“In an extreme situation where there’s no telling when an enemy will come, human beings aren’t known for remaining calm and rational.”
Then why are you so calm and rational, Inaho? After four episodes, I have almost gotten used to Inaho’s calmness. It’s strange, however, how he almost seems cheerful, upbeat, and optimistic when compared to most of the people around him. In a vacuum, you would never even say, “Inaho is a very emotive person,” but his ability to stay even-keel manages to draw a sharp contrast between him and even his own friends. You can certainly understand why most of the other characters are slowly becoming resentful. As exciting as the show has been, war is still a tragedy, and it’s a pity that Inaho’s friends haven’t even had time to mourn Okisuke’s death. There’s a brief moment in this week’s episode where they finally get to reflect on their loss. But after all the danger they’ve been through, as well as considering the current situation they’re in, the kids can’t afford to cry. So instead, they mock their own sadness: “Man, he was a moron up to the very end…” Obviously, no one intends to desecrate the memories of a dear friend, but they can’t exactly break out in fits of tears in the middle of a room full of other weary war refugees. So the kids do the only thing they can do: become bitter and redirect their hate towards the enemy.
Bitterness and resentment are building up across the characters. As previously stated, Inaho’s friends are bitter over Okisuke’s death. Calm even swears that he’ll make the Martians pay for their crimes. From his perspective, however, Earthlings had assassinated Asseylum. This isn’t actually what happened, but he and his friends don’t know that. As far as most of the characters are concerned, Princess Asseylum is still dead. Despite the anime making a big show of her reveal in the previous episode, only four people (not including the princess herself) know that she’s still alive: Inaho, Slaine, Rayet, and of course, Asseylum’s maid Eddy. Point is, most people believe Asseylum had been assassinated, and as a result, most people should realize that her death was the spark that ignited this war. In their minds, therefore, Earthlings should be partly responsible for this whole mess as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attempting to absolve our antagonists of any guilt. Even assuming there hadn’t been a conspiracy, I could never justify invading and murdering millions of people over the death of a single princess. Still, you have to wonder… let’s say Earth manages to win this war one day. Would people like Calm pull back and look at the whole picture? Or would he aim to persecute the Martians to no end?
Rayet is bitter too. Again, she’s one of the few people privy to the knowledge that Asseylum is still alive. Knowing that, you could even be optimistic if you so choose. After all, if Asseylum can ever get the word out to the right people that she hasn’t died, you could perhaps call an end to this war. Nevertheless, Rayet entertains no such notion. Having lost her father, she too sees the Martians as nothing more than the one true enemy. The kicker, however, is that she even thinks of Asseylum as the enemy even though the princess has fought back against one of her own people and along Rayet’s side too. This is what bitterness has done to the girl, but still, you can understand where’s she’s coming from. You can understand what’s happening here. The characters are putting up a unified front against the enemy because they’ve lost their friends, their families, their homes–… they’ve lost everything. As such, I’m not really criticizing anyone’s actions, per se. It’s Inaho that I don’t understand. Why isn’t he madder about the current situation? Why isn’t he bitter? Yes, his sister has always taught him to focus on what he can do in tough times, but still, why hasn’t the tragedy hit him with as much as force as it has hit his friends?
Slaine no longer knows who he can trust. Slaine knows Asseylum is still alive, but as a former Terran who has lost himself within the military ranks of the Vers Empire, he has no real clout. He can’t even request to avenge the princess’s death without Cruhteo mocking the young man’s resolve. If there’s one thing I don’t like about Aldnoah.Zero, it’s the antagonists’ lack of range. Other than Slaine, none of the Orbital Knights are remotely sympathetic. I had once considered whether or not Cruhteo would ever change sides because he is still loyal to the princess, but not anymore. He just has so much contempt for a Terran that I can never see him in a positive light. He may not have been involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Asseylum, but Slaine’s right: Cruhteo is still using her death as an excuse to commit murder. But back to my original point, I’m somewhat disappointed at Cruhteo’s portrayal. War isn’t always about good vs. evil. Sure, there’s nothing redeemable about Hitler, and fine, I can even understand the need to craft a simpler narrative of the good guys versus the bad guys. But still, we have yet to see a single sympathetic antagonist. Slaine doesn’t really count as an antagonist, so they’ve got nobody. There’s not a single person that makes you think, “Wow, he or she’s just caught up in a bad situation.” Instead, we can justifiably root against every single antagonist we’ve seen thus far.
The action in this week’s episode is still pretty fun to watch, but I hope the show doesn’t devolve into a thing where the bad guys send out one enemy mecha at time, and there’s a different gimmick for each and every single one of them. This week, we have a samurai-like mecha of sorts, but once again, Inaho’s ingenuity buys enough time for the good guys to escape. I won’t deny that there’s something enjoyable about watching a ragtag group of Earthlings go up against the Martians’ overwhelming force. After all, there’s a reason why the story of David vs Goliath is a thing; we love rooting for the underdogs. I just worry, however, that Inaho may fall into the same trap as recent anime protagonists and become far too capable as a character. Going into the story, I had assumed that Koichiro would play the battle-hardened veteran who knows what to do and how to lead. So far, however, he’s a little to busy fighting his own demons to take charge. As a result, responsibility falls upon Inaho’s shoulders once again. Inko can’t help but remark, “It’s not like you to be so reckless, Inaho.” In response, even Inaho is a little taken aback at his own actions. Obviously, the anime is teasing the possibility of a romance between him and Asseylum, but that doesn’t really matter to me at the moment. Again, as much as I currently enjoy the action, I just hope Inaho doesn’t become yet another Gary Stu. It would get old if he’s the one who keeps leading everyone to victory over and over.