March Comes in Like a Lion (3月のライオン Sangatsu no Raion?, lit. March Lion; alternatively called Sangatsu no Lion or 3gatsu no Lion; officially translated as March Comes in Like a Lion) is an ongoing manga series by Chica Umino, best known for Honey and Clover. It began serialization in Hakusensha's seinen manga magazine Young Animal from its fourteenth issue in 2007 (published on July 13, 2007). A television commercial announcing the series was also aired by Hakusensha on numerous Japanese television stations, which was also posted on its official website. In 2009, the series was nominated for the 2nd Annual Manga Taishō. To date, four tankōbon volumes of the series have been released.
Plot and development
The series is set in Tokyo, following the everyday life of a 17-year old shōgi player, Rei (lit. "Zero"). While describing the series, Umino noted that she based the setting of March Comes in Like a Lion on research she conducted herself, whereas in her earlier and most famous work, Honey and Clover, she had already been familiar with its setting.
The protagonist Rei is a 17-year old professional shōgi player, who lives by himself, not having a real family, and has scarcely any friends. Among his acquaintances is a family, which consists of a young woman, Akari, and two young girls, Hinata and Momo, and who also keep a numerous number of cats.
- Rei Kiriyama (桐山 零 Kiriyama Rei?)
- The protagonist of the series. 17 years old. A five dan, Rei became a professional shōgi player while in middle school. His parents and sister died in a traffic accident, and after that he was taken care of by his father's friend Kōda and became his apprentice in shōgi. After becoming a professional shōgi player and after completing middle school, he became independent of him and decided not to attend high school. After feeling a "need" to attend school however, Rei later joined a high school after a one-year delay. He lives in the city of Rokugatsu-chō (June town).
- Akari Kawamoto (川本 あかり Kawamoto Akari?)
- A resident of Sangatsu-chō (March town), she is the eldest of three sisters. Her mother died and subsequently she took care of two younger sisters. In the mornings, she helps her elderly grandfather run a traditional wagashi (Japanese confectionary) shop, Mikazuki-dō, while in the evenings, she works as a hostess for a bar in Ginza, Misaki, which her aunt manages. She often calls Rei "Rei-kun".
- Hinata Kawamoto (川本 ひなた Kawamoto Hinata?)
- The second of the three sisters. A middle school student. She sleeps in late in the mornings till the very last minute and often makes bentos by herself. She calls Rei, "Rei-chan". Like her elder sister Akari, she likes taking care of Rei.
- Momo Kawamoto (川本 モモ Kawamoto Momo?)
- The youngest of the three sisters. A preschool student, she attends a daycare center. Pure and innocent, she has a bit of a selfish streak at times. Her favorite anime character is Bodoro (modelled on My Neighbour Totoro's Totoro). She calls Rei, "Rei-chan".
- Kōda (幸田?)
- Rei's shōgi teacher. He was both Rei's father's friend and rival in shōji. He cared for Rei like he did for his children and taught him shōgi.
- Kyōko Kōda (幸田 香子 Kōda Kyōko?)
- Kōda's daughter. She is four years older than Rei. Beautiful and hot tempered.
- Ayumu Kōda (幸田 歩 Kōda Ayumu?)
- Kōda's son and Kyōko's younger brother. He is of the same age as Rei. After losing to Rei in shōgi, he stopped playing shōgi, and afterwards started confining himself to his room and only playing video games.
Professional shōgi players
- Harunobu Nikaidō (二海堂 晴信 Nikaidō Harunobu?)
- Rei's self-proclaimed "best friend" and "lifelong rival". A four dan, he has played with Rei since they were children. Even though he might appear to be healthy, he is in fact in poor health. He is from a good family. He is modelled after actual real-life shōgi player Satoshi Murayama.
- Tōji Sōya (宗谷 冬司 Sōya Tōji?)
- The current meijin. He has longed for a rival like Rei. Similar to Rei, he became a professional shōji player in middle school.
- Issa Matsumoto (松本 一砂 Matsumoto Issa?)
- 26 years old. Five dan. He is 181 centimeters tall. A quite expressive and enthusiastic person, he can be aggressive at times as well. He comes from the countryside. He is a fan of Akari.
- Tatsuyuki Misumi (三角 龍雪 Misumi Tatsuyuki?)
- 26 years old. Six dan. He is often called "Sumisu" (for "Smith"). He is 180 centimeters tall. A bit aloof, he gets along well with Matsumoto.
- Shōichi Matsunaga (松永 正一 Matsunaga Shōichi?)
- 65 years old. A seven dan. He is a veteran who has been a professional shōgi player for over 40 years. He comes from Fukushima.
- Yasui (安井?)
- A six dan. Upon losing a match, he lost his temper, thus resulting in him divorcing his wife.
- Yūsuke Takahashi (高橋 勇介 Takahashi Yūsuke?)
- A middle school student. A childhood friend and classmate of Hinata's, they are quite close to each other. He is the son of a milkman. He is the ace of his school's baseball team and aims to be a pro. Since Rei became a shōgi pro in middle school, Yūsuke greatly looks up to him. In order to realize his dream to become a professional, he wishes to proceed to a high school in Shikoku to participate in the kōshien baseball tournament.
- Someji Kawamoto (川本 相米二 Kawamoto Someji?)
- The grandfather of the three Kawamoto sisters. He runs a traditional wagashi shop, Mikazuki-dō. Even though he may appear to be unexpressive, he actually dotes on his grandchildren a lot, in particular Momo. Along with Akari, he likes to watch over Rei.
- Hanaoka (花岡?)
- The butler of the Nikaidō family, who has been in continuous service for them for over 45 years. A gentle and kind elderly man, he has taken care of Harunobu ever since he was a baby.
- Takashi Hayashida (林田 高志 Hayashida Takashi?)
- A teacher of the high school where Rei decided to join. He is a big fan of shōji and regularly reads shōgi magazines. He is the only one in the high school who had heard of Rei being a professional shōgi player though when he first knew of him joining, he presumed he only had the same surname. He speaks in a very friendly manner with Rei and is often concerned when Rei becomes lonely.
- Misaki (美咲?)
- The aunt of the three Kawamoto sisters. She, helped by Akari, manages a bar in Ginza called "Misaki".
- The cats
- The three cats of the Kawamoto household. The first two cats, the black and white and orange ones, were the first two gathered, while the white cat is a new arrival. Their names are unknown. They are big-eyed and always apparently hungry. The third cat looks strikingly like an owl.
- Volume 1: ISBN 978-4-592-14511-0, published 2008-02-22
- Volume 2: ISBN 978-4-592-14512-7, published 2008-11-19 (features alternate cover by Berserk mangaka Kentarō Miura)
- Volume 3: ISBN 978-4-592-14513-4, published 2009-08-12
- Volume 4: ISBN 978-4-592-14514-1, published 2010-04-09
- "Chika Umino, Kazuhiro Kumagai, Shokotan's Newest Manga". Anime News Network. 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
- "Honey & Clover's Umino to Start Manga in Young Animal". Anime News Network. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
- "Honey & Clover's Chika Umino's Latest to Start July 13". Anime News Network. 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2007-07-26.
- "10 Titles Nominated for 2nd Manga Taisho Awards". Anime News Network. 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- "March Comes in Like a Lion's Cover by Berserk's Miura". Anime News Network. 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2009-01-17.