M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane Ep. 9: Man-powered mechas

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You can learn a lot about a character in one week, but really learn nothing at all.

— So with the help of Aoshi’s memories, Akashi manages to escape from the Lightless Realm just in time. After all, he had stayed any longer, he probably would’ve gone mad or something. You could even say his brother is saving his life in this very scene. As a result, is Akashi going to still whine about his brother? Better yet, why doesn’t the anime just tell us why he hates his brother so much? It’s okay, Okada, it’s the ninth episode already. You can spill the beans. In the meantime, we get to see Akashi continuing to be a dick. After the guy crawls out of the Reaper, Kasane tries to help him up, but he slaps her hand away for some reason. So angsty.

— For the moment, however, there are no signs of Heito escaping with our hero. I would love this to mean that the terribly trite character is gone from the anime for good, but alas, we all know this would never happen at this juncture in the story.

— Kasane tells her superiors that Akashi no longer wishes to pilot the Reaper, but they won’t take no for an answer: “It’s his only choice!” Boy, who could’ve seen that coming? But seriously, what is Japanese society in this universe even like? The show has done such a poor job at world-building. Other than the very first episode, the narrative has been pretty much confined to the school and last week’s brief excursion to the Lightless Realm. What is going on outside of this small area?

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What’s the rest of Japan like? How has the country and world as well reacted to and changed as a result of the LIghtless Realm appearing out of nowhere? How does the public feel about the efforts being done to investigate the Lightless Realm? Can the powers-that-be really force Akashi to say in the program and pilot the Reaper against his wishes? What are they going to do? Throw him in jail? What if he prefers imprisonment over piloting the mecha? We. Don’t. Know. Anything.

— Naturally, Natsuiri wants our hero to immediately return to the Lightless Realm in order to retrieve Heito and the other mecha. Wait, no, he doesn’t even care about Heito. He just wants the Sable’s LIM. In the end, however, Natsuiri concedes that Akashi’s resonance with the Reaper is probably too poor at the moment to pull off any rescue mission into the Lightless Realm. Say, Sasame is now being afflicted by the same condition that had plagued Emiru, right? What if we let her die so we can stick her into a mecha like how Emiru is now inside the Sable? Oh boy, I can’t wait!

— It appears as though Akashi is all set to leave. Of course, Minashi has to now show up and have a talk with our main character. What does Minashi even do around here? Engage people in vague conversations, apparently.

— We now see Akashi back in his old apartment. What does he intend to do now? Go back to school? I’m sure he’ll be piloting the Reaper soon enough, but I’m just curious about his current motivations. What is the guy thinking right now? What are his aims at the moment? Please, M3, tell us something. Kasane even shows up to ask the guy what he’s going to do or where he’s going to go, but of course, he refuses to tell her anything. And thus, he refuses to tell us, the audience, anything. Not only that, Kasane has failed to tell our hero that very important thing two weeks in a row now. This anime, man.

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— Mahmu says, “Heito-san is a murderer…” That’s what I’ve been saying the whole time! Nevertheless, Raika replies, “But he’s still one of us!” What? Seriously? You guys are all close friends now? Since when? Heito has barely even interacted with any of them, and when he did, he was fucking insane. Don’t tell me Raika suddenly gives a shit about him now. C’mon Okada, you’re better than this. If you honestly want to convince me that the rest of the team really care this much about Heito, you could’ve done a better job developing the relationship between them.

— “If he’s alive,” Raika insists, “it means he’s been putting up with his psyche being invaded this whole time.” So what? He’s a murderer! He endangers our very lives by being around us! He tried to kill Akashi just two episodes ago. Who cares if his damn psyche is being invaded? Please, what is going on here?

— Iwato asks, “So we can’t do anything at all?” It’s not like you guys have been allowed to do anything ever since the series started.

— The scientists sit down to watch the footage on the recorder Akashi had retrieved. On it, you can see Aoshi in his final moments. His body is completely covered in the blight. Naturally, Kasane sits there shocked and in tears at the images she is seeing. I know nothing about Aoshi, though. I also know nothing about the relationship between him and Kasane. As such, it’s just hard to sympathize with the lady. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck to watch a loved one slowly die, but this scene could’ve been so much more impactful if we knew a damn thing about either of these two characters. Meanwhile, Natsuiri is absolutely gleeful about it, but no one will ever notice how evil he is.

— We’re only now getting another glimpse at the outside world. Tanks roll around the streets as if it’s a regular occurrence. People talk about moving to presumably safer locations.

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Ah, if only we could see more of this and less of “MY FEAAARRRR PLZ NEVER LEAVE ME” and “DOKOOOOOO?” Please, help me understand what this world is like.

— Later that day, Akashi bumps into Sasame. Wow, it’s like he never even left! Apparently, they had synchronized their thoughts somehow and thus ended up at the same place. They talk about the ocean, they talk about how they might have known each other from the past (duh), etc. In the end, he asks her to sing that one song to him one last time (it won’t be the last time). Akashi says he finds the song creepy, yet it calms him down anyway. Right.

— In the very next scene, we find our hero standing right before the Reaper. Welp. So much for wanting to quit. Your brother is like a drug, son. Hop back into the mecha, and feel your brother wash over you.

— Since Kasane and Sasame can’t convince the guy to pilot the Reaper again, Natsuiri will have to the dirty work himself. By, y’know, telling Akashi all about how his brother is inside the Reaper. This is why Akashi can resonate so well with it. Too bad this isn’t much of a twist, since the anime had been hinting at this for weeks now. As soon as Emiru reappeared in the Sable, it was pretty obvious that the Reaper would somehow carry Aoshi’s soul within it. Still, it’s funny that Kasane’s inability to step up to the plate allows Akashi to hear the bad news from Natsuiri of all people. That must be comforting.

— The crazy scientist finally opens up the Reaper’s LIM, allowing us to see that Aoshi’s body is literally inside it:

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I thought I was looking at some brain matter at first since it was so pink, but then the camera panned up to show us Aoshi’s head. Anyway, I can only imagine that there’s a naked Emiru inside the Sable’s LIM. Oh boy, I wonder if the heroes will ever free her from it somehow.

— If it was me, I’d be like, “Wow, this definitely seals the deal. I sure as hell am not going to pilot a mecha inhabited by my dead brother.” But of course, Akashi now comes to the realization that Emiru is now within the Sable’s LIM, so being the manly protagonist that he is, he will venture back into the Lightless Realm in order to retrieve her.

— Natsuiri argues that if Akashi tells the rest of the group what he’s just learned, they would all just run away and the world would be doomed to the spread of the Lightless Realm. Meh, the way I see it, it’s their choice if they want to run away or not. If they don’t want to stick around, so be it. We should be able to make informed decisions about our lives, right? Not according to M3‘s characters, apparently. Sure, running away might doom the world. Might. But we should never treat people as a means to some end, right? Ah well. Still, there’s no guarantee that they would all run away, anyway. I’m sure people like Raika would love to stick around and play the hero.

— Natsuiri hands Akashi an audio file and takes his leave. Kasane now conveniently shows up for Akashi to berate her. He didn’t know anything before, and it’s likely he still doesn’t have the whole picture now. Still, this won’t stop him from jumping to conclusions and assuming that Kasane had tricked his brother in a fate worse than death. But that’s just me; I don’t know about you, but I’d rather die than be a mecha.

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— I love how immediately after sobbing, the anime cuts to Kasane calmly telling Akashi that she was the first to try and pilot the Reaper. Unfortunately for her, her own former lover rejected her.

— Kasane: “And that Aoshi wasn’t waiting for me, but for you instead.” Great, my big bro is waiting for me to follow in his footsteps and venture in the dangerous Lightless Realm where I could possibly go mad. Thanks, big bro.

— The two of them finally listen to the audio file. It’s just more of Aoshi’s last moments. We get it. He died. I still want to know why Akashi wanted him dead so much. Yes, we now know what officially happened to Aoshi, but we still don’t know the real source of our hero’s angst. All we get to see, however, is Akashi going, “I see… So you had regrets too.” Really? You didn’t think he had regrets before? What is this?

— In the end, Akashi agrees to come back to Team Gargouille and pilot the Reaper once more. Meeeeeeeh. At least we went an entire episode without Heito, I guess.

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4 thoughts on “M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane Ep. 9: Man-powered mechas

  1. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    It’s strange how an anime can be both interesting and disappointing. New revelations make certain aspects pop out and really make you want to watch, but then a lull of stupidity sets in once again and your eyes glaze over until the next popping moment.

    I don’t understand the forced “teamwork/friendship” angle with a character like that loon. I also don’t understand why they haven’t devoted more time to the world this takes place in, which is a fundamental necessity since the whole story is “these characters have to suffer to save the world.”

    I rarely liked that approach, especially in anime, since the world in need of saving is almost never given enough emotional connection to the audience. To us, the story’s world is hollow with figuratively faceless people wandering about in it. Who are they to us? Even with the suspension of disbelief we still view the false world with a perspective similar to the real one: Which do you save, your lover’s life or a random person’s? Given the natural response to that, how can a story expect us to say “Yeah, those characters that we’ve focused on and have been fleshed out are less important than the world”. What world? Suspension of disbelief helps us to believe that this tale’s world exists and is in danger, but that’s it. The rest, the value of the world that needs to be saved, is up to the author to detail. When that world isn’t given enough life and detail, then who cares about it in comparison to the characters? What connection do we have with it? If we treat our loved ones more importantly than strangers in real life, how much less do we care about a faceless fictional world over characters we’ve come to know?

    Some stories do this right. Many SciFi and Fantasy classics do. Persona 3, as much as I didn’t like it, actually did this really well via S.Links and NPCs.
    Evangelion kinda sorta did this with it’s side characters (who were even more likable than the main cast, if I remember correctly), but the contrivance was still there involving the mechs. Of course that horrible ending then undercut everything throughout the series in the worst way, but that’s a different issue.

    Here they aren’t even trying. “He MUST return to pilot the Reaper!” they say. “You can’t tell anyone what you saw!” she says.
    Why? For what? To keep himself and the others suffering in ignorance as they protect and preserve a world we have no connection to? But we care about them, not the world.
    Who cares about the world?

    And that question, that fatal question to this show and so many others like it, is only given form through laziness on the part of the creator(s). They have no one to blame but themselves when the audience steadily gives zero shits about the world and, as a result, loses interest in the fight to save it.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I won’t even go so far as to say there’s anything interesting here. Even the most intriguing thing about the show is rather cliche and hokey. Like really? A mysterious dark realm that feeds on our negative emotions? C’mon, man. Am I listening to some crappy metal band or what?

      Reply
  2. flamerounin

    “But seriously, what is Japanese society in this universe even like? The show has done such a poor job at world-building. Other than the very first episode, the narrative has been pretty much confined to the school and last week’s brief excursion to the Lightless Realm. What is going on outside of this small area?”

    “Don’t tell me Raika suddenly gives a shit about him now. C’mon Okada, you’re better than this. If you honestly want to convince me that the rest of the team really care this much about Heito, you could’ve done a better job developing the relationship between them.”

    Tsk, it’s as if Okada has totally forgotten how she pulled off that excellent execution in Nagi no Asukara just last Fall season. How I really wish that the woman has some sort of consistency in her works.

    Gotta agree with IonCaron. It’s just really disappointing when a series like this has some interesting bits, yet you know very well that the other elements (e.g. world building, character relationships) just aren’t there to hold everything up.

    Reply

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