I just finished up writing my To Your Eternity post and I figured why not start the outline for Mars Red as well to help out Karandi a bit. I’m glad I wrote one post before getting to this one, my feelings for this week’s Mars Red actually managed to change in that span of time. Weird! Any opening words, K?
Honestly, I’ve had a bad week spent trying to shake off another round of migraines. It took longer than I would like but finally Saturday morning I’ve started to pull back together. Basically, I went into Mars Red having not watched anime in days and feeling half asleep and yet I actually was really drawn into this episode. By the end I was very awake and wanting to do another viewing because I’m certain my addled brain missed some of the finer points.
Originally, I wasn’t crazy about this episode. I liked the execution of it but I also really like the idea of keeping the characters and motivations in Mars Red sort of ambiguous. It gives it a certain charm which I think is in line with the story and structure of the season. That’s why I thought that an episode like this one, that goes back to clearly explain everyone’s relationships and lay down the missing foundations was taking something away from the show.
But now, I’ve changed my mind.
I think there’s still an argument to be made for keeping some of the mystery but there were a lot of elements I enjoyed about the episode. For instance, I liked that Misaki was such a horrible actress the first time she did the monologue and so much better by the end. They put in an improvement the audience can actually see without being told and that’s pretty rare. Especially in acting where a lot of it depends on the beholder.
Mars Red really worked on Misaki’s character.
Misaki had such a fantastic character arc in just one episode. So many characters get an entire season and don’t feel as rounded out or as though they’ve made any progress. I think Mars Red has still kept a lot of its cards hidden but I liked that they’ve given us another piece, firming up the nature of Maeda’s relationship with Misaki and also giving the blonde vampire (Deffrot) more of a presence within the story. I also kind of liked that they’ve attempted to link in reporter girl with the unit a bit more, though that particular plot line didn’t get anywhere near as much attention.
I also like that Deffrot turned out to be such a likeable little guy. I don’t know if Draco Malfoy has forever ruined rich looking little blond boys for me but I was certain he would be the Big Bad by the end. This was unexpected but pleasant.
I also thought that we were setting up the vampires as essentially two camps. Good, sane vampires that protect people and bad evil vampires that hurt people. Having a sympathetic vampire that has his own agenda adds a bit of complexity to it.
We also have a more established timeline. Aoi’s line about the flappers loving it would put the story somewhere around the 1920s which fits. Then again I’m not sure if Japan had any flappers.
I looked it up. They did. They were called Moga apparently short for “Modern Girls” and were a mouvement in Japan right after the first world war, so same era. Nice! Mars Red taught me something. I found some pictures on Wikipedia. They looked cool AF!
The interactions between Deffrot and Misaki were brilliant and made both characters all the more endearing (which given they’d both been kind of enigma’s prior to now was great).
I also appreciated the story being given a little more context and shape rather than just a series of ambiguous events that might be heading somewhere. It feels more certain that this narrative has a clear structure and I’m a little more confident that the conclusion will hopefully stick the landing.
I also really liked the fact that Misaki and Maeda hadn’t ever met in life. First of all I think that falling deeply in love with someone through their letters is super romantic. And actually romantic, unlike a lot of romance tropes. Second, the tragedy of meeting for the first time after her death and his becoming a vampire hunter of sorts, is just the right sort of tragic. Very Salomé!
The theatrical nature of their relationship very much fits with everything else in this story. This whole episode I was struck by how each scene seemed staged and once again everything kind of had its place and the characters seemed like they were performing. Even in the final sequence where Deffrot appears before Maeda. It all comes across as being very much a theatrical performance which continues to give this one a bit of a different feel to other anime.
There is however one thing I really did not like this week and I doubt any amount of time will change that. The music. Especially in the last act. When all the tragedies happen the music swells into this overbearing dramatic dirge that drowned out most scenes. It really ruined it for me.
I’ll be honest, I had the sound turned way down this week because of my head so the music didn’t bother me that much. What I do remember of it seemed to mostly fit with the feeling that this is a stage show and the music swelling for a climax makes sense in that instance. Then again, I do plan to watch this episode again later so maybe I’ll notice it more.
In general though, another pretty good episode. Any final thoughts?
Honestly, I kind of feel bad that the others in the vampire unit seemed to try so hard to convince Maeda to remain human last week, and we had that gloriously dramatic ‘sacrifice’ occur but then this week we see right from the start that Maeda’s still likely to die in the rubble and then at the end Deffrot appears and it seems inevitable what will happen next. It almost makes episode 6, which was so well done, feel like it didn’t matter in the end. Then again, maybe given the number of tragic literary works they’ve referenced, it was inevitable that such a sacrifice would have proven futile.
Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi
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