Mars Red: every cultural Easter egg hidden in the anime


Red Mars creator Bun-O Fujisawa is a director specializing in English and French theater, and it shows. Almost every episode contains a play within a play, a reference to mythology and folklore, or a quote from an intriguing piece of literature that is deeply linked to the anime’s own themes: forbidden love, unchecked militarism and the damage that discrimination causes to society in general.

Some are a bit heavy, like all these Romeo and Juliet references. Others are so subtle that they may have flown over most learned viewers, like Takeuchi’s similarity to a Daruma doll or Hayao Miyazaki’s callback. The wind picks up. Here are all the cultural Easter eggs hidden in the Red Mars lively.

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Salome by Oscar Wilde in Mars Red


that of Oscar Wilde Salome is one of the most referenced pieces in Red Mars, still related to the subplot of Maeda and Misaki. Salome is a lush adaptation of the biblical story of a princess who danced so seductively that she was able to claim the head of the holy prophet Jokanaan as a reward. Wilde’s adaptation was much darker than the source, and also full of meta-analyzes of classic female symbols that are also related to vampires, like the moon, blood, and flowers.

In Red Mars, Misaki – General Nakajima’s daughter and Maeda’s fiancee – plays the role of Salome and dies twice (once as a woman, once as a vampire) while playing the role. Maeda’s visions of happiness and sunshine as he is lost in his vampiric delirium also involve Misaki playing Salome, rehearsing just for him. The role of Salome is then taken over by Defrott, literally causing the series villain, Rufus Glenn, to lose his mind.

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William Shakespeare in Red Mars


In Red Mars, by William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet is the piece released immediately after Misaki’s death, replacing Wilde’s Salome at the Imperial Theater. This piece is linked to the series’ secondary couple, Aoi and Shutaro, Defrotte even calling them “Romeo and Juliet” in episode 11: a couple of cursed lovers separated first by war and then by vampirism. These parallels are addressed and reversed until the end. Aoi almost dies after being stabbed, which is how Romeo died in the room. Shutaro asks Aoi to give him a drop of his blood; drinking human blood will turn him into a full-fledged vampire, effectively killing his humanity – just as Juliette drank the poison that put her into a deep sleep and ultimately led to the lover’s death. Unlike Shakespeare’s tragedy, Aoi and Shutaro survive, but they are apart forever.

Hamlet also makes an appearance in Episode 7. Defrott observes Rufus Glenn’s Triple Pass from a vantage point as he recites Horatio’s monologue.

Finally, that of Shakespeare As you like it closes Red Marsthe final of. These last lines, also recited by Defrotte, are a reflection on the role of vampires, eternal creatures, in the face of ephemeral humans.

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Japanese culture in Mars red


From the start Red Mars analyzes vampires in a way more akin to Japanese yokai, fairy creatures, than the classic Western archetype of a bloodsucker.

Suwa, the oldest vampire in Code Zero, even wears a stylized Kitsune (mythological white fox) mask. Takeuchi draws a parallel between losing his eye in a lab accident and being rewarded with immortality with the Daruma doll good luck ritual, linked to the concept of enlightenment and full vision. The doll recipient fills one eye while staring at the goal, then the other on reaching it.

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Episode 2 of Red Mars brings high culture with its own version of Okaru and Kanpeithe history of classic kabuki The 47 Rônin. In the play, the righteous samurai Kanpei is distracted from his duties by Okaru’s charms, just as Maeda considers that Misaki’s vampiric form distracted him from his duties to his men – and the reason why he actually destroys the vampire couple from episode 2. Red Mars is very critical of this cliché that the woman is the temptress, portraying men – especially Maeda and Nakajima – as the performers of an oppressive system that ultimately harms everyone.

Reddit user u / EternalWisdomSleeps tracked down all of the Japanese literature references from Episode 3: Chikamatsu Monzaemon‘s Love suicides in Sonezaki (a play about a boy who falls in love with a prostitute, much like what happens to Suwa) and two of Ryoukan’s poems about forbidden love reinforce the central theme of the anime.

Finally, there is a reference to the Siberian Cake, a dessert from the Taisho era that also featured prominently in Studio Ghibli. The wind picks up, which takes place around the same time period and also portrays the destructive rise of militarism against the seemingly open Japan of the Roaring Twenties.

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Mythology in Red Mars


Takeuchi is called Odin, the eyeless Norse god who was related with wisdom, knowledge and healing, as well as death.

Defrotte also appears rehearsing a theatrical version of The soldier and death in episode 7. This is a Russian folk tale about a soldier who managed to trap death in a sack, until the day when death escaped and cursed him with eternal life . He would travel the world and fight forever – just as Nakajima wanted to turn young men into immortal, unstoppable soldiers who could fight endlessly.

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In episode 9, Aoi convinces Defrott to play Orpheus and Eurydice, a Greek myth about a young musician who went to the underworld to bring his beloved back from the dead – and ultimately failed. The villain of Red Mars Actually stages Aoi’s kidnapping to mirror the play, with the aim of destroying not only Defrotte but also Shutaro, Aoi’s childhood sweetheart.

Finally, episode 12 is titled after the European tradition of the king of fools presented in Victor Hugo’s film. Notre Dame of Paris (and Disney The Hunchback of Notre Dame), where a clearly incompetent person was chosen to run the city for a day – much like Rufus Glenn seizes power for a very brief period and then quickly loses it, being the erratic fool that he is.

Modern Western Culture in Mars Red


In the beginning Red Mars, the Imperial Theater takes a break from plays to show John Ford Wagon master, a western about a group of Mormons trying to reach the safety of the San Juan Valley. Likewise, Takeuchi would lead a group of persecuted vampires to a safe place – in a train car.

Aoi and his publisher have a brand new copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in their tiny press room, which appears in the scene where they realize vampires actually exist.

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Scottish villain Rufus Glenn continues to sing “Oh, Danny Boy” on an increasingly deranged scale through his villainous escape. “Oh, Danny Boy” was written in 1913 and set to a 1700 tune – the lyrics are about departures, death and dreams of better days to come, and are very popular at funerals.

One of Red MarsDefrotte’s strangest choice is William Blake’s recitation A lost little girl, a poem about the idyllic sexual awakening of a young woman and her lover at odds with her father’s domestic expectations of her – while Maeda and Shutaro Kurusu fight to the death. The poem’s theme works in the context of the overall series, but not for this particular scene.

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