Why the new Sangatsu no Lion OP is so Powerful


Sangatsu no Lion’s new opening left me screaming in my apartment at 11 AM. I’ve waited 6 months for a new installment of this show and, although I started out not caring for it much, fell in love with its second cour and was so excited for the new season. So far, it did not disappoint. Its new opening is a testament of the show’s progression and just how much Rei has grown over its last two seasons.

I understand not everyone has seen this show (the first season’s okay, the second is great so if you can sit through the first, go for it!) so instead of diving into how it reflects the story thus far, I’m going to compare the imagery of the third opening to the first one.

Sangatsu no Lion’s first opening is called “Fighter” and shows our protagonist Kiriyama Rei battling his depression. The imagery throughout the OP is pretty consistent; it’s dark, he’s drowning, he’s trying to surpass himself and his emotions in order to see the light. It is easy to see his pain; he is suffering and fighting to build a new life for himself. But his conviction isn’t really there. When he is drowning, he is not struggling against the water. In the darkness, he walks as if he has accepted his fate instead of earnestly trying to reach the light. Rei is sad and complacent. He wants to fight and be better but does not believe he actually can. With everything the word stands for, Rei is a pretty pathetic Fighter. He has no fight in him. He strives to achieve happiness, but only half-heartedly.

And then, as if out of nowhere, there is the third OP. Colored in pastels. Is this even the same show?

I’m not going to make this unnecessarily long, so I’m going to cut to the chase here and now. This OP shows that Rei has become a Fighter.

At first, you see him walking down the road and it’s your typical OP fanfare. Character introductions, scenery, yada yada. But then he is walking on the bridge and climbs over the barrier. I was shocked when I saw it. Rei’s not the kind of guy to do that, what’s he up to? Then he leaps over a bicycle rack into the river and breaks into a sprint. Now I’m screaming alone in my apartment.

This is the first time we see Rei exerting himself so passionately (besides this fantastic outburst). Rei is sprinting through the water, down the street. He’s exhausted but he pushes his glasses up with a determined scowl and keeps running. Towards belonging. Towards living comfortably with his depression. Towards victory in shogi. What he is running towards doesn't matter. He sprints for it and reaches out. Even though he doesn’t quite get to it at the end, he holds on to it— and himself— for dear life.

This outburst portrays his new conviction. He’s not fighting because he feels like he has to anymore. He’s fighting because he wants to, for himself and the people in his life. For the first time in his life, he trains to win because he wants to win. Having this imagery be the first thing you see is extremely promising. This is not the same Rei from last winter, wandering through his own life like he is a stranger in it. He is a Fighter and he’s going to be active in creating his story.

If that doesn’t show a show has potential, then I really don’t know what does.

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