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Anime / Mars Red

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Mars Red is a 2021 Japanese anime television series based on a stage reading play written by Bun-O Fujisawa. It was produced by Signal.MD and began airing on April 6, 2021. Funimation licensed the series for the North American distribution. It also has a manga adaptation illustrated by Kemuri Katakura.

The story is set in 1923 during the Taisho Era. Vampires existed in this timeline and have been increasing in numbers due to the existence of an artificial blood source called Ascra. The Japanese government creates a military unit called "Code Zero" to counter these vampires. What's unique about Code Zero is their members who most of them are vampires themselves.

The anime provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Because the manga focuses more on Kurusu and Aoi's relationship, the latter's reaction to her older brother's death is more emotional compared to her reaction in the anime where she tries not to shed a tear while mourning for her brother's death. Likewise, she reacts to Kurusu's "death" where she took it very badly in the manga.
  • Artificial Limb: Maeda has an artificial left arm after losing his during his time in Siberia. He even uses it to punch a vampire in the mouth.
  • Badass Normal: Maeda is the only human member of Code Zero and is willing to take down vampires with his own strength.
  • Bullet Time: Used to show the vampires’ Super-Speed abilities.
  • Canon Foreigner: Misaki, Shinnosuke Tenmaya, and Rufus Glenn are original characters added in the anime. However, Misaki and Tenmaya are in the rock musical adaptation.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Aoi and Kurusu. They actually grow up in the same house and after Aoi's older brother died while on duty, Kurusu ends up supporting her.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Maeda's death and transformation as a vampire are different in the anime and manga. In the anime, he gets impaled by an iron rod during the earthquake and Defrott turns him into a vampire by giving him his blood. In the manga, Maeda's old war wounds take a toll on him, and slowly succumbs in the corridor where Nakajima found him and turn him into one of his vampire soldiers using the Ascra blood.
  • Emergency Transformation: During the earthquake, Maeda was injured when a steel bar pierced his shoulder. Later on, Defrott finds him at the brink of death. In order to convince him to fulfill Misaki's last wish, Defrott turns Maeda into a vampire.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: By the end of the show, Code Zero was disbanded with Yanagami and later, Maeda dead, Suwa moving to New York with Ayame, Takeuchi taking care of the vampire children and Kurusu continuing his duty to eliminate rogue vampires.
  • Flash Step: Higher class vampires like Kurusu and Suwa can move fast enough to appear as if they are teleporting.
  • For Science!: Takeuchi is very enthusiastic about studying vampires. He doesn't even regret turning into one because his brain wouldn't age.
  • Freak Lab Accident: How Takeuchi became a vampire: while doing some lab work, a beaker containing vampire blood exploded and one droplet went into his eye.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: The vampire members of Code Zero are just average guys who are more or less not into being vampires. Yamagami is the least enthusiastic of the bunch because he didn't expect to be bitten and misses his normal life as a human being. Kurusu is reluctant of his strength as an A-ranked vampire and is afraid he might lose his sanity if he uses too much of his abilities.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Maeda visits the spot where Misaki dies to leave asters, which mean "I'll never forget you".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Episode 6, Yamagami removes the debris burying Maeda at the cost of his life, as he has to step into the sunlight while doing so.
  • Identical Stranger: Misaki and Aoi looked very similar in appearance so some mistook the latter as the former.
  • Interspecies Friendship:
    • Aoi, a human, and Defrott, a vampire. Though the former doesn't know that her friend is a vampire until episode 11, Deffrot enjoys his friendship with her due to their shared passion for theater.
    • In episode 7, Defrott used to be friends with Misaki who met him in the theater's attic. Initially, he's aloof about her presence but gradually warms up to her and helps her improve her acting skills. When Misaki was fatally injured after a stage prop fell on top of her, Defrott is the one who turned her into a vampire so that she can fulfill her wish to show her performance as Salome to Maeda.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Aoi works on a magazine as a reporter who wants to write news-worthy articles. When she decided to write about the human combustion incidents, her boss rejects her pitch and wants her to write about the opening of the Imperial Hotel, much to her chagrin.
  • Mauve Shirt: Moriyama, who is an aide to Maeda after arriving in Tokyo despite not being a member of Code Zero. After being introduced in the first episode, he ends up dead at the end of the second episode after a vampire bites him. While it seems that he's about to transform into a vampire, Maeda kills him out of mercy.
  • Mid-Season Twist: Episode 6 ends with the Great Kanto earthquake which leads to Yamagami's death. Then, episode 7 shows what had happened to Misaki prior to her vampire transformation and Defrott turning Maeda into a vampire.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Deffrot turns Misaki and later, Maeda into vampires in order to save them resulted in both of them losing their sanity. Misaki eventually commits suicide by letting herself stay under the sun though she did get a chance to meet Maeda in person. Maeda tries to kill Deffrot because he's a vampire but he accidentally injures Aoi, much to his shock.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • The vampires still looked human except their eyes glow red and have sharp fangs. They have a circular spiked marking on the necks, where they are bitten and can still die when exposed to sunlight.
    • When a person is infected with vampire blood, there is likely a chance that they die of blood poisoning. If that person survives, they can transform into vampires but they need blood to survive. Even if they don't want to drink blood, they don't die to starvation except that their craving for blood will grow stronger. If they drink fresh human blood, they're likely to lose their sanity.
    • Like most vampires in other media, they have Super-Speed, Super-Strength, Super-Senses, and Nigh-Invulnerability. They are also capable of telepathically communicating with each other.
  • Pen Pals: Maeda and Misaki are engaged, but they’ve never met and communicated only through letters.
  • Platonic Prostitution: During the investigation in Yoshiwara, Suwa visits a prostitute named Akesato. They spend the time talking while Suwa rests his head in her lap.
  • Random Power Ranking: Vampires are ranked by a letter system, with the highest being S-class and the lowest being Unranked.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Most vampires have red eyes, which will sometimes also glow.
  • Red Light District: In Episode 4, Code Zero investigates a series of deaths in Yoshiwara.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Shutaro Kurusu and Aoi Shirase. They're Childhood Friends who ended up being engaged until Kurusu is deployed to Siberia. However, Kurusu is reported to be killed in action and Aoi doesn't believe in that because Kurusu swore to her that he would come back to her alive. And she's right; Kurusu did return as a vampire.
    • Yoshinobu Maeda and Misaki Nakajima. They're engaged but they never meet each other in person as Maeda is stationed in Siberia at that time. So, he and Misaki exchange letters instead and based on their reaction to each other's letters, they seem to grow fond of each other. However, after Maeda returned to Tokyo after recovering from his injuries during his mission in Siberia, Misaki becomes a vampire.
    • Tokuichi Yamagami and his wife, Tomiko. The former is in the same situation as Kurusu where he's reported to be killed in action and came back as a vampire. Because of his status, Tokuichi is unable to go back to Tomiko. However, thanks to Kurusu, he visits her while pretending to be a ghost and encourages her to move on.
  • Suicide by Sunlight:
    • Misaki does this at the end of Episode 1, after finally meeting Maeda face to face.
    • It comes into full circle where Maeda himself dies on the same spot as Misaki.
  • Vampire Hunter: Code Zero. They're created by the Japanese government to hunt down the vampires despite being a small unit of five people.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Maeda and Yamagami usually trade jabs at each other since they graduated from the same class in the military despite their difference in rank and status.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After taking over the vampire units from Nakajima, Rufus leaves a gun on his cell which is a message that he can kill himself if he wishes. By the end of the show, he is seen walking on the street, but it's unknown what precisely had happened to Nakajima.
    • This goes with Kurusu. After accepting Aoi's blood, he slays the remaining vampire units. In the post-credit epilogue, it's unknown what had happened but it's presumed that he took Maeda's final words by heart to fight off rogue vampires.
    • Defrott's status is unknown by the end of the show. His only appearances in the final episode were him, narrating William Blake's "Little Girl Lost", summarizing the theme of the show.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ltg. Nakajima's reason for creating vampire units within the Imperial Army is not only to show the country's prowess but also to prevent casualties after they have suffered an excruciating defeat in Siberia. Too bad the earthquake foiled his plans.
  • Wham Shot: The end of episode 8 shows Maeda being a vampire with his eyes glowing red.