Mars Red Series Review – Historical Vampires and Admirable Theatrical Performances

Mars Red Series Review

Vampires in the military set in historical Japan? I am so there. That was about the full amount of thought I put into Mars Red before agreeing to review the anime with Irina during the spring 2021 anime season. Not that further reading of the premise and the like would have done me any good (much like the one trailer I watched didn’t really help) in terms of figuring out what to expect from Mars Red.

Largely, that is because both the premise and the promotional video, plus the action tag this one has on MAL set Mars Red up to be a very different anime to the one that is ultimately presented. And while I actually quite enjoyed most of what was on offer, I feel that the low scores this anime has received may very well be in part because the wrong audience thought this anime was for them.

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Maeda taking a rest - just not a permanent one. 
Image from Mars Red.

Mars Red is a slow burn.

Rather than a thrilling action piece of vampire against vampire, what we get in Mars Red is by and large a slow story told in a suitably dramatic fashion where we follow Colonel Maeda and the four vampires in the unit under his command as they investigate and then stop other vampire attacks. That’s at least before various military conspiracies, natural disasters, and a terrible antagonist muddy the waters in the weaker second half.

Episode one largely involves only Colonel Maeda attempting to interview a newly made vampire. It has a narrow focus and is full of dialogue and lines from a play that the vampire had been performing prior to her ‘death’. There’s a focus on emotional nuance and the audience is aware there is more to this relationship than is being let on but it won’t be until mid-way through the anime’s run that we’ll be let in on the details.


Honestly, the whole premise is actually a pretty reasonable consideration of vampires living in any kind of society and how they would fit in, or not, into the modernising world. Compared to so many fantastical stories of vampires living as they pleased or conquering the modern world the frail and brief lives of so many of the vampires in this story has a real credibility and the lore remains fascinating throughout the run time.

Misaki moves against Maeda- Image from Mars Red

While some viewers may have been put off by the slow and deliberate pacing and calculated direction of the earlier episodes, this consistency of them and coherence of the story during the first half were a real draw for me. I loved the atmosphere created and while it wasn’t exciting or action packed, Mars Red was compelling viewing.

Then we passed the half-way point and unfortunately the anime began to suffer from bloat.

It isn’t so much that anything in particular in Mars Red is bad so much as there seem to be a range of ideas and characters that appear and eat up screen time but don’t contribute enough to warrant it. The story was more engaging when it kept its smaller and tighter focus on the four main vampires and Maeda and their interactions. The larger scale conflicts that are crafted later aren’t anywhere near as nuanced or interesting and don’t make very much sense when you actually think them through.

Glen you are a terrible villain - Image from Mars Red

Part of me wonders if Mars Red would have been a better anime if allowed to only be 8 episodes long instead of pushing it to 13? If we cut out Rufus Glen and his ‘plot’, such as it was, and limited Defrott’s appearances to simply being the vampire who lives quietly in the theatre, we’d actually get a far more cohesive story and very little about the final episode would change at all.

If we then trimmed the amount of time spent on Nakajima and his idiotic scheme we’d have a far more enjoyable narrative. Honestly, Nakajima’s scenes were all more or less the same with him complaining about the decisions of the military, demanding money for ‘his’ vampire units, or making dire predictions. We could halve his screen time without losing a single thing and realistically those scenes were the low point of any episode.

That said, we can’t get rid of Nakajima (if we just cut out Glen) because we do need an antagonist to let loose the vampire units in order for Code Zero (the vampire unit under Maeda) to have someone to overcome.

Yes Nakajima, I just said you were unnecessary and dead weight - Image from Mars Red.

However, I am supposed to be reviewing Mars Red and not rewriting it. I guess the reason I’m trying to is that there are so many good things about Mars Red but the package as a whole is decidedly average when you sit back and really look at it. Even as a fan-girl of vampire fiction who did enjoy watching this, I can’t say the overall anime really nailed it.

The animation itself is actually pretty stagnant. There’s a lot of slow conversations and looking at scenery or characters who have minimal movement. The action sequences are largely visually disappointing though they do work to make these emotional high points at least.

There are one or two fight sequences closer to the conclusion that feel like they had more time put into them but by then anyone watching Mars Red for action would have already checked out. It’s too little, too late and those scenes still don’t hold a candle to the true animation heavy weights in the action field.

Suwa prepares for battle - image from Mars Red.

Where Mars Red will find itself able to hold its ground is in the main characters.

While Maeda’s character arc ends up being a little disappointing, as the stern leader of the vampire units he’s an intriguing character. His backstory is fleshed out in small pieces throughout the anime but it isn’t until the final episode where all the gaps will finally come together. As a central character he serves his purpose well and his actions shape the characters around him.

Particularly Shuutarou Kurusu. Kurusu is introduced as a young but powerful vampire who is still kind of coming to terms with being a vampire in the beginning of the story. He doesn’t like the smell of blood and hasn’t drunk any and can’t get used to sleeping during the day. We know little about his human life early on, but like Maeda, his backstory will slowly get filled in and Kurusu ends up being a pretty awesome character throughout.

Kurusu tries out the newest device - Mars Red

His growing relationship with his comrades is kind of a pillar for Mars Red and by and large the audience is drawn to reflect Kurusu’s emotions within particular scenes.

Likewise, Yamaguchi who at first seems like a painful but necessary character in the unit becomes someone the audience can attach to and his role is essential for the emotional pay-off of the story.

The remaining two members of Code Zero, Takeuchi and Suwa, are older vampires, particularly Suwa, and so their way of viewing the world and situations is more removed. Still, the group of four vampires and Maeda prove to be engaging and more of just seeing the unit at work would have been appreciated.

The unit prepare to act - Mars Red

Still, this is an anime that revels in dialogue and often quotes passages from literary works and theatrical plays. If you go in expecting a fast paced action story similar to Sirius The Jaeger that relies on its action sequences to hold the characters and plot together, you’ll be disappointed. Mars Red is more akin to Shiki in that it is slow and methodical in its set-up and has a conclusion that feels a little disjointed from the rest of the story.

Though, both comparisons are flawed because Mars Red is quite a unique viewing experience and feels very much like its own viewing experience. While it hasn’t quite pulled off everything it seems to have set out to do, I will admit I was pretty happy having watched it weekly during the spring anime season. So if you want a slow burn anime about historical vampires in the military, Mars Red might very well be worth trying.

If you did watch it, I’d love to know your thoughts so share a comment below.

Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021

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Karandi James

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

Mars Red Episode 13 Review
Karandi Great Idea Transparent

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.

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.


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

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Mars Red Episode 12 – From Glen to Glen

Mars Red ep12

Hello Everyone, I hope you’re all doing great! K, I hope you’re good as well!  You know, for a second there I thought this was the last episode and they were just going to finish it like that. And I didn’t hate it. I’m glad we’re going to see the resolution but I think it…

Mars Red Episode 12 – From Glen to Glen

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Karandi James

Mars Red Episode 11 – The Amazing Flying Kurusu

Mars Red Episode 11
Karandi Excited full body Transparent edited

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.

Irina 2020 3

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. 

Kurusu breaks through the glass ceiling (wait that isn't how that is supposed to work).
Image from Mars Red.
Kurusu comes to the rescue.

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.

Maeda fights Defrott.
Image from Mars Red.
Prepare for the fight scene.

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.

Defrott and Aoi get some down time- kind of.
Image from Mars Red.
Let’s just sit here and wait to drown, or burn, or bleed to death.

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. 

Rufus letting Nakajima in on a secret (he isn't in charge).
Image from Mars Red.
Yep, Rufus wins this round.

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. 

Kurusu preparing to fly.
Image from Mars Red.
Did someone call for steampunk Dracula?

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.

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.

Maeda prepares to fight.
Image from Mars Red.
Maeda is not amused.

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.

Kurusu and the other members of code zero.
Image from mars Red.
Also, can all of these team members get a happy ending?

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

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Mars Red Episode 10 – Hope

Mars Red ep10

Check out our full review on Irina’s blog.

Hello all, hi Karandi. I read on Twitter that you were a little too sick to post over the weekend, I hope you’re doing better. Your health is the most important.  Also hope it didn’t make all the anime you watched seem more sucky because you were feeling under the weather. You were already pretty […]

Mars Red Episode 10 – Hope

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Irina 2020

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Mars Red Episode 9 Review

Mars Red Episode 9
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Is it just me or is Mars Red kind of trying to stretch things out now? While it has always had a deliberate, some might say languid, pace the current plot developments really feel like they’ve been stalled. Maybe it is a case of Mars Red wanting to turn what might be ten episodes of material into thirteen. Maybe they just can’t figure out pacing. Or maybe I’m just less interested in the story now that the cards are all on the table. I’m not so sure. 

Anyway, how are you Irina?

Irina 20202

My week was fine. I’m trying to make sure I remember the episode correctly as it seemed well-paced to me. It’s the rising action of the final act right after the inciting element. In one episode we got most of the characters back together, established the current situation in a lot of detail and set it up for a final confrontation leaving Meada as a wild card who could either save the day last minute or turn into an ultimate antagonist.

If they stick to classical narrative structure, which Mars Red largely has so far, I would expect the next episode to concentrate on Defrott’s fate and future. As the oldest vampire of the show and somewhat detached from the direct action, he personifies that side of the story so his fate is going to be crucial to the moral and messaging of the show. I hope they don’t skip it.

Mars Red Ep9 4
Sad Kurusu.

This week we get Kurusu reunited with Suwa and Tackeuchi, which is great fun once they are together, but I’m kind of going to pick at the way they got back together. A rumour sending Kurusu back to base and then the obviously fake recording before a contrived confrontation and all in the space of a single episode just felt like a forced conflict to stretch this out.

If they’d really wanted to build a misunderstanding between the team in Mars Red, and given that angle time and attention, it would have felt still contrived but at least like a meaningful insert into the narrative. Instead, it really does feel like they had this episode to fill and wanted to know how to make very little stretch to twenty minutes. Or am I being harsh?



I thought it was absolutely fine. A little odd but completely in line with everything in the show so far and much less contrived than the first episodes, which I also liked. I also don’t think it was filler. You could argue that about the last episode and the hospital stay or even the investigation at the very beginning but this feels like it’s directly relevant to the main plot and also developing the character arcs. I can see someone not liking it, I’m actually pretty surprised people liked Mars Red at all to be honest, but personally I didn’t find this particular episode irrelevant.

Mars Red Ep9 5
It was a cool effect when he jumped out of his coat though.

And then we have Defrot who has previously been enigmatic and then turned out to be kind of a nice kind of kid (for what I assume is an ancient vampire). Now he’s just kind of holed up in a room and seems defeated but I’m kind of lost as to what caused this character transition. I feel like I missed something.

Well, we missed what happened with Meada. I figure that’s the point of the series. Maeda’s journey. Defrott represents the past and regret, Kurusu represents the future and potential and Maeda represents humanity and now he’s at a crossroads. Whatever happened with Defrott might have been pivotal. I think we’ll find out next week. I could be wrong.

We do get to see Nakajima going back to the military and he’s pointing out how great his vampire units have been before asking them if they are now going to fund him. It makes me wonder just how much his grip on reality has slipped. He can see the crisis they are currently in but nothing else seems to matter to him except his tunnel vision for making this vampire army.

When they turn him down, and actually suggest using his units as engineers to help with the rebuilding, you can see his frustration (despite that actually being a pretty good suggestion) and ultimately I think Nakajima is about to do something even stupider than he’s currently already acted.

Mars Red Ep9 8
Intense old man is intense.

To me Nakajima has always been the weak point of the story and I honestly think he’s unnecessary. They could simply have had unknown government forces develop the vampire units in their back using the research and data the team provided and it would have been the exact same but without the shaky motivations. 

For my money, they could have all been developing the units together and something went terribly wrong. But that brings in a whole new thematic that would have changed the story on a more fundamental level.

About the only mystery left in Mars Red is what Glen’s motive is. Or is he just the kind of vampire that likes to cause chaos for the sake of it? He’s the only character left with any kind of ambiguity about him and he’s clearly still got plots afloat that we don’t really know about.  Though this episode did tease the return of Maeda and it will be curious to see how he’s changed since his transformation.

For me, Mars Red kind of peaked mid-season and while it isn’t bad right now, it is decidedly less engaging than it was. Curious to see if the end can pick up.

Mars Red Ep9 7
Your goal? What is it?

As usual we have opposite opinions. For me the mid-season was a low. As soon as they started building Nakajima as the antagonist I was dubious and I still think it’s the worst part of Mars Red. 

Right now, I do like seeing how Kurusu is force to confront et reevaluate his own morals as they clash with Suwa’s pragmatism born out of decades of extra experience, Takeuchi’s joyful nihilism and what I expect to be Meada’s wrath and grief. I enjoy character driven stories so this works for me regardless of the actual events.

Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021

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Irina 2020

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Mars Red Episode 8 – Lost and Found

Mars Red 8 header

Welcome back to our Mars Red review. I have to admit, it took me a minute to get my bearings on this episode but once I was all caught up, it worked out well. But before we jump into it, how are you this week Karandi? Busy as usual but otherwise fine. All things considered…

Mars Red Episode 8 – Lost and Found

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Karandi James

Mars Red Episode 7 Review

Mars Red Ep7
Irina 2020

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?

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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.

Mars Red Ep7 3

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 - Misaki and Defrott

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. 

Mars Red Ep7 8

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!

Mars Red Ep7 7

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?

Mars Red Ep7 2

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

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Mars Red Episode 6 – Noble Sacrifice

Irinas Episode reveiews Mars Red 6

I am really enjoying Mars Red so far. To catch up with mine and Irina’s thoughts on the show check out the full post on Irina’s blog.

I’m sort of in survival mode right now which is fitting with a show like Mars Red. I know everyone is quite busy at this time of year but it seems like everything is just happening at once. Can’t wait until fall! How about you, Karandi? Things have sort of been more settled for me…

Mars Red Episode 6 – Noble Sacrifice

Mars Red Episode 5 Review

Mars Episode 5 Review
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Hey Irina, you know how we both said the political stuff was a little less interesting compared to the vampire unit last week… I think I’m changing my mind after episode 5. I was not expecting obsessive grey-haired guy to go this far off the rails this early in the series but I kind of like it. Certainly I’m now wondering just how far things will go wrong from this point forward and what Maeda’s plan is going to be to somehow fix this (I’m assuming Maeda is going to try). Anyway, I quite enjoyed the turn of events here, but how did you find the episode?

Irina 2020

I also like the coup! I still think those budget meetings leading up to it could have been a bit more exciting but I appreciate the foreshadowing. This said, I’m a bit fuzzy on the details. I understand that the Colonel wanted to have a national vampire force and had been working towards it and sinking resources in it for years and now that the government wants to shut down the program he sort of snapped. Or simply forcefully disagreed. 

And I get that the government thinks that hiring a foreign vampire force would just be way more effective. 

Mars Red Nakajima
Yep, he snapped.

But why did grey haired guy want to create the force in the first place? On a whim? Is he a passionate patriot that thinks a national force is the only way to ensure the future? Is he making a private army? Should I be happy, sad or scared by this turn of events? And why did the government think a foreign force would be better. Has grey been hiding his results. Is a foreign force better and they’re about to get whipped out?

See, fuzzy. 

I do think fuzzy works for this show though so it’s not a bad thing but it just makes me not quite sure how to interpret events.  

“Simply forcefully disagreed” – this may be my new favourite description.


I kind of liked that this week we introduced this group of haughty vampires who come across as potentially being the next big bad and then within the same episode more or less discard them with their demise coming from underhanded methods and their actual deaths occurring off-screen. While it might have been fun to see what those two female vampires would have gotten up to if they’d been set loose on the town, I think ultimately it was good that the focus remains on the characters we’ve already met going forward. It could have gotten very messy otherwise.

Mars Ep5 9
These two could have been fun, but I guess we’ll never know.

The blonde haired vampires is turning out to be some sort of major antagonist. I’m intrigued (more on that in a bit).

Mars Red struggles with its villains.

Though speaking of characters and screen-time, Maeda was a little scarce this week. Admittedly he was in hospital and then apparently ‘went missing’. I’m very curious as to what his intentions are going forward. He seemed to be onboard with the grey-haired guy’s plan prior to this episode but it definitely seems now like he had his own agenda in coming into the unit. So I’m not sure what his goal is now but I guess we’ll find out soon.

Thinking about Maeda though, the one scene that did seem a little out of place this week was his visiting the play-house and accusing the boy of being a vampire. I kind of already thought he knew that so it was a bit of a surprise to me. More than that, then that scene didn’t really seem to go anywhere. It just kind of cut away and I’m not sure what the point was. Any ideas?

Mars Ep5 6
Maeda is not impressed with you, reporter girl.

Before I get into the plot, I watch Mars Red of Funimation. That’s where it airs here. And this week, there was no Japanese track for some reason. Setting the language to Japanese as I normally do still had only the English voice overs and oh boy. I think most of the cast is decent. I slightly prefer the JP cast but they do a good job in English. 

However, you were not kidding about that reporter girl. I could hardly pay any attention to what was going on the entire hospital scene. Why is she a valley girl from the 90s? What’s going on??? Who’s choice was this? It’s so out of place it’s almost surreal! 


And then blonde baddie has an accent. What type of accent? I dunno. Brita-germ-italian maybe? It really sounds like one of your school buddies putting on a fake accent at a party for laughs. 

I’m sorry, it sounds mean. They are probably talented and lovely actors but the choices being made here are just baffling! I’m not sure if it’s the director or the actors but I’m perplexed.

Was Maeda in love with that first vampire lady? And if so did he know her before or was he just touched by her tragic plight and beauty? As for the playhouse, I wouldn’t go so far as to call the scene out of place. It seemed to be a scene that stems from a series of events we have not seen but I kind of liked it.

Mars Ep5 8
I’m sure this guy has some answers but he isn’t sharing.

I continue to really like the look of this show. Yes, it is very dark and the animation isn’t that impressive but it is consistent and the visuals really suit the tone of the story being told. I also love the focus on hands again this week with the vampire girl cupping the boy’s face kind of mirroring the gestures of the vampire girl back in episode one.

There’s not much more that I want to say about this episode as it feels very much like a transitional point and I’m not quite sure what we are transitioning too yet. I do know that people who have kept watching Mars Red will be intrigued but it probably won’t be enough to gain back those who bailed early on. Either way, I’m definitely wanting to see what they all get up to next.

Mars Ep5 14
Just realised we didn’t talk about the vampire squad this week… oops.

This episode raised a bunch of questions in a good way. Mars Red is moving along at a good pace and it always leaves me wanting to find out what happens next!

Images from: Mars Red. Dir. S Sadamitsu. Signal.MD. 2021

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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