Hi Irina, here we are with Mars Red episode 11 and while I liked the episode overall as I’m thinking back on it I kind of realised not a lot happened. So I’m kind of struggling to figure out how I want to approach this episode.
But they flew!!! It was, as we both guessed more of an action oriented episode than a plot driven one. The action was sort of ridiculous though, in a gleeful way, so I’m pretty happy with it. This said, if they end up going for a tragic ending, I may just retract all of that. I want a happy ending for Mars Red.
I think my biggest disappointment with this episode came from Maeda’s very brief appearance. It was like we were poised for a confrontation between Defrott and Rufus at the end of episode 10 and then Maeda’s shown up only to have a brief and somewhat disjointed fight with Defrott before just kind of leaving the scene. And I get the whole part where he saw Aoi as Misaki but honestly the whole scene just didn’t feel like it served any purpose because once Maeda left, other than Aoi now bleeding to death, nothing much had changed.
And why did Rufus just kind of leave Defrott? Rufus’ character probably makes the least sense out of anyone in Mars Red.
I completely agree, although I understand it’s setup. I’m thinking we’ll get Maeda’s actual development next week. Still, there was something hollow in showing us such an ultimately inconsequential encounter after all the build up we’ve had to Meada’s return.
However, I liked the fight scene. More specifically, I liked the animation of it. It’s the first time this specific animation style has been used in the entire series and I hope they don’t use it again in the last episode. Having it isolated to this singular fight would be perfect. It was similar to the other blinking vampire fights we have seen but there was more lingering on the actual movements and the shadow and dust effects of the impacts were really nice. It gave the action more depth than anything in Mars Red so far.
In line with the stage play feel, I found that the visuals often gave a certain paper puppet quality to the action scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I like that and I think it’s very fitting. And I think having just one encounter that breaks the mould a little, makes it more interesting on a production level.
Alternatively, because Aoi and Defrott got to spend some time just kind of chilling while waiting for the sun to hit the wrong angle and the clouds to clear and then Defrott go up in a puff of blue flame and smoke, we did get to see Defrott contemplate his life and potential death. I actually really kind of like the relationship that has sprung up between the two even if I’m not entirely sure when Aoi became Defrott’s friend – that felt like it just kind of happened.
Then we find out Rufus has taken out the boring military guys who’ve done nothing but sit around the table discussing budgets and the like for the whole season and he is now taking over Nakajima’s unit. But he makes a valid point when confronting Nakajima in that the vampire units have never been his. Realistically, while Nakajima may have concocted the plan he can’t make the vampires, can’t control them, and at the end of the day was entirely dependent upon Rufus.
It makes you really wonder how such a seasoned military mind could make such an obvious mistake because quite clearly Rufus was never to be trusted. Then again, Nakajima hasn’t really been shown to be a rational decision maker even from the beginning.
Nakajima makes no sense. I’m sort of fine with Rufus having muddled motivations or even unknowable motivations. Rufus is an ancient vampire. His priorities and preoccupations are no longer human. I’m willing to accept that I can’t understand them and that the narrative feels no pressure to pander to my lowly human needs by explaining them.
But Nakajima was our foreground antagonist. He’s framed as the very recognizable twisted ideologue archetype and I thought was supposed to represent either ambition or even morality gone wrong. He’s the human element that has become monstrous to contrast with the comparatively noble vampire main characters.
But all of this gets a little lost when I’m spending most of my time trying to figure out what the heck Nakajima is even trying to accomplish. What exactly was the plan in the first place? Is he insane? Was he insane to begin with? That changes the story. All along Mars Red was an open call for more mental health resources and theatre programs in schools…
Of course, we also have the part of the episode I liked the most. Kurusu and the others are still working on the kite among other things. We do get some backstory on Tenmaya, though I’m not entirely sure if that added anything. But what we also get is Defrott calling out to Kurusu and Kurusu donning the ridiculous outfit and launching himself into the sky like a steam-punk version of Batman.
It was hilarious and kind of perfect all at once. Hilarious visually. Perfect because it was Kurusu all over.
And are you also hoping that maybe Kurusu and Aoi actually get reunited when she isn’t unconscious and bleeding out before the end of this? I’m pretty sure it will be a bitter-sweet and tragic reunion (because so far that is what Mars Red has done) but I’m really wanting to see it anyway.
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If they kill Kurusu off in the next episode, I am going to have a fit. I’m warning everyone right now, it will not be graceful. I also want Defrott to be o.k. Look, at this point the entire Nakajima, Vampire Corps storyline (which is kind of the main plot for most of the series) is a bit of a wash for me. So I say, throw all that internal narrative integrity to the wind and give me a Disney ending.
I’m with you in having a fit if Kurusu dies. I suspect we’re heading that way but I’d be really, really upset and I think throwing a fit would be the perfect response.
Kurusu and Aoi reunite. Maeda comes back to his senses and discovers a renewed sense of purpose in helping out the fledgling new vampire community. Suwa and that vampire girl get together. Defrott makes it back and decides his solace will be in teaching the vampire kids the joys of acting so they can feel the same relief he did. In time Takeuchi finds a cure for vampirism and they all live happily ever after. And somehow all the humans also survived all this time.
So yeah, I don’t feel like event-wise a lot happened and yet we saw Nakajima essentially get swept off the table and the rest of the military higher ups, leaving really only Rufus as our main protagonist. Defrott may or may not be over. Maeda’s kind of a wild-card because who knows what his agenda is at this point. Meanwhile, Kurusu is now flying during the daytime even if he does look a bit on the smokey side.
Want to make any wild predictions for next week?
Oops, I jumped the gun in my fevered enthusiasm for Disney endings.
Ok, let’s try to be marginally more reasonable. The Kurusu with bat wings imagery is sort of a nice steampunk reimagining of the vampire lore and places him as a pivotal figure. So I do think that Kurusu will come out victorious. This may just be wishful thinking on my part but I’m going with it. They might also take him out of the action all together but I don’t think so.
If Kurusu finds out what happened to Aoi, as he has been treating Meada as something of a father figure, it’s a pretty good setup for a final tragic confrontation. Maeda might come to his senses but realize it’s too late and he’s lost too much to adapt to the Brave New World and go out in a blaze of glory.
And I’m thinking we won’t get a clear confirmation of what happened to Defrott but some tongue in cheek insinuation that he got away and is still out there somewhere.
This said, I prefer my first set of predictions!
Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi