You’re all wrong and all the kids are right.
What They Say:
Episode #12: “Hello, Goodbye”
The Earless seem unstoppable, bent on destroying the world that has treated them so cruelly. Echo, with his newfound power as a Player, challenges the King of the Earless with his trusty AC30.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This final episode of LISTENERS is split evenly between the final confrontation and the epilog. We get to watch Echo step up and use his AC30’s brilliance to cut through the noise and hear Mu. The Earless swarm and sing in harmony with the rest of the players. Understanding has been reached. Echo has heard Mu and Mu heard Echo.
In the rebuilding of the world that follows the Earless have been given physical form. They walk the streets as citizens, looking much like humans except for their horns and eyes. Everyone just accepts them. After all, many of them used to be players before being turned. Roz appears to be able to talk to her Earless friend now. The moral of the story is that everyone has a voice and the key to peace and harmony is listening to what others have to say. Everyone shares the same feelings, no matter who or what you are. Our differences are only skin deep. All’s well that ends well, right?
Then things start to get confusing. We see Jimi hand-off a transistor to a girl who looks like a younger version of his sister. Was she revived? Was he revived or just a ghost? Speaking of ghosts, Nir survives everything and ends up back at the school… where she is reunited with Lyde and Ritchie. As much as I didn’t want to see them dead this reunion feels unearned and why two 22-year-olds are attending a school, well, it’s just a lame reunion. That’s not the worst part though…
Authors lately seem to revel in the idea that the hero doesn’t die a martyr, but survives only to forget everything that made them a hero. Be it through amnesia or some other sacrifice, their victory saves the world but now they don’t remember their role in it or their friends. LISTENERS doesn’t even go that far, it just has Echo forgetting the moment he rescued Mu. Why? What point does this serve? It would have been far funnier if they were simply on the run Beatles style from fans 24/7 and had to fake their own demise to get some peace. As it stands they are just running around doing… what?
That’s the real problem with this series. The execution feels half-baked. It’s a combination of too many cooks and not enough substance. A series with mech battles should at least have some mech battles. When you have an episode of exposition you had better make sure your exposition drop actually makes sense. When you have an epilog don’t undo all of the emotional story beats simply for a happy ending. If you want to break the rules of storytelling you’d better have a damn good reason for doing so.
Despite the weak ending, I don’t hate this series. It does remind me that rock music is pretty much commercially dead and as the legends of the past fade into history there aren’t many rising to replace them.
LISTENERS asks a question that’s been asked many times before. Can music save your mortal soul? Can the small-town boy survive an encounter with a mystery girl, monsters, and mechs? It’s a mish-mash of musical terminology, references, and mecha battles. A visually entertaining spectacle of sound and noise signifying nothing.
That’s what I wrote in my first review and sometimes, sometimes you get it right on the first try. LISTENERS seemed to forget that less is more. This series revealed in nonsense over substance. When it finally hit its stride it seemed to undo a good deal of the drama and the epilog actually felt cheap and hollow by comparison to what came before. The lack of licensed music really cripples a story full of rock legend pastiches. Its heart may have been in the right place, but not everyone has time for a mediocre performance.
Episode Grade: C
Streamed by: Funimation