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Goin’ Japanesque!

Manga “March Comes in Like a Lion” Depicts Shogi Game on Board and Life

Board games involving strategies such as chess or go (game) exist all over the world. Japan has “shogi (Japanese chess)”, another board game, and there are professional players who make livings by playing this game. Many manga focus on shogi, and this time we would like to introduce “March Comes in Like a Lion” among them.



The main character, “Rei Kiriyama”, lost his family in an accident when he was very young. He was adopted by his parents’ friend, Mr. Koda, a professional shogi player.

As an orphan, Rei Kiriyama felt indebted to Mr. Koda, and he became a professional shogi player at the age of 15, in order to please and gain recognition of Mr. Koda.

But Mr. Koda’s biological children were jealous of Rei Kiriyama’s talents, and their relationship was strained. Rei started living alone, enduring his loneliness.

In the place he moved to, he meets three sisters, Akari, Hinata & Momo Kawamoto. From that point Rei Kiriyama meets many different people, and starts growing up from a boy to an adult.



1. Rei Kiriyama

He is the main character of this story.

He lost his family in an accident and he is pessimistic about his life. He thinks in calm and level-headed manner unusual for the age of 15-years.

However his way of thinking has been acquired as a defensive pose in order to endure loneliness and not let others around him see him as an orphan.

He is actually as impressionable as his peers and he has pure gentleness and cares about his opponents that he defeats in shogi games.

As he associates with the three sisters, he starts to notice the presence of other people around him who care about him, which gradually changes him.

2. Akari Kawamoto

She is the eldest daughter of Kawamoto Family. With her mother passed away and father disappeared, she has been trying hard to step into the role of parents for her younger sisters.

She helps her grandfather’s Japanese confection shop during the day and works at her aunt’s bar at night.

She cannot help but rescue disheartened and weakened beings and there are a few stray cats living with the family that she picked up this way.

In a similar manner she has started inviting Rei Kiriyama to her family house, after meeting him when he is desperate at his solitude.

3. Hinata Kawamoto

She is the second daughter of the Kawamoto Family.

She is always worried about Rei Kiriyama, together with her elder sister Akari.

She hates injustice and she is an honest, straightforward girl.

As the story progresses, Rei Kiriyama gradually falls in love with her.

4. Momo Kawamoto

She is the third daughter of the Kawamoto Family, and doted by her grandfather who manages the Japanese confection shop.

She loves Harunobu Nikaido.

5. Harunobu Nikaido

He has fought Rei Kiriyama in shogi games since his childhood, and was promoted to be a professional player about the same time as Rei Kiriyama.

Perhaps due to this history, he is a self-proclaimed rival and best friend of Rei Kiriyama. However, Rei has no such awareness or recognition.

Harunobu cares and worries about Rei lot more than others might. He sometimes stays over at Rei’s place without considering Rei’s circumstances, or other times he yells at Rei, hoping to stir up his spirits when he is feeling down and struggling in the games.

Harunobu appears to be nursing a chronic kidney disease, and he is repeatedly hospitalized and discharged, with sudden changes in his conditions.

6. Toji Soya

He presides over the professional shogi world as the world highest master.

He also holds multiple titles in the professional shogi, and he stays undefeated in the games.

He appears far removed from the mundane world, and perhaps for this reason, his words and actions are sometime unfathomable by others.



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The author is a female and her name is “Chika Umino”. The story is told through a perspective that is gentle, feminine and at times ruthless.

The manga is based on “shogi”, but it rather describes psychological world of the people involved in the games, often omitting description of the game itself.

Therefore the readers can feel the sense of urgency or progress of games without knowing the rules of shogi. This is a major difference between this story and other shogi manga.


And this is a story about the protagonist Rei Kiriyama’s growth.

Outside the professional shogi world, he has other ordinary worries and frustrations in addition to loneliness and yearning for others as an orphan.

The story picks up much of his feeling and expresses them and their changes delicately as well as meticulously.

Such psychological portrait is not confined to the protagonist Rei Kiriyama. The story carefully describes lives and feelings of Akari and Hinata Kawamoto who support Rei, and Toji Soya who is bound to face Rei’s challenge for the throne of the shoji world.


“March Comes in Like a Lion” is a story currently still in progress.

Eleven volumes of comics are published and plans for a live-action movie and TV animation are underway in Japan.

You can enjoy this story well without knowing shogi; however, we would be more than happy if this manga piques your interest in uniquely Japanese shogi game.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon