Listeners is an anime series that first aired in April of 2020.
In a post-apocalyptic future that has been torn apart by creatures known as the Earless, humanity's heroes are the Players, who pilot mecha known as Equipment to battle their inhuman enemies while also earning fame and fortune. Echo is a young tech-head who dreams of working alongside the Players and their Equipment, going so far as to build a makeshift mecha of his own, but has long since resigned himself to life in the destitute scrap-heaps that now cover much of the world.
That is, until he discovers an amnesiac girl who has a jack in her back that is the telltale sign of a Player. The pair become fast friends, the girl adopting the name μ (or “Mu”), and they vow to use their skills to fight for the world and defeat the Earless.
The series was created by JIN and Hiroaki Ando, and produced by animation studio MAPPA. Funimation handles its English release.
- Amnesiac Hero: When Echo finds Mu, she doesn't remember who she is, not even her real name. She's simply called that because of the letter on her collar which contains the activation piece.
- Antagonist Title: Listeners is the name of Mu's Brainwashed and Crazy form.
- Cool Big Sis: Echo's sister Swell, who also seems to be his Parental Substitute.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: All the ending themes are performed by Rie Takahashi, Mu’s voice.
- Eldritch Abomination: Earless look like huge, vaguely animalistic shadows that are taller than buildings. The Neubaten Sisters reveal that they are people who failed to become Players and were Driven to Suicide.
- Fantastic Racism: Echo's hometown, and particularly their mayor, has a general dislike for Players after one destroyed their town and reduced it to a scrap pile. Mu is on the receiving end of it.
- Generation Xerox: Mu and Echo are basically a younger version of Bilin and Kevin, being a female Player with a male partner who handles their Equipment, with the Player having struggled with the idea of losing their partner and the Player beign the more passive individual in their relationship with a strong-headed woman.
- Gratuitous English: The Valentines insert English into their dialogue for no apparent reason, especially Bilin.
- Great Offscreen War: Whatever destroyed the city of Liverchester ten years prior and left it a scrapyard. It turns out it was the Fest, a plan to destroy the Earless, which failed because Jimi Stonefree went rogue.
- Grumpy Old Man: Mayor McGee is at first quite hostile towards Mu for being a Player, but after she saves the town from Earless, he shows he's not as bad as it first seemed.
- Heroic BSoD: Mu has one in the second episode after she accidentally punches Echo while using her Equipment.
- Innocent Innuendo: In the first episode, Echo has two instances when he comes off as a pervert to Mu. The first is when she first wakes up and hears him talking about her "hole". She punches him across the room in response... when he was talking about her jack. The second is when he wants to "show her something" and begins taking his overalls off... to take out a part for an Equipment.
- Large Ham: The Neubaten Sisters are very dramatic and use their bodies to emote like they just learned how to do it.
- A Mech by Any Other Name: They are called Equipment and have to be piloted by Players, who connect themselves through the cords in their hips.
- Near-Death Experience: Echo almost falls to his death when trying to deliver his Equipment to Mu. The experience results in him realizing that he doesn't want to die having never left his hometown, and convinces him to chase his dream.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It's implied that Jimi Stonefree went rogue during the Fest to destroy the Endless and caused it to fail, destroying Liverchester.
- Outrun the Fireball: The opening sequence briefly shows Echo and Mu running from an explosion.
- Potty Emergency: Echo ends up having one in episode 2. He ends up being lured by a trap made by the Neubaten sisters because of it.
- The Power of Rock: This seems to be be what allows Equipment to destroy Earless, and the series in general has a music motif, with jacks, amps and speakers as part of the Player and Equipment designs.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Both Bilin and Kevin mistake Mu and Echo for a couple on separate occasions.
- Shout-Out: The series contains a great number of references to classic rock:
- The character of Denka is quite obviously based on Prince
- The phrase "It's better to burn out than fadeaway" is explicitly brought up and Kevin mentions hearing it from somewhere. Given the series' musical leanings, it seems to be a direct reference to Neil Young.
- After Echo and Mu arrive in Londinium, a crowd shot shows two characters who bear a striking resemblance Brian Johnson and Angus Young of AC/DC.
- The Player academy has several student cliques that are shout outs to bands. There's a visual pun with a pair of students with pumpkins for heads smashing things with clubs. In other words: Smashing Pumpkins.
- Sibling Team: The Neubaten sisters.
- Strong Family Resemblance:
- Echo looks very similar to his older sister Swell.
- Mu looks like a younger, fe male version of the supposed king of the Earless, Jimi Stonefree. They have the same face shape and white hair.
- The Unintelligible: The old man from Echo's town seems to only speak in mumbles.
- The Watson: Mu's amnesia means she's the one asking questions that Echo can answer, for both her and the audience.