M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane – 02 Review
Posted by M0rg0th
Nutjobs and assholes: Those are the kind of people that will save the world in this series. Well, on the plus-side apparently nobody needs to be in a hurry to actually do any world-saving, the world seems pretty okay after all. I mean, there are some problems but those were bound to appear with a team full of nutjobs and assholes, right? At this point I think the only reason why the Corpse is harassing these kids is because IX can’t get off their asses in equipping the kids with the mechas they need so that they can enter the Lightless Realm.
A new member of the team is introduced as he escapes the asylum killing his guard brutally. This show sure knows how to crank up the charm-scale with such nice people becoming the anti-heroes the world needs (or deserves… maybe?). The teacher of the mecha-pilot-class cranks up another scale entirely and unsurprisingly immediately becomes the first victim of the Corpse (with no one giving a shit that he’s dead).
Well, and then for some reason Emiru and Mahnu stumble over the Reaper together with Psycho-brat. The rest of the ass-and-nut-gang arrives and Akashi needs to save the day by being uber-grumpy and having a sort-of-flashback/dream-sequence. So the ass-and-nut-gang now has a super-mecha to fight against the Corpse. Great, so now they can fight against the thing that rumors say is a threat but hasn’t acted like one until now. Well, I guess at least they can open cans more easily now… or whatever you’re supposed to do with a super-mecha when there’s no threat.
This show just loves seeing female characters be verbally abused by other characters for some reason.
Being dark and gritty is such a silly thing sometimes. M3 certainly attempts to evoke the sense we’re dealing here with dark characters living in a world filled with darkness and fighting against an even darker evil… or something. But everyone who has read comics in the 90s knows this whole endeavor can get ridiculous pretty fast. First, you have to sell the world as being the sort of dark place that fosters only brutality and mean-spiritedness and then you have to sell the characters as being right at home in that ugly world. But the question really is how far you wanna go with this kind of darkness and grittiness since you still need to have a plot and characters that do shit to move the plot forward. If the world is too bad the audience might start to wonder why the characters even bother doing anything if it all turns to shit anyway. And if the characters are too dark the audience might start to root against them instead of for them. Naturally there are ways to tell a story where everything the characters touch turns to shit and there’s a story where you’re not exactly a fan of the protagonists but it’s a delicate balance. And above all one has to succeed in making things seem grim. Otherwise you will get the sort of stuff that’s just ridiculous.
Now with a Lightless Realm hanging around trying to kill humanity and the show’s title being “M3: The Dark Metal”, it’s kinda obvious what the show is going for. So, let’s talk about how dark these kids at the center of the story really are. Akashi immediately comes to mind, of course, a kick-ass mecha-pilot with real gloomy-moody attitude. And there’s Emiru, the girl who’s constantly vying for every male’s attention by making herself look weak – especially in the case of Akashi. So, these are the two dialogues these two have in this episode:
(Emiru clings to Akashi’s arm and they’re walking down a hallway in a school.)
Akashi: Let go.
Emiru: Oh, no need to be bashful.
Akashi: You stink.
Emiru: What? (stops walking and lets go of Akashi’s arm; continues in an angry voice) Are you still upset because I said you are impotent?!
Emiru: Hey, are you still upset? We’re in this together so let’s be friends.
Emiru: Don’t tell me I stink again, okay? I just took a bath and everything.
Akashi: It doesn’t go away just from washing. The stink of your obscenity has sunk in much deeper than that.
Do you see how edgy and dark these dialogues are?! Akashi is so edgy that he just straight-up insults everybody who tries to talk to him! I’m not exactly sure what the intent here is. Why does Emiru constantly go after Akashi, only to be rebuffed by the most straightforward insults Akashi can come up with? Sure, Emiru is portrayed as a liar and manipulator in the way she acts around men but this kind of femme-fatale-ploy usually works because those female characters are genuinely charming in some way. The way Emiru is portrayed, though, there’s no way anyone in the audience will buy her damsel-act at all. The only thing that’s worse than a manipulative character is one who can’t hide that fact. But Akashi isn’t that innocent in these scenes either since he’s portrayed as aloof and stoic. But it’s the kind of aloofness where he isn’t just giving the cold shoulder but has also no qualms about simply insulting the other person. That’s sociopath-behavior actually and it wouldn’t surprise if it turned out that he actually is a sociopath.
Those of the eight kids who aren’t showing any kind of asshole-ish behavior are crazy instead after all. The episode begins with this white-haired psychopath who simply kills his guard in a mental hospital as if it was the easiest thing in the world. And they really lingered on that killing-scene for a very long time, I feel like. Then there’s the happy, creepy kid who’s also messed up in a big way since when he saw the corpse of the teacher his first move was to taste the blood and remark that it tastes like the dude felt terror shortly before he died. And then there are mecha-pilot-girl and the best-friend-dude from Akashi who really seem like the most normal people in this series right now.
Oh and then there’s another character of course who kicked the bucket: the teacher! And I’ve definitely seen already far too much of this character in these two episodes. Apparently trying to be dark and gritty inspired the great choice of making the teacher a rampant misogynist who sexually harasses female students. This scene with Mahmu… Just wow. And Emiru certainly got even more dislikeable when she cheered for the teacher after he basically harassed Mahmu in front of the mecha-pilot-class. And why was mecha-pilot-girl always the only one protesting in these scenes with the teacher?! This series seriously seems to think that unlikeability automatically translates to grittiness.
I love how Akashi doesn’t even comment on the fact that the happy-crazy guy just tasted a dead man’s blood to explain what the dead man last felt before he died. I know that Akashi is supposed to be this big hot-shot stoic asshole but… licking a dead person’s blood? Come on, surely he can emote more than disgust at female character trying to get his attention, right?
What this series seems also not to be capable of is creating a sensible plot for how the story gets from point A to point G or something like that. The issue of the Reaper-mecha is introduced in the most wishy-washy way imaginable. Let me walk you through the amazing plot-work here: After the teacher has died, Mahmu is distraught because she has a secret hobby of writing snuff-fiction about the people around her. And in that snuff-fiction the teacher was the first one to die. So she goes to her and finds the diary-thingy with her scribbling gone. Emiru enters and reveals that for some inexplicable reason she has gone through Mahmu’s stuff and found the snuff-fiction. She basically wants to blackmail Mahmu – to tell her what the deal is with the Reaper she mentions in the snuff fiction. Naturally it’s based on a school-rumor because that’s how this series delivers all its exposition for some reason. The rumor talks about some hospital with some reaper-thingy in it that supposedly can defeat Corpses and Emiru is immediately interested forcing Mahmu to show her the hospital. A couple things to note: Why does Emiru give a shit about the reaper? And why is that hospital they talk about close-by? And the kicker is of course when psycho-kid from the beginning walks by and says “I smell terror.” and enters the hospital as well. What has this situation got to do with anything else that came before in the story?! That reaper-thingy was never mentioned before and now it’s the biggest deal ever? This whole thing just comes out of nowhere and the characters’ actions to come into contact with it seem flimsy at best.
Some problems are also still unresolved after episode 01: The Lightless Realm still seems not as dangerous as it should be. That’s particularly bad because the actual intended momentum of the plot is supposed to be about how the expansion of the Lightless Realm needs to be stopped at any cost. It’s also still unclear what those eight kids are supposed to do once they enter the Lightless Realm. And this lack of a tangible goal or interesting events leads naturally to this terrible storytelling where plot-hooks are introduced deus-ex-machina-like since there’s no reasonable continuation with the stuff that’s been introduced up to that point. This series really needs to get its act together with what it’s trying to do.
For a second episode this is rather uneventful and it doesn’t add anything of real value to the story. Seemingly having no way to naturally progress the story the introduction of a super-mecha seems weirdly sudden and random. Also, the series still lacks any sense of urgency in making the protagonists deal with the supposedly antagonistic force of the Lightless Realm. After two episodes M3 still seems to be fixated on setting the stage instead of letting any events on that stage unfold.
- The teacher was a scumbag and a terrible character to be seen on screen.
- Still, though… I wonder what purpose did the existence of this teacher actually serve? I mean, specifically the fact that he was a misogynist and was known for sexually harassing female students. It’s already bad enough that Akashi seems to have a habit of attracting the attention of female characters only so that he can tell them how disgusting he thinks they are.
- So, I guess, the nine days left to live thing with the Corpse is still a thing? Still seems too stupid to be true. I bet that girl in the nightmare-mecha-suit is actually trying to help the eight kids. But who knows with this show…