Let’s get the good stuff out of the way. If I ever need to scratch that action itch, Aldnoah.Zero would still do the trick. Mecha series have been pretty unimpressive lately in this department. Captain Earth has no imagination whatsoever as its mechas just float around in space, shooting energy blasts at each other until the good guys magically win — and the good guys always win. And don’t even get me started on Argevollen. I could buy this, put the stupid toy together, then film myself smashing it to bits with a hammer and still have better action than whatever you’d find in Argevollen. So if there’s anything Aldnoah.Zero has going for it, it’s certainly the action. I just can’t deny that the show is well-choreographed and well-animated. You can clearly see what’s going on in its action scenes, but more importantly, you can clearly see how the good guys win. This is the crucial element that so many anime series tend to overlook. Too many shows simply take it for granted that when the good guys magically turn the tables on their enemies, the audience will just accept it.
Yes, I know the bad guys have to get the upper-hand at the start of any given battle in order to create tension and drama. I also know the good guys will eventually have to win it in the end because if the good guys die here, we’d have no show to watch. Nevertheless, when you go from point A to point B, it has to make sense. There has to be a causal link between the two points. Recently, however, mecha heroes will just sit there and take a pummeling until some arbitrary time limit has passed. Then all of a sudden, the good guys will to pull some superduper magical power out of their asses, and thus easily and conveniently defeat the bad guys in thirty seconds or less. That’s not fun to watch. In fact, it’s downright boring, Captain Earth. What works for Aldnoah.Zero — for now, anyway — is that the good guys have no special powers. They can only rely on their ingenuity, and even then, it’s not an instant victory. Yes, yes, we all know Inaho’s the problem. He’s the only person who gets to display any bit of ingenuity, and that totally sucks. I agree. But insofar as how the battles play themselves out, Aldnoah.Zero gets it right.
But yeah, even though I still enjoy the anime’s action scenes, Inaho saves everyone’s hides once again. Sure, sure, Slaine shows up at the last minute to heroically knock the last missile out of the sky. So great, the other hero gets a tiny portion of the victory pie. But still, everyone else is useless, especially Marito, and Inaho had to buy them enough time for Slaine to make his fashionably late appearance. It’s just disappointing to see a show with such a promising start come to this. The worst part is, after six episodes, Aldnoah.Zero is likely set in its ways. Inaho likely won’t become a well-rounded character. He’ll just keep kicking ass with nary an emotion on his face. If anything, he’ll become even stronger in the future. I mean, the tells are pretty goddamn obvious in this week’s episode. First, Asseylum tells the guy all about Aldnoah technology, and how only the emperor and his descendents can bestow super special Aldnoah power onto others. Then when Femieanne shows up — she’s our latest Kataphract of the week — she specifically remarks, “An inferior race with no Aldnoah Drive.” Well gee, won’t the egg be on her face when an Earthling shows up with an Aldnoah Drive!
Of course, it’s not that it’d be a complete lost cause for the anime if this is what truly happens next. In fact, I’m quite curious how the Orbital Knights would react to such a development. After all, only the emperor or his descendents can grant people the power of Aldnoah. So if Inaho, Slain, or even the both of them show up to a battlefield one day with Aldnoah-powered Kataphracts, then the bad guys’ reaction will be quite enjoyable to watch… I think. Still, the main issue here is that Inaho’s just a boring character with no depth or complexity to him. Sadly, he isn’t a side character; he’s the main character. And even if he gets an Aldnoah Drive, he’d still be boring to watch. The anime has taken no time whatsoever to develop his character. As a result, he’s just this super brilliant tactician who saves the day over and over and over again. Sure, Inaho isn’t as annoying as, say, Kirito of SAO or Tatsuya of Mahouka. So great, Inaho’s character doesn’t exude these Gary Stus unique blend of arrogance and smugness that makes them so insufferable to watch. At the end of the day, however, Inaho’s still a Gary Stu whose only flaw seems to be that he lacks emotions.
To make matters worse, no one else in the anime even comes close to being as useful or capable as the kid. If other people ever do anything right, it’s because they’re just following Inaho’s suggestions. When anyone ever tries to act on their own, they either screw up or are just hilariously ineffective. Once again, Marito tries to do something. ‘Tries’ is the operative word. When the action breaks out, our veteran wants to hop into a mecha straight away, and despite Calm’s warnings, Marito doesn’t care if the vehicle hasn’t been tuned up properly! How badass! But when he gets inside the cockpit, he freezes again. It’s the sixth episode, and we still haven’t seen any progress whatsoever on this front. Okay, I get it. War sucks. War fucks with people, too. I certainly don’t go up to war veterans and tell them to suck it up. But within this narrative, what is the point of Marito’s character? I’m not asking him to get over his mental block, but why is he even here if he’s just going to be the same static character over and over? What does he even add to the story? In fact, when the veteran isn’t freezing up, he’s just pathetically desperate for attention.
Seriously, don’t you feel as though he’s always eavesdropping on the kids? For example, a bunch of the kids will be sitting around, having a conversation, then Marito will interject out of nowhere. With the kids, he’s always jumping into the middle of a conversation, walking into the scene from offscreen. This week, it’s blatantly obvious he’s fishing for attention. He goes, “No one’s seen any war for the past fifteen years. The ones who did are all dead. That goes for the Martians too. All the combatants on both sides are virgins, just like you guys.” This is blatantly untrue, because this is what Marito had said in the first episode: “For fifteen years they’ve been waging war up where the Moon used to sit. Fighting to survive until this day.” So which is it? Are they virgins to war or are they not? Not only that, he himself is a survivor of the last conflict. So naturally, Inaho corrects him because Inaho corrects everyone, apparently (see: that stupid blue sky scene with Asseylum). This then gives Marito the perfect segue to launch into his whole “Oh ho ho ho, they silenced my report” spiel. Ask me, kids! Ask me about my time in the war! OH GOD, WON’T SOMEONE ASK ME. But oh no, it doesn’t end there.
Later, we see Marito sitting on the deck of the ship with a bottle of alcohol in front of him. Soma, the ship’s doctor, then walks up and comments on the bottle, because hey, it’s early in the morning. C’mon, Marito, I know your inner demons are haunting you, but you gotta set a good example for the kids. You can’t be getting smashed every damn morning! But, y’see, it was a trap! The bottle isn’t for me, Marito proudly states! The bottle is for my dear dead best friend! Do you want to hear about my dear dead best friend who died in a battle that was covered up by the authorities? Do ya? C’mon, you want to hear all about it, right? Marito then dramatically throws the bottle into the ocean as an offering to his dear dead best friend! Uh-huh. Question: why didn’t Marito just do this? Rather, why did it feel as though he was waiting for someone — anyone — to walk up and ask about the booze before he could throw it into the ocean? ‘Cause Marito needs an audience. He can’t just fucking toss the bottle of booze into the ocean and keep that shit to himself. Someone else has to be there to see it. Someone has to ask him about it too. Tell me your story, Marito. We want to learn from you, o’ wizened veteran who can’t seem to do anything in any episode!
— So nothing has really changed on the bad guys’ front. The Vers Empire officially declares war, but we already knew that. People are after Slaine, but Saazbaum wants to interrogate Slaine simply because Slaine’s father had done research into Aldnoah.
— Old Man Marito being a cynical windbag as always: “We’ve always been at war. We just chose to pretend otherwise.”
— Someone as smart as Inaho should know that a blue sky is odd to Martians. I mean, c’mon…
— So Asseylum’s grandfather found Aldnoah technology and built an entire empire with it within his own lifetime? Sure, he has kickass technology at his fingertips, but c’mon, there’s more to building an empire than mere technology. For instance, you can’t just stick people together in one place and expect them to feel as they belong to a single nationality. These things take time. More than a person’s lifetime, too, I’d imagine. Unless, of course, they’ve been brainwashed…
— Oh hey, Magbaredge believes Marito’s story! Why? Because her real family name is none other than Humeray! DUN DUN DUN! Not only that, she believes Marito is responsible for her brother’s death! Oh man, the drama. How come the adults have all the drama and the kids are so boring in comparison?