Aldnoah.Zero – 15

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I think we can consider the ante officially upped.

Is it me, or has Aldnoah.Zero actually started to make sense?  And if it has, is that a good thing?  If you put a gun to my head, I think I’d have to answer yes to both questions.  The thing is, I don’t think this show every totally sold out to batshit insanity the way, say, Valvrave did – so as a result, when it goes into full asspull mode rather than agreeably crazy it was more just irritating as hell.  But the events of the last two episodes actually a show that’s actually going somewhere with a sense of purpose, and that some sense of logic is governing things (after it got the big asspulls out of the way in the S2 premiere).  Of course, if Saazbaum survives this one you can pretty much scrap that whole paragraph.

As I said last week, I’ve come to rather like the growing battle of peachfuzz genius brewing between Slaine and Inaho.  I think we’re still owed some explanation of just why Slaine is capable of seemingly superhuman feats of prescience (not even Inaho has figured it out), and I think the ship has pretty much sailed on getting one for pre-gunshot Inaho’s level of genius.  But at least now what we’re getting from bizarro-Pinocchio Inaho makes sense – in his own words he’s about “70-30” relying on his own brain for his Gary Stu (at least in chess) with the implant (which we now know is much more than just for vision) providing the rest.

The narrative seems to be split pretty much 50-50 between the Earth and VERS sides at the moment, with some interesting stuff happening on both sides.  Inaho suggests to Captain Romance-counselor that it might be best for all concerned if he doesn’t risk his neck in the upcoming battle royale with the Mars forces, given that he’s now the only way his side has of accessing Aldnoah.  But there’s an essential contradiction here, because it could hardly be more obvious that the Earth forces would have no chance in battle if Inaho wasn’t performing his usual superhuman feats.  Damned if they do, damned if they don’t – but it’s clear Earth has no chance without putting all its eggs – on sale or otherwise – in Inaho’s basket.  If you’re going to play the genius teenager saving the day trope card, I guess you may as well play it to the hilt.

No question though, the biggest dramatics this week come on the VERS-ian side.  The reminder of how much of a cartoonishly evil caricature most of the Orbital Knights are isn’t exactly welcome, but it does serve a larger purpose – the taunting and threats of two of them (Barouhcruz and Marylcian – if it matters) prompts Saazbaum to proclaim Slaine his son and heir.  This seems to offer him some measure of protection, though it’s obvious the “Terran Dog” ought never to turn his back on his fellow Knights.

Slaine’s gambit here – using the brilliance he expects Inaho to display in the coming battle to spring the trap he’s laid for Saazbaum – is a brilliant if credulity-straining stratagem.  Inaho is unwitting in all this, but even if he’s not the victim he’s certainly the one being played in this round – though it’s Saazbaum who pays the price.  I’m of mixed feelings about this – Saazbaum was always the most nuanced and interesting of the VERS nobles (though that’s a low bar).  But this makes Slaine’s character a lot more interesting, and it was never really believable that he’d honestly swear fealty to the man who pulled the trigger and put his beloved Asseylum in a tank (though Saazbaum seemed to buy it).  Needless to say I sincerely hope Saazbaum really is dead this time – again, nothing against the character – because pulling yet another false demise would really be a bridge too far in the asspull department.

The other thing – probably the main thing – Slaine’s betrayal does is to make the VERS storyline infinitely more interesting.  Slaine is now a true subversive, a revolutionary who obviously plans no less than to overthrow the VERS order and remake the society in more egalitarian terms.  In this endeavor Harklight (Hirakawa Daisuke) with his common birth seems a logical ally, and Princess Lemrina another tool to be used.  The dynamic of the series just leveled up in a big way – we have not just the Earth vs. Mars/Inaho vs. Slaine drama, but also a stealth coup taking place within the VERS society.  A society with VERS technological superiority but freed of their antiquated and dysfunctional feudalism is actually a much scarier prospect for Earth than the enemy they’re currently facing – but is it just possible Slaine’s endgame is to seize power and then pursue Asseylum’s dream of a peaceful coexistence with Earth?  We don’t know yet how this will play out, but I’ve become much more interested in finding out.

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  1. M

    This episode seems to me means that Slaine is not going to have a happy ending because usually characters like Slaine would end up dead after achieving their revolutionary dream. But then I remembered the writers have no qualms to bring back characters from fake deaths repeatedly so maybe Slaine would still be alive and fine even if it is kind of stupid in a whole. After all Rayet was forgiven by Asseylum easily, so who says Slaine wouldn't be forgiven too?

  2. R

    I am still not fond of Inaho's Stu-ness and all the asspulls that the show pulled in his favor. But hey, that turn in Slaine's character in the laswt part of the episode is certainly something. That one actually felt like it was inevitable and has been building up for some time now.

  3. B

    I thought the episode made it clear that the "feats of superhuman presience" were due to the Tharsis, rather than any ability of Slaine's own.

    But yes, it is nice to see Aldnoah Zero picking up the pace and showing the all the frustration caused by the last third of the first season wasn't entirely for waste (granted, they could've been handled better, but I'll cut the show some slack). I was very happy for the first seven episodes, and then I felt that rest of the first season took a dip in quality- though I didn't think it was as bad as most as the fanbase seemed to. I find the few Season 2 episodes that have been released to be a step in the right direction, so maybe AZ will be able to end strong.

  4. That's implied, I suppose. It just didn't feel like a full explanation to me.

  5. i

    I just hate how earth's forces are utterly dependent on Inaho's robotic presence. I feel like punching the screen every time he starts doing those calculations mid-battle that we all know are gonna work somehow. I mean, it's annoying how he's never wrong! But I'm watching this to see Slaine's character grow, while hoping he gets a happy ending (and the girl!). So there, Team Slaine all the way!

  6. Z

    You can't really blame the fellow considering what a shit life he's had. Salve boy beaten and tortured. Finally gets some control over his destiny and people think he's an asshole?

  7. C

    The biggest plothole this season is how the hell is Inaho still an ensign?! That kid is the sole reason the people of Earth aren't speaking Vers yet.

    Even in the original MSG at least the White Base crew got promoted!

  8. s

    I like that we are getting to see more into slaine's head; i like the idea that we can see him slowly climbing up the ladder to power and changing the Vers empire with cunning wit and two-face antics; i like the idea of inaho and slaine's rivalry…but the problem lies in execution. That whole son declaration would have had more impact if we had more time to take that in, and see More of Saazbaum's change in regards to slaine. That whole scenario just felt so artificial, and now all these space battles are starting to play out the same with the exception that inaho was actually overwhelmed this time and benefited from inko's interference…i actually liked that; it's progress. Overall another ok ep, the intrigue is certainly there but i want to see these plot developments actually carry some gravitas

  9. w

    I'm torn about Saaz' death. On the one hand, he was a moderately complex and interesting character, and I enjoyed the dynamic between he and Slaine throughout this and last season. On the other hand, his death gave more dimension to Slaine's character, was a logical development, and advances the story via Slaine's promotion to count.
    (The Tharsis' future sight ability is hax as f***, though.)

    Unrelated, but Inaho talking to his cybernetic eye like it's R2-D2 or something makes me wonder if the writers are actually aware of how ridiculous Inaho's character is. Also, that part was hilarious.

    (on a side note, I probably show up as "unknown" because I can't be bothered to properly set up a google account.)

  10. w

    So now it lets me name myself, but I can't edit posts :/

  11. I've already raised the possibility that this whole cyborg thing is a kind of wink at the audience about Inaho. It feels good to believe that anyway.

    Blogger doesn't allow comment editing – it's not just you.

  12. K

    This has been so far my favorite episode so far; It's as if the writers where hearing my questions and complaints and answered them onscreen. For example, I've been wondering why inaho is still on the frontline, when his death means the deucalion is screwed. Turns out they're not simply blindly ignoring the gamble, it's just that, as you say they are doomed if the do and doomed if they don't.

    Another complaint I have is why everyone in the show, save for Inaho is merely VERS cannon fodder. In this episode we actually saw the support characters, you know… SUPPORTING Inaho in the fight! Rayet destroyed a martian kataphakt, and Inko (with Inaho's assistance) deactivated Sauzbaurm ride. It was about time!! 😀

    Finally, I found slaine surprising but very understandable: "You really think i'd forgive you just like that?". I do think he had certain amount of feelings for the count… however he couldn't just let go of the fact that he's the one who made asseylum into a sleeping beuty – little mermaid fusion.

    And lastly, on inaho, we get some explanations on why his eye-computer is so powerful: It's actually using the iddle cells on his brain to perform computations. AND it's nice to see him progressing from a organic cyborg like existence to someone who's capable of joking and interacting with others. 🙂 So, I do hope they continue on this path! I MIGHT forgive them for the asspull that S1 ending was >.>

  13. U

    Am i the only one who feels like they pulled a Code Geass? Not that it's bad, I am really enjoying it.

  14. Z

    Aldnoah Zero, along with Kakumeiki Valvrave, comes from the lineage of Code Geass.

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