The first half of March Comes In Like A Lion 2‘s second episode titled, Chapter 50: June, opens with a comedic lighthearted conversation between Misumi and Miyamoto commenting on 9th Dan Kumakura’s large black leather shoes.
It’s said that his shoe size is 29.5 centimeters long and how the two shogi players discovered this detail is something we’ll never really know. When converted to its American equivalent, Kumakura fits into an 11 and a half. From a Google Search, I found that the largest shoe size made available for males in Japan is 27 centimeters (or a size 10 for you readers living in North America).
Misumi and Miyamoto’s fascination over Kumakura’s shoes parallels a passerby living in a middle-class residential area who drools over the sexy expensive car speeding down the street with its engines roaring. It’s a relatively uncommon sight. Kumakura’s massive shoe size signifies his manliness, athleticism and status compared to Misumi and Miyamoto, who can only dream of being in the same position and stature as Kumakura.
When the episode transitions to the Kawamoto family meeting, it presents a symbolic symbol of Japanese culture that is related to the summer season: the koi fish. In Japanese culture, the koi fish symbolizes good fortune, wisdom and longevity. Apparently, the colour of a koi fish connotes a specific meaning. In particular, a red koi fish symbolizes an intense love, power and bravery. When used as a flag for the Japanese holiday, Children’s Day (June 1), it represents the matriarch of the family. Thinking about this particular context, I can’t help but feel that the mother symbol is important for the Kawamoto family because the maternal figures are absent in the Kawamoto sisters’ lives. Seeing the two koi fish floating in the water cake, I can imagine them to represent the girls’ mother and grandmother.
Also, for those of you who aren’t familiar with what agar is, agar is a gelatin substitute made from Red Sea algae a.k.a seaweed. It lacks taste, colour or odour, which makes it the perfect ingredient for making traditional Japanese jelly confections. According to the food blog Extra Crispy, agar was discovered in the mid-1950s in Japan and was used for baking since the Edo period. #TheMoreYouKnow
As a new creative idea for the agar treat, Momo suggests the image of a sandal laying on top of the clear jelly. The trope of a lost shoe is usually associated to a character’s demise – remember the short sandal scene in My Neighbor Totoro – suggesting that said-character experienced the most horrific and painful death without having to showcase any gratuitous blood and gore to leave a chill down your spine. #HowToKeepThingsKidFriendly
In this moment, the lost shoe is meant to be humorous. It represents a truth about how children throw tantrums over losing their belongings to an unfortunate circumstance.
The last portion of Chapter 50: June we notice Hina’s strange behaviour where her demeanor comes across as introverted, when we’re familiar with her cheerful extroverted self. The image of her bathing alone with a glazed look in her eye is shown using a far shot. The moonlight hits Hina’s body and nothing else. It communicates a distance between the viewer and Hina, which makes me feel like I’m encroaching upon Hina’s private moment of repose.
The ending of the first portion of the episode leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Knowing that the deafening silence and the dark living room, that was once bathed in light, warmth and happiness, shields away Hina’s pain from the eyes of the viewer is heart wrenching.
The second half of the episode, Chapter 51: The Ladybug Bush (Part One) focuses on the memories Rei recalls from his childhood from recognizing the ladybug bush in the park. The music playing during the beginning of this recollection is light and dare I say, a bit euphoric with the guitar strumming.
In his memory, the beautiful warm rays of sunlight cascade through the leaves of the bush as a young Rei carefully inspects all angles of this plant. The start of his memory creates the impression that the plant is associated to a positive memory.
But the moment we see Rei’s facial expression, we learn that the warmth presented a few seconds ago is a farce. The entire scene and his connection to shogi from his youth are haunted by experiences of bullying.
As we learn through this chapter, Rei’s loneliness was, in part, a product of the bullying he endured in his elementary school days and from his adoptive siblings, along with his decision to hide himself away from his aggressors. He ran away from his problems instead of facing them head-on. As a place of reprieve, the ladybug bush acted as Rei’s haven where he could focus on shogi.
In fact, it acts as foreshadowing of Hina’s dilemma in the coming episodes. It is through his growth from the first season and his sharpened eyes at the end of the second episode that we can expect Rei to be a lot more proactive in dealing with Hina’s bullying issue.
To be perfectly honest, as a reader of the manga, I was thirsty for Rei’s growing relationship with the Kawamoto sisters and their family drama. We are definitely going to be hit by a bus of feels. #AmReadyToBeDestroyed