We are back with the second episode of one of the more unusual offerings this season: Mars Red.
I have a feeling this is the type of show that manages to not be divisive by showing all its cards. Anyone who wasn’t on board with the stilted rhythm and muted storytelling was going to drop Mars Red at episode 1 so now, it’s just the folks who really are curious to see where it goes.
But before we get to that, let’s talk OP. I think we didn’t have one last week. At least I didn’t remember it. It was a lot cheerier and up-tempo than I expected, with colourful imagery to boot. But there was something in the rhythm and certain parts of the melody that recalled classical eastern music. I thought it was a nice and unique-sounding combo that fit the show quite well.
I agree that this anime showed us exactly what sort of tone and style it was going for in episode one and people are either loving it, intrigued by it, or they already dropped Mars Red. That said, I’m pretty much loving it.
And I’m with you on the OP. I’d heard the song I think in one of the promotional videos but I actually watched the OP twice when I went to watch this episode. There’s a lot going on with it in terms of the haunting tone but it is still kind of upbeat and hopeful. Visually it reinforces a lot of the symbolism we’ve already seen in the anime with clocks, flowers, and the sun rising/setting. It works well and adds to the overall experience of the episode.
I described the first episode as theatrical. It was very slow-paced and somewhat vague but also extremely deliberate and precise in its delivery. I would say some of that remains in episode 2 but it’s getting progressively more cinematic. This episode was faster-paced and emphasized action much more. It also offered up a lot of exposition, which I’m not necessarily a fan of but I have to admit it did bring the plot into a much clearer perspective. And overall it was funnier and more animated.
What do you make of the evolving tone?
I kind of felt that the deliberate and precise delivery continued even into this episode. Certainly, it felt a little faster paced, but I think the emphasis remains on the dialogue between characters and what they say, or don’t say, in particular situations.
While there was more exposition in this episode, most of it kind of fit with the scene rather than feeling like an information dump for the sake of it. About the only part that felt forced was when the creepy science guy (Takeuchi?) shot Yamagami just to make the point to the audience that vampires couldn’t really take damage from bullets. I know technically he was making the point to the other vampire in the room (and I really want more focus on him because I like him) but it felt very much like information plopped in for the audience.
We now got to meet the rest of our ragtag team of vampire cops, complete with a white-haired boy who seems appropriately bloodthirsty to fit his trope. It’s way too early to tell but from this one episode, I really enjoyed their interaction as a group. I think Mars Red has the potential to become a good ensemble piece.
Part of me was a bit worried as we moved away from the human troops to introducing this little band of vampires however with the action this episode it became quite clear that for the story to work the human soldiers were going to be sidelined. And as the episode progressed I also liked the interactions within the group. I don’t much like Yamagami’s character but I don’t think we’re supposed to, and as part of the ensemble he works.
The feeling of watching a stage play did not completely disappear for me either. I think I felt it most in the scene between the reporter lady and Romeo, as well as in the character of the shopkeeper. And I have to say I like the mix of atmospheres. So far, I think it’s working well for the series.
I can’t help but feel when characters are talking with one another that the direction is taken from a stage play. They move to their mark and then they stand their ensuring they aren’t blocking the view to the person they are speaking to. Particularly the scene where Maeda is speaking with Aoi, the reporter girl, and they are standing side by side talking to one another but looking like they are facing an unseen audience.
It adds to the overall tone of Mars Red and visually it is distinct from many other anime but it might also be limiting to what Mars Red can do with its overall visuals if it remains very fixed in stage-craft. Then again, it might be brilliant and only time will tell. I certainly like it so far.
Well, I talked about the OP, so I feel like I have to at least mention the ED. I don’t dislike it in a vacuum but I think it completely clashes with everything else about the show. Now that could be a good thing, it does add a bit of interest but for me, it’s sort of a huge wake-up at the end of each episode. I figure if I was bingeing Mars Red, it would take me out of it.
Yeah, the ED is there. It isn’t awful but it also doesn’t add much for me. I get the feeling that after episode 3 I’ll probably just skip it.
In short, I enjoyed episode 2 just as much as the first and I remain optimistic for the rest of the series.
I’m also really optimistic for Mars Red at this point. I like that vampires here are more tragic than romanticised as this is something I feel has been missing from vampire fiction for awhile. I’m very curious as to what this anime will do with this set up and so far the tone is hitting exactly the right notes for me.
That’s it for us guys. As always, thank you Karandi for your input. Always great to talk things over with you!