Aldnoah.Zero – 10

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So the sun rose in the East after all today…

I’m certainly not going to waste any “I told you so’s” on Aldnoah.Zero this week, because I don’t think it took any special foresight to know that Princess Asseylum would still be alive.  Indeed, it was pretty much a lock – and that she would be revived via Inaho giving her CPR was strongly hinted at too (and props to the series for actually showing CPR properly applied).  No, that’s all a given more or less – but there were some other predictable traps that I was rather hoping the series would avoid that it didn’t manage to.

My great fear was that this episode was going to rush straight to redemption for Rayet, and that certainly happened – but the way it happened was even more irritating that I expected.  The inconsistency in Inaho’s character could hardly have been more unmistakably showcased if it had been the intent of the writing to do so.  How can you possibly rationalize the way he dealt with Slaine and the way he dealt with Rayet?  The answer is you can’t – it’s preposterous on every level.  Slaine fights at his side and saves his life and because Inaho has a suspicion about who he might be, he decides he’s an enemy.  Rayet tries (and technically succeeds) in murdering the Princess in cold blood, and he declares she’s not – and hands her the very gun she’s just threatened his life with, barrel pointing at his head?

The larger problem here is that Inaho’s entire reason d’être is that he’s the implacable, stoic figure who sees every situation rationally and thinks around corners.  That’s the pretense behind why he gets very little development and shows almost nothing of who he is, but when you turn around and show nonsensical behavior like this the entire structure is compromised.  However you try and write this off – cute girl armor, whatever – it’s a nightmare moment for Inaho’s character arc and any hope that it’ll end up being a compelling and believable one.  We’ll see what happens with Rayet from here – if they let her walk without a trial (and even with one would be dicey) that’s going to be another serious blow to Aldnoah.Zero’s credibility.

That’s a lot to get past (and I sure hope instantaneous healing of bruises is revealed to be a trait of the VERS royal family), but if you can get past it there’s some better stuff happening with the main plot.  Director Aoki Ei basically confirmed this week that the first cour was going to end with a bang, and we can certainly see the makings of that here.  With Asseylum alive it’s a straightforward matter to get the Deucalion underway again, and that means it can finally arrive at United Earth HQ in Russia – a giant underground complex of shelters and military installations that’s supposed to have supplies for three years.  Except there aren’t enough refugees to fill it to capacity, which suggests that things on the outside are even worse than those on the Deucalion had feared.

Arriving at the base also means a momentary farewell between Asseylum and Inaho, and her opportunity to at last try and communicate with her own people.  That farewell seems to decisively rule out any romantic entanglement between those two, whose CPR session was like a clinical, sanitized version of the rather raw and primal one she shared with Slaine.  As usual it’s hard to read Inaho’s reaction, but there might just have been a flicker of disappointment in his expression.  As for Asseylum’s message to her people, it’s about what you’d expect – an unvarnished condemnation of the hostilities with Earth and a demand that they cease immediately.

Saazbaum is indeed turning out to the first villain in Aldnoah formidable enough to really matter, and the fact that he doesn’t act like he dropped in from Scooby Doo makes him that much the better for the purpose.  He’s well-prepared – he controls the base on the moon that would relay the Princess’ message to Mars, so he can make sure no one back home sees it.  That also means he can track it to its source, so he now knows where the Princess – and the Deucalion – are.  That means the attack that’s likely to form the spine of this season’s grand finale, with Saazbaum leading an all-out assault on Earth’s assembled power structure.  He gives Slaine a choice – join my assault, or flee to Earth and die defending it.  But he does spare Slaine’s life and he does give him the choice, largely out of the debt he feels he owes Slaine’s father.

Saazbaum and Slaine are really the two most interesting people in this story, and I’m rather sad that they’re apparently going to split up.  Or are they?  I’m not saying that Slaine will be persuaded by Saazbaum’s tale of how Asseylum’s father caused the death of his fiancee Orlane (Noto Mamiko) during Heaven’s Fall, but Saazbaum revealing that he’s retrieved Cruhteo’s Tharsis (how did that work, exactly?) is an obvious invitation for Slaine to pilot it.  Perhaps he’ll use it to flee and turn it against Saazbaum’s forces, but it does seem likely Slaine will use it one way or the other (and thus confirm that he’s been granted Aldnoah power by Asseylum).

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  1. m

    Yeah everything about that Rayet situation was awful. It truly made no sense in terms of Inaho's character up til this ep. The only way, that I can think of at least, in which you can make it work out is if Inaho did that with some larger use for her in mind. If he keeps her alive and gains her trust in order to use her for something later then that would be ok. Still awful for everyone else who let it slide, but ok for his character at least. What annoyed me most was that whole apology/it's all your fault scene. I can at least excuse Rayet being so clichéd and believing something so simple minded and illogical under the notion that she is suffering from trauma and is finding an outlet to vent her frustrations and the girl she is jealous of fits the bill best. But for the princess to just apologize and think it's all her fault is annoying. Yeah yeah you're such a great and noble person that you must blame yourself bc seeing others suffer hurts you so much more than anyone else….it's just ridiculous. I won't even bother to explain why it isn't her fault bc it's too absurd to acknowledge, and I find someone actually blaming themselves and forgiving the person who literally just killed them even more absurd. No one is that nice or that naïve.
    Haha that seems like I hated this ep a lot, but outside of that I thought it was good. I like the upcoming battle that will end the first cour, and I like the Saazbaum storyline (as well as Slaine's involvement). Not sure how I feel about Adolf Vers though. Poor country focuses on weapons development and then blames another group of people who are "different" for being greedy and evil even though they are lesser beings…..they just ripped off Hitler and Germany. Frankly enough off Hitler in all formats and all situations now and forever. Characters resembling him have no depth and generally nothing that makes them interesting as characters. Like a villain who kills for the psycho reasons in his head, Hitler-like characters are boring and annoying. Not in the way you should hate a villain, but in that "man you're annoying, when do they kill you off?" sort of way. I hope we don't see much screen time of the Versian Emperor acting that way. I love Saazbaum's story and how his loss has both awakened him to the truth of Vers/Earth but also made him a bit crazy with revenge and twisted his logic of who all is to blame, and how to get revenge. It gives him these contrasting feelings of righteousness (his disgust for Versian Ruler and the first war) and delusional misplaced villainy (hatred of terrans and the willingness to kill however many ppl necessary to satisfy his revenge) and overall that makes him a lot more human than Cruhteo. I think you can't just hate a villain for him to be a great character. You almost need to have a level of understanding. Not in the sense that you agree with them or what they are doing, but in the sense that it's not just evil bc they are evil ppl doing evil for evil sake (or just super crazy). For me Saazbaum is the only one on the Versian side that fits this role (though if Slaine joins him I can see him fitting it well too) so far so hopefully he gets a suitable replacement if he doesn't survive the upcoming battle.

  2. Yes, Asseylum apologizing to Rayet was truly awful – I really should have said so in the post, but in the end I couldn't find the right place to include it.

  3. S

    Well, I can *see* Asseylum feeling personally guilty about the whole war thing (let's face it – she WAS naive and generally stupid), so I could buy her laying that on her attempted murderer though she personally didn't deserve it. But Inaho's actions were utterly incomprehensible if not for "we still need this character because PLOT" reasons. I mean, him disarming Rayet, okay, I can't see him letting her commit suicide right in front of everyone (though honestly, how is he a master of martial arts as well as a mecha pilot and a skilled first aider? Paying attention in school goes a long way…), but giving her gun back was plain idiotic. I wouldn't do that even with a person I truly have reason to trust, if they were in that kind of state of mind. Also it was the moment where he had the chance to show a bit more of his feelings – which would have gone a LONG way in establishing his supposed having the hots for the princess. Like, when someone almost succeeds in killing the girl you're in love with, you should get at least A BIT angry, right?

    On the other hand, however, props for the CPR scene. I especially loved how they explicitly mentioned teens usually going all giggly about the mouth-to-mouth and Inaho just being downright practical. That was a nice touch.

  4. Z

    Saauzbaum is being a little hypocritical here I feel.

    This series is the Code Geass tribute of the year, so don't expect too much credibility.

  5. R

    I actually don't see anything wrong character-wise with Asseylum apologizing to Rayet.. Considering her mounting guilt about being the cause of the war, she was bound to ask for forgiveness from someone affected by it (naive as it may sound).

    What really nags me, just like you guys is why the heck did Inaho return the gun to Rayet. Sure, that thing is pretty useless at the moment since it had no bullets (and I highly doubt that they will let Rayet near any ammunition), but I can't fathom why Inaho would give it back. it really feels uncharacteristically dumb of our Gary Stu.

  6. S

    There's also the whole "ricochet does not exist in this world" thing. Rayet shooting on a metallic floor so close to the princess was pretty stupid – that no one was injured was a miracle. Literally, Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods managed to be more realistic when it featured a drunk Gohan injuring his wife by carelessly deflecting some bullets. But Saazbaum shooting Slaine's handcuffs WHILE STANDING IN FRONT OF HIM? Like, what, does his gun have magical bullets that disappear after hitting a target or what?

  7. m

    I didn't mean to imply that the apology didn't fit Asseylem's character, but that my issue is with that type of character. I think what the true hallmark of a great character is is their realism, and to an extent that goes for shows, books, comics, etc. (Haha be warned this is all about to be my opinion and not so much fact or truth) Not realism in the sense of no superpowers, extreme personality traits (good/bad), or realistic setting/technology/blah blah you get the idea. It's a basic two part realism: 1) that they act "realistically" within the bounds of their personality/beliefs/knowledge/abilities and are ultimately true to what has been presented to the audience as being their "identity" so to speak. 2) is that, even though its almost guaranteed that they aren't in a very realistic setting, they still act like a real person. Not necessarily real in that they can't be on the extreme end of good or bad, but real in that the good guys struggle with issues and the bad guys have some degree of rationale for their behavior that humanizes them. For a "good guy" example I'll go with Spider-man. What makes his character "realistic" isn't so much that he always does the right thing, and sacrifices his own happiness (as that's generally uncommon) but the way that he struggles with his past and trying to do what is "right" vs his anger. Saazbaum works a decent "bad guy" example here. Yeah he totally went off the deep end, and losing his fiancé doesn't justify the countless deaths, the war, or any of the other atrocities he has been a part of. But at least he has a (somewhat) logical reasoning for why he feels and acts the way he does. You can see how a person could turn out that way given his situation. Cruhteo was the opposite of that: purely hateful and racist (and given the timeline it's all the more absurd) with no rationale behind that sort of mindset.

  8. m

    That's my longwinded set up for why Asseylem is an awful character, and that scene just was brutal to watch. There's a degree of acceptable "blaming oneself" for becoming a catalyst of sorts for the current situation bc she got too excited at the prospect of visiting Earth and didn't stop to think of all of the potential problems that could arise. But to that extent every single person who has anything to do with her is equally, if not more so, at fault. Her father (and any other adult retainer of hers) would be more to blame for not considering everything seeing as they are adults, ones directly responsible for her safety, and they didn't bother to send her to an enemy WORLD (not town or country but a fucking different planet) without proper protection. Especially when the fallout is literally war of the worlds. Then the notion that Asseylum being so much like Jesus that anyone's pain is felt by her, and likely more so, and she just has to be the one at fault is equally illogical and arrogant. She must think herself quite the important figure in the universe to be able to be the sole cause of everyone's suffering bc she didn't think her own people would kill her. Even if she blamed herself, and truly believed it to her core, you literally have to go back to the new testament to find someone who gets murdered and then forgives their murderer immediately, let alone to take all of the blame for it. Not seeking vengeance, justice, or at least considering her murderer may be traumatized and crazy and in need of psychiatric help lest she hurt herself or others. And no one else even bats an eye about it. All you get is a mix of, "oh princess it's so hard on you", "well she seems to forgive her so it's cool", or "this poor murderer has been through a lot". Even if it fit in the context of Asseylum's character (which I'm not convinced it does, but it was so bad I didn't even consider analyzing that notion) it makes her an awful character, and certainly doesn't fit into the other's involved characters. Her maid constantly talks down to Inaho for daring to be friendly with the princess, but doesn't feel the slightest bit of anger at her murderer? Her death means the end of Aldnoah, spelling the end for Earth's chance at anything close to victory, and no one cares? They all could've died with the ship crashing and not one person cares? No. Unacceptable. It's flat out bad writing. Haha sorry that got super long. but man that just annoyed the hell out of me. Probably bc, for all of his flaws, Urobuchi's writing always has a sense of logic and intelligence. I know he isn't attached anymore, but I expect more from something he started. I expect him to not hand the reigns over to just anyone.

  9. m


    Haha it's probably for the best that you couldn't find a place to bring it up as you might've gone on an absurdly long rant like I did. It's so obvious what's wrong there, and there's so many different things wrong, that once you start into it things just spiral and there's too much to write. It's also unnecessary because the problems are so obvious that no one really needs you to point it out to them.

  10. N

    Inaho's reaction makes sense IMO. It is pretty clear that Rayet is psychologically weak. She was not able to kill Asseylum despite their closeness, her 3 shots missed her. It was safe to give her the gun after this small talk.

  11. She wasn't trying to hit her with those three shots.

    And she did successfully kill her – she wasn't breathing and had no pulse until Sheldon Stu revived her.

  12. S

    A psychologically weak person which has already tried killing another twice in the last ten minutes is the perfect profile of someone I would NOT give a gun to.

  13. w

    Uggghhh… uuuggghhhh… That was.. Yeah, as you said. The Slaine/Saazbaum side was pretty good though. It's a shame we only get about five minutes of that an episode, especially since he's supposed to be the deuteragonist.

    Another issue I'll add to the Rayet incident: What was the point of it? It didn't advance her character arc in any meaningful way, and actually managed to damage everyone else's. They just shoehorned in some character drama, and then resolved it straight away. Rayet didn't even show (major) signs of feeling the way she was portrayed the last two episodes. Oh and her speech while she held them at gunpoint didn't even make sense in the context it was given.

    I think what we're seeing more and more with Aldnoah is the 'too many cooks in the kitchen' problem. It's felt less focused lately, and I think it's a lack clarity of vision amongst the writing staff causing it.

  14. J

    Apparently they haven't actually come up with a set concept and story arc for the second season yet going by a recent interview with the director. This show gives sort of a fill time with cool happening vibe to it for sure rather than a clear cut vision or direction or set of themes the staff wants to tackle with the show in particular. It really doesn't resonate much beyond what is happening in the immediate episode which is really unusual for this sort of show that looks to be trying to follow in the footsteps of Gundam. It's also as if major happenings like a Martian leader in the vein of Cruhteo dying largely get glossed over as well and what's really important is that it gives Slaine the chance to get in a mech with somewhat ironic implications behind it.

  15. m


    I didn't hear that, but that makes a lot of sense. It started off with so much promise and is now on the verge of falling to pieces. It didn't even occur to me how absurd glossing over Cruhteo's death was until now. I feel a bit dumb for not noticing something so glaring. Even understanding that the "traitors" control the moon base, information sending, or whatever there's no way no one at all questions Cruhteo's ship being blown up. There are heavy implications that Cruhteo was not the only orbital knight who wasn't involved in the assassination attempt. In fact it was made to seem more like only a small percentage of ship leaders were involved. Their tech is far too advanced to not notice Cruhteo's ship has been destroyed, and that no Earth weapon could have been the cause. Maybe they're leaving it for next ep, but it really seems unlikely. I'm very confused as to how something essentially created and laid out by Urobuchi wasn't taken over by people hand picked by him, who he trusts to write, direct, and animate his idea properly.

  16. m


    I think you may be right about "too many cooks" with Aldnoah. One man's idea was what started it all, and it opened up in such a huge way that it almost had to slow down or risk spiraling of course. That's probably the risk of starting out so fast paced: that if you try to interject slow building episodes into the middle it feels out of place, but it's hard to keep up the fast paced action for an entire cour without having laid out any ground work beforehand. Now they are so focused on having tons of action, drama, and big war battles that they end up forcing characters to do random things just to move the plot towards these dramatic scenes. It's almost the exact opposite of Argevollen at this point. Argevollen is building at a turtle's pace while taking time to establish backgrounds for all of these different characters, showing the brutality of day to day life in a war, and (hopefully) building towards these big dramatic moments as a consistent progression of everything that came before. Aldnoah seems to have started so big, and tried so hard to maintain that high intensity level, that you're left having to force things to happen in order to keep the drama up. It's a shame bc Aldnoah could have benefited from slowing the pace and shifting focus to establishing the characters.

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