MARS RED is an exciting, artistic addition to the Spring 2021 Season. Already from Episode 1, the show has been interesting and true to the era during which it takes place, giving a moving, theatrical twist to the classic vampire tales we’re used to.
First, a little overview: Mars Red (often styled MARS RED) is a 12-episode anime, available to watch on Funimation. The year is 1923, and the First World War has brought rapid social and technological changes to Japan and not only – but there’s a twist. The alternative Japan where the story of MARS RED unfolds is plagued by a vampire problem.
To those who had been fighting the creatures of the night for years, their existence is no surprise. However, things got slightly out of control with an increased number of attacks. As a result, Lieutenant Maeda Yoshonibu is called back to active duty.
In order to stand up against vampire forces, the Japanese government creates “Code Zero,” an army unit specializing in dealing with vampires. Their preferred method for tracking vampires is using other vampires, preferably newly contaminated. Already from Episode 1, Maeda tries and fails to recruit an actress who was bitten.
Many fans who were impressed with the anime, particularly its art and atmosphere, are already looking for more content. So, does MARS RED have a graphic novel or manga and, if so, is it complete, or ongoing?
It turns out that there is a good reason why MARS RED feels so unique, with an atmosphere we can’t really pin down, unlike most anime shows with vampires. MARS RED isn’t an original anime, but its source material is as unique as the show itself. Rather than being based on a manga or light novel, as is the case with most anime shows, MARS RED is based on a play.
The anime adapts an acclaimed stage reading by Fujisawa Bun-O, which is also known as Mars Red. The theatricality of Episode 1, with an increasingly amnesiac actress still reciting her monologue after being bitten by a vampire, makes a little more sense now.
Following the play, a MARS RED manga was created in 2020. Being relatively new, it hasn’t been collected in volumes yet, but it’s marketed towards a shonen demographic and distributes by Monthly Comic Garden in Japan and by Seven Seas Entertainment in North America.