One of the most fascinating aspects of Metallic Rouge thus far is how it successfully balances its character development with the density of its plot. A lot is happening in the series and Metallic Rouge Episode 3 hardly pumps the breaks. That said, the writers and creators continue to beautifully capture who these characters are through small beats and interactions while the world expands. “Marginal City” introduces new factors regarding the divide and rising tension between Nyeans and humans while allowing Rouge room for growth.
After the mild disaster of Episode 2 and the ensuing action, Metallic Rouge Episode 3 is, in comparison, calm. There are no mecha battles or moments of explosive science-fiction settings. That said, the internal strife looms large as Metal Rouge (Yume Miyamoto) and Naomi Orthmann (Tomoyo Kurosawa) set off on their latest mission. Upon arriving in Wellstown on Mars, the two are tasked with finding one of the Immortal Nine, “Phantom Verde.” Believed to live in the Nean settlement in town and enshrouded behind heavily guarded walls, the two plan a strategy to gain entry, but it quickly devolves into an argument.
The argument between Rouge and Naomi is one of the most interesting sequences of the series so far. The moment unveils a very perceptive truth: arguments are often dumb. Sure, there’s validity in the hurt that Metal feels, but the inciting factor, chocolate, speaks to the profound absurdity of human nature. So much unfolds from so little. While Naomi enjoys an excessive meal, happy to indulge in the sweet relief of simple pleasures, Metal looks for one of her many chocolate bars. Chocolate bars that Naomi reveals she gave away. Rather than letting Metal go and purchase herself more, she petulantly pushes back. This sends Metal into the defense, echoing the journalist’s remarks from the last episode that she has her own free will.
It’s such a fair assessment, yet it annoys Naomi, who goes instantly for a low blow, calling Metal a piece of equipment. The episode acts in opposing sequences. Here, Metal is being stripped of her humanity. It takes away her freedom of choice, even for something as simple as a snack. Later, after storming away and making it to the Nyean settlement on her own, a character tells her that it’s her free will that makes her a beacon of hope. That contrast in how others see Metal and how she sees herself makes for such a resoundingly intriguing character study.
Until now, we’ve seen hints of Metal’s inherent, childlike nature. At some points, it’s near-feral. She takes in the world around her with a mix of skepticism and naked curiosity. The artists animate her often looming into the space of others or leaning from side to side, unable to stay still. But she’s also written as an enormously exciting character. It’s why seeing her work against someone like the more cynical Naomi works so well. Her character grows even more upon meeting members of the Council of Free Nyeans.
Beyond the wall, we can access a different version of the world we’ve seen thus far. The leader, Juval, wants Metal to become the group’s hope. Nyeans exist because they obey humans. While they initially had free will, humans took it from them. Now, they’re programmed so they’re unable to harm humans. Often, they must obey humans, often pushing them directly into fighting wars. It’s hellish and abysmally bleak. Metal offers a beacon of hope as an android who can act on her own accord, even if she doesn’t see it that way.
Everything in the Nyean settlement is beautifully depicted. Its barren, gray city walls work in distinctive dissonance with the golden-orange light that spills through the crevices. While there’s been no escaping the science fiction elements of the series, this episode perhaps benefits from scarcity. The streets aren’t bustling and Nyeans are dying and wasting away out there, removed like pieces of machinery when they pass. Metal takes all of this in with her signature, childlike wonder, as she continues to spin the phrases “tools,” “equipment,” and “free will” in her head. What does it mean to make choices, and what does it mean to want for more in a world so prone to violence?
With a deliberate, quick pace, “Marginal City” sets an ominous tone through technical wonders. From the score that, like the animation, utilizes stripped-down elements to more significant effect, to the voice acting from Miyamoto, each element adds to the overall strength. Metallic Rouge Episode 3 ends on a mild cliffhanger, as a carnival comes roaming into town promising something greater. With a barrage of introspection and gorgeous visuals, the series continues delivering on its big ideas through interpersonal, emotional moments.
Metallic Rouge Episode 3 is available now on Crunchyroll.
Metallic Rouge Episode 3
Metallic Rouge Episode 3 ends on a mild cliffhanger, as a carnival comes roaming into town promising something greater. With a barrage of introspection and gorgeous visuals, the series continues to deliver on its big ideas through interpersonal, emotional moments.