M3 the dark metal

Alt title: M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane

TV (24 eps)
3.112 out of 5 from 1,605 votes
Rank #13,680
M3 the dark metal

There is distorted, deep blackness everywhere. That place, in which blackness swallowed everything and took away everything, has become known as the avidya zone. Strange beings assume the very form of the despair and chaos of humanity. They are known by this name: Imashime. An expedition surveys the avidya zone which consumes human spirits. So, in the intricate intersection between the present in impending crisis and the destiny of the past … can eight boys and girls, assembled to confront the Imashime, find the bright future that lies before the avidya zone?

Source: ANN

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STORY: 8/10 M3 is a strange series when it comes to the plot, characters, and setting. As you'll find out, everything about it seems cliched at first, but that is executed so well it almost seems intentional. Well, I think it is intentional, as that would fit the style and themes very well. M3 is very much a, for lack of a better term, deconstruction of the "mysterious godlike enemies slowly encroaching on humanity" trope that's become increasingly common in new anime. There are no handouts here, characters have to earn their survival. Even the main robots (Ma-Vesses) face great difficulty facing the supernatural monsters, and are basically just sandbags in a one-on-one with the Corpse, which really drives home the horror and dread elements. I absolutely love the pacing in this series. I don't think I could imagine a better way to do it. It starts off on a slow boil, and it just builds up more and more. I think it starts gaining steam around episode 3 or 4, but when you get around episode 10, the show gets really good and it only gets better each episode from there. Truth be told, the plot section is very difficult to actually score, since the later episodes are practically a different series than the early ones, but it's all put together in a way where I honestly couldn't tell you when any significant changes occurred. Plot twists and developments are well spread out and each of the major characters gets fairly good representation during the time they're around (possible exception being Mahmu, who takes about half the series to really start getting directly involved in the plot). I don't want to give away much about the plot or the underlying messages, since, well, they're more enjoyable if you just view M3 and go for it yourselves. It doesn't pound themes into your head and instead lets the narrative show what it's trying to get across with the characters and the story. M3 is one of those series that you have to see firsthand, and it's nearly impossible to talk about what makes it so great without spoilers. ART: 7.5/10 M3 seems to be a budget title, which is odd considering the big names on it (Kawamori, Okada, and Sato). I think someone in the staff wanted it to be unhindered by trying to follow newer anime trends in order to make something more timeless, even if it won't be popular (i.e. a cult hit). Before M3 aired, the only advertising I'm aware of was the website, which was all black with nothing but a silhouette of the Argent and the title on-screen. It's like... "How much more black could this be?" It was genius - minimalistic, bold, and it really excited my curiosity. There were no expectations going into M3, so what I took out of it was only what was on-screen. That said, there's not really much point in going into my philosophy about advertising here (though I might do a post about that somewhere down the line). Long story short, the animation ain't much to write home about. It's not bad by a long shot, but it's just sort of decent. Though I'm hardly an expert on animation, since I'm used to watching series from all time periods and I'm more a story guy myself. I guess the best approximation I'd come with the animation would be... Bleach? Think something of that quality in general. It isn't special, but it gets the job done. That said, the art is pretty good. The character designs are memorable, going for a more realistic design process than most anime. Each character has a distinct facial and body type that makes it really easy to distinguish them. Natsuiri is jovial, smug, and expressive; Akashi is less emotional but you can tell he's got something bottled up in him (helped by his voice acting); Emiru is coy and sociable, often moving about; Mahmu doesn't move much but when confronted she will back away or show discomfort; and so on and so forth. The mecha design seems very standard for Kawamori, looking very Aquarion-esque, but they still look good. As for the monsters, well, they look way better in motion. Still frames of the CG do not do them justice, and the movements of Admonitions and the Corpse are meant to look unsettling. The CG comes off as looking a bit weird, but that could very well be intentional. Backgrounds? Well, they aren't super detailed like things you'd normally see from Satelight, but they are functional and look nice. The Lightless Realm especially has a great creepy and unsettling feel to it, especially. The world just feels very organic in its setup. I'll have to give kudos to the direction here, as well. The use of color, light and shadow, camera angles, etc. really enhances the atmosphere. Fights are tense because they are fast paced, and usually use close-ups that make things more disorienting, for example. All in all, the art style just feels right. It isn't going to be competing with the big budget triple A releases, but that's not really a problem. SOUND: 7.5/10 I'm going to be frank: the voice acting is perfect. "Even Sasame?" Even Sasame. Some people might be off-put by Sasame's more monotone voice, but just trust me - it fits her character very well (same goes for another character who I do not want to divulge spoilers about). Each character's voice is distinct and they convey the personality of their characters well. There are a lot of series where a narrator can be speaking and I have no clue who it is, of even if you can it's because the characters are all very over-the-top in performance but M3 could have entire conversations taking place in a vacuum and you could tell the speakers apart. The performances do change with various moments. When Mahmu is screaming at the top of her lungs, shyly backing out of a conflict, or giving her somber narration, her voice is still recognizable as "Mahmu." At the same time, none of the characters ever really feel phony and played-out, even when someone like Heito is chewing the scenery. Special mentions go to Natsuiri, whose performance is so fun that it helps make him so enjoyable even though I normally hate the "asshole scientist who is an asshole because, well, we need some sort of conflict here" archetype - he's the kind of guy who is just consistently great on-screen. Music? Well, it has some memorable motifs for certain. The final battle's theme is balls-out eargasmically awesome, and all four OP and ED songs are really good, as is the insert song by May'n. Outside of those, though, the music is fairly standard. It fits the tone, but (with the exception of the final battle track) nothing that makes me want to go out and find the BGM (but oh man that final battle track was so awesome). Though, I don't know, sitting down and listening to it might change my opinion. CHARACTERS: 10/10 Ah, THIS is what I've been waiting for. M3 has, hands-down, some of the best written characters I have EVER seen. Each one feels like a real person instead of just a walking cliche. Now, they start out following certain archetypes, but like the plot that's the idea: taking things that are tired, cliche, and stale and handling them in a fresh and realistic manner. They never go out of their way to say anything about their personalities. There's nobody saying, "Oh, Akashi, you're such a good person, the audience should root for you." Some people don't like that sort of thing. They'd prefer a character to be wrapped up in a box with a bow. "This is the tsundere." "This is the stoic loner." "This is the perverted best friend." M3 doesn't do that. It takes its time so you actually get to know the characters. You don't really know Iwato, for example, until about the halfway point. By the end of the series I as a viewer felt more intimate with them than I expected because you learn about them the same way you learn about actual people: through their experiences. Now, some people watch the first few episodes and might think things like, "Akashi's a douche, Emiru is a bitch, and Heito's a fucking psycho" but that's the beauty of stories: character development. Too often we are straddled down, given completely unoffensive characters who have no flaws to work with which just ends up creating a bland world of wish fulfillment. That's something we really need to get over with sooner rather than later. It coddles the viewer by having characters neatly fall into archetypes and there is little to no room to actually analyze them. I remember seeing people comment on M3 around 4 episodes in, saying, "I hate these characters, this show sucks," to which I would say is it really so necessary that we sacrifice good pacing just to make everyone instantly likeable? M3 is trying to be more bold than that, having character who, yes, are initially jerks. All of the main teens have a character arc that they go through, and each one develops in a realistic manner that definitely makes them more interesting and likeable than your normal generic ensemble of anime characters. Are they needlessly cruel? Sometimes. Are they immature? Yes. Do they have problems that could be solved if they sat down and talked for five minutes? Oh yeah. That's the beauty of it. These problems are genuine, and many times they have genuine resolutions. Yes, there's the supernatural element going on, but the core of M3 is the characters and their stories. Not to mention, everything I've said about these characters ties in with the theme of the series, the message it's trying to get across. FINAL JUDGMENT : 9/10 All in all, when a series has great characters, an interesting plot, and is decent from a technical standpoint, what's there to complain about? It's all about the story, and M3 went above and beyond my expectations and I hope that it can for you, too. Not only is it interesting when you watch it, but if you look through all the episodes you see that it's one of those series that knows exactly what it wants to do from the very first episode, or even if it does need to improvise it is very good at making it all seem like it was part of the plan. The characters and their story arcs match the central message of the series, which ties into the main conflict perfectly. Nothing is a waste of time - not a single named character, not a single episode, not a single piece of world building, everything is connected in a way that is smooth, plausible, and very great to watch. M3 is a series that rewards proactive viewing. I only really started to love it when I sat down and got to analyze what's being shown and why it's being shown. Talking with people about the series helps one fully appreciate how well put together it is. Watch it with a friend, watch it with your family, whatever it takes, just watch it and think about it. Treasures like M3 will be lucky if they get an international release, a spinoff, or even an appearance in Super Robot Wars. So appreciate it for the precious memory that it is.


So. I watched this a while back and made a review 12 episodes in. Forgot this review existed. Here we go. The story was okay but became shitty near the end. I mean, yeah, I really did like this at first because it was interesting, but then some stuff happened and dropped it some, and then the actual ending itself was just... meh. For a dark series with dark color palettes the ending was just too... light. It wasn't satisfying. It wasnt bad though. The animation was okay, nothing great. CG was done pretty good. I know it says "Satelight" on there as of today (4/30/18), but soon Im going to spam the A-P devs with anime that need studio corrections. This is one of them. M3 was co-produced between Satelight and C2C (a studio they've teamed up with many many times). Oh yeah, cool dark and edgy color palettes. Voice acting wasnt phenomenol, but it was pretty good. The first opening is fucking god, cant remember if there's a second one. The OST is pretty okay, and the sound effects are okay as well. Yeah... Some characters developed nicely, other developed not as nicely. That's okay, though I enjoyed it, that's all that matters right? Yeah... that's coming from a guy who cried watching Mushishi episodes... whatever. The only actual turn offs this seris has was, once again, the ending. Another bit is that one homicidal character- yeah, he wasn't a good character. His personality can literally be defined as "edgy teen dries to shoot up the school" except he uses a giant mecha and tries to kill something or someone else in a very psychopathic way. O well.

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