3-gatsu no Lion – 07

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And endless succession of episodes in which Rei wanders around alone with the wind in his face, wallowing in despair and self-pity over everything he’s been through and all the choices he’s made, was going to get old fast. That would be too dark and brooding, and keep us at a distance.

I wanted in, so to speak, and I got in, thanks in part to a jauntier, more playful week of 3GL, and in part to Hina’s crush Takahashi. While Rei is initially intimidated, Takahashi is actually a great admirer of Rei, and comes to him for serious advice about where to steer his life.

That Takahashi essentially comes out of nowhere to have such a profound effect on Rei and how he looks at the world is of no consequence. I like how a childhood friend of Hina, whom Rei often looks to for comfort, peace, and perspective, is inadvertently responsible for showing Rei “the light.”

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Takahashi’s seriousness, forceful determination, and earnest attentiveness to any and all Rei has to say, gets Rei to open up despite himself, breaking through a barrier he’d never crossed before, letting someone in to his inner thoughts and doubts, and receiving gratitude and further admiration in return.

Even when Takahashi, invited to dinner (much to Hina’s exasperation; however she delivers a sumptuous repast), shows Rei a video of his loss in shogi (a video that exposes Rei’s “secret”/omission to the younger sisters that he and Nikaido are pros), Takahashi does it not out of malice, but to hear from the person who made the move why he made it, and what he thinks about such a move now.

Even when Rei says it was a bad move, and Nikaido almost seems to come through the TV and yell at him directly, over and over, that he needs to “take better care of his shogi and himself”, Takahashi doesn’t dismiss his father and grandfather’s assertion the move wasn’t bad, but was even “aggressive and manly,” qualities Takahashi can relate to on the road to a baseball career; a road that requires similarly bold moves.

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Nikaido’s on-video obnoxious commentary gets Rei so riled up he raises his voice for the first time, yelling at the TV as if Nikaido was there. Rei is amazed to find Hina smiling wider than ever at his outburst, as if it was a privilege to witness. And maybe it was: seeing him display so much passion, even to protest his “best friend” saying far too much to the camera, spurs Hina to ask Rei to teach her how to play shogi.

That’s when Nikaido actually comes out of the TV and appears in person at the Kawamoto household to add some humor and humanity to Rei’s stiff explanation of the game. He even presents a book he presumably wrote and illustrated in which all the shogi pieces are realized as cats, charming not only Hina but Momo too (who already regards Nikaido AKA Bodoro as a kind of demigod).

Rei has finally tasted what it’s like not only to have his thoughts and feelings listened to and validated, but what it’s like to lose it in front of people he cares about, and to share his amassed wisdom to an eager audience. All in all, its a pretty good week for the kid. Here’s hoping he keeps it going.

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The Lion King

When we were ten years old and the Lion King came out, we thought it was the best Disney film we’ve ever seen; surpassing Aladdin the year before. From the gorgeous visuals, engrossing score, and toe-tapping songs, and relatively straightforward, strong story about redemption, duty, and family, it seemingly had everything we could possibly want in a movie. Plus, LIONS. The Lion King came out in theatres eighteen years ago. We hadn’t laid eyes on it for thirteen, until we broke out the VHS videocassette and gave it a watch to see if it was as good as we remember.

It is, and we’re not just saying that with our eyes glossed over with nostalgia; it’s a great little film. One thing we didn’t know way back when was how short it was – just 88 minutes, or three-quarters of your typical Miyazaki flick. But it uses those 88 minutes very efficiently. It never lags, and when it seems like it’s about to, we’re treated to another song. The songs themselves are just as fun and addictive as they were when we were kids; and we still remembered many of the lyrics. How couldn’t we; this is a film we must’ve seen dozens of times in our youth. The film is full of clever dialogue and plenty of rapid-fire, droll repartee among the adult characters. Mufasa , Zazu, Scar, Timon, Pumbaa and Rafiki’s voice work is top-notch.

Watching The Lion King all grown up, we gained a fresh sympathy for Scar, even if the film gives him none; he just happened to be born after his bigger, stronger brother, and a pride doesn’t need two males, so he’s just out of place in the world. It’s not surprising he’d seek solace consorting with hyenas, who seem like a lot of fun. Even when he’s pretending to show genuine concern when warning Mufasa that Simba’s in the gorge, he sells it so well we believe it. As for young Simba, well, he’s much more of a spoiled little shit than we remember. He kinda had to exile himself till he grew up anyway; there’s no such thing as a cub king. The Lion King has aged specacularly, representing the apex of non-Pixar Disney feature films.


Rating: 4