Mars Red Episode 13 – The Curtain Falls on Our Historical Vampires

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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.

Irina 2020

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. 

Maeda does not take script advice - Mars Red

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.


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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.

Maeda and Misaki - Image from Mars Red

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. 

Misakir and Maeda - Mars Red

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.

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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!

Kurusu and Aoi - not necessarily getting a happily ever after. Image from Mars Red.

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?

Was it the sword or the sun that killed him? Image from Mars Red.

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!

Kurusu agrees - watch.
Image from Mars Red.

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

Irina 2020

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5 thoughts on “Mars Red Episode 13 – The Curtain Falls on Our Historical Vampires

  1. I was thinking it was a specific beam of light sent by heaven to specifically shine on Maeda.

    While I though the premise was interesting and the protagonists were interesting the plot was really confused. The first villain was not competent and the one who replaced him was not much better. Too many scenes where “Why don’t you just…?” popped into my head.

    The quake was entirely unnecessary and Deffrot saving Maeda by making him a vampire made no sense to me.

    Despite all this, I enjoyed enough to finish it and not wonder if I’d wasted my time.

  2. I never expected Kurusu and Aoi to stay together. They were destined for an Altair/Vega ending ever since I knew they were a couple when Kurusu was still a human. That’s just the way these stories go. (I often say this and then am wrong, but not here.)

    For me, this show was the biggest riser of the season. I liked the first episode in a rather detached way. It was very pretty and stylish. I loved the music. But I couldn’t really connect to any characters, and the story felt… nothing special. It was an excellently made episode, but a so-so story, albeit with potential. I don’t remember how long it took for the potential to show itself clearly enough to get me excited, but I pretty much enjoyed the show more and more after each episode, as the characters grew on me, and the style wasn’t actually just style but the thematic backbone of the plot. (The show ended with Defrott quoting Shakespears “All the World’s a Stage”, and basically said that a vampire’s place is in the audience. That’s some awesome meta right there, and it worked beautifully for me. Also, Defrott was one awesome performance from the usually already awesome Miyuki Sawashiro. I’m in the audience applauding like a fanboy.)

    I didn’t find the show any less engaging during the middle; for me the show just got better. I won’t call the show perfect, but whatever flaws there were didn’t matter much to me.

    Finally, as coincidence would have it I came to read this after watching the premiere of the new season’s vampire show, and let me tell you: Vanitas no Carte is a blast: half melodrama, half comedy, and all style.

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