I will admit I am not really interested in mecha anime (or any action anime to be precise), the last mecha anime that I have watched was none other than the legendary Code Geass, I know many legendary mecha anime exists out there, like Neon Genesis, Gundum wing, Gurren Lagann, but I chose none of them, rather after Code Geass, I chose something which is a bit indie in nature. I chose to watch Aldnoah.Zero and; oh boy I wasn’t disappointed.
Welcome to another anime review of mine where I will be discussing A1 Pictures 2014 anime, Aldnoah.Zero.
Background and Synopsis
The year is 1972, Apollo 17 successfully touched the moon, and on that day, human kind discovered an unknown teleportation technology in the lunar surface (unknown origin) using which, a massive portion of human population gets transferred to Mars with an aim to populate Mars. There people forms colonies and the colonies discovers another secret advanced technology, called Aldnoah. Using Aldnoah technology that citizens of Mars prospered faster than human civilizations of Earth. They formed a massive empire that is now knows as the Verse Empire. For years Verse Empire started developing their state of living, but the reality afterwards hit them hard, that, no matter how much technology they use, they can never achieve what earth has, natural resources. Where earth was full of them, mars had none. So, in 1999, Mars declared war on Earth, their aim was to acquire all the resources of earth for themselves. And that war caused the destruction of the lunar teleportation device known as Hypergate. The explosion was so massive that it destroyed half of the entire moon, and the event was termed as, Heavens Fall.
The soldiers that started the war lost communication with Mars immediately, they had nowhere to go other than staying on the lunar base. They called themselves the Orbital Knights. The Orbital Knights gradually grew a grudge against the Vers Empire who left them to suffer in the moon for years. So they planned a conspiracy, a conspiracy that will turn Earth and Mars into each other’s enemy, and restart the war so that Mars suffers its consequences. (No spoilers given.)
The show begins fifteen years after the Heavens Fall.
Aldnoah.Zero starts with an explosion (literally), the anime wastes no time in starting the main plot and instantly progresses with it. It is an action/weekly mecha fight type anime. After the first few episodes, it becomes like this to be precise. But nevertheless, it spends its majority with the main characters of the show which I will discuss soon. There are no filler episodes (as mecha anime’s tends to have) rather, every episode is important for the plot progression. The story is divided into two seasons, the first season heavily focuses on the defensive measures the United Forces of Earth takes in order to defend themselves from Martian invasion, while in season 2 it focuses on Earth Forces taking more of an offensive approach against Martian force. The show is fantastic on showing how earth forces evacuates local populace before each of the mech combats. In season 2, the mech combat shifts to space instead of Earths surface, which was boring to watch at times.
Here is the fun fact, every time I say earth forces, it doesn’t actually mean earth forces. Surely they are fighting, but the show only features the main characters as they fight against the Martian invasion. The show puts us on the toes of particularly this main character, Inaho Kaizuka and his friends and families. Inaho is the main character who in every episode either with his extraordinary thinking skills or stupidity (yep stupidity) defeats Martian mechs. And this goes on till the end of the show literally. The anime does portray other characters and their roles in the combat but at the end of the day, it all comes down to decisions that Inaho Kaizuka makes. Speaking of characters,
The show features more than 10 characters, but honestly, the characters that are worth discussing, are
Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia
Inaho Kaizuka and lastly
Slaine fucking Troyard
Princess Asseylum is your typical princess who has the goodwill to end the war and bring peace to both the worlds. The show even stars with her stating this motive. But honestly, she is just plain dumb. The show is a reverse harem type anime where it features the princess with various love interests starting with Slaine, then Inaho, and lastly, Martian prince Klancain.
Even after all this cons though, Princess Asseylum at the end of the day, is one of the strongest character I have ever seen! Like seriously, she remained calm even after knowing that her own kind betrayed her and even tried to assassinate her. She remained calm and proceeded with the decisions that is best for both Martian and Earth force. That is not something you see every day.
And of course, they had to put her in a cage in the second season, just like Asuna, Victorique and countless others. Well done A1 pictures, you’ve done it again. *claps*
Inaho is the character that I can relate mostly to Lelouch Vi Britannia. But Unlike Lelouch, this guy is fucking Emotionless. Like, I have no idea what Gen Urobuchi was thinking while writing the character Inaho. Flirting with Asseylum: Emotionless, getting destroyed by Martian Mech: Emotionless, getting shot in the eye and almost dying to bleeding: Emotionless! The world is going to end with nuclear explosions, his priority is, where to find eggs! Fucking eggs! Wtf!!
Personally though, that is what makes Inaho unique, at least to me. All these might be cons to others but I liked how he was portrayed, emotionless bag of meat. I did not hate Inaho for his emotionless portrayal rather, I really liked it and in an honest opinion, Nobody could have done the better job at portraying an emotionless character other than Inaho. I liked Inaho and hats off to Inaho for making good decisions in crucial parts of the story. Lastly, it brings me to my last character discussion, Slaine Effin Troyard
I fucking hated Slaine Troyard, like, I don’t know if anyone can hate any character this much. The last character that I hated this much would probably be that villain who virtually raped Asuna. Sigh
It’s not personal hatred, no, trust me. In season 1 he was portrayed as this good guy who was abused by Martian Kingdom, who wanted nothing but good for Princess Asseylum. During the betrayal, he was the only one from Martian side who unveiled the conspiracy and stood side by side with the princess as an ally. How do you destroy an amazing character like this one? Give a massive emotional shock to him and make him insane that he turns 180 degree and becomes the antagonist in second season. What the fuck! Why? In season 2, he becomes this boring, pathetic sadist who brings destruction and chaos just because he thinks he is doing for the good of the princess. Yeah, please! *slowly claps*
The show does brings justice to all his actions, but at the cost of all the mayhem that he causes, it was not worth.
The rest characters can be divided into two categories, first group is the interesting group and the other is the bitch group who does nothing but whining that contributes nothing to the show.
Inko (Inaho’s friend.)
Yuki (Inaho’s sister.)
Doctor Soma Yagarai.
Rayet Areash (omg how pathetic a character can be, solid example.)
Koichiro Marito (PTSD crap.)
Darzana Megbaredze (the hardcore general.)
Princess Lemrina (Someone please kill this sadist.)
This anime is a solid 10/10 regarding the sound it provides. I am not exaggerating a bit, I liked almost all the op’s, ed’s & ost’s that this anime provided. Just like other A1 picture titles, Your lie in april, Sword art online, Erased, Ano Hana; Aldnoah.Zero nails music to the ground. The first opening “Heavenly Blue” was enough to prepare me for what I had in the show, (princess shooting the viewers directly on face, deadly cute!). Season 1 features two endings, the first one is called A/Z which is really catchy; but the second one, oh boy, the second ending “Aliez” has to be one of the best endings of all time.
Second season features one opening and one ending. While the opening is boring (just like the season), the ending “Genesis” is solid good with so many feels! Not all ost’s are worth mentioning, but there is one however, whenever Inaho is in crucial combat, this track “Keep on keeping on” pops up which is mind-blowing at times and increases the immersion immediately.
Both the seasons are dubbed in English, so, if there are any of you that is allergic to subs, there you go. I watched season 1 dubbed version but season 2 with subbed (because dub was not out yet that time.) Honestly, in case of this anime, the dubbed version felt better with appropriate army quotes:
“Mustang one on my position, mustang two on my six, missiles launched approaching the target ETA 3, 2, 1…. Alpha One get the hell out of there!” You know what I mean.
A1 pictures most of the time sucks at drawing crowd, but it when it comes portraying one or two character in a single frame, this studio friggin shines (Eg Oreimo, SAO). Same is the case for Aldnoah Zero. Although I wouldn’t say the crowd portrayal was that bad. At times they looked good to be honest.
The characters of Aldnoah Zero looks good in an honest opinion, (except Slaine; He just looks, bad.) They have highly detailed eye designs which looks good just on first sight. And oh, did I mention? This anime has the best looking nuclear explosion scenes I can recall of? Yeah, I am not kidding. The mech fights in this show are done in CGI, first, one might argue that it’s stupid and decreases immersion. But hold on, in case of this anime, the CGI’s were perfectly done, it felt like an anime, not a 3D show. The aesthetics of combats were balanced with perfect lightning effects along with cycling day and night portrayal. If I had to rate the show only on the basis of how beautiful it is, I would easily give it an 8/10.
(Click on the music below, turn your volume to max and listen, its recommended!)
As much as I wanted to keep Aldnoah Zero close to my favourite list, it kept failing me. It started with a explosion of hype but soon broke down in the middle, not to mention the ending of season 1! The first season ended with one of the best cliffhangers I have ever seen. That is how you do a cliffhanger, that is exactly how you end a season if you are planning a sequel season (on your face Tokyo Ghoul!) I hate cliffhangers but this one I really enjoyed, only to get disappointed soon in the second season. Season 1 was solid gold, but no matter how much I praise season 1, it doesn’t change the fact that season 2 is a boring half developed rushed anime with bitch characters (Lemrina & Slaine) whining about their feeling and causing chaos, destruction mayhem at the same time.
Nevertheless, even after considering all these cons, Aldnoah.Zero at the end of the day, was fun to watch. Season 1 is a masterpiece while at the same time, Season 2 was, just okay; and it does end with a good ending & gives justice to Slaine Troyard, the one that he deserved.
So considering the theme, combats, characters, sounds, story and visuals, I reward
Aldnoah.Zero Season one with a 7.75/10
Aldnoah.Zero Season two with a 5/10
with a recommendation to stream it rather than buy it. Blueray of the entire season costs 240$ which I call bullshit, regular DVD costs around 119.99$ in Amazon which is good at its price but, since the show is mediocre, its not worth buying. Go to crunchyroll, hulu, netflix or other stream sites and stream it.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. (A must watch!)
I say Cry! I say Liar! I say Rising Hell!
War! I hate war! I hate war!
Let the justice be done, though the heavens fall.