Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.
Aldnoah.Zero – the currently popular mecha anime which has just ended. The show was split into two cour, 12 episodes each. Why did I watch the show in the first place? An overpowered main character from the get go, with a stoic, emotionless attitude who pulled a crazy stunt all the time. Definitely my cup of tea. What else could I ask for?
A quick summary of the story. In 1972, the astronauts of Apollo 17 found a hypergate on Moon, which allowed the Earthlings aka Terrans, to relocate to Mars, built a civilization and referred themselves as the “Martians”. Dr Rayregalia found an ancient relic, a highly advanced technology, on Mars known as Aldnoah, where he was accepted as the rightful heir of Aldnoah and became the Mars – later known as Vers – Emperor. The longed for the Earth’s resources broke the first war between the Martians and the Terrans, until there was a temporary cease-fire.
In present time, Princess Asseylum, went down to Earth to create peace between these two planets but was “assassinated” by Martians spies, caused the cease-fire to be breached. As expected, the princess was alive, and found by Kaizuka Inaho, the main protagonist, and this was where the story began.
The focus of the first cour was to protect the princess, whose life was targeted by her very own Orbital Knight, Count Saazbaum, who held a grudge against the Vers royal family. Apart from Inaho and the Terrans, there was also Slaine Troyard, a Terran trapped on Mars and became a man-slave, who was obsessed in protecting his beloved princess.
The second cour’s focus was slightly shifted. It was now to rescue the princess from Slain-e-ism, as well as to restore peace between these two planets.
Now, let’s get to the point. Why do I think the story is great?
The Martians, who were very proud of their Kataphraks, built using the super civilization Aldnoah technology, was brought down one by one by a single high school boy, Inaho, who was still a trainee soldier. The Terrans did not have Kataphraks that could even match the Martians’, but Inaho cleverly analyzed the Martians’ weapons and exploited their weaknesses during their fight.
The first cour ended with an unexpected plot twist, and hence a great cliffhanger. Through out the first 12 episodes, we were made to believe that Slaine would be an ally to the Terrans. His joined forces with Inaho was one of the best fights in the entire show. Though he was “betrayed” by Inaho, who at that moment considered him as an enemy, I still had a high hope that they would fight side by side again. Not until Slaine shot Inaho in the head out of jealousy and sided with the enemy at the end of the first cour.
The second cour took place 19 months after the end of the first cour. Slaine had completely turned into a badass. Though Slaine gained much hatred now, it was admirable to see how a Terran like him, considered to be a lowly creature by the Martians, crawling up to the top using cunning tricks and strategies, and finally gaining control of the proud Orbital Knights.
Though it was an action-packed mecha fight, there was a love factor involved. It wasn’t really hard to see that Inaho and Princess Asseylum had fallen in love with each other. In fact, that was what drove Slaine to madness, an unrequited love. It was also refreshing to see Inaho, back from the “dead”, who previously had shown no emotion at all and fought the war because he was drafted to, finally put his heart before him. He went into war just to save the now captured Princess Asseylum from Slaine.
I’ll say Sawano Hiroyuki did a very great job with the soundtracks. They were completely awesome!
So, where did the show go wrong?
In the final episode of the second cour. Yes, after all the hypes built for the last 11 episodes, it took only one episode to ruin a great story. Here are my points:
Slaine, who was seemed beyond redemption, was so prepared to destroy the Earth, suddenly had a change of heart after listening to Princess Asseylum’s announcement, or rather her “capability” to turn against Slaine with her bold announcement. Like, seriously? *facepalm*
Slaine went into a self-destructing mode after “saving” the other knights by asking them to surrender, then he saw Inaho and decided to fight him for one last time. Slaine who was a formidable foe to Inaho, was easily slain.
Inaho upgraded his Sleipnir for his final battle against Slaine’s Tharsis. Since it looked really awesome, I would expect the battle to be EPIC. But nay, it was just an okay fight. It felt like Luffy KO’ed Doflamingo with just a punch. All barks, no bite.
Oh there were deaths, of course, to the no-name Terrans who appeared for only 1 second? But nothing happened to the main characters. After so many tear-jerking scenes in episode 23, the Terrans’ main forces came back alive. Unscathed! Unfortunately for the Martians, so many great orbital knights died.
There were so many Martians who wanted to conquer the Earth, suddenly agreed to the “world peace”? During the first cour, they had no trouble disobeying the Emperor’s order. Why become such loyalists now? And so did the Terrans HQ higher ups, who were so determined to terminate Princess Asseylum, but then easily trusted her?
Hail to the world peace.
If they were not Inaho nor Slaine, there won’t be much character development for them. Only existed for the plot purposes. And their greatness were basically told from the other people’s point of view, not through their actions. Even Princess Asseylum existence in the second cour was mostly for display.
Oh actually, they did develop a sideline character, Count Mazureek, for a bit, but after that he was wasted. I thought he would play a better and greater role, but nah.
This was one of the biggest flaws, or should I say, the biggest joke, in Aldnoah Zero. How could someone who was introduced in the last 3 episodes, married the princess in the end? Okay, I get it. It was a political marriage. Princess Asseylum had no choice. In order to restore peace, she had to sacrifice her feeling for Inaho, and married a royal blood. But the biggest question was, why Klainkein? It would make sense if it was Count Mazureek considering the fact that the writer put an effort to develop his character, but Klainkein?
So what was the point of having Inaho showing a little bit of emotion, ceded his artificial engine to his brain, sacrificing himself while ignoring her sister’s feeling, all for the sake of saving his beloved princess when he was only reunited with her for a few minutes in the entire second cour? Even then, it was his robotic side that communicated with Princess Asseylum. What was the point of confessing their love and giving Inaho her necklace, just to NTR-ed him later on with a guy who might not even know how to fight? To me, Inaho’s purpose in this second cour was not to save the princess, but Slaine. InahoxSlaine, anybody?
Inaho had a chance to kill Slaine for good, but he did not do it. Simply because Princess Asseylum asked Inaho to save Slaine from his misery. He was reported dead and blamed to be the mastermind, where as the matter of fact, he was alive and put in prison. He was made to live so he could repent.
I love the idea of redeeming a bad guy, but I dislike the execution. Slaine, after what he went through and became, deserved an honorable death, at least in my opinion. Let he redeemed his mistake in the most respectable way. The way Hijikata Toushirou sent off Itou Kamotarou to his death in Gintama, in the most respectable manner after the latter realized his mistake and regretted. Even Darth Vader died honorably.
There were still so many questions left unanswered but I’m not gonna go there. The series tag line “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall” really suits the story, literally. Forget about Piso’s justice because it didn’t applicable to the context at all. It simply meant a happy ending (justice) for the Martians and the Terrans, except Inaho, Slaine and Princess Asseylum (where the heavens truly fall).
Overall, despite its rush, unanswered plot holes and unpolished ending, I would still say Aldnoah Zero is an entertaining show to watch.
p/s: All pictures were taken from the internet. Credit to the owners! ^-^