Aldnoah.Zero 2 Ep. 6 & 7: Breaking kind of rebelliously… kind of…

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A moment of self reflection? Sure, let’s have the character literally stare at his own reflection. This supposedly pivotal moment in Slaine’s characterization unfortunately ends up being so on the nose in its execution that there’s no way I can take it seriously. And sadly, this is his big moment in the narrative. This is where it is supposed to all come together, i.e. the realization that he has just profoundly fucked up his life to the point that there is honestly no return. And if you’ve ever had that moment before, you know how palpably transcendent it feels. On the one hand, you know everything has just gone to shit, but on the other hand, because you’ve gone past the point of no return, there’s a sense of inner peace within you. There’s no other way to go from here. All you can do now is put your head down and charge forth and let the chips fall where they may. And that’s why Slaine is making his move at the end of the episode. But like a lot of things in Aldnoah.Zero, the execution is just not there. The show is more impressive on paper than it is in practice.

In fact, this should have been a pretty sick story. At first, Slaine just wanted to be Asseylum’s knight in shining armor. He just wanted to rescue and protect the woman that he loved. Somewhere along the way, he was adopted by a well-respected Orbital Knight, assassinated said knight, went on and was wildly successful with (presumably) numerous military campaigns, struck down another Orbital Knight for challenging him, bent the others to his will, and of course, gained the trust and love of a princess. It’s like a slave boy in the Roman Empire growing up to become emperor. But the cherry on top is that tragic flaw that undoes everything. Slaine has accomplished so, so very much, but it is all for naught if Asseylum cannot love him. And let’s face it, Asseylum will not and cannot love Slaine for what he’s done. Again, on paper, this should be a kickass story. Boy rises against all odds — discrimination and pure hatred, no less — to become one of the most powerful leaders in an Empire. But in the end, his unrequited love will be his downfall. So why isn’t this actually a cooler story?

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Why do I feel so bored when I watch this series? It’s the execution. I just can’t feel for Slaine. He should’ve been more Gatsby and less… whatever this sad, pathetic anime character that we got. Of course, it doesn’t help either that our “Daisy” and “Tom” are personality-less. “Daisy” is so boring, we literally write her out of the past six episodes. And as we’ve already discussed to death, “Tom” is more of a Gary. Hell, forget Gatsby. Slaine could have been more ruthless. He could have been more Machiavellian. He could have been more anything aside from this sad, pining sack of shit that he was in the first season, and this story probably would have worked out just a tiny bit. But this is anime, so our antihero doesn’t really break bad. That would make him too ugly. I mean, he’s got blood on his hands, but the series can’t even make us feel uncomfortable about this very fact. Killing Saazbaum isn’t controversial. Killing that jerkass Orbital Knight from last week’s episode isn’t controversial. For an tragic figure, Slaine’s just too much of a pretty boy.

The whole thing doesn’t work. Slaine is just a microcosm of the series as a whole. The whole thing literally doesn’t work. It’s a war between two fucking planets, and you hardly feel the severity of the situation. The Vers Empire wants Earth and its resources badly because things aren’t so hot back on Mars, but we don’t see any of this. We only see ugly, shiny towers on the red planet. They say that the poor are suffering, but you don’t see any of them either. Hell, the main character got shot in the fucking head and he’s still a baby-faced soldier that his damn sister just wants to coddle the heck out of. Most of the conflicts in this series have boiled down to our ragtag group of sexy high school students overcoming a single arrogant Orbital Knight in slick mecha combat. Sure, some faceless grunts will lose their lives, but we quickly move on. Even in a terrible series like Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, the characters will pause and mourn the lives that have been lost. Here, we get nothing! Onward to the next flashy battle, my sexy high schoolers!

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Oh god, something crazy is happening offscreen!!! Well, not really. So what chance does Slaine have? Aldnoah.Zero as a whole is one massive wuss of a series. It’s got no bite to it. It just wants to be pretty. So naturally, our antihero is going to be the same goddamn way. On paper, his rise to the top sounds intriguing. In practice, our pretty boy looks like he’s sleepwalking as he limply eliminates his enemies. He’s pretty enough to garner some defenders, but that only works if you want to make this an Inaho vs. Slaine thing. But fuck all of that. They both suck. and that’s tragic is that Slaine’s story could’ve been more tragic — he could’ve really broken bad — but everything is just so mild and half-assed. It’s so boring. We can’t make him too ugly, because we can’t make anything in this goddamn anime too ugly. But that’s most anime in a nutshell. Just too pretty. I can’t even love to hate Slaine. I’m just bored. Asseylum has recovered! Colony drops everywhere! Slaine killing people! And… none of it makes my heart beat even one tiny iota faster.


11 Replies to “Aldnoah.Zero 2 Ep. 6 & 7: Breaking kind of rebelliously… kind of…”

  1. While I don’t like the idea of unrequited love being someone’s downfall especially if it’s just that one time I could see the other parts of the story being great. “The execution is just not there”. Definitely the problem, the story is cool on paper but I think a major problem with the execution is the lack in scope. I mean we have a handful of characters (well not really since the side characters are nobodies) and we have the focus being placed on two small factions of the war between planets. I don’t feel the scale here, especially when the enemies just pop up and disappear almost immediately. Who do we know on the Martian side? Pretty much Slaine. In Code Geass for example you felt like the odds were against Lelouch, in Valvrave you felt like Haruto and his gang would have lost, you saw how big an organization they were going up against and you saw the inevitable doom of their gang. If Valvrave can pull that off then at least Aldnoah should be able to too.

    It’s mind numbingly frustrating for me to see Eddelrittuo be so dumb. She obviously knows how unhappy the princess will be about all this and still goes along with all this not to mention she says everything out loud knowing how it could affect the situation with Slaine.
    It’s funny that Inaho knows Slaine “has made his move” when more than one enemy Kataphrakt is in the battle, that was gold.

    “Inaho vs. Slaine thing. But fuck all of that. They both suck.” Not a thing to salvage this show. The fights have gotten worse too. No wait the ost is pretty good….even though it’s repetitive.

  2. The show has gotten to the point where it seems like it’s slogging its way to the end. It looks like it played its loudest tunes and set everything that it wants to up before it falls into the same song and dance of “MC vs. Foil”. Can’t wait for the obligatory finale mecha battle just cuz.

    Just as much as people bring up Game of Thrones as the current head of gritty and brutal TV, part of the draw for me are the new characters that come in every season. And that’s what a show needs, having a core group of characters while adding in some new ones to interact with one another.
    But the problem is that Aldnoah.Zero frankly has fucking shit characters ALL ACROSS THE BOARD. Two main characters that I couldn’t care less about and EVERYBODY else that are even less than that. So basically, even if new characters were introduced (oh yeah, pink-haired princess #2), who cares?

    Why would you go for a certain age rating, which I’m assuming why this show is so squeaky clean. Nobody gives a shit about age ratings anymore. If the writer is dedicated to a war theme, then why go clean? Go full Saving Private Ryan and show people getting blown out.
    Isn’t this show supposed to be about giant robots destroying each other? How is that not the most brutal shit ever? Think about how horrific car accidents are and most of the time, that shit is ACCIDENTAL and CIVILIAN. These mecha are military WAR MACHINES designed to kill and maim the enemy. Which only makes Inaho surviving and coming back with scratches and a missing (replaced) eye even more retarded.
    These type of limp-dick mecha shows conjure up an image of a young buff Arnold doing a vasectomy on himself.

    But yeah. Teenage characters. So that, uh, real world TEENAGE viewers will connect and empathize with these guys and girls on the screen. Yeah, nah.

    1. You’d think with all these sexy teenage characters, they’d also have the requisite teenage hormones. At least we’d see some humanity in them. But nah, they’re all sterile. Sexy but sterile. Pretty much anime.

      1. It pretty much makes me wonder: Do these fuckin’ writers even know (or remember) what a teenager is? Does a requisite need to be set or something for people to actually see and/or remember what their high school education actually represented? Frankly, at this point nobody with a functioning brain would fall for the fact that HIGH-SCHOOLERS would fulfill these types of roles. Fuck fiction logic and all that. Are 20 or even mid-30 year olds just TOO old (despite higher experiences) to fill that same exact role?
        Like you said, a bundle of confusion and sexual frustration that frankly doesn’t exactly fit with the modern definition of a productive society that depends on an older group of people that fixate on career success than “Oh, does Jessica like me or not?” juvenile bullshit. Why should this shit be laid on KIDS who barely know what the world looks like outside their house and highschool? Higher education (and more appropriate character-matter) exists in this first world country.

        Maybe if creators went for older ages. You know, where younger kids could wish that they could GROW into these awesome characters that they see in anime, that they would somehow be someway as cool. It’s almost as if real world people are determined the fate of PLANET EARTH far after we are gone. Figures like the recently spotlighted Hollywood Turing or Hawking.

        Well, maybe that type of stuff doesn’t excite the younger mind. Maybe it’s too hard to think about the future while writing these type of stories for little babies no matter their Earth age. It’s almost as if these writers are trying to gain some short-lived rent/food-money instead of trying to write a somewhat historically significant narrative regardless the genre.

        That really is the dilemma of either anime or anything else. Write some utter garbage and reap the equally short-sighted benefits. I mean, tt’s just Chinese cartoons after all right?

  3. Haha Your sincerity here made me laugh, mate. I felt the same way about the first season, and reading your posts on the second cour I feel a bit of the same frustration.

    Slaine is an example of A.Z, and A.Z is an unwitting example of most anime, especially modern anime, on a whole. It’s a matter of horrid execution due to a lack of real commitment to the mature themes within the narrative.

    “We can’t make him too ugly, because we can’t make anything in this goddamn anime too ugly.”
    Exactly right, mate, and considering this is a narrative involving such themes as war, loss and the rot of a character’s moral fiber, it’s utterly revolting that they’d prize superficiality over the maturity needed to follow through.
    _But maturity doesn’t sell as many figma, does it?

    Though perhaps that’s why the most memorable part of the first run was that one side-character with PTSD.

  4. One of the best moments in the whole series is when Slaine announced he’s gonna give Eddy a holiday! I know it’s unlikely that this useless and annoying useless maid will die (and even if she died she might well come back as usual) but I can’t wait to see next episode!

  5. I kind of like this anime, for the laughs.
    But your complains reminded me of just how bad this anime is.
    It wants to stay pretty so bad!

    It’s supposed to be an anime about war, but we don’t really see any memorable death scene.
    All the baddies disappeared in explosions as if we were playing MegaMan.

    We didn’t see suffering of the civilians or any beating or the rise of crime.
    We didn’t see the famine, the hunger, the sickness, the living of the poor; because of war.

    We only saw a bunch of old men sitting in a dark room.
    We only saw a pair of high schoolers playing mecha game against each other.

    I wonder if this anime is aired in children’s time slot.

  6. This post actually ties well with your comments about the f*cked-up bleakness of Garo…unlike Garo, Aldnoah tries too hard to keep Slaine pure despite having done horrible things. Which pretty much cuts down any emotional investment we have for him. If we can’t love a character, we can at least hate him. But Slaine’s just not interesting or real enough for us to do that.

    1. Love or hate, it doesn’t matter. A show should just make you feel. Aldnoah.Zero only inspires apathy. I mean, I think Slaine is kind of pathetic, but that’s only because I’m forcing myself to watch and write about this show. Outside of a blogging context, the show and its characters are completely forgettable.

  7. Since the episode where Inaho shoots Slaine down and more so durimg the first episode of season 2 it’s obvious that Slaine is just there to die in then end and make Inaho look better by comparison.

    Seriously can anyone here even point out Inahos reason for fighting in this war? I mean a real reason apart from save generic princess number 15,838?

    As for Slaine like you said they could have done a way better job in his character development but like I said they are too busy building him up just so Inaho looks “cool” when he kills him, because you just know that Slaine won’t survive a gunshot at pointblank range like Inaho did.

    The side characters are dull to a fault and the anime tries to make us “connect” with them but it’s very hard to take them seriously when all they do is takl about why the other can’t get a boyfriend ad nauseum, talking about dieting even though they are skinny as heck or when they hit every soap opera and anime cliché they can scratch of the list.

    So who else here thinks Inko will die to get rid of Asseylums (non) competition?

    World building is barren at best, what do we really know about the Vers Impire? Why should I care for the earth side apart from them being the “good guys” and having the gary stu mc on their side?

    Well whatever guess since I’ve come this far I should finish generic japanese kids save the world and end a war anime number 1,293,489.

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