The location where the dark swallowed everything and took everything from us has become known as the Lightless Realm.
Born there, as if they were mirror images of the despair and chaos humans felt, were aberrations.
They were called Admonitions.
An investigation of the Lightless Realm that eats away at the human psyche. Can a group of eight boys and girls gathered in an effort to combat the Admonitions see the light of the future beyond the Lightless Realm, while their past destinies and dangerous present intertwine in a complicated web?
First of all, I'd like to say that the key to truly enjoying M3 is having an interest in a series that not only showcases sci-fi/fantasy elements but also has the tendency to go deep into the characters' psyche, exploring their personalities and how they came to be like that. I'd go beyond that and say it's not so much about the story but the journey these people go through and the very simple yet effective and truthful message it’s trying to convey about what connecting with others truly means.
It starts really slow and sligthly confusing. I'd say this is the main downfall
for the series, for those that do not find something about it that makes them want to stick with it. The first ten or so episodes are the weakest ones, but they ARE indeed important to develop the background and offer a starting point to the characters. At the end everything comes together nicely.
I personally found the character designs appealing and distinctive enough. It handles its (I'm guessing) low budget well enough, but it lacks dynamic action, fluid animation or a visually captivating direction. But it gets the job done.
The music is good, not spectacular. Voice acting is very good, though you could find a particular character hamming it up from time to time.
This is where the series shines. It's quite likely that you won't like some characters from the beginning, but them being initially unlikable really works positively for the series since their evolution and reasons for being how they are makes sense in a satisfying way.
Not all of them are particularly interesting, but the crucial ones are. By the end of it, they're people you want to cheer for.
This is a very subjective area; I personally found myself enjoying the series more as it went on. It started pretty mediocre and confusing but as the episodes went by it found the right balance. In the end, the good taste left by the second half overcame the bitterness of the first one.
I'm a huge fan of sci-fi in many areas: books, movies and anime. In this last form of media in particular, I have enjoyed wildly different stuff, from Gundam to Getter Robo, with series like Votoms or Dougram in the middle. M3 has little resemblance to the real or super robot genre: it's definitely in line with what most of Evangelion talks about, but developed in a much simpler, easier to grasp manner. It's more akin to mystery series in which the characters' motives are the center, such as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.
It was a pleasant surprise and I'm sad to discover most people did not find it appealing enough to stick with it until its final episode. What's more it was not commercially successful at all. While it clearly had flaws (slow start; mediocre production values; excessive use of flashbacks; an underdeveloped character), the positives outweigh the negatives and it offers a satisfying story with a clear finale and a more thoughtful focus.
Ok, so I've just finish watching this 24 episode anime and quite frankly I have mixed feelings about it, so I'm gonna cut to the chase and just present my ratings for this anime:
Story: Decent 4.
The problem with the story was that it has too much in it that the plot and the story-line itself wasn't easily understood, especially when it has a mixture of sci-fi mixed with supernatural, in my opinion the two genres are like oil and water that don't mix, it also has a combinations of "SOMEWHATS" and SOME SORTS"and I do mean "SOMEWHATS." First of all there is that somewhat of
a harem combine with a some sort of yaoi, there is that somewhat supernatural beings represented by "Corpse" vs the some sort of sci-fi which was represented by the MA-Vess. There was also that somewhat of melodrama combine with some sort of action. Also the plot was obviously a recycle of "Guilty Crown" and "Black Bullet" which was given a little bit of a tweaking to make it look like it was different, but even so the story is still decent enough.
Art: Very Good 8.
I really like the CGI that was incorporated into the anime especially when it involves that Corpse thing and the MA_Vess, very fancy but very good indeed.
Sound: Mediocre 5.
Ok, as far as I'm concern, I just don't have any comment about the voice actors who did the voices of the characters here, as for the opening and closing, I really don't have much to comment about it, sorry.
Characters: Good 7.
At first it was one of those high-schooler who would be doing jobs that should be done by grown ups, but then again, as the anime progresses, you would forget that the pilots of those so called "MA-Vess'" were high-school kids, but what really prompt me to give this section a 7 was the intensity of them character's portrayal as they not only struggle to do their jobs to protect the population outside the "Lightless Realm" but also the conflict they encounter and their own personal feelings and fears that they themselves will end up as LIM's. But the one who really impacted me was Natsuiri, yes, it was that antagonist that really impacted me, not because I admire him, but rather, he is the kind of character that I really wanna see get turned into a necrometal, and seeing his demise is what convinces me to give this section its score.
Enjoyment and Overall: Fair 6.
For this anime to be 24 episode long was really very long, in fact nearly half of it was created to serve as a mere cliffhanger, ok, I really do enjoy watching it but only barely since my enjoyment stems for my desire to see how Natsuiri will have his demise also, we're left with other questions such as to how on earth did a small village where Tsugumi, Sasame and Minashi lived where able to obtain that "Corpse" thingy? Also, anime director Junichi Sato forgot to mention as to what "LIM" stands for ok so we know it is a kind of dark metal that powers the MA-Vess' and produces a sort of resonances with the pilot, but what was the science behind it? Also, how did Tsugumi survive in the 'Light-less Realm" for too long and didn't even bother to look for his friend and her sister Sasame while she is has that so called Corpse in her command, also why did she stayed in the "Light-less Realm." These question alone form a plot hole that basically kept me from giving this anime's enjoyment and overall a high score, so opinion wise, I just limit it to a 6 and I think that's fair enough.
I do not know why people dislike this anime, or the amount of hate I get from people watching this, maybe because this is pretty slow-paced, so most watchers didn't continue to bother watching this series. First of all I'd like to say that watching this anime episode by episode will only bore us, and that's why I think most people dropped this show. Maybe they don't find it appealing enough, or because of the slow start, forgettable characters, and the mediocre animation. So I advise everybody who plans to watch this anime : WATCH THIS STRAIGHT.
The story is good, the synopsis explains that
this anime has potential, and the plot itself is indeed interesting. This anime has VERY slow pacing, you will find quite boring for the first few episodes(boring until episode 12 I guess?), but you will get hooked by it. One thing that I didn't like in the story was the concept of mechas being used, it didn't fit really well with the story. This anime also brings deep messages to its viewers, but it doesn't convey well straight to the point and can't connect its meanings to the viewers completely. With some deep messages it brings, this anime has psychological undertones and contains some explicit scenes which may not please others.
The characters were really good, we can see leaps of character developments as we go on with the show. At first they seem pretty forgettable, but they kinda grows within you. That feeling when your first impression on a character changes, you will like them and eventually root for them. Some supporting characters may be dull, one-dimensional, and their actions do not make sense, but you can see their developments as the show goes on. Also, one thing that I also find it interesting is that this anime isn't afraid of losing its characters, characters that didn't stand out at first evolved and developed pretty well(especially Mhamu), character interactions, some characters were just so crazy and insane(the mad scientist LOL) but their presence is really essential for the plot.
The art, for a 2014 anime, was quite cheap and a little bad. Maybe the studio were on a tight budget for producing a 24-episode anime or something, but it still fits the atmosphere of the show. The use of dark colors really sets the dark mood of the show. Character designs were fine, the mecha is also good I think, having consistent animations and distinctive designs. CGIs were satisfying enough to entertain our eyes throughout the show.
For the sound, which includes its music and sound effects, were pretty good. I really find the openings catchy, the first one "Re:Remember" by May'n fits with the sad tone of the show and reminds us of a beautiful sorrow, the second opening was "Replica" by Sakamoto Maaya, was really catchy, giving us hints of how the series will end but the animation of the anime spoils its viewers.
"Ego-izm" by lalalarks is not that appealing for me...at first. But eventually the song, piano keys, and its music gets stucked in your head. The second ending song "SABLE" by nano was my favorite, it really conveys the action genre of the series. There is only a small set of soundtrack, but it still gets the job done. Character voice acting were just average, they didn't stand out.
As for my personal enjoyment, the first few episodes are not that good, to the point of being boring or even bad, but I assure you watching the episodes continuously can at least change on your point of view to this anime. For an action anime this has less action, but more on character interactions for summing up the plot, but it's still good. For those who dropped this, give this a chance.
Overall, I give this anime a 9. It think it deserves some praise, the show was pretty successful itself in terms of adaptation, it's really sad, as the anime itself didn't do anything bad to be hated, that people dropped this, this isn't even worse than other mecha animes out there, so give this a shot.
Communication. Understanding. Connection. All things we as humans struggle with. To truly know another person is difficult on its own; some would say impossible entirely. That, however, doesn’t stop us from trying, no matter the pain. Pain that births from failed attempts of understanding, thinking you know someone but in truth do not. Sometimes, trying to connect to another is more painful and can hurt more than trying to cause them misery. But who hurts more: the person who tried and failed, or the person on the receiving end? Can comprehension of others truly be had if we are separate beings? And should we even
These questions have been tackled in a number of areas, each with differing results. Romances and dramas are built entirely on a foundation of understanding, with the latter often birthing from a lack of that communication. Anime, understandably, is no exception to these ideas. We all know Evangelion took on these ideas, with the conclusion that “Yes, we could all become apricot Jell-O, but that really isn’t the same as talking to another.” It postulated that attempting to connect with another person could hurt, but it was worth it for those we truly get to know and love. A more recent example would be Kiznaiver, which took a novel concept of connected wounds and pushed it through the lense of a hackneyed melodrama. Whatever it suggested about about communicating with other people was lost through a sea of teenage angst and the fact that, ironically for a show about getting to know people, we never got to truly know any of the characters (save for one).
M3 is another show like the above mentioned. It was released smack dab in the middle of spring 2014, but was quickly overshadowed by more popular titles of the time. Perhaps it was its status as a mech anime at a time when people were hyping up Aldnoah Zero. Maybe it was that it was announced only two weeks before it first aired. Or perhaps it was it’s strange combination or writer Mari Okada (Kiznaiver, Simoun) and director Junichi Satou (Princess Tutu, Kaleido Star). Whatever the case, it came and went, with its very existence forgotten to time. It was that obscurity and strange director/writer combo that drew me to M3. And after concluding it, I can safely say that, while undoubtedly away from a masterpiece, it is somewhat of a fascinating show to watch unfold in both theme and certain characterization. That, however, doesn’t keep it from being a show weak in terms of execution and interest.
The world of M3 is one where Japan is threatened by a giant void of darkness. Known as the Lightless Realm, this dark sphere degrades all that enter and births monstrous creatures known as Admonitions. It threatens to engulf all that is and corrode humans in Necrometal. To combat this threat, the organization Ix forms subsection Gargouille. Comprising this group are eight high schoolers, each of whom have vague memories of knowing themselves once in the past, and are trained with mecha known as Vess. Their first encounter with an Admonition, however, leads to an encounter with an even more powerful creature known as the Corpse. Upon the Corpse rides a human girl, and is heard a song that is hauntingly familiar. With the mystery of the Corpse and the discovery of an even more powerful Vess known as “The Reaper”, the truth of the Lightless Realm and the past of the children slowly comes to light.
With that setup, the key pieces for successful mecha action are organized. High schoolers with inner demons fighting giant monsters in equally giant robots has been a proven success story in the past. And to M3’s credit, the actual structure of the show is quite steady. It takes its time at the start, slowly depositing key character traits and setting up the science fiction elements. The setting is almost universally set in the one city right next to the Lightless Realm, and the repeated visiting of certain areas can feel somewhat repetitive at the start. Some have issues with shows starting off slow like this, but personally I have no issue with shows taking it’s time. It’s important for any story to set up everything and M3 pulls it off without too much of a hitch.
Scientific elements were also done quite well. The mecha were decently explained and never pulled random powers out of their asses. The Reapers were much of the same, with a great deal of focus given to their source of power, the LIM system. However, once the concepts are explored as much as they can be the show suddenly goes on a bent about elements of mysticism. The best comparison that I can most think of here would be Gasaraki, as it similarly mixed hard science with a spiritual, mystical bent that didn’t really mesh well together. It’s struggle was that the scientific parts were extremely well explained while the supernatural elements left far too many questions open. And not the good kind of questions that keep discussion of the show alive. I’m talking the sort of questions that makes you upset they didn’t provide any decent reasoning for their introduction.
Thematically, M3 is divided by its two halves. The first one is primarily focused on main character Akashi's’ development and attempts to connect to his peers. It does divulge itself on the other characters and their struggles at times, but the focus is clearly on Akashi. Once the second half begins (more precisely after episode 16), the show’s pace rapidly speeds up, and the show focuses moreso on questioning if people can connect without hurting each others. This dovetails into the final reveal of the central mysteries and a serviceable, if a bit too expected conclusion.
With that aforementioned speed up, however, comes a string of rather absurd and, frankly, tonally out there twists. On paper they may seem fitting, but they at times contrast too heavily with what the story has already shown about. The above mentioned mix of scientific and supernatural elements is a key example, but an even greater one would be a certain character's motivation for their actions. A motivation that is sound in theory but in execution comes off as ridiculous and makes the character seem like a unintentional and complete idiot. Not to mention ruining the severity of the situation the show tries to convey.
Additionally, the plot on the whole simply lacks something. It’s something that can’t be easily explained, but to put it best it as missing that “spark”. That key piece of a show that keeps it from being a truly engaging experience. The part that invests you in the world and makes you think “I can’t stop watching now!!” The structure is there, the pacing is there, the twists and turns, everything is present. But without that spark everything feels somewhat banal, in spite of the admittedly interesting twists the show takes. As a result, a plot that all things considered is on suitably solid ground comes off as weaker than it could have been. Without that investment, it can never surpass being only passable; a solid plot, yes, but nothing more than that.
It can actually be compared to Okadas’ later show Kiznaiver. That show also had some rather fascinating sci fi elements and interesting thematic issues tackled in an extremely mixed way. M3, at the very least, had more episodes to flesh those items out, but it still struggled in how all over the place the execution was. And poor execution can ruin even the most interesting of concepts.
Plot, however, can be supported and even improved my a strong cast of characters. And M3 is certainly focused on its characters. As expected from a Mari Okada show, the characters are plentiful and drama is abundant. Surprisingly, most of the drama doesn’t stem from trite love triangles and other such romantic drama. It primarily stems from the interpersonal nature and mindsets of the characters and how they want to change themselves for the better. Unfortunately, the attempts are at times are better in theory and set up.
Our main character, Akashi, is bar none the strongest example in the entire show. His arc is one that has been tread many times: the sullen loner type who slowly connects with those around him and improves as a person. What makes this rendition of that arc stand out, in concept at, is the sort of struggle he has to go through. Akashi begins as someone who doesn’t really care much for others, but upon meeting someone he takes a liking to early on, he does try to connect with them. It impressed me for how speedy it happened, skipping countless unneeded scenes of moping and angsting while still keeping enough in to be natural.
Following from that, other characters are willing and able to call out his faults: namely a tendency to indirectly hurt those he tries to forge bonds with. As one character puts it, Akashi is “the most vicious type of person.” Someone who wants to be nice but unwilling to cross that line of being an actual decent person. Someone who puts on the illusion of being kind so that people won’t hate him. And nobody knows that more than Akashi himself; his entire first half arc is dedicated primarily to him trying to become a legitimately good person. On paper this sound like a brilliant arc, a true delve into a character and their psychological makeup.
Stumbling blocks arrive, however, when it becomes apparent that this is only an issue for the first half. A story like Evangelion played out Shinji’s emotional and psychological drama for nearly the entire story; it was the main catalyst for his character and actions. Once the first 12 episodes are up, so too is Akashi’s arc, and the rest of his character moments are dedicated to him defending his actions and beliefs. It also doesn’t help that the show doesn’t delve too much into his psyche to truly understand how he ticks. It tries to, yes, and we are given a key moment in his past to extentuate this. But that moment is, while somewhat interesting, ultimately lacking any true impact. Impact is the key word here; the pieces are here for a truly fascinating character, yet it lacks the true push needed to have it be truly powerful. It leaves us with a character that is just somewhere in the middle; not truly hateable but not entirely likeable either.
While Akashi’s character wasn’t the most phenomenal or even that well executed, it was the most interesting one in the entire show. None of the other main characters have the same amount of detail put into their stories. It comes to be expected with a large cast, but it’s even less so than what one would expect. Avoiding spoilers, but of the remaining seven characters, two of them are practically written out of the show within the first 10 episodes, two more are basically non entities, and the remaining three to get development aren’t the strongest.
With the two characters “written out”, it was especially annoying because one of them, Emiru (the one with the big ass ponytails) actually showed some interesting characteristics. Someone who would do anything to show her life had meaning and climb her way to some importance, yet delivered in way that elicited sympathy rather than overall douchebaggery. Which made it more of a shame when her story was abruptly cut off. The other one, Isaku, is a much weaker character, being your run of the mill edgelord psychotic with a fetish for terror. Literally the only notable thing about him is that his design is a dead ringer for HeroAca’s Bakugo. I’m serious, he looks nigh identical to him and when that’s the only interesting thing about your character, that’s an issue.
The two other characters, Iwato and Raika, exist only for the sake of existing if nothing else. There’s nothing really hateable about them and they work off each other nicely, but they clearly didn’t get as much focus as anyone else and it shows. Honestly, removing them might’ve made the show stronger, giving it more time to focus on potentially interesting characters.
As for the remaining three, thankfully, go through some sort of change in personality. The most interesting one was Mahmu (the black haired one), who managed to cram her entire character arc in one episode and yet still had it come off as extremely well done. It goes to show that M3 could’ve worked if more of the characters were written was effectively as her. The last two main characters, Sasame and Minashi, have their arcs tied to some spoilery moments, so going into detail would be difficult, Sasame in particular, though on the whole I thought she was a bit weak. Minashi, contrarily, is the one character I actively disliked, but I feel that was the intent. He was often an off kilter character, and in the second half came repeatedly in conflict with Akashi. Most of my dislike came from his continued insistence that if everyone were connected nobody would hurt anyone and that Akashi was unintentionally hurting everyone because of that. Thankfully, the last act of the show made it clear that I was meant to dislike him, and he ended up being one of the more interesting characters.
Surprisingly, the side cast are quite small in number, but aren’t much better as characters. They certainly exist, dumping plot information on occasion and aren’t hateable, but they’re not much else. The one side I took a real shine to was the main scientist Natsuiri. The man is bat shit crazy, a somewhat subdued psychotic nutter who is a treat to watch in the scenes he’s in. He is a character who is always in control of whatever’s going on, with a penchant for lollipops and nearly always wearing a glorious shit eating grin. Since he more often than not explains the fascinating sci fi parts of the show, that could be the main reason why I liked seeing him. But he was always a blast to watch. The only issue I see with him is his backstory momentarily stumbled in trying to make him sympathetic.
It would seem that a lack of proper time allocation was they key flaw with the characters. There isn’t a strong balance between setting up the world and terminologies and having the people in the world actually act like people. The dialogue is, thankfully, well written and natural for the most part. To once again compare to Kiznaiver, the cast was too big and their focus spread too thin. Even the cast size isn’t a dealbreaker for shows. Something like Infinite Ryvius had a massive cast of characters yet nearly all of them felt very human, with the ones with most focuses being some of the most well written in the medium. It takes skill to have a large cast all come off as likeable, a skill M3 sorely lacks. Everything simply felt hollow to me.
Like the characters, the animation is a mixed bag on the whole. Studio Satelight was busy around this time, having just finished Season One of Log Horizon and concurrently developing another obscure mech show in Nobunaga the Fool. As such, the 2D animation is all over the place. It certainly isn’t terrible by any stretch; the characters look decent enough. They range from genetically appealing to forgettable to the aforementioned Bakugo-ness of Isaku. Nothing special, yet it works good enough.
The background work is also very strong, particularly when it comes to the Lightless Realm. Yet something about it all seems cheap. Something about how the characters moved and how sometimes their designs would fluctuate depending on distance. Even the backgrounds struggle by the fact that they can get really dark at times. Not dark thematically, like black dark. It can be sometimes hard to see what’s happening, and since the show goes back and forth from the same locations, it can get aggravatingly repetitive at times.
Ah, but this is a mecha, right? We can overlook drab character design if the mecha are awesome. So, how are they?
To answer that question, CG. They are all CG. Understandably, some are upset about mechs becoming more computer animated compared to the hand drawn goodness of days past. But this is par for the course for Satelight. Their mechs have always been CG, and that experience shows. The CG is actually quite good; not gonna win any awards but it’s fluid, well animated, and have that sense of impact good mechs should have. At the very least the action scenes are well shot and are quite enjoyable to watch.
The mech designs are from the legendary Shoji Kawamori, and while they are good, they’re not the most memorable. Again, like the 2D designs it’s serviceable, but it feels like Kawamori’s recycling his designs, even though I’m a big fan of his design work in general. The Reaper is probably the best designed mech in the show, but that’s mostly because it's white metal shine stands out well against the drabness of everything else. The Admonitions and the Corpse fare much better, with designs that are unique and eye catching. Admittedly, the Admonitions sometimes look like a jumbled mess of CG crystals, but on the whole they pass alright. Though that could be said of the animation as a whole: somewhat of a generic mess, but still turning out quite okay.
Similarly, the soundtrack is serviceable, yet on the whole nothing special. Most of the memorable tracks only stand out because they use that weird slide whistle-esque sound from the X Files opening. Aside from those, it’s mostly forgettable. The opening and endings are quite nice though. OP1 sounds more unique and depressing compared to OP2’s more standard mech opening. The ED’s are good as well, and I don’t have a preference for either. Though ED2 is entirely english, which is unique. The voice acting is well done, with every actor sounding right for each line read. It’s about standard for the genre, with upticks in quality for the more dramatic scenes. On the other end, the noise the Corpse makes sounds like a dying cow, and I’m not sure if it manages to be intimidating or not. I’m sure some will find that hilarious, but I was indifferent to it.
Potential can only go so far, and M3 proves it in spades. It had the potential to be psychologically complex and beautifully characterized; yet it only scratched the surface and failed to dig any deeper. Despite my thoughts on the whole I certainly have no regrets watching it. It provided me with very interesting, yet undoubtedly flawed, ideas and possibilities of what could have been. If the show had that spark of life, that unbridled creative id it could have greatly increased my respect for what it tried to do. Without it, M3 struggles through the dredges of mediocrity with only the briefest glints of quality. It should only be sought after if you are interested in more obscure shows like I am or enjoyed Kiznaiver. The shows are similar enough so that you may like what you see. But as for M3, it concludes its tale with a 5/10.