「Ikari no Hi」 (怒りの日 (problems))
“Day of Rage”
We briefly depart from Echo and Mu to focus on a previous side character in Nir. She might have quit school, but relies on her mecha to live out a vagabond life. When her amp breaks, it requires the assistance of Lyde and Richie – a pair of orphans who go way back, that work as young mechanics for an extremely stingy owner.
Though I do really like Mu (with Echo yet to fully grow on me), I enjoy how the series leisurely explored its setting away from our two focal characters. The angle they’ve gone for this city is London during the blitz. To my Londoner eyes, it was weird to see what looked like random kids from the Salvation Army wander around a dour high rise city center. I suppose if London was a dystopia, with orphans being commonplace, I could see this being reality. But it seemed oddly eccentric to me. That said I could draw some parallels with modern society under the throes of COVID.
For the most part, the general sentiment in the UK seems to be one of plucky resilience. But based on my Facebook feed, I could imagine some British people having that sort of attitude – a few giving in to total despair, while some are openly angry at being oppressed like Lyde and Richie, which is a particularly fitting theme considering the musical theme tied into this episode would be the Sex Pistols – who were openly anti-establishment. Unfortunately, their desire to challenge authority ends up spelling their doom when the earless show up – coupled with an extremely unpleasant surprise.
Nir’s first response to the mega earless appearing is going Nir Automata – which is to say she immediately flies towards the epicenter so that she can scout out the situation. To her surprise, she’s quickly overtaken by a familiar face. Through sheer willpower, Lyde’s eyes go extremely bloodshot and a player plug opens on his back (opening up some fascinating questions about what it actually takes to become a Player in this universe and whether anyone with willpower can do it) – allowing him to pilot the mecha he’d stowed away all this time. Only he and Richie fly too close the sun – in this case, evil Mu, who obliterates these two sods to their literal graves.
On the one hand, I’m relieved they didn’t explicitly show these two likable fellows being brutally murdered in cold blood. It was somber enough as is. Lyde had a beautiful dream despite being stuck in a shithole. Richie died a virgin after constant rejections and never being able to get the love of his life to accept him, and that really strikes a saddening chord. On the other hand, it’s a missed opportunity to have stepped up the seriousness. Like holy shit, this could have been so much darker and punched way harder if they displayed some mangled corpses, which would force us to ask questions about why Mu would do such a thing – no doubt some kind of brainwashing has occurred. At the end of the day, I also reckon this episode feels like a throwback to WWI, with the granny who adopted Lyde and Richie sobbing at the end – hitting home the sheer futility of humanity’s conflict with the earless. Maybe Jimi was onto something – especially when the real evil seems to be Londinium’s government – who purposely razed down the city and citizens during the earless attack AND seem to be behind evil Mu.
Not saying that Listeners is a magnum opus. It’s not entirely clear where Listeners is trying to do, since there’s no obvious trajectory to the story. But I’m really enjoying myself. I’ll happily go along with the creators whims, because it seems like they’re passionate about this project and throwing all sorts of strange ideas into the mix, which ultimately makes for an unpredictable series that has a soul – something I wish to see more of within the modern anime industry.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. Thanks for reading this post, I will be covering Listeners from this point onwards due to MissSimplice being preoccupied by real life circumstances – and let’s unravel the mystery of evil Mu next week, and what exactly caused her to murder Lyde and Richie.
ED7: 「Trauma」 by ()