Aldnoah.Zero – 23

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Aldnoah.Zero is certainly true to itself, right to the end.

From the very beginning this has been one of the more perplexing series of the year, seemingly countering every spark of brilliance with a complete headdesk moment.  This season has definitely been the better of the two in my opinion – certainly it’s been the more coherent and logical – but in the last stages we’re still getting some stuff that just makes me sigh and shake my head.  But I guess it wouldn’t be right for Aldnoah.Zero to end any other way.

This started out this week in pretty straightforward fashion, with a focus on Inaho and his uncertain status after last week’s cliffhanger.  Rather than a coup d’etat, it seems what we have here is a coalition government – with Inaho having ceded control of part of his brain to his prosthetic eye.  I still can’t think this is going to end well – though the fact is that Inaho joking about death flags (ironically) makes it less likely he’s going to die next week.  He’s certainly not going to sit out what looks to be the final battle – he knows full well this war would already be long over if he hadn’t been going into God-mode battle after battle.

As to all the stuff with Yuki and Inko the truth is I feel nothing – I don’ think Aldnoah has done an especially good job developing those characters or their relationship with Inaho.  Aside from the story itself the appeal of this show for me is the triumvirate of main characters, and that’s one reason why it’s awfully nice to see the normally passive Asseylum finally seizing the narrative.  She’s much more interesting as a driver of events than when she’s simply being impacted by them, even if her decisions aren’t always (let’s be honest – hardly ever, up to now) good ones.  She does a much better job this week than last, that’s for sure – though it’s only thanks to Klancain’s help that she’s able to have a chance to make amends for bumbling right into Slaine’s clutches after learning the truth.

The real Aldnoah moment – in a bad way – this week was Edelruitto’s tearful defense of Slaine.  Eddie has been responsible for several groaners but not so much this season, so this was a disappointingly silly and unbelievable development – after what she’s seen Slaine do (both to her mistress and her world) that breakdown played more as unintentional comedy than anything else.  My fear, frankly, was that Asseylum was going to be swayed by it, which would have been pretty much a deal-breaker for me, but happily that didn’t happen (and it didn’t hurt that Klancain hit the disconnect button with Slaine before anything really bad could happen).

We have our answer with Klancain – he’s working with Mazuurek, and he walked into Slaine’s base knowing he’d likely have to leave with Asseylum in tow.  Happily I think Asseylum did everything pretty much right this time around.  She went and saw for herself just how far gone the Emperor was – both in terms of hatred for Earth and senility – and then took bold action on her own.  Seizing the throne and declaring Klancain her betrothed was a courageous and clever stroke, one that I didn’t see coming (Slaine, either).  And coming as it does just as Slaine is about to try and assuage his hurt feelings by laying waste to the entire Earth, it’ll be interesting to see the impact – will the other Orbital Knights defer to her authority, or will they continue to follow their despot of convenience and go ahead with the attack?

I’m sure Asseylum will take some heat for the marriage thing (I’ve seen plenty already, in fact), but I think it was a hard-headed, practical concession to reality.  Imperial princesses don’t get to choose who they marry, and in order to have any chance for her power play to stick, Asseylum has to do everything possible to give herself legitimacy.  I would have liked to have seen Inaho’s consistent focus on helping Asseylum and achieving her dream rewarded with a chance to be together, at least for a little while, but that always seemed like an extreme long-shot anyway.

Final note – be sure to stay tuned for the ED, which was drawn by Takako Shimura.

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ED 4: “Harmonius” by Amamiya Sora

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  1. S

    Indeed, Racist Space Loli should stick to what she's good at doing, like driving Humvees in the middle of enemy fire, and leave ethical considerations to others. Her speech about how Slaine has always been the same should have been coronated with Asseylum acknowledging "yes, you're right! He's ALWAYS been a creepy guy with the potential of becoming a murderous dick!".

  2. R

    Plot wise, I really liked this episode, sh*t is finally getting done. We can finally see more or less where the ending is going.. Earth forces have decided to charge stupidly and throw all their resources at one final battle. Slain and his allies will do the same while Inaho and company will probably make one final sacrifice and stop both forces somehow once the Princess' message reaches all the more sensible parties.

    Asseylum's declaration won't dissuade all the Orbital Knights though, plenty of them will probably stand behind Slaine in search of glory and land on Earth, at least they will definitely take out Earth's central command and we will be rid of all those incompetent officials, leaving the fate of the war in the hands of Inaho and Slaine.

    The Emperor turning out to be senile was my favorite part, that makes things less complicated since now Asseylum can just take over and make the Martians stop acting like d*cks.

    All that stuff is good, the drama and character interactions not so much. All the dialogue felt so dry and cliche that I was grinding my teeth by the end. Asseylum and Eddie's tears also made me laugh and it seems like everybody but Inaho is speaking stupid lines. I also don't care about Yuki and Inko and always felt that their roles could have been filled by Rayet and Marito, characters many times more interesting than the other two and that could have used more screen time to develop their interactions with Inaho and other good enough characters.

    At the end of the day what saved this chapter for me was the plot, the less the minor characters interact the next chapter the better. It is a bummer that Asseylum got engaged but I see where she is coming from, still hope that she and Inaho can be together but if not then I hope at least Lemrina gets to be happy since she is truly the best character in the whole series.

  3. G

    I was disapointed by the princess's choice of a husband. Many a fan of this show wanted her and Inaho.

  4. I knew Asseylum was going to take a ton of abuse for the Klancain marriage thing, but to me it’s simple: do you want a character to behave like an anime fan, or like a person in their position should behave? Because Asseylum isn’t in a position to have the luxury of believing shipping is the most important thing in the world. She’s trying to wrest power away from a despot in the middle of a war she’d like to stop. She has a very sound practical reason for doing what she did, and I actually thought it was refreshing to have her depicted as if her priorities were in order.

  5. R

    Yeah, is easy to understand her position. She has her duties and she needs a husband if she is to lead a new empire to give the feeling of continuation by birthing an heir, and for that she needs a man of high standing and not some random dude from Earth.*
    I also know why people might not like it, specially since it looks like Inaho is getting netorared by some fruity noble, but what can you do? At least he doesn't seem as annoying as most of the other nobles and Inaho might die anyways. Hope it doesn't get to that though, and he can give the Princess some "Earth-Fever" 😉

    *Even if that dude happens to be the soldier that is singlehandedly whooping their asses. Does anybody from Vers but Slaine even know who Inaho is?

  6. Well, Mazuurek certainly does.

    Cruhteo Jr. is considerably more than just any man of high standing – he's the scion of one of the most powerful families in VERS. Asseylum is in a fight for her life and she knows it – Slaine is offering the O.K. what most of them want (savage warfare on Earth) and she's demanding they give it up. She may have the birthright but Slaine has both the incentive and the heavy artillery on his side. If she wants to have any chance to persuade it away from him, she needs every angle she can play.

  7. R

    Yeah, I really don't remember too much about Cruhteo Sr. but Asseylum has to be very resourceful if she wants to command the full obedience of the Empire, and for that she needs strong support from one of the strongest noble families. She can't keep half-assing it like before, but since there is only one chapter left then I guess this is it.

  8. G

    I think its safe to say Slaine might not make it thru to the end of the series.He kinda has to die for her to come out on top and stop the war.

  9. M

    The one headdesk moment for me is how Asseylum laments how Slaine changed from the boy she knows – goodness Asseylum, you could have asked him first why he changed before pointing a gun at him. We don't even know if she knows the real reason why Saazbaum started the whole war at the first place and why Slaine continues to do so, or even Slaine shot Inaho and that's why he have a talkative robot eye now.

    Maybe it's because of the bad writing, but due to their failure to show this Asseylum seems like someone who tried to fix things without understanding why it's broken at the first place. If the Orbital Knights won't even obey the Emperor to return after the Heaven's Fall, why would they obey the Princess with a newbie Count rather than Count Troyard who demonstrated his loyalty and competence? Logically her announcement would spark a very long civil war, but with one episode left (God forbid if there's another season or movie announcement) then I guess the final battle will be Vers loyalists vs Slaine.

    I pray at least the final mecha fight will be awesome. Can't see why Inaho and the UEF would join in the Vers internal power struggle, but then we are due for a proper showdown between Inaho and Slaine in their mechas anyway, so maybe UEF would be stupid enough to enter the battle too.

  10. R

    I always felt that they had too many named characters and that wrestled the focus away from all the meaningful interactions between the most interesting characters. I already said my piece on Yuki and Inko. The plot is not too bad but most of the minor characters and the fillers between action were full of bland dialogue and stupid scenes.

    "Do you know why you don't have a boyfriend?"
    "Cause you are always next to me saying dumb sh*t?!"

  11. Z

    The series was flawed from the beginning. It's annoying because the characters are written in such obvious ways, therefore you can get Asseylum getting away with doing dumb shit, Slaine written as the obvious object of viewer hatred, and Inaho as some majestic being. Just because.

  12. w

    So… on top of seizing control of Inaho's brain, robo-eye can LIE? That's some Kikaider-level ass-hattery right there. (Asseylum really should have picked up on that lie, too. How would the eye know the exact number of seconds it would take for Inaho's 'comrades' to show up?)

    On another note, why is Slaine continuing the war? Butthurt over the princess NTRing him is…an acceptable explanation, but it lacks the tormented nuance that the shows seems to attribute to Slaine's character. You could really see his inner turmoil when the princess was telling him the things he taught her, for instance. And then there's Eddy's (thank you for coming up with that nickname, Enzo) freakish defense of Slaine. It's like the writers want him to be complicated and sympathetic, but have trouble actualizing this.

  13. E

    Slaine has been talking about how he's unable to turn back from the path he's chosen for several weeks now, quite unlikely that he would just stop.

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