I promise, I’ll get back to gaming.
I watched Aldnoah.Zero because there was a shitpost of the first episode. Then I read through the premise and thought what the hell, it looks cool, so I watched it.
One of the things that the West tends to stereotype anime (and Japan in general) with is giant mechs. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of mech fighting for whatever reason, but I decided to give Aldnoah a shot.
Anyway, its premise is fairly simple. Humans have settled on Mars, discovering an ancient technology called Aldnoah. They break off and form the Vers Empire, and try to conquer Earth (Mars Aeternum, anyone?. In giant mechs powered by said Aldnoah. It’s pretty cut and dried; not much to it.
Now I did enjoy watching this series. I’ve been playing a lot of War Thunder lately (41 hours in two weeks…send help ;-;), and so I’ve become fairly interested in heavy armor. I enjoyed watching how protagonist Kaizuka Inaho’s personal mech (a trainer as opposed to a standard issue, in classic “unique character” tropes) grew and adapted to suit the different situations; they even helpfully call his loadout in the last episode the “final showdown loadout”. I liked watching Inaho defeat the technologically superior Martian mechs with careful analysis and precise execution, and felt deep satisfaction when this ability was compounded by the cybernetic eye he receives in the second season.
Its writing is also fairly compelling, if a little outlandish at times. One of the main points that Aldnoah drives home is Earth’s severe militaristic disadvantages. The series opens with landing castles essentially acting as drop pods from outside the atmosphere; each landing castle lands with the energy of what is effective a nuclear bomb. Moreover, the power that each Martian mech receives from Aldnoah makes it nigh impossible for anyone (except Inaho, because smartness. And plot armor) to engage the Martians without suffering catastrophic losses. By the sixth or seventh time “most” of the Terran units are killed before the Martian is defeated, you go from wondering if there really is any risk at all to the Martian battle plan to wondering if there’s any risk at all Earth.
Which, apparently, there isn’t. At least, not as much as the first season would have you think. When the second season starts, you’re led to believe that the war had been ongoing for nineteen months. That’s to say, somehow the Martians have either managed to be held back by the Terrans or have been holding themselves back for the entirety of nineteen months. The Earth’s surface doesn’t even really look all that tarnished at this point. Moreover, the second season appears to spend far less time on the more fine points of storytelling; none of the supporting characters are really fleshed out further than they were in season 1 and I’m not entirely sure what the Martians’ ultimate motives are.
Whatever, though. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a less important point when you’re really just here for the mech fights. That being said, this series may have been made by the deuteragonist/antagonist.
Slaine Troyard. What a tragic character. As his story is slowly revealed and expanded over the course of the series, you end up feeling more and more sorry for him. In fact, you soon realize that the giant mechs are almost given a backseat to his fall from grace, particularly during the second season. Even as he becomes the antagonist, by the end of the series his hopes and spirit are so broken it becomes almost impossible to hate him. Personally, among the two arcs of Inaho’s rise and Slaine’s fall, I found Slaine’s story to be more compelling.
One of my friends mentioned to me that he tends to be wary around A-1 productions because they don’t really deal with endings that well. I’ve noticed the same in Gate, but since I’m fairly new to anime as a whole I can’t really comment on that. The only other A-1 series I’ve watched is Valkyria Chronicles, and I found that ending to be satisfying and conclusive. At any rate, Aldnoah.Zero was an enjoyable watch. It’s one to turn to more for action and giant mech battles that don’t always turn out the logical way than it is for a deep, meaningful experience, but sometimes that’s all you need.