Aldnoah.Zero – 03

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Aldnoah.Zero – what happens when a robot pilots a robot.

I think the jury is still out on whether Aldnoah.Zero is one of those series where it’s better not to think too much and just enjoy the ride, but the verdict on whether or not the ride is enjoyable is definitely in – guilty as charged.  This show is a blast in more ways than one – visually pleasing (Shimura Takako character designs really should be a requirement for every mecha series) with a high-octane soundtrack and a relentless narrative momentum that makes every episode a breathless experience.

The artistic impression scores, then, are impressive (even from the East German judge).  As to technical merit, as I said that’s still a bit up in the air for me.  Translations of the timeline on the series website have done nothing to allay my doubts about the timing of events leading up to the current situation, and some of the science as relates to the Martian Kataphrakts and their barriers seems a bit dodgy to me.  And how is it that no one in any of the earlier skirmishes noticed a small army of spy satellites hovering nearby to every VERS kataphrakt?

I’m not a purist for that sort of thing though, to be honest – with mecha series if the entertainment value is high enough I can overlook a lot as long as the illogic doesn’t extend extensively to character behavior, and even at that we’re still looking at questionable rather than preposterous when it comes to the details.  It’s a function of this sort of series that teenage heroes can figure out stuff the top brass of the military can’t, and that Rayet and Asseylum should conveniently possess the technical skills (heck, either the driving age in Japan is different in this timeline or Rayet is a helluva fast learner) necessary to carry out their part in Inaho’s counterattack is par for the course.

Inaho remains in interesting mystery, still betraying almost no emotion in any situation apart from the odd GAR line of dialogue, and the import of his actions themselves.  I continue to hope we learn what makes him tick (and why he’s such a technical and tactical whiz), but for now he’s a solid badass peachfuzz warrior of the stone-cold type, and I quite like the way he dissected the information from earlier encounters with Trillram and calculated a potential weakness in his kataphrakt.  If we accept the basic genre premise of teenagers being the vanguard of the human race as it fights off invaders, this was set up about as realistically as one could hope for.  Simply put, there was no one else left to fight and Inaho had both the nerve and the wit to make an effective commander.  Plus, these students have had a measure of military training as part of their school curriculum.

Another element I liked here was Rayet and Asseylum ending up fighting side-by-side, which is certainly ironic given their respective backgrounds.  While it hasn’t been explicitly stated it seems pretty likely that Rayet knows why her family was executed, which gives her the advantage over Asseylum.  I might quibble with Asseylum’s willingness to go head-long into battle with units from her own world when, as far as she presumably knows, they’re fighting a good-faith battle prompted by their belief that she’s been assassinated by Terran terrorists (terranists?).  Either she knows more than she’s let on or she’s incredibly cold and detached and decided that Trillram and his crew were a necessary sacrifice in the interest of longterm peace, but there’s no denying she’s a trooper – and now there’s no denying that she’s some sort of mahou shoujo, too.  That explains her ability to slip away unnoticed after the attempt on her life, but mahou shoujou in a mecha series?  Even for Urobuchi Gen, isn’t that crossing the streams?

The ending of the episode was a cracker, and it definitely sets Slaine up as a pivotal figure going forward (not that it wasn’t already obvious).  He’s the consummate boy caught between two worlds – I hope we find out how he got into his current situation – but his loyalties are certainly going to be tested now that he knows the truth about Asseylum.  His initial reaction certainly reveals serious sackage – he palms Trillram’s pistol and blows him away (frankly, he won’t be missed by me).  But what does Slaine do now – does he join the Terran resistance?  I think it’s likely his next steps are guided by Asseylum’s, but it seems as if he and Inaho are ultimately destined to be joined by fate, and the Yin-Yang nature of their personalities (which is so extreme as to suggest there may be an even deeper connection between them) only strengthens that impression.

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  1. e

    this was great episode i enjoy this show until now
    @enzo are you going to review the second episode of sailor moon crystal?

  2. s

    An enjoyable ride Aldnoah is; it's like watching an entertaining summer blockbuster. I do have to say that your quip about nobody noticing the drones hovering above the enemy catarphract has a very simple answer….the drones are chilling pretty high up in the sky. Sure someone flying around at that altitude would have probably noticed those tiny drones, but when the terran forces are busy dying, i dont think anyone is going to be wondering what the purpose of those tiny drones are or take notice of them. Plus, there's no way to assume the drones where the reason one enemy mech was able to see. The fight vs the terrans was mostly a ground battle anyway; that doesnt really give enough affordance for the enemy forces to pick up on tiny drones floating pretty high up conspicuously.

  3. A

    I agree with you sir

  4. s

    And it seems that Ai kayano joins the cast of Aldnoah Zero as that military commander Darzana Magbaredge. I almost couldnt tell it was her for a second. Im always surprised at how well she can disguise her voice

  5. Well, it slipped by me, that's for sure.

  6. R

    That 'mahou shoujo' scene remind me of dress-change system in Psycho-Pass. Maybe it's some kind of holographic-coating technology which almost similar to one used by the mecha?

  7. R

    Dear Xebec;

    This is how you properly do the whole "escape from the enemy" plot.

    Yep, this was pretty much a typical mecha anime ep (and one that runs in the same vein as Argevollen's third ep), But they nailed it with how they create3d the tension and the rush, making it very engaging (and again, Sawano Hiroyuki's music just blends everything well). I also like the fact that they are merely using trainer units and it was more a battle of wits.

    As for Rayet and Asseylum turning out rather conveniently skilled, I am not really surprised about that. Rayet was part of the Martian terrorist contingent, so it is likely that she was already taught by her father the needed skills (driving, tactics, etc.) to assist their operations. As for Asseylum, she obviously had self-defense as part of her education (as evidenced of how she easily floored Inaho), sa gun use and marksmanship will be part of that.

    Now for Asseylum revealing herself to help the others, I was already expecting that (though the whole mahou shoujo-esque transformation seems odd and a bit over the top. I would have preferred that she just took off her wig). What surprised me is how early they did this particular turn of events. I was expecting they would do it a bit later. I guess this gives a lot more room for the story.

    And, boy, the last seen. Everything was pretty much by the book up until that. Now, they are really dead serious about this (I doubt Slaine would quickly change sides though).

  8. H

    "Rayet and Asseylum should conveniently possess the technical skills (heck, either the driving age in Japan is different in this timeline or Rayet is a helluva fast learner)" I wonder, if they were in deep cover on Earth if she might have also gone to a regular school and learned military skills just like the Earth kids have been, Inko was pretty competent driving the last episode as well.

  9. m

    Last week I commented on how the force field of the Martian mechs seemed like it might end up not making any sense, and this week certainly shut me up on that. I laughed when they explained literally everything I thought wasn't making sense about it, and I actually liked the idea that the mech gets it's view from cameras. It's a really unique idea that fits in, and gives a legit reason as to why these overpowered things have a weakness. I also liked that the way they went about destroying the mechs was something anyone should have figured out (especially since I figured it out) and not some deus ex machine or stroke of luck that leads to commandeering an enemy mech (the strongest one as is typical). Yeah there is the issue of not noticing the cameras and satellites not being noticed, but as you said, I don't find that preposterous and therefor it doesn't bother me. I can also accept the military brass, or anyone else, not solving the mystery due to how badly they were getting destroyed and they didn't escape into a tunnel and have the enemy stop chasing. I feel like the rest of the tech is explained well and in a believable enough fashion (believable by mech standards anyway).

    I also like that they gave Inaho a bit of a personality. There's a huge difference between being stoic and being a robot. The first 2 eps saw Inaho coming across as not having any sort of emoition at all, even when his friend died. This week we se that he does care and he does harbor strong emotions, but he doesn't express them verbally or with his facial expressions. To me, that is always one of my favorite character types. It's hard to pull off without coming off as cold or robotic, but I think this episode did a good job of portraying him as an intelligent guy with a few solid leader characteristics who has a intriguing air of mystery about him.

    I don't think the princess is a magical girl. My assumption is that she was using technology to disguise her appearance (how that would possibly work is beyond me and I doubt will ever be explained) and it was said last week that she was never in the caravan that was attacked. I at least am now going to give this show the benefit of the doubt as far as unexplained things go after they settled all of my questions about their mechs in such an interesting way (and as you said likely the most realistic way possible)

    This show has solidified itself as my favorite show of the season (Barakamon is making me laugh more than any other anime has though), and even with Gen being out of the mix from now on, I think it has a lot of room to work with the large plot.

  10. m

    An enjoyable ride through and through, and while I do agree that the fact that no one noticed the aerial cameras a little dodgy, I did like the idea of dumping the Cataphract into water to get its weak point. And the scores are epic as well

  11. s

    I suspect Inaho may just be on the autistic spectrum, as he bears a lot of the classic/stereotypical traits (At least far as autism on TV goes). That'd strike me as the simplest explanation anyways sans any convoluted narrative explanation.

  12. I

    "And how is it that no one in any of the earlier skirmishes noticed a small army of spy satellites hovering nearby to every VERS kataphrakt?"

    I think that all the warlords have their own custom kataphrakts each having some special weapon/ability, which would make sense since the war-lords seem to be separate, self-centered entitites. Therefore, only the purple kataphrakt has the absorbing barrier with the camera weakness, which explains why its the only vers kataphrakt without a weapon.

    If you look at the beginning of the 2nd episode, you'll see that the different kataphrakts don't have the barrier:

    -Laser eyes, the first one is too thin to have the circular generators that produced the shields on barrier barney(the purple mech's new name).

    Laser whip- This one is shown to use an electrical force field. I don't think it would also have the absorbing barrier since that would be redundant.

    Jedi- The kataphrakt with the laser sword is only shown after wiping out most of the troops, but I don't remember seeing the circular generators on him

  13. w

    I was originally thinking the Versian society resembled the old aristocratic Europe, but I'm starting to lean towards feudal Japan as the inspiration now. If Gen's got a political message in mind here, it might be that Mars is set to represent Japanese nationalism and xenophobia. And if they're being portrayed as cackling villains, well… Message received.

    Though if it's just all pure entertainment, it's doing absolute wonders there too. Aldnoah just gets me pumped. The action and OST were at their best this week :3

    Also, kinda sad Slaine had to dirty his hands, he's too adorable for that..

  14. C

    If that Martian Kataphrakt's barrier could absorb light… shouldn't it be black? Just saying… 😛

  15. R

    It should. But then again, where is the fun in seeing an all black shadow trudging along the streets of a city.

  16. d

    It won't actually it black. Just empty like space. It would just warp space.

  17. n

    No, I think Tomato is right. It should be black; there can't be any color. So the natural explanation would be that "light can pass through".

  18. D

    It actually turns solid black for a moment after shield activation Then it's projects an image of the Cataphract. Because if it was just a black blob, then part(s) that don't absorb light would show up and people just gonna aim for that bit(s).

  19. n

    Nice! I didn't notice that. Still unclear as to how they project the image from inside the blob though.

  20. D

    – Still unclear as to how they project the image from inside the blob though

    With the Aldnoah Light from the holes in the shoulderpads, it looks like.

  21. d

    @ Enzo
    In a battle, I think shooting down the tank is more of a concern then spy satellite. Destroying spy cameras that isn't coming at you is the least of any one's concern

  22. C

    Pretty sure that the princess said that she wasn't in the car (she was sick due to the difference in gravity on earth) Her double was killed instead.

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