Apparently, a recorder that had been dropped in the Lightless Realm ten years ago is now emitting a signal. As a result, our team of misfits will have to go and investigate why this is happening. Natsuiri says, “Somehow, the recorder managed to not turn into Necrometal.” Necrometal. Seriously? Suzuki — I think that’s her name — goes on to say that if they don’t take this golden opportunity to send a bunch of young trainees into a dangerous realm that they have absolutely no understanding of, the data on recorder might be lost forever. Oh noes! Just one quick question: why would a recorder even turn into Necrometal anyway? It isn’t even alive to begin with. Unless, of course, stuff doesn’t actually have to be alive at any point in their existence in order to turn into Necrometal, and in fact, we’re only using the term Necrometal because it sounds dark and macabre. Hmm.
In any case, Natsuiri’s casual disregard for the students’ safety gets unintentionally funnier with each passing week, especially since none of the other adults seem to pay his weirdness any heed. “Oh by the way, you’re heading to the exact location where your pathetic brother failed his mission and died. Have fun.” They even go on to explain that the Lightless Realm will invade the students’ psyche, so they’ll probably want to pair up and shit. Alright, you over there… yeah, you, the main character. I want you to team up with the guy who wanted to kill you in last week’s episode. That sound good with everyone? Alright, it’s a plan! But wait… wait… the students can only synchronize their thoughts if they trust each other. So dammit, Akashi and Heito, you two better kiss and make up right now. Off to the sidelines, Kasane looks all worried and everything, but she stays quiet. Later, Kasane brings up some very good points about the dangers of using Heito in this mission. Very good points, indeed. Oh wait, is this M3 the dark metal? Is that you?! Yes, it’s M3! Alright, disregard all logic. Proceed with the proposed plan.
That’s right. Everything comes down to Akashi and Heito once again. I don’t even know why Okada bothered to make the team so large. Akashi and Heito will have most of the spotlight, which has already been keenly demonstrated by the past seven episodes. Iwato and Raika will hold up the rear and do the grunt work. As for the rest of the team? They just get to stand around in the command module. They’re completely and utterly useless. Of course, we know Sasame will play a bigger role in the story. After all, some apparition of hers is joyriding on that Corpse. So fine, she has a good reason to be in the story. Minashi and Mahmu though? Especially Mahmu, man. After two months worth of episodes, all she has done is be neurotic. As you can see, M3‘s writer could’ve pared the cast down to deliver a tight storytelling experience. If we didn’t have to waste time on any of the useless characters, maybe we would’ve learned more than just a thing or two about the main characters by now.
Anyway, let’s focus on how this is (once again) Akashi’s mission. In fact, he’ll be going where his brother had once failed. As for us, this is where we would presumably get to delve into Akashi’s psyche. Oh, it might be protected from the Lightless Realm, but it shouldn’t be protected from us. We should be allowed into his mind. The anime should let us understand his thought process, especially how he feels about the upcoming mission. How does he feel about the fact that although he seems to despise his brother’s guts, he is nevertheless following in his brother’s footsteps? How does he feel about working with Heito? How does he feel about the events that had transpired at the end of last week’s episode? After all, Heito did almost kill him… And Iwato’s right: isn’t he worried about having to pilot the Reaper into the Lightless Realm? Wow, so many questions. Alright then, Okada. Let’s have at it. Develop this character!
I said, “Develop this character! ”
Holy shit, is this thing on? Anyway, all we learn is that Akashi intends to defeat his brother if he encounters him in the Lightless Realm. We still don’t know why there’s so much bad blood between the two of them. We still haven’t really answered any of the questions I listed above. Later that night, Kasane tries to tell Akashi a secret she’s been withholding from him, but our hero thinks he already has all the answers. He thinks the secret is nothing more than the fact that his brother had once piloted the Reaper. Oh, I think it goes a little further than that, buddy. In fact, Kasane collapses to her knees and says, “That’s not how it is, Akashi…” But not before Akashi had already run off to chase after Sasame. Why didn’t she just spit it out? He was right there! This is starting to become a real problem, Aguri-san!
Welp, it looks like Sasame has some secrets of her own to tell Akashi too. Is her blight the result of the Corpse’s song? Or is she also harboring destructive thoughts like the former Emiru? Maybe a little of column A and a little of column B. Either way, however, like every other woman in Akashi’s life, Sasame is unable to tell him anything as well. Not about the blight on her arm nor her deeper thoughts and feelings. What is going on, guys? Is it something in the water? In any case, the two characters will instead trade cryptic remarks before Sasame runs off yet again. She has no problems crying about it to Raika, however. As for Akashi, he doesn’t bother to chase after her this time. So yes, we haven’t made any progress in either character. Bah.
On the day of the big mission, Heito’s being told that he must leave the Lightless Realm after a set time limit has passed or there’s a high chance his psyche will suffer. Heito disregards the advice: “I have something I need to look for.” Man, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here. Why is everyone ignoring the fact that Heito’s clearly and evidently nuts? Sure, you have to suspend your beliefs a bit in order to enjoy a story, but I already am. I’m pretending as though this Lightless Realm thing is real. I’m pretending as though the Admonitions aren’t the dumbest-looking things in the world. Do I really have to pretend as though a bunch of qualified adults — scientists, no less — legitimately believe that it’s okay to send Heito out on any mission? Hell, it’s probably too dangerous to let him go to the bathroom alone, much less some Necrometallizing world that looks like it came straight out of a Korn music video.
We finally enter the Lightless Realm. Immediately, the train that had carried Akashi and Heito there is slowly turning into ~~Necrometaaaaaaaal~~. So, uh, how are the two of them going to leave the Lightless Realm now? This seems like a poorly thought out plan. Still, we might as well sightsee while we’re here. Unfortunately, what we saw at the start of the series is what we see now. Everything’s in black and white, the atmosphere is sort of dark and gloomy — sort of — and the structure of the place is all warped. Yo, this makes it trippy and weird! But seriously, there’s nothing really all that weird or disturbing about the Lightless Realm. There’s nothing that really challenges the imagination. The animators didn’t even try to make it seem surreal. I just think that when you talk this place up for two whole months and fail to deliver, well… I’m a bit speechless, to tell you the truth. It’s been widely acknowledge that M3 is a pretty shoddy anime, but the Lightless Realm is its baby. If it was going to deliver on any front, you’d think it’d be this one.
Just mere moments into the mission, Akashi and Heito have already lost track of each other. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and Mari. And sure enough, although I’m sure the Lightless Realm is vast and confusing, Heito runs into a very important — wait for it — teddy bear. Oy vey. Don’t tell me it’s his Rosebud. I also like how the teddy bear hasn’t turned into Necrometal itself. I guess it’s a very special teddy bear. Why, the explanation is right before our very eyes. Heito’s emotional attachment to it has somehow protected the stuffed animal from the negative effects of the Lightless Realm. And oh yeah, I’m sure some mysterious power had drawn him to this exact location too. Mm-hmm. Later in the very same scene, Heito will thank Emiru for leading him to this location, but I’m not exactly sure how Emiru could have done such a thing. Seeing as how she can no longer speak, the truth will likely remain a mystery to us as well.
In any case, memories come flooding back into the kid’s mind. We see a flashback in which a shota Heito had pissed himself in fear because he was lost in the Lightless Realm. Yeesh. Well, they do say one of the signs of a potential psychopath is if he or she wets the bed on a regular basis. Speaking of which, it seems that this is the exact place and time where Heito started to go crazy. It’s convenient how that works out. The mind is a complicated, mysterious thing. I thus imagine it would just be too difficult to create a convincing downward spiral of a young boy falling into the dark abysses of his mind. Right? Right. We’ll just have him go crazy instantly in some magical Lightless Realm instead. Yeah… yeah! That’s the ticket! As the scene draws to a close, the teddy bear turns into an Admonition. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see what happens next. After all, it’s time to turn our attention back to the main character.
Like Heito, Akashi gets to experience a flood of memories too! They just don’t happen to be his memories. Rather, he sees his brother’s memories. I see nothing here to implicate Akashi’s oniichan. In fact, he seems like the standard sibling, so why does Akashi resent him so much? Because he had failed to return home like he had promise? Please, don’t tell me it’s something as lame as that. Anyway, Akashi soon realizes that the Reaper had been feeding him Aoshi’s memories this entire time, and that’s why our main character was so uncomfortable with the mecha. It had been touching his mental world in bad places. But hey, that’s what I said last week! Sure enough, Akashi doesn’t take kindly to this latest revelation. In fact, he thinks his brother’s memories have tricked him into staying on as a pilot. Paranoid much? Anyway, an Admonition appears here too, and therefore, next week’s episode will try to be action-packed. After all, we’re out of time this week.
In the distance, that Sasame apparition looks on, and then the episode just ends. Yay, another excellent installment of M3 the dark metaru.
— Kasane tells Akashi that he can stop piloting the Reaper if he wants to. I don’t think he can. Like really, after all this time, the people in charge will simply allow any of these kids to walk away, no strings attached? Yeah, I don’t think so.
— Why does Sasame bump into Akashi and scream an apology? What is there to apologize about? I’m sorry I ran into you late at night?