M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane Ep. 6: Lightless bore

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This is apparently what counts for a mental breakdown these days. The anime even proudly pulls back from the scribble as if to say it is proud to show you how deeply Emiru’s “death” has affected the rest of the team. Come on, if you’re going to show me a mental breakdown. come at me hard. Give me something actually meaty to chew on and not this… juvenile nonsense. What I see in the screenshot above is about as disturbing as five-year-old’s idle doodling. Then again, this anime is also written by Okada Mari, and after seeing her handiwork in selector infected WIXOSS, I suppose it’s hardly a surprise that M3 — Sono Kuroki Hagane is just as much of a limp dick.

Anyway, why did I put quotes around the word ‘death’ in the previous paragraph. Eh, I have a hunch we’ll be seeing Emiru again before the show is over. Yeah, yeah, I’m really putting myself out on the limb, huh? Nevertheless, someone told me this piece of refuse will apparently be a two-cour show. I would find it very difficult to believe anyone could tease 20 or more episodes out of this storyline, but then again, with this plodding pacing, maybe the sky’s the limit. After all, we’re six episodes in this nonsense, and the narration still feels the need to remind us that there are mysteries to uncover and questions to answer: “For what reason was it born? What does it seek? Its existence is shrouded in mystery.” Okay, now cut to each of the kids’ sad yet befuddled faces… — classic! But like I’ve said, it’s been six damn episodes already, and we’re still asking the same damn questions we were asking over a month ago.

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It’s not a surprise that hardly anyone is watching this show anymore. Seriously, I can’t find any buzz for this show. It’s just not appealing. It’s all emo-y and mysterious, but in a very fake, superficial sort of way. The characters have no development whatsoever. None of the kids have any discernible motivation besides the main character. Oh wait, Emiru revealed hers, then the story quickly killed her off (as far as we know). Moving on, the Lightless Realm is often teased at but never actually shown outside of the opening bits of the first episode. Last but not least, the bad guys are about as generic as they come. Oh look, it’s a crazed researcher and an equally nutty dude straight out of an insane asylum. If Heito rambles on and on about his terror, we’ll totally believe he’s a psychopath.

Maybe terror is at work, but not the sort of terror Heito’s talking about. What’s quite apparent from these childish portrayals of villainy is that the show is almost afraid to embrace the very darkness it keeps banging on and on about. There’s nothing appealing about Heito. Likewise, there’s nothing appealing about the evil researcher either. And sure, you could say, “They’re evil! They’re not supposed to be likeable!” But why not? Crazy people can be likeable, you know. Crazy people are sometimes very likeable. Ted Bundy was even lovable at one point, and that’s what made him so disturbing. He was one of us. He fit right into the idyllic picture. You can’t say the same for the two bad guys in the anime. Nuh-uh, they stand out like a sore thumb. And because of this, they can’t be disturbing. They can’t even creepy. They’re more like clowns putting on an act. For me, the show is missing a lot of things, but the lack of a compelling villain has to rank up there as one of the biggest offenses.

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Often times, nutjobs aren’t outwardly crazy. Rather, some of them are quite aware of what makes them less-than-human. But the ones that become the bad guys can at least fake it. They can at least project a simulacrum that only begins to show its flaws when you get close, but by then, it’s already too late. The bad guys we get here, however, are obviously not unsettling simulacra. They’re not even amusing caricatures. They’re just this entirely different thing that we can project our hate onto, but in a very clinical, very safe sort of way. After all, neither Heito or the evil researcher are very human, nor do they even try to be. And because nothing about them even reflects the slightest bit of humanity back at the audience, there’s nothing truly disgusting about them. They don’t make us confront anything about our very own human flaws. You can’t possibly feel any shame for liking these characters, because you can’t even like them… at least not in any un-ironic sort of way.

I mean, just look at the meeting between the adults a third of the way through the episode. It is everything that is completely wrong with the show and its storytelling. The guy in the suit is obviously only concerned for his own well-being. After all, he proposes the ludicrous idea that the pilots should go on a 24-hour security watch. Uh, as if that’s remotely feasible. Agura, of course, is the only one who cares! What about their mental health, guys? C’mon, won’t anybody think of the children! As for the lady from the government, she is just protocol, protocol, protocol. Then finally, the evil researcher is sitting there with the biggest shit-eating grin on his face, but it doesn’t even matter! No one will fucking notice it. Of course they won’t. He could be torturing baby seals in front of them, and they wouldn’t even bat an eye. He’s one-dimensionally evil, and the rest of them are one-dimensionally incompetent.

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This episode is about as slow as the episodes before it. The characters just mope around for a while until a Corpse shows up with about five minutes left to go. Akashi tries to fight it, but he loses. Sasame tries to help him, but she loses even worse. But like in every anime ever, the hero powers up when his main squeeze is under attack. As a result, the Reaper powers up a bit, which just means it gains some fancy glow-in-the-dark highlights, but this nevertheless pleases the evil researcher. After going toe-to-toe with the Corpse for a while, however, the damn thing suddenly stops to let out a cry… then it hightails it out of there. Elsewhere, Heito moans on and on about his terror, i.e. Emiru, like he’s some sort of bishie Gollum. I’m not exactly sure what transpired near the end of the episode. Did the Corpse manage to retrieve Emiru’s soul or something? Oh well, this anime sucks anyway.

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8 thoughts on “M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane Ep. 6: Lightless bore”

  1. “Eh, I have a hunch we’ll be seeing Emiru again before the show is over.”

    Okay, so I change my prior statement. It now looks like OKada is trying to turn AnoHana AND Nagi no Asukara into something darker.

    But really, she did way better pulling that “apparent death” twist in NagiAsu. And that one was a lighthearted series. This one just comes off as her lamely trying to replicate that in a supposed much darker setting (which, like what you have said, isn’t).

    The woman should just stop pretending that she is a tormented soul capable of writing dark stuff and just go back to doing happy romances.

  2. Worse episode until now.

    That said, I don’t think Emiru will come back alive. Maybe as a ghost like that long-haired Sasame’s clone (but more “dark” and “tragic”). I do think the corpse came to take Emiru’s soul, as this would make sense with Emiru’s fear and “kill the corpse” telepathic message. And I think the scribbled page was the page where Maamu wrote a Emiru-inspired character dying or something like that in the beginning of the series.

    1. In saying, “Eh, I have a hunch we’ll be seeing Emiru again before the show is over,” I’m just stating the obvious that she’ll have more lines in the story. Whether or not she stays alive is pretty inconsequential.

      And I think the scribbled page was the page where Maamu wrote a Emiru-inspired character dying or something like that in the beginning of the series.

      I’m only harping on the fact that it’s being shown off as something that definitively shows Mahmu is unhinged and disturbed. From my POV, it’s lame and trite.

      1. “I’m only harping on the fact that it’s being shown off as something that definitively shows Mahmu is unhinged and disturbed. From my POV, it’s lame and trite.”

        Would have been less trite if the show actually bothered to provide some context. For one, there is next to zero interaction between Emiru and Mahmu, which would have given some sense to Mahmu being disturbed by the news that Emiru died and she is blaming herself for it. And why is she even writing those stories anyway? The show never even explained that part of her character.

        1. She spent some time with Emiru a few episodes ago. Emiru discovered her journal, and threatened to out Mahmu to the class. They ended up visiting the hospital. As for why she writes those shitty stories, shrug. Probably just an outlet for yet another underdeveloped character.

        2. Ah, those/ I guess thy are the “next” in my “next to zero” comment. The thing is, those don’t even establish any sort of relationship between them that would give more weight to Mahmu’s reaction to Emiru’s “death” here.

        3. Emiru read Mahmu’s journal on which she wrote the death of a character inspired in their pervert instructor, and the instructor actually died soon after, so then Emiru threatened Mahmu based on this sort of … witchcraft? Therefore by M3’s standards makes sense that Mahmu feels guilty if she wrote a Emiru-inspired character’s death.

  3. Sad. I thought this show could have been an interesting, less “romantic” take on the whole kids-pilot-mecha genre… a deconstruction, of sorts. Sad to see its critical flaws have remained just that: flaws… unfixed and unchanging.

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