HomeMisc.AnimeMid-Season Anime Review: Listeners

Mid-Season Anime Review: Listeners

Photo Credit: Funimation

Listeners is an anime original series produced by MAPPA. It was created by Jin (Shizen no Teki-P), co-written by Dai Satō, and directed by Hiroaki Ando.

No one knows where they came from, but when the Earless began to appear and wreak havoc across the globe, music was quickly banned. There are no instruments and outside of the occasional illegal jukebox, music isn’t even acknowledged to have ever existed. That is, unless you’re a Player, a person capable of piloting a mecha that uses music to combat the Earless. A teenage boy named Echo Rec is obsessed with Players, especially a legendary one known as Jimi Stonefree. He dreams of becoming a Player but is resigned to his normal, mundane life, until finds Myuu (μ), a girl with an auxiliary port on her body. She’s doesn’t remember who or what she is, but Echo Rec knows she’s a “Player.” The two learn that together, they can pilot their own mech and they set out on a journey to find Jimi and bring back the music.

If you can’t guess, Jimi Stonefree is definitely inspired by Jimi Hendrix. Along with characters like the Noise Sisters (all with the last name Neubauten), an angsty teen named Nir who is being manipulated by another student named Hole, a very flamboyant Player named Denka (which means “your highness” ), the duo Bilin and Kevin Valentine, and a host more we’ve yet to see, it’s very clear that the creative team did their research on legendary influential bands/persons of basically every genre. If you didn’t get all the hints just now, take one look at what these characters look like and you’ll get it.

The only area of Listeners I can complain about it the mech battles. The first time I saw a mech I was ready for an epic battle…and then it fell so flat. The mechs have what you could barely even call a fight. It starts off like one, they even call out moves (which are typically song lyrics or titles) but it’s over in a literal flash. One mech normally uses one crazy move with a big burst of light and then suddenly everything is over. Even now that we’re a few episodes in, I keep getting hype thinking “maybe this time we’ll see a real fight”, only to have that same thing happens over and over. It’s extra disappointing because every mech looks so unique and is stylized based on the character(s) piloting it, I can imagine all of the cool abilities we could have seen and it leaves me feeling bummed and let down.

Even if the battles are lacking, the characters and overall animation are fantastic. Again, it’s clear this team put a lot of time and energy into making sure these characters represented their real-life counterparts. It’s genuinely fun and exciting to identify who the character is inspired by and what obvious and/or subtle homages are shown throughout the episode. Echo Rec and Myuu, who aren’t based on anyone, are an excellent duo. You really root for them and it’s awesome to see how they learn about themselves and each other and the way they encourage each other throughout is so uplifting. This is definitely an anime worth checking out, especially for music fans.

Listeners is now streaming on FunimationNOW



Rachel Freeman
Rachel Freeman
Rachel Freeman is a staff writer and comic review editor at Pop Break. She regularly contributes comic book reviews, such as The Power of the Dark Crystal, Savage Things, Mother Panic, Dark Nights: Metal, Rose, and more. She also contributes anime reviews, such as Berserk, Garo: Vanishing Line and Attack on Titan as well as TV reviews. She has been part of The BreakCast for the Definitive Defenders Podcast. Outside of her writing for Pop Break, Rachel is currently a pre-school teacher. She is a college graduate with her BA in History and MAED. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @Raychikinesis.

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