Hi Irina. We’ve finally reached the end of the season and I’m a little sad about it. As much as Mars Red has its rough edges and flaws it has been an interesting watch each week and I’ve always looked forward to the next episode even if the last one wasn’t amazing. Plus I’ve enjoyed covering it with you because you bring a different perspective to each episode. Alas, it is now complete.
I’m one of those people that’s really quick to forgive flaws when an anime gives me a little something to hold on to and I’ve been enjoying Mars Red for a while now. It definitely had a low point in the middle there but we’ve all had bad days, right?
I kind of feel the ending may have had more impact if they’d cut about three episodes worth of content out of the mid-season. It does a beautiful job bringing things back to the beginning and yet it feels like we took such a long time to get to here. Definitely feel this is an anime that would have benefited from being maybe 8 episodes long because then it would have felt like a tighter narrative. Then again, I’m also impatient and I know it.
Actually, considering that a lot of the midseason dragged as far as I’m concerned and also had plot points that didn’t go anywhere, I have to agree. Mars Red is the type of series that doesn’t need to tie up everything or go into detailed explanations. In fact I think it benefits from being a little aloof and up for interpretation. An 8 or 10 episode season instead of 13 would have tightened up the narrative and focused it a bit. And they probably would have ended up cutting a lot of the elements that annoyed us…or at least me.
Good script doctoring, K!
Irina and Karandi fix Mars Red… Maybe not. It isn’t exactly broken.
Affiliate Link – PlayAsia
On the bright side, we finally got to see Maeda’s story. It’s taken a long time to get there though I couldn’t help but feel like some of it didn’t fit with what we had seen earlier. For instance he was commanding the vampire unit before Kurusu and Yamaguchi arrived and that wasn’t how I remembered it (though my memory could be faulty). There were a few other bits and pieces that didn’t quite click with what I thought I remembered so I’m wondering if it will make sense on rewatch or if they were actually retconning his past.
That said, I did like that we saw his interactions (at least in his head) with Misaki. It really did help Mars Red feel like it had come full circle and added a lot more weight to the end of this fight.
I thought it was an absolutely brilliant way to bookend the story. Flashbacks to events we haven’t seen establishing the main character in the last episode, in the middle of a fight no less. It’s pretty daring as far as narrative structure goes and I was there for it.
Moreover, it was blending memories with obvious fantasies and possible dreams to create this surreal and yet tender sort of sequence. I think I learned more about Maeda from the scenes that were fantasies than from the ones that were memories and I have never liked the guy more. That’s pretty effective storytelling.
In terms of Kurusu, I wasn’t right but I wasn’t wrong. They didn’t kill him off but they more or less kept him apart from Aoi in the end. So a bittersweet conclusion indeed. Interesting to note also he was one of the few characters who didn’t appear in the after-credits sequence where we got to see where most of the vampire characters who survived ended up.
See, K is a realist and I’m a 4 year old. I was going to be all giddy about the fact that I got my Disney ending. OK, so they didn’t manage to save Maeda but he got to rest besides the one he loves. It was cute. As for Kurusu and Aoi…I think they make for a really bad couple. I’m sorry but their personalities just don’t work together for me. I thought them leaving on good terms and both healthy was the super happy ending.
Not to mention that I’m terminally optimistic. So in my head Aoi stays friends with both Kurusu and Deffrot and they visit throughout the years. They make friends with her husband and kid. Maybe they have friends for generations of the family. Meanwhile Kurusu finds satisfaction in the afterlife and helps hundreds along the way. When they find the cure he settles down with his own family. It’s a beautiful afterlife!
Wow, I love how you’ve crafted an entire epilogue out of only a few potential cues in the anime but it does get you the disney ending.
However, before final thoughts, I do want to ask what was going on with the sun in this episode? I mean, Maeda burns up in the sunlight from the sunrise and then Kurusu is standing right where he died but it is in shade before he moves toward the approaching vampire units and now the area is back in sunlight.
Part of me wondered if Maeda didn’t actually see the sunrise but died from the sword being stabbed through his heart and the sunrise was just metaphoric but that whole sequence was just a bit confusing. What did you think, Irina?
I think the movement of the sun was symbolic of the passage of time and the evolution of the characters. That split second of seeing his mentor die lasted hours, maybe weeks for Kurusu. You know how time freezes then speeds up like crazy when you’re going through these really dramatic moments in life?
They definitely didn’t just ignore physics for the sake of moving the plot along and getting a few cinematic shots in.
Alright, final thoughts… Mars Red was an interesting watch. I liked the vampire lore here and the concepts. I liked the theatrical tone and for the most part the methodical pacing. That said, it is an anime that would benefit from another round of edits and to be honest I’m still not entirely convinced that all of the characters served any practical purpose. It really does feel like it over-reached a bit and that the story would have been better if kept a little more streamlined.
I really liked this final episode. I said last episode was my favourite but I was wrong. It’s this one. So it’s tainting my view of the entire series in a positive way. I came out of it thinking, what a fun little show!
If I try to be objective, ⅓ to almost half was a bit of a mess and worse, boring. I wouldn’t blame viewers for abandoning it then, especially if they weren’t that fond of the unique style it was attempting. The pacing was all over the place and it seemed at times like Mars Red couldn’t decide on what it actually wanted to be, changing up the narrative style and mood in a way that did the whole a disservice.
But it did try for something a bit less conventional and when it succeeded it was interesting. I think it had a strong start and a great ending with a lousy middle. Does it make it worth the watch? I’m not sure. It was for me though!
I’m with you. I thought it was worth the watch even with the flaws. But I guess we’ll ask the readers: Your final thoughts?
Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi