「煉獄」 (Rengoku)

Despair pervades this episode, like smoke rising from the debris. It was interesting that they chose to channel the loss experienced in the earthquake’s aftermath through the wandering despair of the undead Kurusu, rather than one of the human characters like Shirase. The fact that he acutely feels the shock and despondency the humans around him also feel in picking through the rubble fleshes out this show’s thesis that though undead, vampires are not inhuman because they still feel and love as strongly as humans do.

Words are not needed to convey Kurusu’s utter grief-some of the most heartrending moments are of him silently drifting through scene after scene of destruction. While wandering the scarred face of Tokyo, Kurusu rests near a statue of Jizo- a Buddhist god revered for caring for dead children’s souls and rescuing tormented souls after death. His onigiri offering is poignant-even though society considers him inhuman (and thus probably beyond the saving help of the gods), he is impacted so deeply by the earthquake that he continues in the human custom of wishing peace for victims’ souls. A little later, he notices lantern plants (Hoozuki)-significant because Hoozuki were traditionally believed to guide the souls of the deceased.

It is telling of their characters that Nakajima and Glenn are non-plussed by the earthquake- playing Ascra chess and leaving disaster relief to “underlings” like Shirase and Kurusu. I don’t think they will be completely unscathed, because Ascra is produced at Koishikawa-an arsenal and the site of the Japanese army’s research, which was hit hard by the earthquake. If the facilities are in bad shape, that would make it difficult to continue mass production- slowing down plans for converting the population into vampires.

It’s not surprising that Nakajima and Glenn’s plan was to sweep humanity away by turning them into vampires. They were dropping hints all along, with Glenn distributing Ascra under the guise of perfume and Nakajima’s unveiling of his vampire unit. It was a brilliant (though horrific) plan to manipulate vampire violence into inducing vampire hysteria to trick people into ingesting Ascra through a so called “vaccine”-a rather strange one at that, being ingested rather than injected. (In the middle of the current pandemic, this is probably not the best time for an episode featuring a vaccine that turns everyone into blood-thirsty vampires).

This new vampire world carries a sense of unease because they have the familiar human habits of the need for safety and nourishment- but applied to the darker context of vampires. It was unsettling to hear children remark about how they felt thirsty, because it resembles a human situation where children ask for water- but in the vampire context, that “water” is blood.

Also unnerving was a child’s comment that the vampire unit killed the adult who showed them how to “feed”. I doubt a vampire who showed children survival skills would be a threat. This implies the vampire unit may be a force of (un)natural selection-killing off those too weak or too violent to contribute to a stable society. Previously, I speculated that vampire soldiers could rebel and the rogue soldier confirmed this. It appeared to be caused by Kurusu’s restraining power which works for most vampires- except for the vampire unit (presumably because they are higher ranked). For whatever reason that soldier was not immune to him. For now, they seem easy to subdue by cutting their lifeline. Which leads to the question of what is in those pipes. It would not make sense for it to be Ascra, given the effects of overdosing on vampire blood-but what else could it be?

If everyone becomes a vampire, they will become the “normal”, protected species and the humans, the hunted ones. There will then be the question of supply and demand-with everyone a vampire, who do they get blood from? Is animal blood enough to sustain them or will they select humans to keep for food? I would also worry about the power Nakajima would wield over society. As a leader, Nakajima has shown himself to be cold, untrustworthy, and entirely focused on accomplishing delusions of salvation. With him at the helm values such as empathy, compassion, and respect would be crushed faster than a skull against the vampire unit’s maces.




  1. I regret to have put Mars Red in the backburner in favor of Jouran. It might not be as flashy, but the story and the characters are a lot better. The somewhat subdued visuals also match very well the historical period.

    1. I agree that the story and characters are much, much better than Jouran! Jouran has more fighting action, whereas Mars Red has sporadic action. Less battle action suits Mars Red because one of the many strong points of this series is it’s detailed character developments and intricate plot, which Mars Red also does a far better job at carrying through with than Jouran does.

      Princess Usagi
  2. >a rather strange one at that, being ingested rather than injected

    Oral vaccines are the sort of holy grail for vaccine manufacturers because they’re much easier to administer. The commonest ones are oral polio vaccines – did you never get one of those on a sugar cube?.

    1. Until you pointed that out, I was unaware that there were oral vaccines. I assumed injections were the most common, since it would be the fastest way to get the desired concentration of vaccine directly into the bloodstream. You got me curious about oral vaccines so I looked a little into the history. They appear to be more of a recent thing (i.e. 1960’s) so like you pointed out, they are available today, however they would not have been existent at the time of this anime in the 1920’s.

      Princess Usagi

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