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I recently finished watching the anime M3 -Sono Kuroki Hagane*1. When I looked this anime up online, I didn't find very much about it. It's Wikipedia page is insane*2, and MAL's forums are still down so I can't check episode reaction threads (though those wouldn't help much anyways).
It's started to bother me lately that though we live in a time where most anime is streamable*3 to you Western punks who don't even appreciate it, detailed information about specific series is lacking. It used to be commonplace to see people fill wikis with every last detail about something until you started to wonder if they'd watched the show frame by frame to capture every detail.
Now, everything is mostly reaction threads on MAL and reddit, with the odd full wikia once in a while. Wikia is another thing that bothers me; it's format is clunky and ridiculous, it's pages are 50% advertorials for comic book TV shows and movies and for some reason it allows you change the shape of the browser cursor into a thing that in no way works.
A lot of the time, you have to know what you're searching for because finding pages is a headache, and most of them are edited in formats that boggle the mind.
Of course, I could just up and take all of my notes and turn them into a super-detailed Wikipedia page, but I kind of find Wikipedia too formal for this sort of thing. Plus, I have lots of information that is technically irrelevant to M3 as a series, like notes on who worked behind the scenes and what they've done before and after it.
I could also start a blog, which would probably score me a way better Google search ranking if I use Wordpress or Blogger, but this project won't last very long; definitely nowhere near long enough to justify a whole blogger account.
Also I didn't do detailed episode notes, just notes on everything else, so don't expect a whole episode guide.
*1 M3 apparently stands for Mortal Metal Memories,
*2 Direct quote: "Akashi is a thin young male who is popular with the ladies."
*3 Another big reason I wanted to do this is that M3 is actually legally unavailable in English since it's streaming service DAISUKI shut down.
M3 was announced as a project that combined the forces of anime powerhouses. The Studio, Satelight, has a few mecha (and vaguely mecha, a la Symphogear) franchises under it's belt. The series composer, Okada Mari, then a burgeoning but promising writer who was still riding the AnoHana wave, was yet to write most of her better regarded series such as Gundam Iron Blood Orphans. In fact, this was only her second stab at writing mecha series (after Aquarion EVOL) and her first completely original one. The director was the famous Satou Jun'ichi, who brought the world Sailor Moon and the space gondola series ARIA.
Of course, Satou's popularity had plummeted up to this point, but he was still considered a legend. M3 was his first foray into doing a 'serious' mecha anime all by himself. He'd previously done some work on Romeo x Juliet and the second Evangelion film, but his main bread and butter were children's anime and slice of life late night anime. After M3, he's mostly gone back to that, aside from his short OVA series Amazing Twins.
The problem was the show never seemed to stick with anybody. In Japan it came and went over two cours. Outside of Japan, even less people seemed to care. Including, at the time, me.
It was so bad that Bandai Visual, it's distributor, cancelled it's initial release of the series as nine volumes and released it as two boxes at a later date. This may have been the start of a new trend in distributing anime series (a lot of series will see two or three boxes released nowadays, as opposed to four to six volumes as was the whole industry standard before), but for everybody involved at the time it was a mess. Even with this last ditch effort, the series barely sold 130 copies across it's two volumes.
Meanwhile outside of Japan, the series was streaming on a new service that heralded the start of the streaming market's segmentation. DAISUKI (known for it's catchy little ditty before every episode) was a joint venture between a bevy of companies including Toei, Aniplex and Sunrise. Like many of the less popular series on the service that didn't have a licensor already packed in like Aniplex of America, it was never licensed, and therefore never given a home video release. Since DAISUKI folded, no official English version is available.
Why Are The Staff Important?
It's important to know M3's staff to spot the recurrent themes that each person brought to the table. For example, in the case of Satou's work, there's the theme of indirect help from another character.
I'm not as familiar with Satou's work as I am with Okada, but the theme of help from a loved one who is 'there' but is not truly 'there' is something that was prominent in his OVA Zetsumetsu Kigu Shoujo -Amazing Twins-. In that story, the main character Amane is has a power brought to her by her twin sister who died in the womb called Lilianne.
This is clearly mirrored in the LIM. Coincidentally, all the characters inside a LIM float inside it in a semi-opaque fluid, which is quite similar to a womb. The character inside the LIM gives the character piloting the mecha enormous power. The first two LIM users are also related, though they're brothers instead of sisters. Their colours also mirror Amane and Lilianne. Akashi, who is the user, is Red, like Amane was. Aoshi, who provides the power, is blue, like Liliane was.
Recurrent Themes in Okada's Work
As the series composer, it was inevitable that Okada Mari's usual themes would pop up in this story. This isn't to say she's 'repeating' herself, but there are obviously areas of the human condition and the world around them that a writer will find fascinating and want to tackle multiple times. They include:
A Brother's Plight
A familliar theme in Okada's stories is that the main character is the 'shadow' in a 'light and shadow' relationship with their brother. In M3, Akashi is the younger brother of the illustrious child genius Aoshi. Aoshi is prized by their parents and popular with friends. He even has a girlfriend, Kasane, who loves him unconditionally.
Akashi, on the other hand, has a strange ability to tap into the minds of others that makes them pull away from him. His parents also see him as a burden, as he doesn't display any emotions as a child. They regularly berate him for this. As a result, Akashi comes to hate his older brother through no fault of Aoshi's. This is similar to her series Mayoiga, where the main character Mitsumune is forced to live as his older twin brother after he dies in an accident due to his mother's broken psyche.
The Main Character: Being scared of themselves, locking themselves away from the world
In M3, when Akashi was told that his brother died, his face broke out into a cheshire grin that he couldn't explain at the time. Ten years later, he still can't explain it to himself. Similarly, when he and Sasame face her continuing Necrometosis and the possibility of becoming a LIM, Aoshi displays that same smile. This expression, though easily explained as an uncontrollable reaction, clearly bothers Aoshi, making him believe there's something 'corrupt' inside his heart.
In the selector portion of the WIXOSS series, which Okada worked on, the protagonist Ruuko has a latent desire for destruction which she displays via her almost addictive need to go on WIXOSS battling. Ruuko also showcases what she believes to be subtly aggressive behaviors that she believes drove her mother away from her.
As a result of both character's issues with themselves, they tend to try and suppress their urges or feelings. Akashi is lucky in that when he exits the Lightless Realm as a child, it not only seals his memories of his time with Tsugumi, but it also seals away his latent Linker powers. In this time before he ever meets Sasame or is in contact with a MA-Vess or a LIM, he lives an extremely normal life. When the story begins, this doesn't last long, and those elements of his heart he locked away are constantly fighting to get out (like when he sees his cheshire smile while speaking to Sasame).
Many characters comment on how Akashi's heart is closed off, and it remains this way for much of the series until he's finally able to put down his walls. This is similar to Mitsumune from Mayoiga. In that case, Mitsumune himself feels like his true self has been locked away due to the time he spent living as his brother. In both cases, each character's growth was stunted for a significant amount of time before their series begins.
Okada Mari has made it no secret that her high school years were a nightmare. She spent most of them skipping school, and only managed to graduate by exchanging assignments with her teachers. Whilst Mahmu shows no signs of skipping school, she's clearly a disturbed teenager who would prefer to be alone. In fact she tells her fellow Gauguille members that multiple times, even as a child.
Mahmu vents all of her frustrations via her many diaries and notebooks, where she writes what is essentially real-fic where the targets of her anger and scorn face terrible ends. As a child, she even writes terrible fates for herself as a character called 'Mahsa'. She believes the whole world sucks, and so it's okay to be alone.
I'm yet to read Okada's biography (which is available in English from J-Novel club), but the main catalyst of change in Mahmu's life is her relationship with her friend Emiru. When they were children, Emiru wrote a happy ending to her Mahsa story, which opened Mahmu's heart wide enough to allow her to become friends with the other children inside the still forming Lightless Realm.
When Emiru goes through Necrometosis, Mahmu is grief-stricken. She remembers writing out the rumors about those who face the Corpse dying within nine days and goes right back to her story and changes it so the Emiru character in the story survives. When the 'result' of her actions is Emiru becoming a LIM, Mahmu starts to look at things differently. Eventually, she's able to take the LIM Emiru's hand and grow into a new, better person who works hard for a better future. I have no doubt that once I start to read Okada's biography, I'll find something similar.
(Update: I did not, unless working on scripts for adult film counts as her "Emiru...")
Empathy with Psychosis
A popular theme in Okada's works is to incorporate 'darker' themes. In every one of her stories, at least one person will lose their mind. It's actually impressive if they only lose their mind once. Usually, this character will be marked by otherworldly features, such as pure silver hair.
In another person's hands, this sort of character will be one you should be terrified of, and rightly so. Of course, in Okada's works, this still applies. In M3, everybody clearly is afraid of Heito; they all sit in the side of the classroom he isn't in, and only Raika, who has the army mentality of never leaving a man behind, has any sort of care for him.
With Okada, these characters will be literally bonkers, using their very own moral and logical systems to determine what they want and what they like. In M3, that's Heito. In his very first scene, he stabs, strangles and maims a member of his mental institution's security staff. At this point in the series, he's killed his entire family, which is how he found himself in the mental institution in the first place.
But we don't just observe Heito's insanity, we live through it with him. His psychosis has a root cause; when he was a child trying to exit the Lightless Realm, he fell behind his friends and was mobbed by an aggressive wave of Necrometal cells. After this, he suffers a massive breakdown, throwing away the bear his mother gave to him and claiming that his mother never existed to start with. This is when Heito starts to feel truly 'alone'.
When he leaves the Lightless Realm, he doesn't seek to be 'alone', he seeks that terror he felt in that moment when the Necrometal mobbed him but failed to bond with him. Because of this, he's drawn to Emiru, and Okada supports him on his journey. We feel with him, and in a certain way we're supposed to want what he wants, just as we do with every protagonist.
The closer he draws Emiru closer into his insanity as her Necrometosis worsens, the happier he gets. It's stated that Heito has a strong synchronicity level, and one way the level gets higher is via one of the people in the link becoming Necrometal (thus the LIM). Though his glee eventually results in his own Necrometosis, he's never presented as having done something well and truly 'evil' to Emiru. In fact, he's the one who defends her to Akashi and airs out all of the wrongs he committed against her as he continuously ignored her in favor of his romance with Sasame.
This storytelling, where the 'crazy' character is not othered but instead understood probably ties back to Okada's own upbringing. From what I've read, she remembered her mother berating her for what she knew to be were essential aspects of her personality. In a sense, it's accepting the strange parts of yourself that you're afraid of to write a character who is so out there in what their wants and actions are and then understand and empathize with them.
Redemption through Catharsis
Drawing from this theme of having characters who would otherwise be othered as 'crazy', there's a strong sense of redemption in Okada's works. This isn't the standard sort of redemption, where a character apologizes for their actions and is accepted by the other characters. Essentially, it's entirely different.
When a character in an Okada work is redeemed, it is through their own understanding of themselves. This happens for almost all of M3's main characters, if not it's one villain (who doesn't make it to the twentieth episode, let alone the end of the series). When Heito finally comes to his senses after all is said and done, he isn't even speaking to another character when he finally comes to a self-understanding. Similarly, Tsugumi realizes that her vendetta has been making the Corpse suffer, and realizes that she needs to change her point of view. At this point, before she makes any apologies, she's accepted what she did and what the dead people of Tokyo say about her and she realizes she's okay with moving on from that point. This is her moment of catharsis.
In Mayoiga, Hayato's whole arc is overcoming his past trauma and his jealousy towards Masaki as she gets closer to Hayato. This acceptance of his circumstances results in his terrors finally leaving him alone.
Multiple Points of View
From the emotional AnoHana to the theater of voices Mayoiga, Okada loves to approach every situation from different points of view. This results in a rich, vibrant story where the main character is allowed to grow from new facts that others knew beforehand.
A good example is Emiru's plight when she discovers she's been infected with Necrometal. She suffers in silence until Heito's innate attraction to the substance blows her cover, and she suffers under his hand until she becomes a LIM. Only once she becomes a LIM does Akashi understand that he spent the last few weeks of her life constantly letting her down, and the viewer experiences a deeper sense of the two character's now irreparable bond, instead of her becoming a LIM being a cheap twist.
Akashi is the second child and brother to star student Aoshi. During his childhood, he experiences other people's emotions and is able to read their minds. Presumably, this means he is a natural born Linker, though the cause behind his powers is unknown. His parents are afraid of him and regularly chastise him both in their own minds and to his face using very rough language, calling him "creepy".
Still at this point Akashi is a happy child with lots of friends, he even admires his brother. When he's caught in the Lightless Realm, he's shown to be a very playful child who loves his friends. A very caring person, he quickly becomes close with Sasame and Tsumugi, lending the former his jacket so she doesn't get caught in the rain and promising the latter that they'll become friends forever (emulating his 'cool' older brother).
When he finally sees the true extent of the Lightless Realm outside the reprieve the Arbonine provides, he becomes scared and wishes to leave. Along with his friends, Sasame and Minashi, they exit the realm.
As soon as they do, all of his memories of the Lightless Realm disappear and his psychic powers are closed off. He lives a relatively normal life, but his hatred of his brother stews and festers inside him as Aoshi is the object of his parents affection. When his parents die, he wishes it was Aoshi instead, even though his parents barely tolerated him. Even as Aoshi tries his best to take care of him, Akashi can't overcome his hatred.
When Aoshi dies inside the Lightless Realm, Akashi can't help but smile. This uncontrollable physical reaction convinces him that there is an irredeemable corruption within him, but he continues on with his life as normal. He becomes friends with Iwato and an expert Vess Exhibition match pilot.
The Events of M3
Akashi joins the Pilot Programme to go into the Lightless Realm without many qualms. Though he knows Kasane, his brother's old girlfriend, is involved, he doesn't seem too concerned with the goings on at first. He believes "It's better to die than be trapped by the past" and uses this as his justification to kill the Admonisions. Soon after his first fight in the Type-1 Vess, he faces Heito and is forced to pilot the MA-Vess Argent, which makes him violently ill.
He's initially drawn to Sasame at the expense of paying attention to Emiru's issues, which comes back to bite him later. Sasame comes to him one night and guesses that he is afraid to see the truth about himself, which has something to do with the terrifying smile on his face when he found out his brother was dead and the mysterious memories he finds he has of everybody on Team Gauguille. Despite everything, he comes to truly appreciate the time he spends with everybody, and a part of him wants to continue piloting Argent.
Akashi eventually realizes that he does want to help fight against the Lightless Realm and to figure out the insanity of what's going on with the Reaper itself. He initially assumes Aoshi piloted a Machine like Argent, but soon finds out Aoshi's conciousness is within Argent as he tries to retrieve a receiver for IX. Aoshi's memories flood his mind as the Argent takes him to the spot where the receiver is. The Argent is then able to take him away from a self-created Admonition that looks like a Necrometalized Argent in the same way Emiru's LIM inside the Sable was able to save him earlier on when Heito tried to use it to kill him.
After finding out that Aoshi's memories are inside the Argent, Akashi attempts to leave but cannot bring himself to. He meets with Sasame, who mentions a nostalgic feeling upon seeing the sea, and she reaffirms his desire to return to the Argent. Natsuiri then shows him that the LIM inside the Argent is his brother. After listening to recordings of his final moments Akashi comes to understand Aoshi a little better, he is then able to successfully pilot the Argent without becoming ill.
The next time he's inside the Lightless Realm, Aoshi's memories start to flood into his head and interfere with his conciousness. After fully overcoming his insecurities and understanding that his brother did indeed love him, he is finally able to overcome the overlap in conciousness. Akashi decides that he'll do anything he can to come back to Sasame, who he's developing feelings for.
When Akashi almost destroys the Corpse, Minashi is unable to rescue him; only bringing back the Sable for Mahmu to pilot. Knocked out from the exploding Corpse, he has a dream in which Minashi takes Sasame away from him, claiming it was all for the best.
He's taken by in Tsugumi, who had a place in his heart like Sasame did but he's completely forgotten about. Tsugumi, who seems similar to Sasame now that she's allowed her bangs to grow out, complete with an updated jacket for the one Akashi gave Sasame when they were children, tells him about the Arbonine and takes him around the lightless realm so he can open his heart to her and start regaining his memories. That's when he realizes she's not Sasame at all and runs off.
He also understands that he's been protected all along by Aoshi, Sasame and Tsugumi, and wishes to protect them instead. When he regains all his memories and asks for Aoshi's help, he overcomes the theoretical limit on the LIM.
It turns out that the theoretical limit breaking was a sign of the LIM dying, and he finds himself with no MA-Vess to pilot when Aoshi finally dies. When he enters the Lightless Realm in a Trainer Type Vess, his strong emotions begin to resonate with Heito, pulling Heito's conciousness into the Vess with him. This shows Kasane that Akashi has an innate ability to link with others like the other natural-born Linker.
Akashi remembers his own childhood where he could hear his parents thoughts, which created a divide in his family. At that time, he completely closed off his own heart. After accepting his ability, he is able to link with the Argent without any LIM at all.
He tells Tsugumi simply that they do not need to be one to connect, because if they did nobody would be able to wipe away her tears. Though she later goes with Manashi, his words seem to connect with her and she realizes that she can have a future without continuous pain and suffering.
In the final episode, he is able to get away from Minashi and resonate with Sasame to pilot the Gueules and stop Minashi from forcibly uniting everyone using the Corpse. In the epilogue, he has casual conversation with Tsugumi and then goes to visit Sasame, at which point she wakes up.
Heito seems to have been a soft spoken boy before coming into the Lightless Realm. Though he was caught inside it, he initially wasn't with the rest of the group but they invite him along on their adventures soon after the Realm is formed.
After seeing the outside world, he runs away alongside his newfound friends but is separated from them. With nobody to protect him and no Arbonine fruit, the Necrometal swarms him and attempts to turn him into an Admonition. It's unknown why this process was unsuccessful, but it fundamentally changed his personality. Broken, he spends a few more days inside the Lightless Realm, throwing away the teddy bear his mother gave him and claiming his parents didn't exist in the first place.
When he's found and returned to his family, he immediately murders them all, which lands him inside a mental institution until the start of the series.
Events of M3
When Heito is let out of the mental institution, he does not go straight to IX headquarters. Instead, he uses his keen senses for seeking out 'terror', really his innate gift to sense Necrometal ever since the failed bonding from ten years ago, to find the Argent. He tries to bond with it without truly knowing why. The reason being that Aoshi's Necrometalized body is inside it.
He fails to pilot it, but it does bring back his memories of the time the Necrometal tried to forcibly bond with him.
He has a grudge against Akashi for taking the Argent from him and because Emiru wishes to spend more time with Akashi than him. He is heavily scarred by both of Emiru's 'deaths', especially since she calls out for Akashi as she dies both times. He's most concerned after her death, and calls out Akashi for ignoring her whilst she was alive. Pilots the Sable, which has Emiru's conciousness within it. He can immediately tell she's inside it due to his innate gift.
In the Lightless Realm, he discovers his old discarded teddy bear and is reminded of everything that happened. He thanks Emiru's LIM in the Sable for showing him that and then well and truly loses his mind, entering a psychosis he doesn't exit until the very end of the series. Though Akashi comes across his mindless body, he is unable to save him and Heito is taken away by the Corpse.
After Manashi brings the Sable with him in it back from the Lightless Realm, they find that his body is only 40% Necrometalized. The process was only kept at bay because of his innate immunity to the process and his strong link with Emiru. He is only able to respond to Kasane's questions via an MRI-like machine.
When Aoshi dies, Heito's gift allows him to link with Akashi. He embraces Akashi in a hallucination, telling him he can force himself to resonate with Akashi the way he did with Emiru. At the very end of the series, it seems he is cured of any of the psychological issues brought on by the Lightless Realm. With his teddy bear by his side, he recovers from his Necrometitis.
Sasame, Tsugumi and Manashi
Sasame, Tsugumi and Manashi grew up on the island of Yomijima, a place full of Linkers; people who were telepathically connected to one another. Their lives were simple, with very little technology aside from hand tools, but peaceful. They were the only three children on the island amongst many adults, though it is unknown why the Linker population failed to produce offspring.
As residents of Yomijima, they prayed to the deity of the Lightless Stone. Sasame and Tsugumi were twins, with Tsugumi being the older twin. Being the only young female residents of the island, were designated as it's Miko (Priestesses). Manashi didn't have an official role, but he was assigned as their pseudo-guardian. He was also their neighbour on the island. Tsugumi, being the older twin, had much expected of her in her role as a Miko.
One day, Manashi's sister Mimei brought a mainlander home with her. It was the herald of a dark time for the island. The children watched as many adults around them disappeared into the newly constructed IX facility without a trace, but didn't know much else.
There was a brief reprieve when IX stopped all of it's operations and looked like they were about to leave, but it was a poor indicator of what was to come. As they left, IX began a violent assault on Yomijima, burning anything and everything in their sight with little regard for human life. The children ran off into the islanders secret shrine, which they had kept from IX, and the High Priestess of the Lightless Stone gave the two Miko the burden of carrying out the islanders revenge on the IX corporation.
The two Miko prayed to the deity of the Lightless Stone and awoke the mysterious glowing red ball known as the Corpse. The Corpse then took the stone into itself and sprang to life as a small golem-type being.
The Miko, along with the Corpse and their newly minted guardian Manashi, were then taken off the island by an unmarked ship whilst IX continued it's rampage. They eventually made their way to the centre of Tokyo, where they set up the Corpse and began their 'revenge'. The Corpse sprang forth a strange new dimension known as the Lightless Realm.
The three children were told to wage their revenge for a few weeks before returning to the island, but were distracted by a group of children from Tokyo. Led by Akashi and Iwato, the group quickly became fast friends with the three islanders. They lived in a world that they regularly described as being 'like a dream'. With no adults around and the effects of the Lightless Realm held back as long as they stayed by the Arbonine trees, they played and laughed all day.
It wasn't to last.
---Interstory: Sasame, Akashi and Tsugumi
As they got to know each other, Tsugumi performed Mukuro no Uta for Akashi as Sasame listened from behind a tree, out of sight.
When rain fell into the Lightless Realm, Akashi gave his jacket to Sasame so she didn't catch a cold. A few moments later, Tsugumi joins them under the tree, and Akashi and Tsugumi enjoy an innocent laugh. Sasame, feeling left out, runs off in the rain but remains a few feet away.
These two scenes later inform key elements of Sasame and Tsugumi's personalities, if not Akashi. Sasame loses all memories of the lightless realm and of being the younger sister who was always in her older sister's shadow, believing she is the originator of Mukuro no Uta. When the memories come back to her, she starts to suffer a crisis of personality, but also feels guilty for leading Akashi on since he too believes she's this amalgamation of both sisters that lives in his memories.
For Tsugumi, it's an integral part of her growing jealousy. The updated black overcoat she wears in the beginning of the series can't be overstated enough. It's clearly her attempt at 'taking' that memory and moment away from Sasame and part of her claim on Akashi. In fact, she only discards it when it's clear that it's doing more harm than good in her quest for Akashi, and her white negligee becomes her main uniform as she grows into her own in a world where she possibly has to live without him.
One night, Tsugumi realized the weight of the burden she still held. As the 'oldest' Miko, she had to keep to her mission. Knowing that she would one day have to leave her new friends, she began to cry. Her sobs woke the other children around her and Akashi promised he would stay with her forever.
A few days later, she was 'it' in a game of hide and seek. When she finished counting, she found that everybody had left the safe zone and called on the Corpse, which had grown immensely through the negative emotions of those it had absorbed into it. Eventually, she came upon her friends, who were terrified at the realities of the Lightless Realm and ran away from her.
Since that day, she awaited their return, especially Akashi's. For ten years she sat beside the Arbonine in the theatre near the center of the lightless realm, her only company the cries of the people whose lives she unknowingly took through the creation Lightless Realm.
Ten years later, tired of keeping to her duty for much longer than intended, she finally decides to venture out and find Akashi for herself.
---Interstory: Sasame and Manashi
Sasame and Manashi are unable to quell their friends fears when they finally find out the reality of the Lightless Realm. When their friends scramble in terror, they each decide to take a few Arbonine fruit to them to keep them alive. The friends from Tokyo decide they can no longer stay with the islanders and decide to leave.
Sasame and Manashi aid them on their quest, believing they can just as easily come back to Tsugumi a few hours after assisting their friends.
On leaving the Lightless Realm, their psyches suffer a terrible deal of strain. As a result, they both lose their memories of the Lightless Realm, their home on the island, Tsumugi, and each other.
Sasame is taken into a children's home for those who lost their parents in the Lightless Realm. Even though she's lost all of her memories, her powers to link with others and read their thoughts is active and it scares people off. As a result, the other children tend to make fun of her and keep her at a large distance.
It is unknown what happened to Manashi during this time, but it is implied that he became a drifter.
(this post hit the character limit woooo)
Sasame, Manashi and Tsugumi
The Events of M3
The first time we see Sasame, it's from Akashi's point of view. The new girl from the Pilot Course he's been inducted into. He sees her singing Mukuro no Uta from her vantage point above the city, overlooking the water (a place they will revisit when Akashi runs away after learning his brother is inside the Argent as a LIM). He instantly recognizes her, but he doesn't know where from.
When Sasame is inducted into the pilot course, she's also instantly drawn to Akashi, much to Emiru's chagrin. For reasons unknown to her at this point, she also draws Manashi's attention. He frequently interrupts her moments alone with Akashi and tries to worm his way into her graces.
Under the new 'Synchronicity of Thoughts' program, she is paired with Manashi, their link so strong because of the shared history that she's yet to remember. This is when Manashi starts to hound her, trying to read her thoughts more frequently and trying to influence her line of thought.
But her draw to Akashi wins out; she boards the second Vess when the Corpse comes for Emiru's Necrometalized body in order to protect him. Instead, she ends up becoming infected with Necrometal when it's top piece comes off.
Even as she has trouble listening to him speak of their shared memories inside the Lightless Realm where she's sure he's conflating her with somebody else. After running off in the rain, Manashi finally corners her and says a few simple words; "We committed a sin."
After this point, her memories start to come flooding back to her in bits and pieces. At this point, she's also realized that she's begun to Necrometalize and is afraid to tell Akashi. When he goes out on the Argent, all she's able to do is encourage him to come back. When he's having a hard time inside the Lightless Realm and not even his brother can help him get out, she sings for him and acts as a guiding light, which greatly annoys Manashi.
Natsuiri then reveals to them all that she has begun to Necrometalize. In a last ditch effort to convince her not to become a LIM, Akashi spends the night watching the stars with her.
It's all for naught, as Manashi digs deeper and deeper into her. Since they're childhood friends and he was sent alongside them to Tokyo to take care of them, Sasame has a hard time saying "no" to him. Eventually she relents and becomes the LIM of the third MA-Vess, the Gueules.
Even as a LIM, Sasame does defy Manashi at times. When he tries to take her into the Lightless Realm to "save" Tsugumi, she doesn't activate until he pokes at her guilt. In the final battle, not even this is enough and Manashi has to force the link through his own Necrometosis.
In the epilogue, Sasame is undergoing the process to rewrite her cells back to normal. When Akashi visits her, she finally opens her eyes.
Manashi enters the series in the first episode as the one who brings forward the group's first memory when he mentions that he's "Right there". When they were inside the Lightless Realm, he was also the one who brought them together when they became separated, but he holds his cards close to his chest.
At this point he seems to believe he can orchestrate the group's relationships and viewpoints, but he quickly realizes he's out of his depth when Sasame attaches herself to Akashi. As he puts all of his attention on those two, a bevy of other things happen around them, including Emiru's Necrometalization.
Even so, he seems to hold a special place in his place for Mahmu letting her bite him to relieve her anxieties. In the second episode of the series, Manashi displays a number of odd behaviours, including licking the blood off a recently dead person to figure out how they died. These factors never really come up again, but it can be argued that his disorted viewpoint is why he ultimately becomes the series' final hurdle.
Manashi displays his Linker senses very early on in the series, constantly finding Akashi and Sasame in intimate moments just to interrupt them. He takes advantage of his status as Sasame's childhood friend to try and influence her, but it's shown that this also takes a toll on him. When Sasame leans in to Akashi's touch but recoils from his, it upsets him so much that he calls her out for it, as if he's pleading for her to feel similarly about him. Though his feelings for Sasame run deep, it doesn't seem to be a romantic attachment. It might just be that his senses as a Linker are so strong that he can't envision a world where Sasame and Tsugumi aren't strenuously attached to him.
Unlike the other children, his memories of the Lightless Realm seem to have come back long before he met the rest of the group. He uses this to his advantage; using it to manipulate Sasame into becoming a LIM and trying to justify his actions as what she 'truly' wanted. He's also more strongly in tune with what's happening in the Lightless Realm, like when he's able to tell that both Akashi and Heito have closed their hearts off inside the Lightless Realm.
He attempts to encourage Akashi to leave when he finds out about Aoshi's memories inside the Argent, much to Sasame's chagrin. When Akashi comes back and spends the night seeing the stars with Sasame, his jealously makes him convince Sasame to become his LIM and he becomes the pilot of the third MA-Vess, the Guiles. At this point, he's come to despise the hold Akashi has over Sasame, even as he pilots the vessel with her LIM in it.
Minashi knows about Tsumugi being in the Lightless Realm, and can tell that Sasame remembers him When Sasame is no longer there to talk as a LIM so he's able to keep it a secret from everybody until she shows herself.
When they return to Yomijima, Minashi and Akashi see visions of all the people who suffered under Natsuiri's hand. Minashi also confronts Akashi about his own self-doubts. After hearing the voices of the islanders in the form of a large sorrowful Admonition, it seems Minashi can no longer handle the realities of the world they live in. To make things "better", he takes on his sister's wish to connect people together.
Minashi believes that the core of their issues is that people aren't connected as one and tries to convince Akashi of this, but Akashi doesn't share his enthusiasm for the concept. Faced with Tsugumi growing the lightless realm outwards, he boards the Gueules and attempts to combine himself, Sasame and Tsugumi.
He miscalculates the level of anger Tsugumi holds in her heart, along with the fact that combining with 'everybody' would mean accepting those who blame Tsugumi for their deaths. She soundly rebuffs his plan.
After Tsugumi pulls Akashi into her psyche, Manashi follows them inside by allowing his body to undergo Necrometosis to confuse her further. He manages to get hold of her just long enough to gain control of the Corpse and put it to the task of making them all one. He finds that he cannot make Sasame's LIM work with him any more, so he uses his new Necrometalized state to link directly with the Gueules like Natsuiri wished to with his prototype and Akashi does with the Argent.
He later links with the Corpse using a pseudo-core to further his goal of making everybody one, but the Corpse collapses on it's own terrifying form when Tsumugi apologizes to it. When Akashi holds his hand out to him, he has no choice but to accept it in defeat.
In the epilogue, Tsugumi visits him at the hospital, and he tells her he's ready to face his own feelings.
A girl that appears alongside the Corpse and sings a song of ruin. She is visible throughout the series, but doesn't interact with the others until the second half. She, Sasame and Minato grew up together on the island of Espers, Yomijima. She and Sasame, twin sisters, were the island's Miko, and were sent to the city to exact revenge upon IX.
Even before the events of the series, she resents her role as the older sister. Having to always be responsible means facing the burdens and hardships, along with Sasame seeming like a spoiled younger sister who has things 'easy', takes it's toll on her.
When the Corpse is almost defeated by the Argent, she touches it's core and releases the Necrometal that makes up the body so it isn't totally gone.
After this, she tries to claim Akashi for herself as he's lost his resolve to fight on, but she can't stand being called by Sasame's name. She takes Akashi to where she's keeping the Corpse's core and calls out Akashi for attacking it. She claims if he apologizes the two of them can go on living forever alongside it.
When the others come to save Akashi, she tells them everything, including that when she finally ventured out to find Akashi and he didn't recognize her, she began to slowly lose whatever of her mind she had left.
She believes that she needs to punish the children who left her alone, especially Sasame who stole Akashi away from her and Minashi for enabling her. Even when Akashi offers her the chance to leave the Lightless Realm, she declines, remembering her duty as a Miko.
When Minashi tries to influence her and fails, she comes face to face with all that's happened. Suzaki holds out her hand to her, which makes her realize that there truly is a life outside the Lightless Realm.
Eventually she apologizes to the Corpse, leading it to collapse in on it's large form and return to being a core. Once outside the Lightless Realm, it turns back into it's smaller form. In the epilogue, she visits her sister and Manashi, as well as having a short conversation with Akashi before finding the Corpse and watching as Tokyo is rebuilt.
Emiru and Mahmu
Emiru was a happy girl who ended up in the Lightless Realm by chance. Mahmu, on the other hand, was already a disturbed girl when they entered the Realm. Inside the Lightless Realm, Emiru reads Mahmu's notebook where she writes sad stories about a girl named Mahsa. Emiru, annoyed by the cynical worldview Mahmu presents, writes a happy ending for Mahsa but erases it before Mahmu can see. Though Mahmu is initially annoyed by her writing in her book, they become fast friends after.
All of this is forgotten when they leave the Lightless Realm.
Emiru lost her parents in the incident that caused the Lightless Realm to form. She lived with relatives, who only kept her because of the financial compensation they receive from the government. She runs away from home after junior high and works low-skilled jobs. A year before the start of the series, she notices that men are paying more attention to her, and though she thinks it's a cowardly way to proceed, she accepts the favours she gets from them and uses her charm to get more.
Mahmu lived as a refugee for a few months with her mother after the Lightless Realm formed before her mother found her footing and she returned to normal schooling.
Events of M3
A girl with a large gap between the way she thinks and the way she acts. Was a cleaner at Akashi's school before being inducted into the Pilot Program. Is naturally brutal, but pretends to be adorable and spacey. She's very quick to adapt, and seems to enjoy being challenged even if her mortality is at stake. During the first ever battle with the Corpse, she becomes corrupted by it's Necrometal and suffers from Necrometitis. Heito is attracted to her because of this corruption corruption.
She admits to Akashi that she's used her charms to get by up to that point, but believes that to be a pathetic way to live. Her corruption eventually spreads heavily, leading Natsuiri to speed up the Team Gaulguille program and the development of the second MA-Vess, Sable. When they reach an area close to the Lightless Realm during a new training project, her Necrometalized cells activate and heavily disrupt her thought process. This, combined with Heito's constant badgering, leads them go grow stronger and stronger until they eventually consume her. As a result, her body becomes overrun with Necrometal and she "dies". For a while, her conciousness remains intact, and the Corpse comes for her. Once she truly disappears behind the Necrometal, the Corpse leaves.
Natsuiri turns her into the LIM for the Sable, but it's unclear if he ever did get her express authority to do so. Heito pilots the Sable by forcing a link through his special gift, but Mahmu is able to activate it once she overcomes her antisocial tendencies.
In the ending, Mahmu is shown reading to her as she recovers from Necrometosis.
A first year high school girl who enjoys the occult. She also narrates the series. Writes real-fic to deal with her frustrations, and is very scared when it appears as if what she's written is coming true. She's very withdrawn, but steadfast in her beliefs. When push comes to shove, she is unable to put her fears aside to pilot a Vess, leaving Susume to step up.
When her fantasy of Emiru coming back to life turns out to be "true", she gets very upset knowing Emiru will have to live on as a LIM.
After Heito can no longer pilot the Sable, Mahmu finally steels herself and takes up the mantle as it's pilot. Initially, she has a hard time connecting with Emiru's LIM, remembering when she was a young girl who wrote stories about how the world sucked and she preferred to be alone, but then she finds Emiru's writings in her book that tried to spin things in a more positive light she finds the courage in herself to do it.
She believes that Emiru living on in the LIM is the best she can expect, and is devastated when she finds out that the LIM can die. She decides to stop letting everybody else protect her and become the author of her own real life story, so she takes the lead on the mission to lure out the Corpse from within the Lightless Realm, which she succeeds at.
As the Giant Corpse begins it's onslaught on them, she protects Tsugumi with the Sable. In the epilogue, she reads one of her Mahsa stories to Emiru.
Iwato and Raika
Iwato and Raika were amongst the children who entered the Lightless Realm and lost their memories of it as they fled. They are considered a perfect 'pair'.
Events of M3
Akashi's best friend and fellow pilot. Enjoys riding his vespa. Wants to know the truth no matter what the cost. Tells Raika to be the pilot if he were ever to become the LIM of a MA-Vess.
During an Admonition raid on IX, he decides that Natsuiri is not worth saving, but ends up making tactical errors that result in being skewered by an Admonition when trying to stop it with a Magnetic bomb. After being patched up, he spends a lot of time thinking about becoming a LIM. His desire becomes even more desparate when the Argent no longer has a LIM, and he steals the Corpse Necrometal Natsuiri gathered and genuinely considers breaking it open to infect himself. When Raika senses this, she comes after him and tells him not to, which leads directly into him and Raika finally admitting their feelings for each other.
A test pilot prodigy who was drafted into the Pilot Program. Is very capable, only behind Akashi in terms of skill and power. Likes playing soccer. She is annoyed that Akashi gets top billing on their team. Essentially acts as the group's leader at first and will stick her neck out for them all. This includes breaking her arm whilst trying to help Sasame when Emiru's Necrometal goes out of control
Raika has a strong sense of kinship and is unwilling to let Heito die inside the Lightless Realm even if he is a murderer. She also understands that knowing the truth in no way alters their mission, and is very disturbed when she finds out about Emiru becoming a LIM and Sasame Necrometalizing.
Raika is aware of Iwato's feelings for her, but is afraid of returning them. When he almost dies, she finally breaks down and tells him she feels the same.
At the end of the series, they are seen playing basketball together.
Natsuiri had been researching Linkers ever since he was a young man who knew Minashi's older sister Mimei. All of his attempts at obtaining funding were rejected for being too "out there." When he finally began working with Mimei on a controlling toy robot with her mind, IX came on board to fund him. He expressed a need for more Linkers like Minashi's older sister, and she took him to her off-the-grid home abound with Linkers.
He then proceeded to perform inhuman tests on them that were so bad all of his test subjects decided to commit suicide rather than go on. IX halted funding on the program, and Minashi's sister tried to leave him. Since he'd built up a relationship with her, he went insane and turned her into the first proto-LIM and experimented on himself.
Once the Lightless Realm appeared, IX resumed his programs as only LIM enabled MA-Vess can enter the it.
Events of M3
The main scientist on the case of Team Garguille, and a certified crazy person. Pushes Akashi beyond his limits just to further his research. Is addicted to lollipops and doesn't appreciate criticism. In fact, he regularly angrily tells people to "praise him", as Mimei used to. To threaten Akashi to continue piloting the Argent, Natsuiri confronts him with the truth of what will happen to the world if he does not continue piloting the Reaper.
When Team Gauguille go to Yomijima, he follows them to confront them. When they try to escape, he unveils the prototype MA-Vess he implanted a digital copy of Mimei's psyche onto but by the time he boards it the Necrometal from the plane has already infected him. After destroying the Admonition formed by the villagers, it resurges and absorbs him. He then sees Mimei's psyche, which also calls for revenge on him. He dies on the island, but it does nothing for the villager's regret, as Minashi observes.
A scientist working for IX who cares deeply for Akashi. Dated his older brother Aoshi. Was the initial test pilot for the Argent, but was unable to activate the LIM. Kasane holds on to a lot of regrets, but Susan reminds her that going over it again and again won't stop the Lightless Realm from spreading.
She is the one who realizes that Akashi can pilot the Argent without a LIM, and she also develops the Necrometisis reversal system, which involves linking to another person or item with strong shared memories.
Akashi's older brother who was selected to go on the first mission into the Lightless Realm. Everybody who went with him went insane and died. He Necrometalized inside the prototype Argent and consented to becoming the new version's LIM.
Minashi's older sister and Natsuiri's love interest. She's afraid that the Linkers will die out, and wishes for them to live alongside other people. To that end, she brings Natsuiri to her island home, which leads to it's eventual ruin.
Initially sent to audit IX by the military under the guise of being their new trainer. Went to school with Kasane, who affectionately calls her "Susan". Once had a fiance, but he died before they could get married. The first time she goes into the Lightless Realm, she "sees" him, though the others are quick to point out that it's an illusion. Eventually, she is put in charge of Team Gaulguille after IX's crimes come to light. She becomes close with Tazaki, who is one Kasane's staff.
The CEO of IX who has been working with Natsuiri since the inception of his
programs. Was killed by an Admonition once Tsumugi made contact with Akashi
for the second time.
A large, brutish trainer who sexually harasses Mahmu and is immediately
killed off, giving undue credence to the story about Corpses.
MA-Vess Units, Vess Units and Admonitions
The standard mecha that IX uses in various capacities, including with the kids on Team Gaulguille. Quite useless when it comes to fighting Admonitions. Team Gaulguille has two units at their command; the Type-A (Red) and Type-B (Blue). Other normal Vess units are Yellow. Akashi pilots a yellow Vess known as a Type-T when the Argent is out of commission. Vess units have a device known as a "Penetrator" which is meant to be stuck into an Admonition core to destroy it.
Theme Colour: Purple, which represents Akashi and Aoshi, who have the characters for Red and Blue in their names. It's lines glow blue when in use, red when Akashi is angry on board it, and White when the sync is perfect.
A mecha hidden far underground in an abandoned hospital. The MA-Vess was
created with the express purpose of defeating Corpses, but it's development was a one-sided affair so focused on it's purpose that it's not very accomodating to it's pilots. After a few training sessions with it, Akashi becomes violently ill. Whilst under stress when trying to save Susume, he is able to unlock it's full-on mode, removing the wheels and using it's legs to run instead of as stands for it's wheels. It's Penetrator an form of an axe, and it also uses a large rifle.
When Akashi and Aoshi sync perfectly, it seems to drain the life out of the LIM. Eventually, Aoshi's LIM 'dies' after pushing too far to save Kasane. Akashi is unable to use the Argent until he awakes his innate Linker senses.
The version of the Argent that Akashi's older brother Aoshi piloted into the Lightless realm. Was a rousing failiure, which resulted in Akashi's Necrometosis.
Theme Colour: Yellow
The second MA-Vess, finished shortly after Emiru's passing. Raika attempts to board it, but it quickly rejects her. Heito, seeking a new connection with Emiru, is able to initially board it but cannot activate the Linker Interface Module. Once he attempts to attack Akashi, Emiru's conciousness inside the machine fights back against him, trying to crush the machine against a wall. This appears to permanently activate the LIM.
Mahmu becomes it's pilot once Heito's mind is completely broken, resulting in a better level of synchronicity. The Sable doesn't have a standard weapon. Rather, it's panels open to form claw-like appendages that it uses to latch on to it's opponent and crush them.
Theme Color: Brick Red/Brown
The third MA-Vess, containing Sasame's consciousness. Piloted by Manashi, who seeks to be the closest to her. According to the official website, the circular headdress it wears is called a "D-Talisman". The Gueules uses a set of electric shock charge devices to attack, and they seem to be particularly effective against the Corpse.
The first ever prototype MA-Vess, built with a digital copy of Mimei's memories instead of a LIM. As such, it cannot experience resonance of any sort and requires direct control via a headset.
A strange being that formed the Lightless Realm. Those who hear it's song are said to die in nine days, though this is just a rumor. It carries along with it the mysterious ghost girl. It can replicate the physics of the Lightless Realm it's their immediate capacity when it's on the outside. The light particles that the Corpse emits can cause a human being to Necrometalize if they breathe them in, which happens to both Emiru and Sasame at different points in the series.
Eventually it is revealed that the Corpse is a living being that can take in the Lightless Crystal, thus creating the Lightless Realm and growing bigger and bigger until it absorbs everything in sight.
When Akashi almost defeats the Corpse, Tsugumi comes and destroys it's current body, leaving only it's core. This results in a wide-spread dispersal of Necrometal outside of the Lightless Realm, destroying a number of areas on the outside. After a brief period of rest, it is able to regenerate.
When Minashi gains control of it from Tsugumi, he instructs it to become one with the center tower of the Lightless Realm and take everything in, making them all One.
The mettallic crystals of the lightless realm absorb organic matter in order to explore the outside. Their main forms are tough and regenerate easily. It's therefore necessary to destroy their softer cores using the Vess' Penetrator device, which is a one shot opportunity per basic machine and extremely costly to replace.
Admonitions of Note
Admonition no.1 - A mother who died with regret, having a young child. It reacted violently to her pendant, which Akashi accidentally gives to Emiru.
Admonition no.2 - A child who died with regret, failing to play with their mother. It reacted violently to aluminum cans. Killed both of Team Garguille's instructors, including the school principal.
Admonition no.3 - Admonitions that that responded to the Necrometal building within Emiru.
Admonition no.4 - Three curved shells that open up to strike with spikes before burning their victims alive, this mirrors what happened to the people in Yomijima.
Admonition no.5 - A large, tree-like being that stands at an extreme height that is capable of taking extremely large things into it's body. At the top is a mass of bodies and pseudo-cores representing the residents of Yomijima.
Synchronicity of Thoughts
When the six children entered the Lightless Realm they seemed to share in the abilities of the three Linkers they met. At first, their synchronicity was strongest in pairs.
The initial pairs are:
The Linker Interface Module uses a necrometalized human as the connecting factor between the MA-Vess and it's pilot.
The name given to those who the people of Yomijima, who can communicate entirely via their thoughts. This is also the name given to others who experience the synchronicity of thoughts and the only people who can pilot the MA-Vess.
A mysterious glowing tree that grows inside the Lightless Realm. The Arbonine on the mainland only
grows in the Lightless Realm withering when it is away from it. This is presumably because it only grows near the Lightless Crystal or areas under it's effect.
In the first opening sequence a bird's necrometalized feather is the final shot, symbolising it's all imposing presence. In the second OP, a golden Arbonine leaf is the final shot, symbolising a hope for the future.
The Post-Corpse Spread of Necrometal
After the Corpse Girl destroys the Corpse, Necrometal spreads from within the Lightless Realm to other areas. This turns them into mirrors of the Lightless Realm. As a result, the Military is called in and attempts to rein in IX's activities.
Using his intellect and the MA-Vess units as leverage, Natsuiri is able to call them off. He also points out that this happened under the watch of their own officers, Suzaki.
An island of Linkers whose population is slowly dwindling with only three children to it's name when Natsuiri comes into contact with it. It is hidden from maps and normal people by the power of it's 'deity' that comes from the Lightless Crystal.
The Yomijima Massacre
IX, to prevent knowledge of their inhumane experiments under Natsuiri ever
seeing the light of day, attacked the island of Linkers with flamethrowers, with orders to destroy every person and item on the island.
The Linkers of Yomijima called upon their two young Miko; Sasame and Tsugumi, along with a friend called Minato and the young Corpse to take the power of the Lightless Crystal into Tokyo and destroy it, creating the Lightless Realm.
The Irony of Yomijima's Revenge
IX had halted all of their experiments under Natsuiri, but the appearance of the Lightless Realm made them necessary again, this giving him a foot to stand on.
Yomijima's Second Revenge
When the Necrometal from the Lightless Realm interacts with the latent psychic energy left by the regrets of the massacred people of Yomijima and Manashi's freshly wounded heart, a pseudo-Lightless Realm is created and a large Admonition appears to face Natsuiri.
Natsuiri's Hidden Lab
At the hospital where the initial sufferers of Necrometosis were taken, Natsuiri had a secret lab where he built LIM prototypes. This is also where the Argent was hidden after initial testing on it failed and where Heito recovered it from. Since this is where a lot of his data was stored, Kasane took it upon herself to go retrieve it.
M3 used six different pieces of vocal music.
It's opening themes were:
Re:REMEMBER by May'n
Composed by NAOKI-T, it is the opening theme for the first 13 episodes. This was the first time the two had worked together, but NAOKI-T is a force in and out of the anison industry known for working with COOL-ON on their Eureka Seven ending theme CANVAS and miwa on a number of occassions, including her signature Bleach opening chAnge.
The single also contained Ta ga Tame ni as a B-side, also written by NAOKI-T, which was featured as an insert song in the second half of the series.
After this single, NAOKI-T became a frequent May'n collaborator, working with her on songs like Koitoge (from her single Yoake no Logos) and You (the lead track on the single of the same name that acted as the second opening theme to Mahoustukai no Yome).
Re:REMEMBER is unique in that the opening guitar strings from the song feature for a few seconds in each episode before the opening animation begins. Overall, it's a song with traditional rock instrumentation and bare guitar backing the vocals, though it does feature a few moments of classical strings.
Re:REMEMBER is a very sombre song, but it's one filled with a sense of being able to do something about a painful situation. It reflects on not wanting somebody close to you to disappear, even if you have to give up everything you have to keep them close. This reflects the series first half very well, and hints at the fact that the LIM can, in fact, disappear.
The lyrics were written by Fujibayashi Shoko, who is a very profilic anison writer who has written for everybody from the Mizuki Nana and AKINO to the Revolutionary Girl Utena anime. She's also written a songs for K-Pop artists transitioning to the Japanese music scene, like TOHOSHINKI and 2PM. She's also a frequent collaborator with May'n, working with her on singles before this like HEAT and Brain Driver and after, like One in a Billion, her collaboration track with the idol unit Wake Up, Girls! (released under
the moniker Wake Up, May'n!).
Replica (レプリカ) by Sakamoto Maaya
The second opening theme, used from episode 14. This song, like each other opening or ending theme, is of a unique genre. It's overall 'feeling' is different from the other pieces.
The song 'feels' hopeful. Featuring light choral vocal drawls and a string band, with a light guitar mixed in. This song was composed by Uchisawa Takahito of the rock band androp.
Having somebody from an existing band come and collaborate with her on a track is a very common practice of Maaya's. She's worked with a lot of bands to create her more popular songs, including la la larks for her iconic Fate/Grand Order opening theme Shikisai, which la la larks later covered on their second single Hallelujah. It's noteable that la la larks also performed the first ending theme to M3, ego-izm.
The lyrics do mirror the other sombre tones of the series, and they were written by Maaya herself. However, they question the validity of the singer's sombre situation, showing that they are finally overcoming the self-doubt the world left them with and believing in other people. Melancholy situations such as grafitti on the side of a building and a bike left alone are matched with a belief that one day somebody will come back for them and find the true beauty that lies within. The line "My sins are to be doubted" directly references Tsugumi's obsession with punishing her friends for their "sins" against her, and the people of Tokyo who suffered for IX's "sins".
ego-izm by la la larks
The first ending theme, used until episode 13. This is la la larks first single as a 'reborn' unit. The members of this group were previously in a group called school food punishment, which focused on rough but tightly curated electronic music. Now they delve into new-wave sounds based on turning classical arrangements into things that sound like a whole new technological genre.
ego-izm is their first go at this sound and showcases a very school food punishment sound which the band later evolved and incorporated into their current hard-lounge sound. The strings are hard, unforgiving and frequent.
The lyrics deal with the singer coming to terms with the difficult environment they live in and the past that they want to overcome, which directly ties into Akashi's viewpoint. There's a cheeky reference to another popular mecha series in the lines "I must not run away", pointing out that they will push forward even if their actions in that moment may turn out to be in the wrong.
This all describes Akashi's unflinching, but incorrect resolve, which is addressed later in the series. His "ego-izm", if you will.
SABLE by nano
The second ending theme, used from episode 14.
SABLE is a very difficult song to describe in terms of the series, because it seems to hint at a specific point. The lyrics, entirely in English as written by utaite gone major nano reflect a very angry rebellious phase. The ending coincides with the revelations about IX, and how the characters reflect on their alliance to this organization.
Though it's clear that they still need to stop the spread of the Lightless Realm and destroy it if possible, the characters at this point stand against IX, led by Suzaki, who takes charge of their ongoing operations. It's important to note that SABLE is also the name of the mecha that is piloted by Heito and Mahmu, both characters who stand against the authority of IX. Heito does it overtly, whilst Mahmu keeps her anger hidden inside. For example, when she learns Emiru's state as a LIM might mean an even shorter lifespan than she would have had otherwise, she locks herself in a bathroom and has a major tirade, but still goes out to protect the world alongside Emiru.
And that is what is at the crux of the song; a person who is willing to do what they want, regardless of whether or not it meshes with that the authorities in their lives believe.
Mukuro no Uta (The Corpse's Song)
by Sasame, Tsugumi, and the Village Elders at different points in the series.
The series overt 'theme' song, with lyrics by series composer Okada Mari. The lyrics deal with beings known as 'Charon' and 'Garon', who may be directly involved with the creation myth of the Lightless Stone. Otherwise, the lyrics are very morbid, possibly alluding to the power the Lightless Realm inside the Lightless Stone.
What's most important about the song isn't it's lyrics, but what it signifies to the characters. For Sasame and Tsugumi, it symbolises their role as Miko. It also symbolises the difference betwene the sistsers, since Tsugumi is the one who originally sang it for Akashi and Sasame comes to realize this. As the song previously informed the part of her identity she'd forgotten, she starts to question herself.
Ta ga Tame ni ("Because of That") by May'n
The insert song, used in episode 17 when Akashi awaken's Aoshi's heightened LIM.
The song is instrumented in the style that you'd expect from a May'n OP when a show is action oriented. It has heavy guitars and strong, recurring vocal runs. It's no wonder May'n would want to contribute this sort of song to an anime where mecha and action are prominent themes. However, considering the type of series M3 is, it made a lot more sense for Re:REMEMBER to be the opening.
With this sense of going 'all out' for the ones that you love. Ta ga Tame ni manages to bring a bit of classic May'n to M3 in an appropriate scene. When the song plays, Akashi has finally found his resolve to fight for all of his friends and connects with the strongest possible form of Aoshi's LIM. Though there are still a variety of issues that Akashi faces after this point, not least the dying bright light of Aoshi's LIM, in this very moment the scene and song create a sense of 'impact' that isn't in M3's usual repetoire.