Hakusensha aired a television commercial announcing the series on numerous Japanese television stations, also posting it on its official website. Fourteen tankōbon volumes of the series have been released as of December 2018. An anime television adaptation by Shaft aired between October 8, 2016 and March 18, 2017 on NHK, with a second season airing from October 14, 2017 to March 31, 2018. A two-part live-action film adaptation was released in March and April 2017.
The series is set in Tokyo, following the everyday life of a 17-year-old shōgi player, Rei (lit. "Zero"). Umino based the setting of March Comes in like a Lion on research she conducted herself, whereas she was already familiar with the setting for her earlier work, Honey and Clover.
Rei lives by himself, his parents and younger sister died in an accident, he is estranged from his foster family and has scarcely any friends. Among his acquaintances is a family which consists of a young woman—Akari Kawamoto—and her younger sisters—Hinata and Momo—who also keep several cats. As the story progresses, Rei deals with his maturing as a player and as a person, while developing his relationships with others, especially the Kawamoto sisters.
The protagonist of the series. 17 years old at the beginning of the series, later turns 18. A five dan in the beginning of the series, he is later promoted to six dan. Rei became a professional shōgi player while in middle school and his achievements soon made him one of the most promising players of his generation. After his parents and sister died in a traffic accident, he was taken in by his father's friend Kōda and became his apprentice in shōgi. After becoming a professional shōgi player and completing middle school, he decided to become independent and not attend high school. However, after feeling a "need" to attend school, Rei joins a high school after a one-year delay. He lives in the city of Rokugatsu-chō (June town). Rei is portrayed by Ryunosuke Kamiki in the film.
A resident of Sangatsu-chō (March town), she is the eldest of three sisters. After her mother's death, she starts taking care of her two younger sisters. In the morning, she helps her elderly grandfather run a traditional wagashi (Japanese confectionery) shop, Mikazuki-dō, while in the evening, she works as a hostess for a bar in Ginza, Misaki, which her aunt manages. Akari gets acquainted with Rei when she finds him on the street when his older shogi rivals got him drunk and abandoned him; she takes him to her home and looks after him all night, which starts Rei's close relationship with the family. She often calls Rei "Rei-kun". Akari is portrayed by Kana Kurashina in the film.
The second of the three sisters. A middle school student. She sleeps in late in the mornings till the very last minute and often makes bentos by herself. She calls Rei "Rei-chan". Like her elder sister Akari, she likes taking care of Rei, who develops romantic feelings for her as the series progresses. She has a strong loyalty towards her friends and family. She aspires to be as mature as her sister when she gets older. Later she graduates from middle school and enrolls at the same high school where Rei studies. Hinata is portrayed by Kaya Kiyohara in the film.
The youngest of the three sisters. A preschool student, she attends a daycare center. Pure and innocent, she has a bit of a selfish streak at times. Her favorite anime character is Bodoro (modelled on My Neighbour Totoro's Totoro). She calls Rei "Rei-chan". Momo is portrayed by Chise Niitsu in the film.
Rei's shōgi teacher, a pro eight dan. He was both Rei's father's friend and rival in shōgi. After Rei's parents died, he adopts Rei and guides him in shogi. He is serious about shogi and is very strict with his biological children when they were studying it themselves. Because of the attention that their father showed Rei, both the Koda children grew to resent Rei and treated him poorly as he was growing up in their household. Kōda Eight Dan is portrayed by Etsushi Toyokawa in the film.
Kōda's daughter. She is four years older than Rei. Beautiful and hot tempered, Kyōko seems to hold a grudge on Rei as she has the habit of exerting a negative influence on him by discouraging him purposefully before his matches. She appears to be in love with Masamune Gotō Nine Dan, a married man. When she was younger, she was openly hostile to Rei when he first joins the family because she is jealous of the attention her father gives Rei. She aspired to become a shōgi professional but was discouraged by her father as the field was dominated by men and she was not talented enough to be a part of it. She often goes to Rei's apartment whenever she is feeling lonely. Later on, she admits to herself that she was unfair to Rei because she realizes that he wasn't trying to steal her family, rather, he just wanted to be part of one.
Ayumu Kōda (幸田 歩,Kōda Ayumu)
Kōda's son and Kyōko's younger brother. He is of the same age as Rei. After losing to Rei in shōgi, he stopped playing at all, and afterwards started confining himself to his room and only playing video games.
Rei's self-proclaimed "best friend" and "lifelong rival". A four dan, he has played with Rei since they were children. Even though he appears to be healthy, he is in fact chronically ill, which has contributed to his obesity. He is from an extremely wealthy family. He is modelled after actual real-life shōgi player Satoshi Murayama.
In his late 30s, of the same age as Tōji Sōya. Eight dan. He is a senior fellow student of Nikaidō, who he takes care of like his own little brother. He is a gentle tempered person and is naturally inclined to look after younger shōgi players. But he is also an incredibly tough soldier in shōgi. He hosts the "Shimada shōgi study groups", which he invited Rei to join. He originally comes from a rural area. In his youth, he had to work long hours on the farm and relied on his fellow villagers' donations to support his shōgi study in Tokyo. He has chronic stomach pain because of the stress from his matches. The president of the shogi association often laments that Shimada is not charismatic or as good looking as the meijin, Soya, who is his same age. Shimada is portrayed by Kuranosuke Sasaki in the film.
In his early 40s. Nine dan. A tall and muscular man with a stern and frightening face. His wife is in a coma and appears to have been hospitalized for a long time. He was a younger fellow pupil of Masachika Kōda, whose daughter Kyōko he appears to have a very complicated relationship with, though he calls her a "stalker". Rei sees him as a main antagonist in life for he thinks Gotō is having an affair with Kyōko and breaking her heart. He had an altercation with Rei where he punches him when he was confronted for his improper relationship with Kyoko. Even though she loves Goto, Kyoko is the one who often helps him get gifts for his comatose wife. He is generally very forthright and impatient to the point of being arrogant, but he also doesn't hesitate to stand up for Shimada when he overhears some other players making demeaning comments about him. Gotō is portrayed by Hideaki Itō in the film.
The current meijin. He has longed for a rival like Rei. Similar to Rei, he became a professional shōgi player in middle school and several players who faced both pointed that their playing styles are very similar. He became the youngest ever meijin at age 21. Later in the story it's revealed that he has intermittent hearing loss due to unknown causes. He is portrayed by Ryo Kase in the film.
A 9 dan professional shougi player, ranked A for the past 8 years, Tsujii Takeshi is a lover of wordplay and craves public attention. Other people within the shougi world calls him 'a waste of good looks' due to his propensity for dad jokes and terrible puns. He is usually the only one to laugh at his own gags. Tsujii played against Rei during the quarterfinals of the 20th Lion King Tournament.
A middle school student. A childhood friend and classmate of Hinata's, he is her first crush. He is the son of a milkman. He is the ace of his school's baseball team and aims to be a pro. Since Rei became a shōgi pro in middle school, Yūsuke greatly looks up to him. His father and grandfather are both fans of Rei. He is very straightforward and encourages Hinata during the time she was being bullied. In order to realize his dream to become a professional, he moves to a high school in Shikoku seeking to participate in the kōshien baseball tournament, much to Hinata's sadness.
The grandfather of the three Kawamoto sisters. He runs a traditional wagashi shop, Mikazuki-dō (Crescent Moon). Even though he gives off an impression of a grumpy old man, he actually dotes on his grandchildren a lot, in particular Momo, and aims to live long enough to send them away for their marriages. He is incredibly passionate about being the sole male protector of the family.
A teacher of the high school where Rei decided to join. He is a big fan of shōji and regularly reads shōgi magazines. He is the only one in the high school who had heard of Rei being a professional shōgi player though when he first knew of him joining, he presumed he only had the same surname. He speaks in a very friendly manner with Rei and is often concerned with his wellbeing, always thinking of ways to help him socialize with others. He later develops feelings for Akari.
The aunt of the three Kawamoto sisters. She, helped by Akari, manages a bar in Ginza called "Misaki". She has a strong and confident personality and employs Akari to work at her bar so she can at least spend one night a week to dress up so she doesn't lose herself to a state of only being a mother to her younger sisters. She encourages Rei to bring his fellow shogi players to the bar so she can make money off of them.
President of the Burners club (as in Bunsen burner), a chemistry club in the school Rei goes to. Because he has a mustache, everyone assumes he is Rei's teacher.
The father of the three Kawamoto sisters. He left them and their mother when Momo was still a baby to live with another woman and returns several years later, after a long time without contacting them once. Once Misaki warns Rei about him, Rei makes his own investigation about Seijirō and discovers that he kept leading an irresponsible life, involving himself with other women and abandoning them on his own whim, just like he did with Akari, Hinata and Momo's mother. After Rei exposes Seijirō, the sisters reject his plea to raise their half-sister, daughter of one of his other women, and he leaves with her to never return.
The three cats of the Kawamoto household. The first two cats, the tuxedo (black and white) and calico (black, white and orange) cats, were the first two gathered, while the white cat is a new arrival. Their names are Kuro-chan, Mike-chan, and Shiro-chan, respectively. They are big-eyed and always apparently hungry. The fourth cat looks strikingly like an owl.
An anime television series adaptation was announced in the Young Animal magazine's 19th issue of 2015 on September 25, 2015. The 22-episode series is produced by Shaft and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo and Kenjirō Okada, featuring character designs by Nobuhiro Sugiyama and music composed by Yukari Hashimoto. The anime's first opening and ending theme songs are performed by Bump of Chicken, titled "Answer" and "Fighter", respectively.Yuki performed the series' second opening theme song, titled "Goodbye Bystander", while Kenshi Yonezu performed the series' second ending theme song, titled "Orion".
Season one of the anime began airing on October 8, 2016 on NHK G and finished airing on March 18, 2017 with a total of 22 episodes. The series has been licensed by Aniplex of America and Anime Limited for North America and the United Kingdom, respectively.Crunchyroll simulcasted the series in their Fall 2016 line-up. A second season, announced at the end of the first season's final episode, premiered on October 14, 2017 and finished airing on March 31, 2018 with a total of 22 episodes. Crunchyroll streamed the second season.