Listeners

Listeners

Listeners anime series cover art
Listeners

Series Overview

Listeners (LISTENERS リスナーズ) is an original anime series about the battle between humans (players) and the earless, monsters that destroy everything in their path. But the main theme of the series is that music can bring people together no matter how different they are.

It’s not a good anime. I want to get that out of the way right at the beginning of this review. I wasn’t originally planning to watch Listeners this season because I didn’t think it looked good. But I follow Rie Takahashi on Twitter, and she kept tweeting about it so eventually, I gave in.

Rie is a good voice actor, but she’s been in some bad anime before, like Isekai Cheat Magician. However, Listeners is made by MAPPA, a studio I think is pretty good, but not one many people seem to know despite the fact that they’ve made quite a few highly-rated anime since 2012.

MAPPA also has some new anime coming out later this year that I think will make people finally start paying attention to them.

Echo Rec from the anime series Listeners
Echo Rec

While I don’t think MAPPA did a very good job with this anime, I don’t think they’re the only ones to blame here. The story was flawed from the start, and as I’ll discuss later on, the OP of the series actually did a lot of damage to the anime as far as I’m concerned.

But, if I had to quickly sum up what I think the main issue with the series is, all I have to do is list off the genres it’s labeled as: Action, music, sci-fi, and mecha. That’s right, this is a mecha anime — and if you know anything about mecha anime, it’s that generally you love them or you hate them.

I’ve grown to appreciate mecha more over the years, but Listeners didn’t need to be a mecha anime.

Main Characters

Echo Rec is the protagonist of the series. I think he’s supposed to be around 14 or 15 years old, and he’s from a town called Liverchester. Liverchester has literally nothing going on. It’s a town built beside a garbage dump and the majority of people in the town, including Echo, sift through the garbage for recyclable material for work.

What’s interesting about Echo, though, is that unlike most other protagonists his age, he doesn’t have dreams of leaving his backwater town and becoming someone great. He’s perfectly content living in his trash town as long as he gets to read about his heroes — people known as “players” who fight against monsters known as the “earless.”

Players use mechs (known as equipment) to fight against the earless, and echo builds himself a piece of equipment out of the scraps he finds in the dump. He doesn’t necessarily want to be a player himself but is more interested in the engineering side of things.

Mu from the anime series Listeners
Mu

Mu is the other main character of the series. One day, Echo finds her in the dump, and he immediately recognizes her as a player. Players have an audio jack connection somewhere on their body which is how they connect to their equipment to control it.

However, Mu isn’t a player Echo recognizes from his player almanac, and she’s suffering from amnesia, so she doesn’t even know who she is herself. So the two team up as player and engineer and go on a quest to learn the truth behind Mu’s identity, and also the origins of the earless along the way.

If you’ve seen other mecha series with a male/female lead, like Eureka Seven, that’s basically what the relationship between Echo and Mu is like.

The Opening vs. the Anime

I mentioned earlier that the OP of this series hurt the anime overall. You might think that it’s because the OP is bad, but it’s actually the opposite. The EDs are good too (every episode has a different ED sung by Rie), but the OP is actually extremely good and presents the anime as something it’s not.

Of course, there are a few suspect moments of the ED, such as when we see the exhibitionist Denka dancing down the streets of what’s essentially Las Vegas. Denka is a pretty interesting character because he’s so overtly based on the musician Prince, but he’s also kind of a creep.

Oh, and there are a lot of other musical references in this anime, like the legendary hero Jimi Stonefree.

But if you just watch the OP of the series, which I’ll link to here, the anime actually looks really good because it focuses on the characters and musical aspects. From watching the OP, you probably wouldn’t know this is a mecha anime until the very last shot. And the earless don’t make an appearance at all.

The OP has a good song, great animation that’s better than anything in the actual series, and just makes the series look like a cool anime about music.

And that brings me to my point about Listeners not needing to be a mecha anime in the first place. If you took out all the mecha stuff and replaced it with simply playing music with a guitar and amp, the story would basically be the same. You could even keep the earless and it would work.

There’s absolutely no reason that mechs had to play a role in the series, and I think they made the anime worse as a result of their inclusion. Using mechs doesn’t make any more sense than using guitars and amps in the context of the series, so why alienate most of the anime viewer base by including them?

Conclusion

I’m still processing how I feel about Listeners, but as of right now, it’s a 4/10. And if I ever do change my opinion on it, you can be sure that it will only be to lower the score further, not raise it. I’m confident in my assessment that this is a bad anime, the only part that’s in question is how bad it is.

Even if you’re interested in mecha anime or anime about music, I still wouldn’t recommend this series to you. There are just so many anime that cover those genres better on an individual basis. For music anime specifically, I highly recommend Kids on the Slope, which is also made by MAPPA but is infinitely better than Listeners.

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