「ティーン・スピリット」 (Tīn Supiritto)
Honestly, all you need is to watch the first episode of Listeners to understand that we have two mysterious characters, Myu and Jimi. And then, you can technically watch all these episodes as stand-alone.
Having short stories within each episode is an interesting way to introduce viewers to a wide range of music while exploring this vast territory making up Echo and Myu’s world. This series was built around a love for musical genres of all kinds, whether rock, alternative, industrial, grunge, and now headed into Funk. These constant references to real-life bands and musicians make the character design really fun. Like, how can you not recognize those famous ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ lyrics? Everyone has sung this song and listened to it at least 100 times, right? Or was it just me?
In the last episode, we were introduced to the Valentines who quoted a variety of lyrics from My Bloody Valentine songs, and in this fourth episode, Nir (Kugimiya Rie), an awkward and depressed student, quotes word for word lyrics from “Smells like Teen Spirit”, one of Nirvana’s most notorious songs. Honestly, if I didn’t pay attention to these small details, I don’t think I would notice the depth the series is providing.
With Nir, we find an angsty and lonely teenage girl, ready to give up on life. She uses “Teen Spirit”, essentially a canned drug, to fill the emptiness she feels after having lost her family, her will to live. A drug by the way, which she was introduced to by Hole (Shimono Hiro), the student council president. I thought her character captivated, in a very brief way, a lot of what high school students feel from time to time navigating a world they are very little prepared for.
However, I will say that Hole was an unnecessary addition to this story. The fact that they added a ‘right under your nose’ conspirer trivialized the discussion around drug use, addiction, suicide, etc. It was like ‘we need someone to blame’ for why Nir is going through what she’s going through, rather than explain that it comes from a deep dark place within her. I mean, she did basically try to bash her head into death to get rid of the pain that comes with feeling lonely.
I assume we’ll see Nir again and she’ll still be carrying that darkness within her, but at least now she knows she has a friend in Echo. Sometimes just that little bit of hope lets some light seep into the darkest corners of the mind.
We’re still at the beginning of the series, so I expect these ‘one-shot’ type stories to eventually link together and make up a larger story arc that will include some key characters returning, but even if it doesn’t, I’m okay with the pace this is going at. Each episode offers so much information, and the young pair are a good fighting duo. They challenge each other in so many ways I expect they’ll make up a fearless pair on the frontlines if they ever make it there. Speaking of front lines, something I only just realized is that there is an ongoing and very present battle happening in this world between governments and the Earless. It’s just that each country, or territory, is going about it differently since the Cataclysm – that Jimi caused, right?
This mission to find out who Jimi Stonefree, leading to Jimi Hendrix lyrics I imagine, will continue to open up doors to new characters whose personalities will mimic the artist(s) they embody. It wasn’t going to be as easy as solving a crime and getting all the answers, obviously. Of course, the information in his dossier had to be 98% redacted. But at least there was a picture of Jimi and a friend, which is guiding us to Purple City, where ‘Denka’ will be waiting to give Echo and Myu additional information about his old pal. Apparently, they were close back when they attended Freak Scene Academy. What a name for a school that deals with training up and coming Players, huh? No wonder they all went berserk.
Anywho, if you say it ‘Denka’ out phonetically and translate it from Japanese to English, it means ‘Prince.’ So… Purple City… Prince. Ringing any bells yet?
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