Rei Kiriyama recently started to live alone in his last year of high school. He is able to financial support himself as a professional Shogi player, but while he officially became a pro in middle school, he is collapsing under the pressure to succeed. Burdened with his own problems, Rei has found solstice among a kind family of three sisters, the Kawamotos. The oldest, Akari, likes to take in strays and Rei is the latest. While he feels conflicted about spending time with them, they provide accepting affection that he has gotten nowhere else.
While the fact that it is, at least somewhat, about Shogi may have turned many off this anime, it does provide a profound examination of its characters over any ploy of trying to make the game look exciting. Thoughtful and occasionally touching, March Comes in Like a Lion is deeply reminiscent of these anime recommendations.
For Fans of Angst-Riddled Geniuses
Your Lie in April
Kousei Arima was a musical prodigy on the piano as a child, but after his mother’s death he was left unable to play, unable to hear his own music. However, years later, he is dragged to a concert to watch a friend of a friend play. There he meets a talents violinist named Kaori whose unique take on classical music makes his dull world come alive with color again.
Immediately upon turning on March Comes in Like a Lion, you get the same feeling as Your Lie in April, and it is not just because the main characters look so similar. Both feature uniquely drawn mouths, highly depressed but uniquely talented protagonists with family problems, and characters that are there to make the anime feel bright and not quite so bogged down in its angst.
Seishuu Handa is a talented calligrapher, but after a critic calls his work textbook and stale, he flies off the handle and punches him. After the incident, his father, another famous calligrapher, sends him off to Goto Island to cool down. There Seishuu tries to find inspiration for his work, but with children and old men constantly pestering him, he finds it hard to focus.
Both Barakamon and March Comes in Like a Lion are slice of life anime series that find their humor and development through realism. Both main characters face the innate pressure of their profession and the expectations placed upon them while simultaneously finding inspiration or joy in those around them.
Ping Pong the Animation
Makoto and Yukata, nicknamed Smile and Peco, have grown up playing ping pong together. While Yukata is bursting with confidence in his matches, Makoto is somewhat less ambitious about the sport. However, because they play their matches together, they have built a mutual love for the sport.
Like watching someone play Shogi, you wouldn’t expect watching someone playing ping pong to be particularly exciting. While March Comes in Like a Lion makes its Shogi phases bearable by keeping them brief, Ping Pong the Animation goes to great lengths to make the sport surprisingly awesome to watch.
For Fans of a Focus on Character Interactions
Natsume’s Book of Friends
Natsume has been constantly plagued by spirits since he was a young child. However, recently, he has discovered that this is because when his grandmother died, she left him her “Book of Friends,” a book of spirits she had under control. These spirits that follow him around seek freedom, but Natsume has his own problems.
A lot of March Comes in Like a Lion is about the main character walking around or just thinking about the world around him. While Natsume’s Book of Friends is more involved, it has that same thoughtfulness on the way of the world and a similar relaxed atmosphere that is mired in bright colors to match the occasionally bittersweet tone.
Honey to Clover
Four college boys share a low-rent apartment that is perfect for their poor lifestyle. While each has their own problems going on, this group of friends is always there for each other when they need them.
Immediately upon watching either show, you will note the similar art style, which is because both series share a creator. As well as the same art style, you also get the same sort of story about growing, developing, friendship, and overcoming problems. However, Honey and Clover, while dramatic at times, is generally more upbeat.
Satoru is a struggling manga artist, but he has a special power. Every time something bad happens around him, he is able to go back in time and try to stop it. While thus far he has only gone back a few minutes in time, after the murder of someone close to him, he is sent back to his childhood. It seems this murder had something to do with a string of kidnap murders that would plague his rural town in just a few days.
While darker and with most twists, it might be hard to see the similarities between Erased and March Comes in Like a Lion at first, but in its essence, both series are about bespectacled loners that have problems they neglect to deal with. Eventually they are forced to, which leads to varying results. However, while March is vaguely intriguing, the mystery in Erased grabs you and draws you in.
For Fans of Shogi
Shion no Ou
Shion Yasuoka is a young Shogi player with a dark past. Shion’s parents were brutally murdered in front of her when she was a kid, only for the murderer to sit down and play Shogi with her before leaving. Now a mute and with foggy memories of that night, her Shogi playing begins to help her unravel the thread.
If you are some strange Shogi otaku, than naturally any Shogi anime is of interest to you. Unfortunately, there is only March Comes in Like a Lion and Shion no Ou, neither of which are particularly Shogi deep. However, if you wanted a more mysterious, somewhat brutal, and Shogi-oriented story, Shion is an excellent watch.
Hikaru no Go
One day while rummaging through the attic, Hikaru finds his grandfather’s old Go board. Upon touching it, he is possessed by the spirit of Fujiwara no Sai, a once-great Go player. This ghost continues to plague him in order to fulfill his desire to play Go. Eventually Hikaru caves and dives deep into the game world.
Yup, Go is not Shogi, but there are exactly two Shogi anime series out there, and Hikaru no Go takes a strategic board game and makes it kind of intense. If you wish March Comes in Like a Lion was more about Shogi and less about angst, this is a pretty excellent option.
Know any other good anime recommendations like March Comes in Like a Lion? Tell us about it in the comments section below.