See, you’re supposed to save the princess from the castle, not drag her there and get yourselves both killed! But seriously though, one has to wonder if anyone’s truly dead. After all, this is just the end to Aldnoah.Zero‘s first cour. With another one slated for the upcoming winter season, i.e. a mere three months away, can Inaho and Asseylum really be dead? Would the show really have the guts and the savvy to kill off either of its main characters? I doubt it. Sadly, it’s somehow much easier to come up with some stupid reason for why Inaho and the princess are both still alive. And even though Saazbaum had gestured at Slaine to aim at his head, Slaine didn’t actually finish the count off. He might not be dead either! So, again, who really died? That’s what I find kind of frustrating about our “finale” episode. I don’t think anyone’s dead, and I don’t think we’ve really reached any sort of conclusion. Basically, we’re forced to sit here and wait three months before we find out how these characters will magically survive.
Slaine’s pretty useless, huh? He never manages to do or accomplish anything. Doomed to be Inaho’s foil, Slaine is thus more emotion than action. Whereas Inaho bizarrely saves the day all the time, Slaine has mostly been confined to the periphery all series long, crying for his dear Asseylum. To add insult to injury, his robotic counterpart actually gets to spend invaluable one-on-one time with the princess. Even in this very episode, Slaine looked busy, but he did nothing until the very end. He climbs into Cruhteo’s mecha, but doesn’t even do anything cool with it. Then the one chance Slaine got to be useful, he essentially helped Saazbaum “kill” Asseylum. Again, I don’t think the princess is dead, but on the small chance that she is, Slaine can pat himself on the back for a job well done in aiding her demise. It’s hard to be sympathetic for a character who simply exists to pine. Sad thing is, he has strong feelings for Asseylum, but she probably thinks of him as just a friend. Still, I guess it’s not entirely his fault.
I mean, how different would this episode have been if Inaho hadn’t shot the guy down shortly after they defeated Femieanne? Remember that? Slaine couldn’t give Inaho a satisfactory answer, but the latter didn’t really give the former a chance. Both guys were hot-headed, and I’d say they’ve paid for it and more. Just imagine if Slaine could’ve joined the good guys right there and then. Slaine wouldn’t have gotten captured and tortured by Cruhteo. Would Saazbaum have killed Cruhteo anyway? Maybe not, but let’s say Cruhteo would have died anyway just for simplicity’s sake. The good guys reach Russia, Saazbaum lands his castle and attack, blah blah blah. But now with Slaine on their side, maybe the two guys would’ve held Saazbaum off together, and it’s likely that none of them would now be on the ground, bleeding to death from their multiple gun wounds. How much different would things have been if we had just made this one small change to the story?
In the end, I can’t help but think Inaho’s cold, calculating way at looking at the world finally managed to bite his ass. So if you’ve been waiting for our mild Gary Stu’s comeuppance, I guess this would be the episode for you. Personally, Inaho’s always been boring to me, but he never bugged me as much as he bugged others. In any case, at the start of this week’s episode, Inaho argued that wars aren’t really about emotions. The way he sees it, wars are really just about accruing political advantages, and emotions are one way to get the wheels of conflict rolling. Well, Saazbaum’s motives sure seem emotional enough to me, so there’s a lot Inaho doesn’t really understand about the world. But more importantly, Inaho’s spiel is just indicative of the way he operates. And it’s because of the way he operates that everything ends up falling apart. Yeah, his cold, hard logic has helped him save the day countless of times before, but everything would’ve gone swimmingly in this week’s episode had Inaho not been so distrustful of Slaine back in week seven.
It’s hard to say much about Asseylum’s character, because she simply fulfilled her mission in this final episode. Her character hasn’t really grown, and fittingly, I don’t feel as if the story has grown either. Nothing’s resolved nor have we hit any real high point other than the shock that the good guys might have died. Few of the side characters even have much to do or say in this week’s episode. Yuki has more than a couple lines, but they’re all wasted on being whiny with her brother. I think my general dissatisfaction with the finale comes down to this. Although this isn’t the final episode to the entire series, it is nevertheless the final episode to a cour. But despite this, I can’t feel as though that we’ve reached any sort of conclusion, thematic or otherwise. As usual, we got some slick fighting between Inaho and the bad guy of this week. Yeah, it’s Saazbaum, and he’s somewhat of a major character, but his mecha ends up just being some amalgamation of all the previous mechas. I was still entertained by the action, but it could have been better.
The only notable “change” I can think of is possibly Inaho’s feelings for the princess. As our dying hero crawls towards the lifeless girl after she had been (fatally?) shot by Saazbaum, he has visions of their time together. It’s enough to make you think the guy is really in love with her! But maybe Yuki was just right all along. Maybe Inaho was really on cloud nine all those times he spent with the girl. And certainly, this does add another dimension to his character. The problem is, Inaho had been one-dimensional all series long, so what does adding one extra dimension at the last minute really do? I suppose when the second cour rolls around, and our heroes inevitably find that they’re still alive, Inaho can stop being so goddamn robotic and actually push hard for Asseylum’s love. Still, I can’t help but think that Inaho’s been so cold on the surface this entire time just to make his crawl towards Asseylum feel somewhat like a twist — an emotional twist, if you will. Even so, why not just make an interesting, well-developed character from the start?
A short ending monologue tells us that “Asseylum… has not been heard from since” the end of the battle. There’s no way Slaine, as obsessive as he is about the princess, would just leave her lifeless body there on the ground, huh? But where would he drag it to? And what would he do with it? Ah well, I suppose we’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, we can distract ourselves with Psycho-Pass, Mushishi, and more. In a different universe, Inaho wouldn’t be such a boring character. And maybe in this same universe, I’d be dying to know what happens next. But although I was adequately entertained by Aldnoah.Zero, the story never lived up to the foundation Urobuchi had laid out for it at the very start of the season. Instead of an interesting political thriller that sometimes has mecha fights, we got a series of mildly competent mecha fights and little more. You can just forget about the political thriller part. So while I’ll watch the second cour when it finally airs, I’m not left wanting. I’ll live, y’know? Let’s just hope Inaho doesn’t wake up to find himself in school, and his sister has turned into a brother.
See ya in three months…