Aldnoah.Zero – Episodes 8 & 9
“Our impoverished, shabby country looks with scorn upon a world with a vast history.” – Saazbaum
Episode 8 Synopsis: Princess Asseylum reveals herself to the Earth forces and Slaine remembers the time he spent with the Princess whilst being tortured by Count Cruhteo.
Episode 8 Impression:
What the actual f*ck was that? Who is responsible for this episode? I’ve
seen heard of porn with better character development then this travesty of an episode! Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I’m tired to seeing comments along the lines of, “This is one of the best mech series of our time, herp derp!” when its quite clear that Aldnoah Zero is lacking in many respects. There’s a ‘time’ for everything in anime – a time to have fun and be comical and a time for sincere, thoughtful character development and plot twists. One such example of the latter should have been Calm’s confrontational moment with the Princess – “Finally!” I thought, quite naively, to myself “Calm is about to become a character with a multiplex personality and thus gain a means for character growth!” – how embarrassingly wrong I was. It was disconcerting. One moment you’re torturing this series embodiment of the metaphorical rag doll and the next you’re throwing out banal, vapid clichés that make me want to tear Calm out of the screen, out of the series, and put him in Slaine’s place! When is this series going to start taking itself seriously? Eureka 7 balanced comedic and serious writing perfectly and as a result its heralded as one of the greatest mech anime…ever. A part from in its OST, I’m not feeling that star quality from Aldnoah Zero. And it’s sad, because clearly I expected too much from it.
Okay, maybe I’m being unfair – the above is purely my subjective ranting, reflecting my expectations and not what the show offers. You want a show where robots fight? You want to sit back and relax – perhaps eat some popcorn? You want an amazing OST? Then Aldnoah Zero is for you. Just don’t expect interesting characters, an interesting story or consistency in character development. That is all. Aldnoah Zero gets away with murder because its visual and audio components are spectacular – they are, truly – but this episode exemplified one of the main issues I have with this series: it’s characters. Let’s take a look at Cruhteo: one minute he’s all, “Enough of this. Kill him.” only then, five seconds later, to say, “Forgive me, Slaine.” (hug, hug, kiss, kiss, etc.) For someone who has such an abhorrence of ‘Terrans’, Cruhteo sure changed his outlook on Slaine quickly – it didn’t make sense! Yes Cruhteo loves the Princess and that love for the Princess overrules any hatred he might have had for Slaine, but seriously? Hugs and a pseudo-yaoi scene? You can’t honestly tell me that you can imagine Hitler cradling a Jew in his arms because the Jew saved someone Hitler liked? This kind of racial hatred takes the form of repulsion – especially in Cruhteo’s case. For episodes the series has been buildin a character whose absolute disgust of humans is evident in the actions he takes and the cold-hearted way he and his fellow Martians slaughter the Terrans. The episode went from torture porn to another kind of porn and – all in all – it was poorly written.
I’d like to end this rant with a few apt subtitles that I feel encompass the essence of this episode: ‘Slaine gets Slain’, ‘Kill Slaine Volume 2’, ‘Everyone Hates Slaine’, ‘The Passion of Slaine’, ‘The Slaine Dance: one step forwards, two steps back’. I’ll be here all night… thinking up a slew of witticisms to giggle over when the series ends.
Episode 9 Synopsis: Slaine wakes up in the Landing Castle of Count Saazbaum and learns the true intentions of the Count. Rayet and Lt. Marito must deal with with their individual memories of those they have lost to the Martians.
Episode 9 Impression:
Is the Princess dead? Probably not. Do I wish she were? But of course. For the last nine episode’s, I’ve been wondering, “When exactly is something going to happen?” We witnessed combat every episode and, whilst the action was ‘good’, I was left waiting with bated breath for a plot twist – perhaps a smidgen of vibrant storytelling? Put simply, I needed Urobuchi to ‘do his thing’. If the Princess is dead then what we have is a show in which the dynamics have changed and in which our characters will be forced to develop: hell, it’d even reveal Inaho’s true intentions/feeling with regards to the Princess and her particularly useful powers. However, if the Princess lives (and she’lls almost certainly live (she’s in the OP for crying out loud!) what we’ve got is another limp-d*cked plot twist because the series needed some ‘grand’ development without really changing the fundamental formula. Then again, I suppose it all depends on how the next episode is handled – let us not cast ungrounded aspersions.
It wasn’t all bad though – Rayet recieved a nice little bit of character development. I always forget that Rayet is Martian; the never really draw attention to the fact (her bio states that her father was stationed on Earth for 15 years – she’s 16). Episode 9 was, to me, an episode centered around ‘jealously’, envy, avarice and all they entail. In Rayet’s case, she’s jealous of the Princess – the wonderful Princess who, despite of Martian origins, has been accepted by the crew of the Deucalion whilst Rayet herself struggles with her isolation and is consumed by guilt. The Princess receives everything whilst Rayet possesses nothing; Rayet envies the Princesses life and thus, after hearing the Princess speak, decides to quash that which she desires and can never have – as is the way with malignant envy.
Can we talk about Marito for a moment? Did anyone else find Marito’s traipse into the past wholly underwhelming? The entire scene was poorly executed. Take Humeray himself, for example: he’s not screaming when Marito shoots him – in fact, by the time Marito actually gets around to pulling the trigger, Humeray has ceased in his screaming for a least a minute. It sounded less like a mercy killing and more like Marito putting a bullet in his best-friends corpse… In my (humble) opinion, the entire PTSD subplot has been rather lacklustre from the beginning and really needs to be tied up soon, lest we come across insensitive when, for the thirtieth time, Marito goes to get into a mech and has a seizure. It has become rather redundant and it’s not being handled very well at all: if anything, I got the impression from Marito’s flashback that his PTSD was caused more by the fear of dying at the hands of the ‘Martian demon’ rather than seeing his best-friend die – and perhaps that would be better! A mortality and courage subplot would suit this series much better and it could probably be handled better as well, given the futile nature of the Terran struggle. But I digress.
Finally, I’d like to talk about my favourite aspect of episode 9 – Saazbaum. At least he’s being frank with Slaine, unlike a certain Terran whose trigger happy antics placed Slaine in the crappy position within which he resides. Saazbaum outlines the flaws in Martian society, the backwards feudal society and the predicament they face due to their lack of rescoures. Saazbaum laments the loss of his betrothed; he mourns that state of Mars. I did have one small gripe with his explanation, however… Why is he angry with Earth again? Because they have an abundance of goods? Because they have f*cking WATER and AIR? How exactly are they breathing on Mars, in the Castles? I don’t know much about chemistry, but what I do know is that air generators require water – which, according to Saazbaum, they have a lack of. And since when did Mars have an atmosphere? I suppose they had to terraform the planet? I guess they didn’t go a very good job. And why exactly didn’t they try commerce? Why didn’t they trade with Earth? How were they even allowed to become that separated from the only planet from which they could aquire water and oxygen? What’s the point of even living there (on Mars, that is?) Surely they would’ve taken the Martian technology and returned to Earth with it? It seems to me that Aldnoah Zero has a back story of convience and it doesn’t exactly make for compelling viewing. I feel as though they’re trying to make a point with Saazbaum, Mars, and the need to fundamental supplies, but I see a million ways in which this entire war could have been circumvented, none of which involve killing your own Princess. Perhaps the message is that we’re all the same despite what labels we give ourselves: that is, psychopathic murderers who always revert to war as a means to acquire that which we do not have. I’m looking at you Hitler. I’m looking at you Lenin. I’m looking at you Colonial England. I’m looking at you companies who use war as a means to glean oil and other capital goods from socially, politically and militarily retarded nations!