Aldnoah.Zero – 13

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The more things change…

First the housekeeping: as far as naming conventions go, I’m following the studio’s lead on this one.  If they want to call this Episode 13 rather than 2.1, that’s good enough for me.  And it’s rather fitting, given that despite the passage of 19 months on-screen and 3 months off-screen, very little seems to have changed.  Aldnoah.Zero is still crazy, still beautiful, and still the undisputed current reigning champ of asspulls.  Oh, Aldnoah – don’t you ever change!

Seriously now – you didn’t really think anyone was going to stay dead, did you?  Asseylum alone has gone through more lives than a clowder of cats.  There was a time when I would have been really pissed off about the ending of the first cour being a complete non-event, but over the course of the last three months I’ve come to terms with the fact that expecting anything different of Aldnoah would be pointless.  If one is going to follow this show I think they have to accept it, warts and all – and there’s not much point in looking for logic or consequences.

Episode 13 brings us right back into the swing of things, delivering us ample evidence that this is still very much the same show.  We get a disposable Orbital Knight-of-the-week brought down by hubris and a fatal flaw in his Aldnoah quirk.  We get Inaho (yeah, he’s alive by the way) riding in to save the day with instantaneous and flawless analysis of the enemy’s arsenal.  We got blatant sexism.  We get body doubles and extraneous fanservice, and some gorgeously drawn combat sequences.  It really is the return of an old friend who’s full of annoying habits but always manages to entertain you.

As far as the explanations for the survival of the three characters who should be dead. I think Saazbaum is the most straightforward. He was shot in the torso, and Slaine effectively gave him a combination ultimatum/pledge of loyalty in sparing his life.  As for Asseylum, the episode does a nice job of head-faking that she’s actually now supporting the Martian cause but in fact, the Asseylum we see giving jingoistic speeches is another princess, Lemrina (Natsukawa Shiina) using the shapeshifter techniques we saw Asseylum use earlier.  Is this Asseylum’s sister, or perhaps a cousin?  In any event, she seems a willing conspirator in Saazbaum and Slaine’s continued war on Earth.  As for the real Asseylum, she’s being kept alive in a tank, seemingly unconscious – and there’s no evidence Slaine’s obsession with her has abated in the least.

Of the three, it was always Inaho whose survival was going to be most difficult to justify, but there isn’t much of an effort to come up with anything especially radical.  He’s been shot through the eye by Slaine, but he’s still alive when Inko brings him to the bridge of the Decaulion. The hook here is that he’s apparently inherited Aldnoah powers from Asseylum through their CPR session, and thus his touch is enough to get the ship’s Aldnoah drive re-started and thus, get himself emergency treatment quickly enough to survive.  He’s apparently some sort of cyborg now, which is loaded with its own set or ironies.

Despite the fact that Inaho should certainly be dead and his survival amounts to a pretty ridiculous narrative cop-out, I find myself kind of glad he’s alive because I like the dynamic of he and the now top boss Slaine as arch-rivals at the center of the opposing planets’ forces.  It should be fun watching the two of them go at it for military and political supremacy, not to mention eventually for Asseylum’s heart.  It seems that Aldnoah.Zero left its initial feints towards realism behind at about the same time it detached any involvement from Urobuchi Gen, but there’s still a lot of entertainment value here as a semi-intentional farce.  Since the first cour ended I’ve made my peace with what sort of series this is, and accepted the futility of expecting it to be anything else.  The fan reactions to this episode are all over the map and I think that’s to be expected, because the show is asking a lot from the audience.  But as long as it manages to be entertaining and outlandish, I’m prepared to give it.

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OP:  “&Z” by SawanoHiroyuki

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  1. s's one thing that the anime coped out from the ending of the first cour; ive made my piece with that….but it seems that this ep just had forced writing all over it. Why did the fake princess feel the need to explain why the earth's sky was blue??? just so inaho could become suspicious of here. Nothing in that entire dialogue warranted her to even say such a thing and this is one of the handful of weak writing i noticed in this ep of aldnoah. Like you said enzo, at this point i guess the viewers should just strap in an watch flashy action scenes with the same turn-out every time (at least theiy're flashy). Once upon a time i thought this series, regardless of the hollywood fun that was stamped all over it, would go somewhere very interesting. This season could still do that, but i feel sort of bitch slapped by my original expectations

  2. I

    Ugh, this was an okay return, but I was quite unimpressed with it. Inaho's survival, and the crap and ton of coincidences and miracles they used to pull that off, pissed me off and practically took me out of the whole thing. Also, it wasn't the CPR that gave him Aldnoah power, but the fact that Yuki's tear mixed with Asseylum's blood that was on his face and it ran into his mouth, the blood of course being the carrier of the power within the royal family.

    However, I did like the fact that we have new characters now what with Princess Lemrina (who is Asseylum's younger half-sister from another mother, by the way) and Slaine's new underling, Harklight. I like that there seems to be more going on with Slaine than meets the eye, and I want to know more about his deal with Saazbaum and what exactly the latter's new plan is.

    We'll have to see what the new season is going to involve, what with the focus being turned towards the Martian side of things. Not a strong opening, but I'm still engaged.

  3. t

    A person surviving after being shot in the head is the most realistic thing that happened in AZ, actually. It's far more common than giant robots or magical princesses.

  4. I

    It's not the fact that he survived, but the way he survived, with little to no repercussions whatsoever other than a new eye. Also, the fact that it was because of magical blood mixed with a sister's tears.
    So…yeah, no more realistic than any of the rest.

  5. Z

    So Slaine has a new deal with Count Salesbomb and a new cataract to boot!

    Clearly Inaho cannot die because… well wizards and shit.

  6. v

    I remember when Season 1 ended many people (including myself) commented in jest that Inaho will return as some sort of cyborg like a certain other Orange-kun. Well look at what we have here…

  7. S

    The "Aldnoah power passed through a kiss/CPR" thing was spotted from miles away. Makes one wonder how awkward have those ceremonies where the Emperor passes the power to his Knights be.
    "Yes, your majesty."
    "Now kiss me! And not just any kiss – a French kiss, right on the mouth."
    "Err, your majesty… what?"

    …doujinshis will be drawn.

  8. Z

    Forever in debt to Code Geass.

  9. C

    So, putting aside the fact that this show has cringe-inducing writing… I normally hate gary stu plot armor MCs, but Slaine evokes such a hatred within me that I've come to love and root for Inaho and want to see him kick Slaine's pathetic ass.

    The only way to redeem Slaine is if he goes full Kotomine.

  10. Z

    I can't really blame a guy like Slaine when the world he inhabits has been written in such a lax manner.

  11. m

    I'm just wondering…. how did they survive a year and half without Inaho?

  12. R

    Glad that you can make peace with the show. I'm gonna exit from here and — if you decide to continue blogging this one — read your reviews instead.

  13. H

    I'm confused. You seemed fairly confident that Asseylum was finally dead in your ep 12 review and that your sticking around with A.Z depended on how much of an asspull they pulled. What changed?

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