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The usually happy-go-lucky and generally positive Hina does not joke around when it comes to Takagi and her horrible treatment of her and others at school.
  • The Sociopath: Shows absolutely no remorse for her actions even when properly counseled, repeatedly changing the topic and shifting blame toward random people, all while possessing an eerily dispassionate attitude and even confessing she doesn't understand what compassion is. Eventually, her counselor deduces Takagi is so deeply engorged by anxiety it manifests through her poor grades and bullying.



Takashi Hayashida

Portrayed by: Takahiro Sakurai (anime), Issei Takahashi (live action) (Japanese), Keith Silverstein (anime) (English)

Hayashida is Rei's homeroom teacher in high school. He was already quite familiar with Rei and his professional career when he transferred into his class, being a fan of shogi himself. Quickly noticing how Rei is very much like a normal teen with problems despite being a shogi genius, he becomes intrigued and frequently eats lunches with him up on the roof whenever he gets the chance.

  • Brutal Honesty: Hayashida does not have any subtlety whenever he's openly discussing Rei's social ineptitude.
  • Nice Guy: He's one of the kindest characters in the series, especially toward Rei.
  • Psychologist Teacher: Hayashida tries to be one for Rei, at least. Aside from talking about shogi-related matters with him, he tries to help Rei out with some of his issues when given the opportunity.

Eisaku Noguchi

Portrayed by: Yuji Ueda (anime) (Japanese), Arnie Pantoja (anime) (English)

The father of the Kawamoto sisters. He left his wife and daughters when Momo was just a baby for another woman. After having a child with his new wife and his wife then falling ill, he took on a mistress. Losing his job and apartment, he comes back to see his daughters in the hopes that he can basically get them to support him and take care of his wife and daughter for him.
  • Arch-Enemy: There is no character in the series seen before or since Rei has expressed more genuine hatred for than Seijirou. The feeling is mutual.
  • Big Bad: He is the closest thing to a true villain in a series that otherwise has antagonists but no outright evil people among them.
  • Consummate Liar: A great liar who's spent much of his known life getting by on falsehood and manipulations designed to force people to sympathize with him no matter what he's done. As Akari mentions to him, he's becomes so good at obfuscating the truth for his own benefit that he's managed to convince himself of a number of his lies.
  • Evil Counterpart: He is this to Rei. Best illustrated when he unashamedly expresses he likens himself to a cuckoo bird, nesting himself from home to home to preserve himself. Rei does not take this well at all.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He acts like a charming man most of the time to cover up what an asshole bastard he really is. The act starts to slip when Rei relentlessly antagonizes him.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Wears glasses and is one of the biggest Hate Sink in the story.
  • I Have No Son!: At the very end of his arc, when it's clear the Kawamoto family isn't taking him, he openly disowns them as a family in one of the saddest scenes in the story.
  • Jerkass: Is he ever. Behind the perpetual smile and politeness is a man defined by bitterness and selfishness. His true nature as this gradually creaks through when others stand against him.
  • Kick the Dog: Everything Seijirou says and does is this under his Faux Affably Evil attitude.
  • Knight of Cerebus: His actions effect the other characters, especially those in his family, in very serious ways.
  • Lack of Empathy: To a disturbing degree. His lack of empathy is illustrated in a panel of Seijirou standing safely above the family he's abandoned drowning...
  • Manipulative Bastard: Seijirou is supposedly an expert at manipulation, frankly thinking little beyond his immediate goals but brilliant at using shallow words to trick people into thinking the way he wants them to think so that he can use them to satisfy his immediate desires/needs. In a way, this is why Rei is his greatest enemy, because as he says Rei has been dealing for years with old men with even more skill and foresight at manipulating opponents into doing what they want, and he only made it to his current level by learning to fight such tricks and push through. Not to mention that along with his ability to endure any amount of manipulation he also has a number of friends and connections in high places.
  • Manchild: Played for drama. He basically expects to get by his entire life through the work of others than working himself anymore. No one from his previous family wants anything to do with it.
  • Never My Fault: One major characteristic. Seijirou constantly comes up with stories and lies to explain why his actions were either the unfortunate way things turned out or a result of someone else's wrongdoing. As Akari tells him, he's become so skilled at explaining away his guilt that he's managed to convince himself as well.
  • Precision F-Strike: When Rei really gets into threatening him to stay away from the Kawamoto family, he briefly drops all pretenses of being Faux Affably Evil and curses him as a "piece of shit."
  • Smug Smiler: His default expression that he almost never lets up. It's a part of his charming act to get people to do what he wants, but it only unnerves his relatives and Rei.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Has Akari's eyes and Hina's smile. It produces an unsettling effect on Rei, as he finds himself unable to reconcile the traits of the people he loves with Seijirou's vileness.
  • The Sociopath: Seijirou's only concern is for his well being, and everyone else is a means to that end. It is implied he used to be a kinder man, but Akari notes this side of him is truly and utterly gone.

Alternative Title(s): Sangatsu No Lion


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