Dammit, you’re not Petruchio. Get out of my mecha!
For whatever reason, the kids’ instructor has become a massively sexist pig. He then gets killed off pretty quick by an Admonition. Afterwards, some of the students come across the Reaper in an abandoned hospital. It’s basically a super powerful mecha in this show’s universe. Heito, a new character to the show, tries to pilot the mecha, but he is summarily rejected. It is thus up to Akashi, the main character, to do what only a main character can do: tame the shit out of that mecha.
• The cold opening introduces us to a new character by the name of Isaku Heito. He’s pretty generic-looking; he’s completely pale — even his hair is white — so it’s very likely that he’s a bad person. That’s just how it is. Blondes are tsunderekkos, white-haired freaks tend to be evil, etc. Anyway, it’s thus hardly a surprise when Heito suddenly beats the shit out of some poor prison guard. Still, if the guy was so dangerous, why did they only send a single guard to fetch him? Still, that’s not the odd part about this particular scene. After all, you could potentially rationalize this away, i.e., “Maybe they didn’t think he was even dangerous to begin with.” What is odd to me is when Heito starts to brutally attack the guard’s face, the slightly melancholic but nevertheless upbeat OP begins to play in the background, and I’m just like, “Wha…?” I’m basically watching a man get murdered, so, uh, couldn’t you at least wait until the scene is over before the OP starts up? The tones completely clash with each other so much that this brutal murder seems kind of comical in the end.
• Oh dear, this episode’s title: “EMBRACED BY THE REAPER.” I just get the feeling that this show is going to be so goddamn emo as the weeks pass by.
• Generally, I don’t touch upon a show’s animation quality all that much. As long as it’s passable, I’d much rather focus on a show’s characters and plot. Having said that, I must point out that the animation quality here is really subpar. First off, the nighttime scenes are way too dark; you can hardly make out any of the details. Seriously, it’s dark to the point that it’s no longer just a stylistic choice, but also a way to conceal as many blemishes in the animation as possible. More importantly, however, the characters are just sort of… dumpy looking. I feel as though I’ve seen better animated characters five years ago if not a decade.
• Two of the characters are revisiting their encounter with the mysterious Corpse from last week’s episode. According to Raika, she felt as though her soul was being crushed by simply being in the Corpse’s presence. But what is a Corpse? Is it the silhouette of the thing you see here? Or is it the floating shoujo near it? Or — god forbid — it’s somehow both? I really hope it doesn’t turn out that she’s actually the pilot of some grimdark mecha from the LIghtless Realm.
• Later that day, the kids’ instructor reveals himself to be a creepy sexist: “That’s why I say women aren’t meant to pilot!” He then pokes at Mahmu’s breasts with his clipboard. When Raika accuses him of sexual harassment, he threatens to visit their dorms later: “I’ll be pounding what it means to be pilots into you!” Wow, uh, this kinda comes out of left field. Usually, characters that are this openly sexist are ultimately disposable, which is probably why Mahmu mutters under her breath, “First victim confirmed.”
Still, I don’t know. The whole thing just feels a bit contrived. If you want a cheap, exploitative story, sure, have this sexist pig threaten to rape his female students out in the open. I’m not saying that instructors can’t be sexist or rapey, but this depiction is more comical than it is serious. But it should be serious, and that’s the problem. What’s really happening here is that the story wants you to hate the instructor as quickly as possible so that he can be killed off at the next convenient opportunity. And I think that’s just lazy writing.
• The other thing that’s clear from this scene, however, is that Emiru has no shame whatsoever. I’m sure we’ll get to her character development soon enough, but her behavior sure is strange. She’s either a wannabe master manipulator, or she’s just insanely insecure. Or maybe both.
• Later that night, the instructor encounters an Admonition on his stroll through a yard filled with shipping containers. Surprise, surprise… now, the pertinent question at the moment is whether or not Mahmu was simply lucky in her prediction, or did she actually do something to bring about the sexist pig’s death? At the moment, I’m inclined to think she’s just a slightly nutty girl, but who knows! Maybe she has magical powers!
• The asshole main character strikes again: “[Your stink] doesn’t go away just from washing. The stink of your obscenity has seeped in much deeper than that.” I don’t really see how the main character can redeem himself if he keeps this up. Sure, you can say he’s had a difficult childhood, and as a result, he’s pushing people away. He doesn’t want to make himself vulnerable by opening up to others, yadda yadda yadda. But pushing people away doesn’t necessarily mean you have to say incredibly hurtful things to people without provocation. This guy is just shaping up to be a bad person.
• Akashi suddenly hear a girl singing in the distance, so he takes off running in her direction. He ends up coming across the instructor’s body. Out of nowhere, Minashi licks the blood off of one of the instructor’s clawed hands and goes, “It tastes like he felt terror as he died.” Uh, what? Also, who the fuck just licks blood off of a corpse? Oh yeah, the mysterious singing girl has conveniently disappeared.
As an aside, I’m not too surprised by the whole “It tastes like he felt terror as he died” thing though. I’ve heard that slaughtering frightened animals can adversely affect the taste of their meat. Maybe keen taste buds can determine the very same thing from just the blood alone.
• At the instructor’s wake, someone goes, “He always thought of his students and respectably fulfilled all of his duties.” Heh.
• Oh look, Heito has made his way to the academy. How did he escape his prison or wherever it was that he was being detained at?
• For some reason, Emiru snoops and finds Mahmu’s journal. Nevermind all the petty stuff. She and Mahmu go on to talk about some Reaper thing. Sure, it’s just a rumor, but we know how rumors are in Japan (see: Persona 2).
• Elsewhere, a bunch of higher ups seem to take joy in the fact that the instructor has died. Sure, he was a sexist pig, but I’d never cheer a person’s death. Nevertheless, these guys see this tragedy as an opportunity to request more federal funding. After all, the campus is so unsafe now that an Admonition can just murder someone going for a stroll at night.
• Apparently, this Reaper thing that the girls were talking about is also known as the Argent, which sounds disappointingly like a mecha that the main character will get to pilot. That’s the impression I get from the evil-looking guy in the lab coat, anyway. I mean, I guess it would make sense that a mecha would be able to defeat a Corpse, but still, that’s kinda lame.
• Mahmu says something interesting: “This hospital was apparently where many people were brought when the Lightless Realm was first created.” “First created,” you say? Is the Lightless Realm manmade now?
• As Emiru walks through an abandoned hospital strewn with overturned medical equipment, she feels the need to tell us the stunningly obvious: “This place feels like a dump.” No way!
• It turns out the abandoned hospital is not so abandoned as the girls come across a massive door illuminated by nothing more than an ominous red light. I wonder who’s been paying the electricity bill… well, whoever it is has decided to remotely open the door for these kids.
• Heito conveniently shows up behind the girls. Has he been following them this entire time?
• Here’s an instance where a better budget would’ve really paid dividends:
I like the overall composition of the scene. Really, I do. But the person at the doorway — likely Heito — simply looks like a silly stick figure. It really sucks the potential out of the scene.
• Apparently, Mahmu has run all the way back to her classroom and proceeds to breaks down in front of the other students. Meanwhile, Emiru and Heito are still exploring. The girl goes, “The Reaper is nothing more than a rumor…” Have you learned nothing?! Naturally, as soon as she says this, they come across a mecha. Of course. Heito quickly hops into it, and, well, this happens:
He then has a vision where his younger self is swarmed by black… stuff:
• Eventually, the Reaper emerges from its underground prison, and this is what it looks like:
Well, it’s not exactly the most inspired-looking mecha, is it? But a large part of this can be attributed to the scene’s drab color palette. It’s hard to make anything out when you have brown on brownish-orange. The word ‘argent’ is supposed to mean the color silver too, so I’m not sure what they’re going for here.
• Raika, still just a pilot-in-training, charges in for no reason. She says that she’s not going to be afraid, but I don’t think fear has anything to do with not rampaging recklessly into battle, but maybe that’s just me. Besides, what reason did she have to go in when she has ranged weaponry built into her mecha? Plus, shortly after the Reaper’s “impressive” debut, it immediately keels over and starts to thrash about helplessly on the ground. What is there to even go in on?
• Dun dun dun, the Reaper has a mind of its own! Like… so many other mechas in mecha anime history.
• Apparently, the only way to stop the Reaper is to have Akashi wrangle it himself. Like I’ve said…
“Apparently, this Reaper thing that the girls were talking about is also known as the Argent, which sounds disappointingly like a mecha that the main character will get to pilot.”
• Now it’s Akashi’s turn to have his own little vision. There, he counters the seemingly shoujo-powered Corpse. She says… she says… she says nothing to him other than his name. The Reaper then shows up next, and some sort of conversation is carried out in the background. It sounds like our hero only wants to enter the Lightless Realm because that’s where his brother is, and he wants revenge. But I could be wrong.
• In any case, Akashi finally comes to, and the Reaper in the real world has stopped thrashing. Guess he’s got his fancy, new mecha now.
• I wonder if Heito is going to be super jealous that he wasn’t chosen. I guess we’ll find out next week.
I enjoyed this episode slightly more than last week’s, but that doesn’t really say much. Overall, I’m still rather lukewarm on the series. There’s nothing outrageously bad about it, but I don’t know… the show just doesn’t really get me excited to watch more. At the moment, M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane simply feels pretty run-of-the-mill despite being a mix of mecha and horror. Granted, this isn’t exactly an original combination, but it’s not exactly a common one either. Anyway, you’ve got visions of kids in danger, a mysterious shoujo clad in white, evil-looking researchers with ulterior motives, a mecha with a mind of its own, etc. Again, M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane doesn’t feel like the most inspired anime out there.