Aldnoah Zero ep3: a valid question is raised
It’s rare that I catch myself tempering my prejudice for a series. Usually, if I have one I’ll just roll with it until the show naturally changes my mind through its ability to entertain me. If a first episode of a show sucks, then the show itself sucks until it builds enough evidence to prove otherwise. The longer it takes to do so, the harder it is to convince me the show is above average or negligible merit. Though early into this show’s run I find myself asking the question of “if this were a Gundam show, would I feel differently?”
The reason I say this is because my experiences with anime are never in a vacuum. I believe I covered this when I talked about Panty & Stocking a few years ago. Every experience is colored by the one that comes before it, and the one that comes before that. I can’t play a Mega Man game without it being colored by my experience renting the first game as a kid and getting my ass handed to me. I can’t listen to current pop music without my tastes and experiences enjoying music from teenage years influencing that opinion. And I can’t watch any great modern drama without comparing it to The Wire. So when I tell you that I watch Aldnoah Zero through a very colored glass you shouldn’t be surprised. Every scene, I find myself comparing to something either helmed by Urobochi (mostly Gargantia) or great and not so great mecha anime of the past. Then a moment occurred to me. If I saw a show just like this, with stellar production values, mecha designs that are pretty good, and characterization that’s average, and the name Gundam was slapped on it; would I enjoy this show more or less? Would I be more accepting of its flaws and more critical of its successes?
In this episode, I see Inaho kinda show emotion as one of his classmates talks about how calm under pressure he’s been, and how he’s so relaxed that he can worry about his friend’s ability to catch a cold. First of all, f*ck you lady for just reminding a guy with a whole mission on his shoulders that he could be annihilated at any moment. I’m pretty sure he’s grasped that by now. Moving on, Inaho does admit in a very plain way that the weight of the mission and overall situation isn’t lost on him, nor his friend who seems to be calmly sleeping on the floor in the cold. He’s made a dreary peace with the strong possibility that he could be killed just like all those other soldiers, but he takes some solice in the possibility that they’ll be murdered in such a quick, efficient and overwhelming fashion that it will likely be over in an instant. Damn!
This entire time, Inaho has shown that he has a talent for taking in a situation and devising a strategy. He’s as born for war as anyone can be and still be sane. And this ability is the sole reason this episode even exists. Now with time to plan, he’s actually able to do something that I don’t think anyone else in the world has been able to do, yet. He’s devised a strategy around the Martian mechs perfect barrier. And it plays out in a great way. The plan isn’t perfect, but with enough intelligence and guts from everybody, it works.
There are other major development in this episode, like the princess revealing herself, her remaining would-be assassin being involved in the same plan to escape, and possibility of betrayal amongst the knights waging this war. But for a moment I’m going to focus on Inaho. Right now, he is the single biggest factor involved in me enjoying this show long term. I fear him. And by that, I fear him becoming another ….
One of my most hated characters in all of anything I’ve ever watched or read. He is my own personal embodiment of what it means to be a “Mary Sue” type of character. Practically invincible, infallible, and a character incapable of achieving progression and development because they’ve already reached their peak. Inaho isn’t this. For now, he’s just kinda boring, inexpressive, and uninterested in emoting. He’s also looking to be the archetype for the perfect soldier in this show. Those aren’t bad elements unless you allow them to ferment during the show with nothing to add to it. There’s still time and hope, but it worries me that he’s just so damn stoic and unemotional for a teenager. A classmate of his died in terror right before his eyes, and he showed no emotion. That worries me, because I need to care about this character if I’m going to enjoy this show. If he doesn’t care, why should I care? My hope is that in time, this is explained through his upbringing being particularly obtuse, or some sort of early trauma in his life. He’s not old enough to be affected by the horrors of what happened 15 years ago. And as far as I can tell, all of his other classmates seemed like pretty normal teenagers during their time in school. So he’s quite the enigma right now.
Letting my worries about him aside, the episode itself was reasonably entertaining. I loved how Inaho’s plan came together, and how through mere deduction and some circumstantial evidence, he was able to decode the defenses of the Martian mechs, instead of just staring in terror and dumping bullets into its impenetrable barrier. His possible rival and counterpart, Slaine looked especially weak and useless this episode. The Martian princess (I completely forgot to call these people spacenoids) revealed herself to the soldier chasing her. And for a moment I was about to poo-poo that stupid decision until I thought about it. And if I were here, I’d be damned if I died there on that bridge without telling the a-hole chasing them that I was the princess.
For now, I will say that I enjoyed the episode. And while I don’t have an answer to the questions I posed at the beginning of the post, you can bet I’ll be thinking about them as I watch this show.
Note: I actually forgot about the “stinger” at the end. I guess Slaine wasn’t completely useless after all. That annoying guy with the bowl cut will not be missed.