Aldnoah.Zero – 21

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This is starting to smell quite strongly of a tragic ending, at least for the principal characters.

I’m sure the Sl-apologists will find a way to write off his actions this week just as they have all the others, but it’s hard to see much good left in Slaine at this point.  It’s not so hard to see where the good was, perhaps, but as he’s dug himself deeper and deeper trying to make a foundation for his castle of deceit, any goodness in Slaine has been buried so deeply it’s hard to believe it’ll ever see the light of day again.  “I’m doing all this evil so things will be good in the end” has been the sop of many a genocidal megalomaniac over the years.  Indeed, the only real question at this point is whether Slaine’s actions on the personal or socio-political level are the more despicable.

The sad thing is, I’d really hoped for better because the VERS system was rotten to the core and desperately needed someone to come along and blow it up.  But many an upheaval with the potential to do good has turned evil under similar circumstances.  As his lies are exposed Slaine is going to have no choice but to become more and more vicious now, and a big one was exposed this week when Lemrina discovered the truth about her half-sister.  At this point Asseylum was also being let in on the truth of her situation, Mazuurek’s gambit having prompted Eddie to spill the beans.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the combined lightning-invisibility attack is wreaking havoc even with Inaho’s tactical ability.  The authorities have apparently decided the best use for their only weapon of consequence is suicide missions, though so far (thanks to Inaho) the Deucalion has stubbornly refused to be destroyed.  But this one is perhaps Inaho’s toughest challenge yet, and many of the assumptions he makes about the enemy turn out to be wrong (he certainly didn’t predict quantum teleportation).  And a lot of pilots die as a result, though certainly less than if Inaho hadn’t been involved.  Turns out lightning and invisibility are taking the “combine” thing literally, pulling off a gattai move that allows them to use the complementary powers of both.  Very clever indeed.

Of course Inaho gets the win in the end, as he has to at this stage of the story, helped by using a clever ruse of making his Kataphrakt the same capacity as Lightning to avoid its electrical attacks.  But to do so he has to use his eye to literally assume control over every gun in the fleet, and I have to say his ending is looking a lot more Haruto-like (ironic, as I’ll touch on in a minute).  And Central Command is retrofitting the Deucalion for a big-time mission, which sounds suspiciously like it could be an attack against the VERS moonbase.  Our long-awaited bishoudown may be coming, if the parties live long enough to see it.

Slaine is doing his part to survive, at least for now.  I wasn’t sure where this was going when Lemrina confronted Asseylum and pulled a gun on her, but apparently her notion was to join forces against the guy who’s been lying to both of them.  But their choice to confront him was rather a foolish and naive one, and doomed to failure. Sure, it was clever to have Asseylum turn the tables and impersonate Lemrina – there’s no way she can deny the truth about what Slaine has become now.  But they should have pretended everything was all right and plotted an escape from Slaine’s clutches, because Slaine is way too smart to think Asseylum would ever have pulled the trigger.  And he’s obviously unbound by any sentimental attachments to Asseylum – he still loves her, but he’s so thoroughly given up hope of her ever returning the favor that committing any atrocity in order to achieve his goal has little obvious downside.

So Slaine’s plan to wipe out most of Earth’s population and create a joint Earth-Mars empire (what would that be called – Ears?  Math?) to present to Asseylum proceeds apace – though just what he expects her to do with it, I have no idea.  But there are more cracks in it than the hull of the Titanic, and another one just appeared – apparently Slaine’s racist guardian Cruhteo had a son, Croncain(?).  And yes, he’s played by non other than Ohsaka Ryouta, Haruto himself, who joins Aldnoah.Zero just as it’s beginning to take on a pronounced Valvrave tint.  Hard to say what role he’ll play in the increasingly explosive VERS situation, but he’s damn sure not making things any less complicated for Slaine, who now also has to deal with the lack of a royal mouthpiece to endorse his leadership (unless he tortures or coerces one of the Princesses to do so).  This is going to be a shame.

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10 comments

  1. B

    You know that feeling when you appreciate a character's arc intellectually even as that character turns you into a complete emotional wreck screaming "NO, DON'T DO THAT"? That's pretty much my relationship with Slaine's character at this point. He's tragic, fascinating and well-written (much more so in the second season than in the last third of the first, Iā€™d say), but his descent into villainy has been so, so painful to watch, especially since I sometimes have trouble disengaging the selfish, manipulative young man of the present from the sweet, well-intentioned boy of the past.

    Dang it, A.Z.

  2. R

    Man, Inaho kicked ass in this episode. Those knights are dropping fast, good thing since there are probably over half left. Did they destroy that sniper kataphrakt? I forgot.

    It seems almost every person in charge is a moron, the Earth forces are conceited morons, the Mars forces are ELITIST conceited morons, Slaine is just a sadly delusinal moron, and the princesses are just too naive and immature. I would have liked to see a smarter political plotline but we are now too late in the game for any of that, guess we will jump into the main battle in the last few chapters and somehow get an ending out of that. At least we still have some more awesome battles and Inaho being badass.

    I still sort of like Slaine and the Princess, but her sister has totally stolen the show and I find her a lot more interesting than the other two. Man, I hope Lemrina doesn't get coerced by Slaine, that would really bum me out, though it would be boring if the two of them just stay prisoners until Inaho shows up.

  3. M

    The problem is they don't really show that Slaine is doing despicable acts, they just tell. Okay he said he is stripping the rebel Knights of their titles, but they don't show it. He said he's creating a new kingdom, okay what does that mean? Is he going to kill the Terran civilians or forcing Martians to move to Earth? Right now all we are shown are Slaine killing military targets and doesn't show any innocents suffering because of Slaine's actions.

    Simply put if the writers want Slaine to become completely evil they should have him killed some named characters from the Earth side (successfully) or genocide a city on Earth. Make him go really off the deep edge and really cannot be saved. Right now I felt like the writers envisioning a Lelouch end here, where Slaine going to achieve his goal but die as a hated man. Understanding end seemed out of question here, but you never know with the A/Z writers.

    And the mecha fights in the show are becoming so pointless now that we know no one will die and Inaho always win.

  4. G

    I too am getting vibes of lots of death by the end of this series. I'm guessing when its all said and done Slaine, Lemrina and possibly Eddie will no longer be with us.

  5. If I were a betting man, I'd give Slaine better odds of making it out alive than Inaho.

  6. A

    There is an expression in my country that says "Ants in your Milk!" That was all I was thinking when Slaine was confronted by the princesses.

  7. I like that, though I've never heard it

  8. H

    Enzo- my money's on Slaine dying and Inaho being permanently brain damaged. And the two princesses ruling jointly with Mazuurek and possibly Klaincain (that's how the official site spells his name and I like that more) as advisors.

    If there's something remotely redeemable about Slaine at this point, it's that I think he genuinely wants a Mars without the social restrictions Aldnoah places on people- his conversation with Harklight said as much, and many people have noted that Slaine's more honest with the man than he is with anyone else (except Eddelrittuo prior to this episode). With regard to this particular goal, it not the aim itself that's heinous- it's the measures he's planning to use. Mass genocide is something no moral person would live with. It's clear that his his experiences in S1- whether due to his abysmal luck of his own bad decisions- have seriously messed him up, and in his conversation with Asseylum he comes off as being jaded and naive at the same time.

    I consider myself a Slaine fan, but not an apologist (though I won't deny I became attached to the character and everything he did in S2 made my heart hurt). At this point I find him a fascinating character who gives people plenty of stuff to chew on, and a young man with a whiff of Shakespearean tragedy to it- perhaps that's why I pity him more than anything else. Inaho has that air of tragedy too, but it's more… subtle? Detached? I can't quite put my finger on it. I think a key theme in AZ S2 is what these two boys pay for power- Inaho makes physical compromises, and Slaine moral ones. S1 was a setup for the real meat of the story- its main purpose was to get Slaine to snap and Inaho to defrost.

    I feel like doing an essay on these two when the show ends. Their duality intrigues me to no end.

  9. Well articulated, though I personally don't feel there's much redeemable about Slaine at this point – for me he's gone far enough over to the dark side that if he is redeemed it'll feel like a cheat.

  10. s

    Slaine's plan is to create a joint earth-mars empire known as Marth; he's tryna make earth the land of fire emblem…Ugh Gosh enzo dont you know anything XD

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