No, John, you are the vampires.
Mars Red started out kinda interesting, but by the end I had all but stopped caring. It’s not that it did anything especially wrong, it just wasn’t written well enough to hold my attention and the plot progression was weak. It had its moments, but most attempts at drama fell flat.
The story starts with a secret Japanese army unit that’s made up of vampires. In the opening episodes they’re mainly used to deal with rogue vampires causing trouble, but they’re really supposed to be a prototype for an undead war force. I actually liked the characters themselves, which went a long way in making Mars Red at least watchable. They were generally likeable and at least somewhat interesting.
I was also interested in the man behind the vampire unit, General Nakajima, who developed the program not just to exploit their supernatural strength, but also to save scores of young men from needlessly dying on the battlefield by replacing them with immortal soldiers. After the first few episodes, I figured that the conflict in Mars Red would come from the inside, with Nakajima wanting to use vampires as tools for the ‘greater good’, while the vampires themselves are still people with their own wants and needs, and that this would come to a head at some point. With Maeda, the unit’s commander (but still a human), caught in the middle and having to choose a side.
But then there’s a sudden twist halfway through the season, which also happens to coincide with the great earthquake of 1923, and everything is turned upside down. A new vampire unit is brought in to replace the old one, consisting of obedient drones with no personality. This is also where the plot gets murky. It seems like General Nakajima willingly spread a potion among the general population that would turn people into vampires. Having thus manufactured a crisis for himself to solve, he could then send in his men to quell the unrest, and in the process try to convince army leadership that his vampire unit was necessary. Which didn’t make much sense considering his established motivation. Maybe I missed something, but it made him a less interesting character as a result. And either way he lost all relevance to the story soon after, being replaced as antagonist by Rufus Glenn, a painfully annoying vampire who I had zero reason to care about.
Everything just got kinda messy after the quake. There’s no clear direction to the story. Characters die just because it’s dramatic for them to do so. Maeda disappears for most of the series only to come back as a vampire in the least interesting way possible. Those vampire stormtroopers that were dramatically introduced at the halfway point? They’re just there, in the background, for the rest of the show.
There is one final aspect of Mars Red that I can’t really comment on, and it’s all the theater references. Since I’m not very familiar with any of the plays that get referenced, I can’t say how much they add to the experience. There may be parallels to the story or symbolic connection that I missed. But I don’t think it would have made a big difference.