Home > Anime, Check-out Station > Check-out Station: Aldnoah Zero

Check-out Station: Aldnoah Zero

I’m left questioning my love of anime sometimes. Not anime as a whole, but modern anime and some of the pains I myself have had to endure as my fandom has progressed and matured. An example of this is the current popular format of 12 episode series, or series that air for that length of time, take a break, then continue after a season long break or so. This isn’t all bad. And enduring cliffhangers is just something you have to endure when enjoying some forms of storytelling. But I find there to be a strong difference between a cliffhanger leaving you wanting more, and just pissing you off.

As last episodes go, I can say there wasn’t much that actually surprised me about this one. Inaho and Saazbaum have their final confrontation. Princess Asseylum has her wondrous final moments with Inaho. And Slaine is again useless to the point of hilarity. Honestly, he was like a child trying to help adults in much of this series; and this episode demonstrates that well.

As Inaho and Saazbaum have their battle, Slaine manages to survive all sorts of death being thrown his way from both sides, to get himself into a sexy fighting mecha of his own. And what does this accomplish? It sets forth a series of unfortunate events thanks to his ignornce, naivete, and his ridiculous fence straddling. He SAVES Sazzbaum, who murders Asseylum despite the fact that his forces have already lost. Then he appears to kill Saazbaum and Inaho in his grief. And all this happens in an episode, in a show, where it all comes just a bit too fast.

The main point of this show was to demonstrate some of the damage and futility of war, and the political system that enacts and deals with it. Though for that to happen, I would have to sympathize more with the characters and their lives. And for me, the show didn’t do that. Aside from a few set piece moments, he don’t see much in the way of worldwide destruction, nor do we get much of the scope of suffering from either side. Apparently, the Orbital Knights had been decimating the planet and its military during this entire series. But we don’t get much of a feel for that except in Japan. The Martians (fine, I’ll call them that dumb name) are supposed to be suffering heavily due to a lack of resources, despite their incredible technology. And they’re also supposed to be heavily indoctrinated to hate the people on Earth.  But it doesn’t translate quite right for me.  Most of what we see are from the high nobles who take time out of their day to belittle and beat Slaine like some lowly slave (which he effectively is), or a bad dog (which he certainly is not).  That doesn’t give me the impression that they’re suffering and strapped people full of learned hate.  It strikes me as a bunch of rich bastards that like beating around their pet slave.  We get very little in the way of showing the Martians suffering or short of resources.  We see so much more of the magnificent and intimidating landing castles that they use as their flying fortress and homes.  We don’t hear or see much from the Martian commoners, aside from when the soldiers talk during battle.  There’s none of the testimonials from the “lower folk” about their traumatic days like we’d get in even the Gundam meta series worst shows.  And if there was, I don’t remember it.  And that might be even worse.

I understand that I’m giving the impression that I didn’t like or enjoy the show.  But I’m merely covering the overall looming impression and thoughts I have in regards to the show.  There were positive aspects.  Of course the production quality was amazing.  I watch anime as much for the visual spectacle at times, as I do for an entertaining story.  The mechs for the Orbital Knights looked imposing and threatening.  And the mechs for the united Earth government had some of my favorite designs for a grunt mech ever.  And the music was certainly above par.  I believe there were two different ending themes for the show, and the “aLIEz” is definitely my favorite ending theme, as well as my favorite overall piece of music from the series and for a series this year.  I love it that much!

And that’s about all I can concretely say on the positive end for the show.  At best, everything else is a “push”.  Even Inaho, a character that consistently impressed was such a poor overall personality that he doesn’t go above a “meh” when it comes to how much I liked his presence in the show.  Just as I pointed out that the show didn’t do enough to flesh out the state of the world and its people to make me really care about them, the very same claim can be made about Inaho.  For all his impressive tactics and leadership, he still struck me as less than a human being.  For a genius, he was incredibly underplayed for an anime, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily.  But the show never gave me a good understanding of why he was even remotely the way he was.  It would be so easy to point to the military training he was made to undertake at a young age, but that’s true of so many other students from his generation.  And we did not see anyone else like him at all in the series.  We have nothing solid to grasp onto when trying to understand or relate to him.  The fact that he has a pretty normal sister makes it even more baffling.  He just seems devoid of personality.  And I don’t believe this was the intention.  I think they wanted to give him a “too cool for school” personality.  By that, I mean they wanted him to be impossibly calm under pressure, but still incredibly smart and competent.  They tried to make a perfect character a cool character, but that just doesn’t come across as interesting.  Too often, it feels like there’s an android on screen and not a person.  And with him being the only standout character, it leaves with a really empty feeling towards the cast.

Even remembering the rest of the cast, most of them struck me as not especially annoying, nor memorable.  Princess Asseylum was far from the worst princess character I’ve seen in a mecha anime, and she wasn’t useless or incompetent at all.  But she seemed like just another princess character except for one or two scenes.  She didn’t do much to make me remember or care about her.  And her antithesis, Rayet, the commoner Martian girl whose father and friends were hired to kill her, was far from memorable.  Sure she pretty much killed the princess at one point, but she mostly did a lot of brooding and hating before making a decent character turn and helping out.  I’m starting to loop in on myself here, with my thoughts on the plot of the show and the characters basically being the same.  Perhaps it is time to wrap things up.

In summation, my initial impressions after belatedly finishing this series is that Aldnoah Zero is a show about a bunch of things happening.  It’s not really about people.  It’s not really about the world.  It appears to be about things a few people did that were cool and exciting, and with giant robots.  The world may as well be plaster on the wall.  The characters are merely decoration to make sure things don’t appear to bland and similar.  But as a whole, the series is devoid of much soul, or care or even a point.  It’s not great that if I were pressed to talk positively about the show, the characters and plot would never enter the conversation.

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