by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 6 of
The musical opinions of this review do not represent the views of Anime News Network. Also Dark Side of the Moon is great, fight me. - LL
I do not like Pink Floyd. Let me get that out of the way. I can appreciate the band's historical significance, the impact their legacy had on rock music during and after their heyday, and appreciate the often striking and experimental art they produced. But by god I just do not have the patience to sit through most of their LPs. “The Wall” is 80 minutes long. I could listen to both of The Clash's good albums in that time and have minutes to spare. Life is too short to spend it listening to Pink Floyd, is my motto.
Which is why I'm actually thankful Listeners spends this episode indulging in world building, and using the various iconic imagery and lyrics of Pink Floyd's oeuvre to build and expand on its setting, rather than trying to craft a character piece around an off-brand Nick Mason or Roger Waters. Instead we visit Roz, the sole survivor of the people of Gnome, aka the mystics who were recruited and betrayed by Denka for Project Freedom 10 years prior. Having seen her people destroyed by the Players they trusted, she's spent the time since isolating her country behind a pyramid-shaped building to hide it from the world, a decidedly more literal expression of Pink's emotional isolation in “The Wall” but that's exactly the kind of high concept earnestness I come to shows like Listeners for in the first place. It's also not strictly isolation – the people of Roz's land might not be humans anymore, but they continue to inhabit the streets and shadows as Earless, including her own father who continues to watch out for her.
It's through Roz and her past we learn more about the Earless in general – we've known since the Witch Sisters showed up that the Earless were once human, but it turns out the transformation isn't quite the death sentence it seemed on the surface. While their form and existence have changed, some piece of their personality and memories remain, which is why the people of Gnome could live alongside them in peace. This raises a whole host of questions about what (little) we know of the show's world, not least of which being the ethics of entire nations designed for raising armies to exterminate sentient, potentially peaceful lifeforms. That Echo's proximity to Mu is accelerating his own eventual transformation just makes the whole conflict harrier and potentially more explosive as our heroes venture on to the military epicenter, Londinium.
Outside of some (admittedly important) exposition the episode hits most of the same notes as past entries. After a couple episodes of bickering and separations it's nice to see Echo and Mu together and mostly supportive in a personal crisis, and the fact that Echo lies about his Sound Sickness to Mu is a solid seed to plant for later drama. Both play off of Roz fairly well, though that mostly comes down to her not having a very strong personality to clash with. Somber and reserved, she mostly sits in sober isolation until trouble forces her to ally with our heroes. The resolution where she ultimately chooses to leave the hole in The Wall, exemplifying a potential end to her self-isolation, is a nice – if predictable – conclusion. Listeners still struggles to make its episodic beats pack a real punch, but that's less of an issue in what feels like a story designed for transitioning into other, larger storylines. The setting is at least eye-catching like last week, with the burnt orange false sky behind Roz's Wall allowing for a lot of striking landscapes and perfectly matching the more subdued atmosphere.
Overall, “Goodbye Blue Sky” ends up feeling like Listeners in stasis, neither exhibiting the show's early strengths or exacerbating past weaknesses. I do find my patience wearing a little thin though. We're half-way through the season but the story wants to be skating by on promising more interesting and eventful things will come later. That good will can only last so long, and if the series wants to keep its place on stage, it'll need to start amping up very soon
Listeners is currently streaming on Funimation.
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