Mars Red is not your average vampire anime. Yes, there are vampires in it. It’s about vampires. But it’s not a “vampire anime.” It’s set in 1920s Japan, first off, and the vampires are mostly in a special branch of the Japanese military. The vampires themselves are not romanticised. The plot is very serious, with a lot of emphasis on military tactics and ideas. But all these things are what make it an interesting watch.
It’s hard to contribute something new to the vampire genre at this point, but Mars Red really tried its best. Keep reading for our review of Mars Red from the Spring 2021 anime season!
A Good Leading Guy
The main character in Mars Red, Yoshinobu Maeda, is a great leading character. He isn’t another super-powered, handsome high school boy like many anime tend to have. Instead, Maeda is an adult man with a realistic design and a believable, down-to-earth personality. It’s refreshing to watch an anime with this kind of leading male, especially for other adults that may have a hard time seeing themselves in the plethora of young characters saving the world. Maeda reminds us that we can make a difference as an adult too, and still be the “hero” even without spikey blond hair, big eyes, and some kind of magical power. And that’s exactly the reminder that some anime fans need!
A Dark, Mature Story
Many recent vampire anime are not really aimed at adults. They star high school kids, are set in schools, or centre around romance. While the story may still be serious and the tone dark, they still are not mature anime. Mars Red is, though. Like we said above, the main character — and most of the other characters, for that matter, are adults. They’re part of a military unit also composed of, you guessed it, adults. The stakes are high, and there’s not much comedy or light-hearted comments to take away from that. Mars Red is a serious, military anime with the supernatural twist of most of the soldiers being vampires.
If you’re looking for another vampire anime like Owari no Seraph or Vampire Knight, keep looking. Mars Red may have the same point of vampires hunting other vampires like these anime, but that’s where the similarities end. But if you’re looking for something more mature and serious, you’ve come to exactly the right place.
An Interesting Setting
We said it back in our first impressions of Mars Red when we were just a few episodes in, and it remains true—1920s Tokyo is really an interesting choice for this story. It's a period of Japanese history we do not see represented that much, so it's cool to see something different from the usual. It also lets Mars Red be a military anime that has guns, but limited other technology (other than the fictional kind used by the scientists in the story, of course). There are plenty of shots of real locations in Tokyo as well, like Tokyo Station and the Marunouchi area, and the details in the art are beautiful.
Not That Memorable
Mars Red is a good anime, don’t get us wrong. It’s interesting and has some good characters and writing. It is something fresh for the vampire genre, and a good anime for adult audiences who want something serious. But it’s somehow just not that… gripping. It doesn’t make you want to binge it and watch it episode after episode. It didn’t make us think about it all week while waiting for the next episode. Sure, we were happy when it came out and interested to see the next part of the story, but it wasn’t on our minds in the meantime. And we aren’t certain it’ll stick with us years from now, or whether we will remember much about it at all.
Mars Red is fun to watch one time. Will it be anyone’s favourite? Not likely. Will we be rushing out to buy the box set so we can watch it over and over? No. But for a one-time watch, it’s worth it. The characters are pretty good, especially Maeda. The setting of 1920s Japan is one that we don’t see that much. And we already downloaded the opening and ending theme songs because they’re really good. But while it was good to watch once, Mars Red is not an anime for the ages. Give it a try if you like military anime, though, or want something new in the vampire genre!
Did you watch Mars Red this season? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Are you considering watching it now, or going to give it a miss after reading our thoughts? We would love to hear from you in the comments!