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 much over Mars Red last week.
I was a little over it and I reread the post we wrote and realised I must have been coming down sick on Saturday because I was clearly not in a great place. That said, by Wednesday I managed to get back to work and hey Friday I was actually a mostly functional human and am now watching anime again. I have a few episodes to catch up on and posts to write but you know, that’s life when you are an ani-blogger.
I’m not sure if this is good news or not, but I really liked this episode. It was ridiculous and really odd considering the narrative but also joyful. It’s the type of ridiculousness I enjoy. It also felt very much like a stage play once again. I don’t think I got this much of a theater vibe since the first episodes.
I think Aoi did a great job this week in shifting the tone with her efforts to put on a show to cheer people up. It actually shifted the whole story tone from feeling like more of the same to actually being a turning point. Also, it made her character really feel necessary rather than an add on. While the start of this episode felt like we were about to go through more or the same as last week, by the mid-way point we had Aoi working on her pla, Defrott getting on board, and Kurusu and the others were busily progressing plans to move the vampire kids. Everything kind of felt like it was moving again.
Last week, I speculated that this episode would be all about Deffrot and although I was partly right, the was the A plot of the episode, I was also delightfully wrong.
But let’s start with Deffrot. He got rather downtrodden last week seeing the entire world slowly fall into chaos around him. I assume he’s seen more than his share of death but maybe not this much at once. And like every good vampire, he was always depressive.
But you know what, the show must go on and putting on a play was just what he needed to get out of his funk. Keeping in mind that Mars Red is a play to begin with, this is the second or third play within a play that we have gotten and the only one we actually got to see on stage with an audience. I like the metaness of it.
I like that it is meta without trying to be high and mighty about it or smugly self-aware. It feels purposeful and honestly I like this from a narrative point of view as well given the anime started with Salome and this episode the costume returned and the theatre and it seemed to neatly link us back to the beginning just in time for the finale. Now we just have to figure out what is going on with Rufus.
I don’t know what Rufus’ deal is. I don’t even have a conception of his motivation. Like evil vampire is evil or something. They might have told us at some point but I didn’t retain it. To me, it doesn’t really matter. Mars Red is conceptual on many levels and having a cardboard big bad doesn’t ruin it for me. But I would love to hear your thoughts about it.
This said, I still found that final scene quite suspenseful and I’m properly intrigued to find out what happens next.
The final scene is how cliff-hangers should happen. It was something we’ve been expecting and yet at the same time we weren’t really sure when or how. And so they gave us just enough to know that we’re going in that direction without giving away how the game will play out. I wish more cliff-hangers were like that and didn’t just feel like an unfinished sentence.
And yeah, Rufus, much like Nakajima, is a bit of a let down. Sure he might monologue his way into a backstory around being bored with eternal life or wanting to bring down the hierarchy of vampires or whatever but it really hasn’t felt like any real effort has been put into building up any kind of motive that the audience should care about. He’s bad and he’s done things that have caused the characters we like pain – that’s pretty much all I’m getting so far.
As for the B plot, well it was ridiculousness. Even more than putting on a play while the world is burning. Our merry band of doomed souls seem to have gotten their spirits properly raised. And now, they are fishing for treasure, playing around with stink bombs and making giant kites to fly on.
Takeuchi is talking about a possible cure for vampirism in a century or so. Not exactly a cure but something that would take care of a lot of the symptoms and that’s a start. Even Suwa is making friends with small children.
I didn’t expect this in the least. But I liked it. I like happy breaks.
Plot B really did work. All their playing around and various scavenging and crafting have a purpose but the greater purpose seems to be to not just give in to despair. I don’t know if any of them seriously think the kite will fly and while they are planning to move the kids to another location I’m not entirely sure they honestly believe that’s going to go smoothly either. Yet with the kids around they are all confidence and light, except Suwa who is confidence and snarkiness but is still pretty fun. Honestly, this was a great break episode for the group of vampires and I really just enjoyed seeing them interact.
So far, the biggest flaw of Mars Red in my opinion, is that it’s a very uneven narrative. The pacing is a bit off and the exposition leaves something to be desired. Mostly because it’s not sticking to one lane. It goes from slow, mostly allegorical play to detailed action series with contrived explanations then back again and I don’t think the two styles mesh well. Or at least, this series didn’t pull it off in my opinion.
We are back to the slightly nonsensical and off-paced theatrical structure which I happen to prefer so I hope they stick to it but I think they might go high action for the climax.
I’m hoping they don’t go for high action (they probably will). But really, Mars Red is at its best when it sticks to the theatrical and the dramatic allegorical scenes. The exposition and action are adequate in this story but aren’t a strength. I know I was pretty negative last week, and honestly I probably would have been negative about anything I watched last week, but Mars Red is an intriguing anime. And as someone who watches a lot of anime, I’m glad I picked this one up because at the very least it has been enjoyably different even if it hasn’t quite managed to pull off everything it attempted.