Hello one and all. Have you been following Mars Red? I’m hearing nothing but praise for it from our fellow bloggers, but the ratings are rather less impressive for the time being. My theory is that it’s a bit too odd for the general public. I could be wrong, after all everyone says they like odd. What do you think, Karandi?
Well it isn’t super-powered teens pommeling each other and so far we have no declarations of defeating evil, finding love, or overcoming obstacles through the power-of-friendship so it kind of makes sense it isn’t a ratings winner. That said, it is also a slower narrative with a relatively dreary colour palette and limited action. There’s a real attention to detail but it isn’t exactly aiming to be crowd pleasing.
Incidentally, this week I’ll be bold and red and Irina will be in blue.
This week we had a bit more in way of establishing the characters and building the universe up.
Personally, I quite love the strange juxtaposition of having a super strong vampire who also happens to be a rather meek good-natured guy. We don’t see the meek good natured character archetype much in fiction in general. In many ways, they don’t make for the most memorable character type. But when you contrast that with the supernatural nature, there’s potential for something really special there.
What I’m saying is that having Kurusu glumly declare that he just can’t seem to fall asleep while sitting up in his coffin in what seems like a catacomb was just a fantastic scene. And without score or exaggerated production to punch up the joke, it made it even more surreal and fun!
So far Kurusu is my favourite character here. The other vampire characters have all talked up his strength as a vampire but as you said, he’s just a meek kind of guy and also a kind of sweet character. That said, he isn’t a complete doormat apologising for every little thing. Too many characters similar to him would go so far the other way that they really ceased to feel like a real character.
I wondered where they were going when we first saw the coffin and I like the understated way they left his line without any further emphasis. They leave it to the audience to think about the absurdity of a vampire unable to sleep during the day in his coffin. I imagine it would be incredibly boring having to stay in a light proof box while being unable to sleep. At least when I can’t sleep I can get up and go do something.
I am getting to really like Kurusu. And humanizing the rest of the vampire squad is a good move as well. Especially Yamagami. I found the scenes with his wife genuinely touching. Even Takeuchi’s crazy infection story was fun. Even at this early stage, I’m getting distinct personalities from each of them that are informed and consistent with their backgrounds and experiences. Good job on the character establishment there!
Takeuchi is just good fun in general. I think if he was the protagonist of a story on his own he’d be hard to take but with the vampire squad the strength is definitely in the ensemble. Each character contributes something to the balance and it definitely works and leaves me wanting to see more interactions between these guys.
As for the world building, they seem to be hinting at a large scale political/military intrigue. In a way, it reminded me of the larger scale story in Fullmetal Alchemist. I did like it there and generally enjoy these types of stories but I do wonder what they will be able to build in only 13 episodes.
Especially when they are laying down groundwork for so many other things. The personal stories of each of the members. Maeda’s seemingly failing health. The journalist that keeps popping up and I’m guessing is setting up a potential leak to the public. The mysterious Suwa and of course evil little prince vampire.
Unless they drop most of those threads, I really don’t see how everything will get tied up in one season. And when you consider that one of the most attractive aspects of Mars Red is the unrushed and uncompromised pace.
I kind of hope that they don’t get too ambitious in the single season and even though we’re getting some rich world building they find a central problem to really narrow in on for the plot. Otherwise, as you said, we’re never going to get anything resembling a satisfying conclusion. There’s just too much going on here.
On the other hand, I really didn’t enjoy the political/military meeting here. Part of that was because I got distracted by that one guy’s moustache… what was that thing?… and the other part was because I get that they were helping us to emphasise with Maeda’s frustrations but it did seem to drag on a little too long (and that’s the first time in three episodes I felt Mars Red wasn’t being deliberate but dragging).
Oh and speaking of attractive, Karadi have you had a chance to see the manga versions of these characters yet? Not asking for any particular reason or anything…
I hadn’t even looked until you said that and then of course I had to google it. Well worth the time spent. I have loved some of the attention to detail in the anime but the characters and backgrounds in the manga images that come up when searching are fantastic.
Overall, I’m still very excited for this anime going forward and to be honest, I think it is my favourite of the shows I’m watching at the moment, but this episode has definitely made some the potential issues going forward more apparent. There was a lot of talk this episode that ultimately didn’t dive toward something within the episode and the pace felt off at times. Also, a lot of the longer shots of the characters had a distinct lack of finesse in the art.
That said, this deserves more than its current MAL score.
Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi
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