It took me several episodes before I figured out what March Comes in Like a Lion was actually about. It was when they started talking to us about the main character’s adoptive family that it became clear to me. It was a story about depression. A kid with complicated feelings about his adoptive father and what impact he had on his step-siblings, his feelings around shogi and his loneliness in his life, alongside some more standard parts of depression such as being depressed that you are depressed. However it didn’t really hit hard for me what the catalyst for his depression was until we met his step sister.
In many ways she felt to me like Asuka from Evangelion (perhaps fitting given that it’s the one other anime I know of that is primarily about depression). She is a person that it hurts to be around because of how barbed her comments are. She makes you feel like a shitty person because of a desire to drag those around her down to try combat her own insecurities. She invades our main character’s personal space, makes him feel uncomfortable, and then tells him things she knows will upset him. Throw some incredibly awkward sexual tension on top of that and a heaping of guilt that you are the reason she’s turned out like she has.
It was such incredibly absorbing viewing to watch this woman drag this recovering kid back into the throws of depression by poking at exactly the areas she knows are weak. It’s your fault other people’s lives are being ruined. You’re destroying lives while playing this game you claim to like, just like how you destroyed my life. She never says these things, and part of me wonders how much of this is a conscious effort on her part to hurt him, but my god is it effective. While you can sort of understand how she turned out like she has, to watch her combined with the presentation, all smiles and a delicate voice, tear this kid apart was the most enthralled I’ve been in a conversation in anime I’ve had this year.