If only this show had been 1-cour it would have been spectacular that cliffhanger midway through was amazing but creator Gen Urobuchi went off the seat of his pants with the second half: reviving characters and forcing the narrative to evolve into Slaine’s perspective rather than the overall turmoil both Empires are facing.
Inaho receives the robot trope that is often used in order to estalish a Dues-ex machina to the show in order to wrap character’s motives up quickly! This is NOT how to develop your cast especially when there is little resolve with Rayet’s struggle dealing with her father’s death! There really should have been more background on the chain of command behind United Forces of Earth.
What the first few episodes did so well with was building up the invasion, the conspiracy that the Vers Empire wanted to assassinate the Princess and the tension between Slaine and his comrades were just a small detail that unfortunately was the focus of the last twelve episodes of Aldnoah. Urobuchi opened this up for another season– is this for cash reasons? The merchandising sales have been very high so I’m sure this might be the case as to why the ending turned out so lightly unresolved.
On a more positive note: A-1 Pictures pulled off some really good designs on the characters and matched it to some very fluid animations quite consistently. Fate/Zero director Ei Aoki established animation studio TROYCA in 2013 with a few friends of his– Aldnoah is their first work that ends up in the final product having very good CG on the Kataphrakts! Can’t wait to see their first full-fledged project later this year with Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: [52/100]
This was unexpected. Gen Urobuchi is out of his realm by not killing any of the major cast off. I thought for sure Lemrina would have been killed protecting Slaine out of love for him and jealous of her sister Asseylum.
This finale is ok– it does conclude the war in that the Princess of Vers establishes a peace treaty among the Vers Empire and Terrans of Earth. Still can’t understand why the Knights would just go and disobey an order from the Princess after all that they’ve lost. As soon as that scene came up I had figured Marito or even Inko would have been killed but this surprised me.
Urobuchi has gone way too soft with this series– although it is good that he’s not carrying the death flag trope that he’s known for this time around. What the first half achieved in developing I feel like the second half forgot what kind of story Aldnoah was trying to tell in the first place: Terrans protecting their homeland against the the same race of a civilization built around lies and the power of the Aldnoah Drive. I would have been ok with 1-cour with this show after this mess.
Slaine’s breakdown during his interrogation with Inaho was a bit too much and really shows how forced the ride would be getting to the end here. Sidelining the terroristic war plot over angsty teenagers is definitely not a way to develop characters, enrich the world built up by them and most importantly craft an intriguing story with concrete substance that the first three episodes did so well in delivering. I will say Asseylum marrying Count Cruhteo’s son makes complete sense– they’re both from the same place with similar ideals that can support each other. That’s about the only realistic aspect of this show.
Gunslinger Stratos has been terrible this season as well! I just hope that his next work Chaos Dragon slated for summer 2015 is stronger than this because this second half was quite horrible.
Also I do wonder if they are trying to set up another season with everyone still alive. Cash in for A-1 Pictures and TROYCA? Hmmmm…
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 3/10
Throughout this entire series Princess Asseylum has been seen as this damsel in distress for the Terrans and the Vers. She’s been the pivotal key to tying all these characters together and the initial start of waging this war. She’s had feelings regarding the war but never have they been so clearly stated than right here. She’s growing up because she has seen what life is like on Mars and on Earth and can determine in her own mind what can provide happiness between the two cultures. Slaine’s fevered attempts at launching attack after attack in this second half gives me the impression of how lost he really is– Eldderittuo putting a positive spin on this ultimately questions Asseylum’s trust in this war really pays a testament to Asseylum’s courage and everything that she’s been through really well.
Before I being about the Emperor I want to mention that the seiyu are different now, due to the unfortunate passing of Shinji Ogawa [ Nodame Cantabile‘s Stresemann, Black Jack‘s Kagemitsu Hazawa]. Shinji did a variety of roles. Here we’ve got a newer yet very similar sounding seiyu with Takayuki Sugo [ BLEACH‘s Zangetsu, Heat Guy J’s android lead ‘J’] The creators did a nice job at seamlessly pulling this off due to this tragic event of Ogawa.
Finally we get to see the Emperor and now on his death bed revealing to his granddaughter a crushing pretense on the Aldnoah drives and the meaning behind them! Mankind’s luxurious equipment that will heed them into the future, bring happiness to their civilization and yet somehow must follow one simple principle: never to be misused. How ironic that the very Princess standing before the Emperor is the same person that gave the Aldnoah power to two Terrans– Inaho and Slaine.
I think what this episode capitalizes on is the extreme twist– Asseylum chooses Cruhteo as her husband. Looking back at the opening sequences its hinted that either Slaine or Inaho would end up with her but here she’s standing her own ground with a question lurking in the background– with me or against me? Perhaps she’s understanding the sacrifices that have been made to carry on this war and realizes there will still be more if she intends to establish a peace agreement between the two.
The one part of this I didn’t like is how Inaho is having a conversation with his eye– instant death flag here and it also doesn’t help when he’s having a conversation with Yuki about it. Gen Urobuchi needs to tone it down and mystify this show a bit more but I guess its a little too late for that with the final episode arriving next week.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10
There are good and bad parts about this episode. Looking back on the first cour Count Cruhteo was a valuable asset to Vers– he was knowledgable and ruthless yet still maintained his duties towards the Princess or rather the Royalty of Vers extremely well. I liked him a lot because he was made out to be a villain but was toppled by Saazbaum and his goals surrounding the assassination of Asseylum from the very beginning.
This second half, heck even this episode just reaffirms how uninvolved Gen Urobuchi is as a writer now. He may have conceived the story but its up to these episode directors to get this series running ground. He only scripted the first three episodes and now the we are getting close to the climax I am quite dissatisfied with the turn out. Inko has so many death flags on her and it doesn’t help any that Inaho’s cybernetic eye is failing him even more– thank goodness Yuki got there in time.
While Aldnoah Zero might be an entertaining ride filled with drama it shoves aside what the first half did so well in: developing its characters around the story rather than what this half has been doing since episode 13 by focusing on two key people on opposing sides to enrich the narrative.
What was with the duel here? It’s very lacking and really the first time Inaho and Slaine have actually faced off against each other in person– something is definitely missing from this entire scene. For one thing the duel between Slaine and Inaho is ironic because it completely dismantles what the first half prioritized in doing: exposing the real Princess to the Terrans for showing how uninvolved they were in the assassination attempt and to the Vers in order to uncover the truth but now this half has thrown that out the window here.
Lemrina pities Asseylum because she sees that she’s taken loyalty over Vers rather than through her own heart– something Lemrina knows all to well with that marriage declaration in a previous episode. Lemrina is a guarantee for good drama and what ever that should happen here whether its being found by the assault team or following her own endeavors should at least be interesting for the last two episodes. I think the big problem with this second half is that its introducing too many new characters without really getting to know them– Harklight and what of Lemrina’s background, even Count Klaincain. He’s about the only new interesting character we’ve met simply because he just as Mazuurek was in earlier episodes, a determining key factor at breaking the foundation between Inaho and Slaine.
Another thing I want to point out here is the assault team: they’re a double edge-sword that pans out in a surprisingly well-written manner. The first half uses this plan including the Deucalion crew as a buffer away from the two leads: this works out nicely. Ultimately, this detracts the Vers from the true objective at hand: Princess Asseylum. However I think the this plot in the background is even more interesting than what we’ve had from previous episodes in this cour. This objective is in full colors by the second portion of this episode here, away from Slaine’s headstrong desire to protect the Princess is that the assault team ordered by the top brass is to assassinate the Princess. By and large, episode 6 is really foreshadowing what’s to occur here: Inaho with his creepy and unfortunate robotic takeover [which this show has yet to explain but I’m sure will in the future] will end up working with Terran-born Slaine. The same Terran that his risen up in the ranks of the very empire that put Asseylum in a binding political issue over Earth’s takeover! Somehow I find it all too convient that right as Asseylum reunites with Inaho he’s being taken over by either the top brass or another coup d’tat but within the Terran army instead of Vers. Something didn’t fit right in that scene and I bet it’s some political ploy.
So now that this series has shifted away from a coup d’tat within Vers it’s going with a reversal by having the Terrans actually trying to kill her. That’s my guess anyway. Perhaps the same group that held in company Rayet’s father are with the key people giving out the orders of the Terrans? So many questions and only two episodes left, hopefully the director can shape this up nicely!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6/10
That sure was some cliffhanger there with Lemrina discovering Asseylum isn’t stuck inside her cage anymore. To be honest I wasn’t expecting that outcome between the Princesses but somehow it manages to reel me in because of where it places Slaine for future episodes. He’s totally screwed. Is it just me or is he a lot more like Lemrina here: unable to do anything. How will he get out of this or is his last ditch effort going to be explaining that he’s been working with the Terrans all along. A protagonist to antagonist in this second half that could pull a reversal by using the redemption trope.
Aldnoah Zero surprisingly enough has a formula to it that is very similar to Shiki— by splitting up the cours and the perspectives of the antagonists and protagonists we have this shift in power between these characters. While Shiki held up its momentum by placing the vampires and humans on different footing with their varied ideals, Aldnoah Zero goes from Terrans to Vers but without a strong follow through because of its leads changing the story for the sake of building up intense drama. It’s good and all but not when you’ve got the minor cast sidelined except for the awesome Mazuurek.
Favorably though this episode uses the three Kataphrakts to establish Inaho’s issue greatly: his eye is giving a hit to him physically. This fight here was incredibly animated and while we see the usual: Inaho’s quick wit to get out of impossible situations it does in fact take a toll on him. Something that even Inko noticed in an earlier episode that does raise a death flag towards her: she likes him and could save him after his eye doesn’t work in one of his planned-out scenarios from a Vers Knight.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10
The big problem Aldnoah Zero stresses itself with is the two main leads and how much they influence the story’s overall changes. In other words they’re overpowered intellectually– this does provide intriguing drama between the two of them and the ways they fight however it poorly executes the other character’s development. They’re unable to shine until now.
Count Mazuurek is thoughtful as we’ve seen his views about the Terran world being resourceful and he’s open-minded. Thanks to Inaho’s efforts at providing information to him about the Princess possibly being fake Mazuurek takes this gamble and devises a plan all on his own terms.
Where was this Count in the first half, a character that’s not Inaho or Slaine being able to deduce situations?! I see a bit of Saazbaum in him because of this very episode. He’s put himself in a strong position to topple Lemrina’s actions and even Slaine’s but also will finally be able to put to rest how much they’ve been deceiving the other Count’s that are still far from accepting Slaine as a true member of Vers society let alone a military leader.
The other portion of this episode that really breaks out of the norm is that Darzana’s decision dismantles easy trigger solution: Inaho. To ram the Deucalion right in the front-lines in order to save the Kataphrakts. This is really good to see the captain is doing something useful here– especially when its Inaho’s eye that has been stealing all the solutions to their problems since this second half started.
This scene also plays into some bad news here for Inaho that was spelled out a few episodes ago– his cybernetic eye will be his downfall. It took this long to change up these resolutions and now it might be a little too late. It may be better drama than it’s first half however since the viewpoint has changed over to the Vers side it neglects the potential of the cast quite a bit too late in the game especially with the compassionate Eddelrittuo and removes Terrans like Calm from the picture.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6/10
I’m sure you all have noticed the recent jump in updates: I’m finally taking some time off work for a vacation and have a lot more time to write out my reviews. Catching up on this series has always been a priority since it was one of the most anticipated anime series for me of the Winter 2015 Season alongside Durarara!! x2 Shou [another series I need to follow up on here too!].
This episode points out something so clear about both Slaine and Lemrina: she’s going to be killed by him as he states that accidents do happen. She’s disillusioned by what Slaine is achieving for the Princess in captivity or rather she doesn’t want to see it for what it is. Their marriage announcement is the backbone this series needs for Asseylum to take action into her own hands.
As for Slaine I can see Lemrina’s death being the straw that breaks the camels back for him: will someone witness him killing her under the guise of Princess Asseylum after the fact? This will prove he’s underestimated Lemrina and ultimately return the strength factor back to Asseylum after she’s been in an isolated state for most of the second half of Aldnoah Zero. Another point that reaffirms my idea about this happening is that Asseylum wakes up by the end of the previous episode. This story here is a lot stronger than what we’ve had the previous weeks.
In a lot of ways Slaine is very much like Lemrina in terms of where they stand. While Lemrina remains at the grace of others especially with how she’s playing into Slaine’s hands– he’s stuck in a web of entrapment due to his own endeavors and inability to think clearly after he’s lost so much. Lemrina acting as the queen card in his deck by deceiving the public as Asseylum proves that his downfall will be the real Princess and possibility Eddelrittuo’s involvement as well. Death flag for her?
As Slaine is falling into the darkness he’s creating for himself here Inaho is the highlight of this episode because after his cybernetic eye dampens his feelings we actually see genuine concern over the Kataphrakt team effort with the arrival of another Landing Castle. It’s good to see this change in Inaho– the only question is how will he be able to outsmart his enemies now that they are joining together to attack in full force with entirely different abilities at their disposal? It’s about damn time this second half handles the fights this way– more practical.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
This show can learn a thing or two about how to write in character’s motives with mystery. The post-credit scene here while has been hinted at for quite some time is overy stated that Lemrina will fall before this series ends– whether she will die or lose her status is anyone’s guess here.
Towards the beginning we’ve got a good setup that loosens the grip on Inaho’s strength: giving the Vers Kataphrakts the advantage by eliminating Terran Kataphrakts. I do wonder though why no one else that’s been pertinent towards the main Terran cast has been killed off. I’ve got a feeling Gen Urobuchi has a few deaths up his sleeve in the last couple of episodes given how this second half has been pushing it aside all this time.
This is a good way to develop the minor cast especially since the perspective has switched from the Terrans to the Vers Empire– there are a lot of Counts feeling uneasy about Slaine’s rise to higher status considering how he’s Terran-born. His loyalty lie with the Princess Asseylum and I really like how the duel is the gradual build-up in his character as he fends off Marylcian’s attacks.
Fantastic animation and it looks very smooth in 4K. This is my favorite part of the episode because it re-states why I like this show: the fights tell more of how these characters are evolving on the battlefield rather than the long-drawn out [and sometimes repeated] conversations the Vers and Terrans have about this ongoing war and how to solve it.
OVERALL MPRESSION: 6/10
Count Mazuurek is far away from the battlefield he’s always desired to stray away from: he’s in jail and is in the protection of Inaho. Almost a good fit for this guy setting up a deal with Inaho to reveal the truth behind the fake Princess Asseylum. I’m not sure who directed this episode or the previous one but whatever they are doing here is working in terms of its newly introduced characters in the second half!
Inaho developing his own cybernetic eye to push away the layers of lies this series is keeping up with at an alarming rate week after week may be all well and good for the action scenes but its how he interacts with his companions that this show falls short. They should have left out Yagarai’s comment about ‘brain problems later on’ because this show still needs to hold some mystery without showing all its cards constantly.
Rayet steals the spotlight here– her conversation with the girls at the cafeteria is hilarious but we’ve also got the serious turnaround about her commitment of killing Martians. She’s determined and I like that about her however it’s scenes with Inaho here that I’ve got a problem with. Inaho whether or not he saw this coming from before his eye is anyone’s guess but how he’s able to sense a change of heart from her is utterly boring. It’s this sort of drama that can wreck this series– pit a main character like Inaho at the center of all the turmoil to come out every bit of it unscathed and more logical than ever without answering any questions to the viewer.
Moreover though I want to point out that this show is still doing some things right– Lemrina has been taking actions of her own really illustrates well how Vers is fracturing at its core. The duel between Slaine and Count Marylcian emphasizes this as well. I like that comment here where Marylcian mentions to Lemrina under disguise as Asseylum that she is like a bird trapped in a cage. This really translates a strong message about Lemrina– she’s wanting to get noticed by Slaine even more than Asseylum ever was but can’t place herself outside of the image of Asseylum that she has deceitfully created in order to hide the truth out of respect for Slaine.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10
Slaine didn’t have much development in the first half of the series as its focus was more on Inaho. However, this second half puts him into a new light– he’s keeping Asseylum alive in secret with Eddelritto, he ended up getting his plans in motion to remove Saazbaum from the equation and actually achieved it. Also, he’s been pissing off a lot of other Counts by being liked by Count Saazbaum. Rising up in social status will put him into a strong position within the Empire and more importantly Lemrina. I am curious as to how Asseylum will react after discovering just how far Slaine has taken things especially with all that happens here.
Things are going well for him but the balance that will topple this occurs in this very episode by one single Vers Count– Mazuurek. Rather than actually happening this episode uses a strong sense of foreshadow to get this point off extremely well! Finally we’ve got a person within Vers keeping with a different set of ideals– the planet is a resource investment rather than a vengeful slaughter of Terrans. I like where this is going– if only he had a bit more backbone here. He’s timid and it’s good to see Inaho with his new eye using influence over this fact. Powerful fight between Terrans and a Vers Count that hold on to the same notions. Mazuurek’s kataphrakt uses an artificial gravity to keep up his defense that correlates well to how he feels about this war– he doesn’t want to kill people so he puts up a front to not only defend himself from death but others as well. It’s his reluctance and his Kataphrakt’s ability that will change the outcome of things that are hidden from everyone but Slaine.
As for Slaine he’s too far gone considering what we see with his annihilation of Trident Base. After being unable to protect Princess Asseylum and pending the destruction of the entire Vers Empire it just makes perfect sense as to why Inaho realizes he HAS to defeat him. Solid conclusion to this!
It’s also nice we get to see Yuki again especially where she is reuniting with a more computer-like Inaho than ever before. Really like the scene where she’s discussing Inaho with the Captain– she regrets involving him and she drink while Marito can’t because of his own fears after losing his best friend. Great contrast.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10