When a group of great minds get together to make an anime, you expect a lot and you’re right to do so. After all, a Gen Urobuchi anime with Hiroyuki Sawano composing the music (Kill la Kill, Attack on Titan) and A-1 Pictures doing the animation can most definitely not be bad, can it? It’s a dream collaboration and I was pretty excited when it was announced, and much less excited now that the first season is over. Before you start typing up your angry comments about whatever it is you’re angry about, allow me to spend the rest of this review telling you why Aldnoah.Zero is a slightly above average anime rather than the great anime it should have been.
Mars has been colonized and the humans who did so have taken on an identity of their own. There’s royalty on Mars, and an especially adorable princess who comes to Earth to offer peace after tensions between the two groups has been at a high point. During a parade, she is supposedly assassinated by Terrans (Earthlings) and the Vers (Martians) send their giant robots powered by Aldnoah drives down to Earth to kill every one. They start by driving their landing ships into major cities, causing nuclear-level destruction. My biggest problem with this is that the scale of the attacks is pretty well done until the only city in the United States that’s shown getting destroyed is New Orleans. Because when I think strategic strike-zones in America, I think of a place where everyone’s either too intoxicated to handle themselves or too busy working on rebuilding after another disaster struck…
Anyway, the Princess isn’t really dead and depends on a group of Japanese high school students being trained in the art of giant robot warfare to protect her. They fight against a gauntlet of various robots from a splinter group of the Vers military called the Orbital Knights who just want to destroy Earth because we have a hell of a lot better ecology than Mars. And that’s about the extent of your plot.
The series goes from one major robot fight to the next so moves at a decent clip for the most part. There’s some time spent with characters getting built up and that would work if there were characters worth caring about. Our protagonist, Inaho, is Lelouch from Code Geass. He’s cold, calculating, doesn’t really show much emotion. Maybe a better fit would be a completely boring Sora from No Game No Life. His uncaring attitude and ability to pull wins from his ass against opponents much better equipped is, for lack of a better word, boring.
Princess Asseylum is another boring character. Cute to look at and cute in personality, while also being the goody-goody ideological spew-a-bunch-of-life-lessons-about-caring-and-friendship character.
Rayet’s my favorite character if only because she’s a copy and pasted Kyoko Sakura*. A tsundere with dead parents? Denim booty shorts, a jacket, and boots? She differs from Kyoko in plot but for the most part the characters could be twins when put side to side.
There are a lot of other characters not even worth mentioning. They’re there. That’s about all I can give them.
For an Urobuchi anime it manages to be pretty tame but for one scene partway through (involving a shower, and about the only scene I’ll ever remember from the show) and the ending. Speaking of the ending, it definitely leaves things open for the upcoming second season but was very abrupt. A great cliffhanger but man did it come out of nowhere.
The music is alright. I felt that the pop-ish soundtrack didn’t fit with the usually gritty or dark story. Pop soundtracks do not go well with war scenes. But the ending is pretty good, I’ll give it that.
The animation is excellent and aside from the robots sometimes looking crummy due to being computer generated, I was more impressed with this aspect then anything else.
Why are they using giant robots to fight human infantry? Has Earth not trained it’s defense forces in ground combat without robots? How come a Humvee can withstand a rocket launcher blast head on yet a single anti-aircraft round can blow a giant robot in half? Why didn’t I get to see tits in the shower scene? And how come Marito’s flashbacks to the first landing of a Martian robot remind me so much of Misato’s flashbacks to the First Impact?
It’s not the best written anime and has a lot of questions dangling about, but it will appeal to Gen’s fanbase. Get ready for despair, death, heavy drinking, flashbacks, a person killing their best friend, blank eyes, murder, dead parents, betrayal, loli, guns, and a scene only written for the express purpose of fans to make lesbian porn out of it.
Aldnoah.Zero is really not too bad. It’s entertaining to a point and does have some good human drama. But the fights scenes aren’t too memorable, the characters are all flat, the music isn’t great, and the story is nothing that hasn’t been done before. It’s a decent distraction, but it won’t be anything remembered beyond its airing.
Notice: This review covers both seasons.
Aldnoah is trying to rearrange a lot of tropes that most mecha share without really doing something new with them. For most this rearrangement may be enough to enjoy it simply as an uncommon watch but as a whole the show lacks in several times more points, than it excells at.
There was a crazy hype going on before the show began airing because there were a lot of big names in the production team. OWWW LOOK WHO SINGS, LOOK WHO IS VOICE ACTING, LOOK WHO DIRECTS! I didn’t care about that since I was never a fan of any of them and the whole thing looked dull in the promotional videos. And as expected, the first episode tells you right away that this show is not about good characters, or a crafty exploration of its setting. It is all about a spectacle drowning in cynicism and shock factor, trademark of Urobutcher’s writing. I never liked it because it doesn’t have a drop of humanity in it and is all about the deification of treating people as robots and themes as a canvas for doodling messages that never have any logic behind them. Not that any of that matter to your average anime fan of course; the moment they see big explotions and big names, they lose their shit and write fifty pages of pretentious overthinking essays.
All of which are for naught, since there is zero effort placed in the making of this series, other than fancy visuals. Take the history of the world for example; it is nothing but one big mess of random ideas next to which even Code Geass is more logical. For some reason some people got their hands on alien technology on Mars and in less than 2 generations they now think they are a different species to the rest of humanity. With that reasoning alone, they plan to wipe out all humans other than them. Which of course is unjustified since as far as genes go, they are still people like us; they simply use different technology. Even the “space Nazi” excuse we see in other shows like Gundam or Space Battleship Yamato, does not count here, since they were never oppressed or greedy for global domination. They just want more resources to create a culture, to which ends they use propaganda and all they say is “We have better technology, let’s kill them all”. Even this Aldnoah thing which gives them control over super mechas is not gene-related. It can be given to everyone that is blessed by some magic light. Best part is how many of them were in orbital stations around Earth for 20 years, with the claim “They were stranded away from their homeland on Mars”. And nobody found it weird to tell these people “Most of your first degree relatives are on the planet below you; not all of them are on Mars and you are not aliens”.
Anyways, the backdrop history is not the only thing that is off here; there is also a ridiculous amount of death and mass extermination which obliterates all forms of characterization since all you will be noticing is people dying ten seconds after you meet them. I mean, literally, you can count numerous scenes where they introduce a soldier, they use him to throw in a fortune cookie proverb, and proceed to killing him on the spot. And it’s not like this is the first time we have that in a mecha show. Gundam shows have those as well, but over there genocides had already happened before the story began, and some would happen towards the end as a highlight. But not in this show; it begins right away with the evil space people who think they are superior, descending on Earth and exterminating billions of people. This is what makes the whole thing a big spectacle; focused on the excitement of mass destruction and people getting incinerated while cool music is heard playing in the background. It is not even going for shock effect since the music makes the whole thing look cool, and is not tragic or sad because you never knew all these people and you are only meant to think “Woah, so many die in this show, it is dark and serious”.
Next on the list of problems are the laughably cartoony bad space people, who not only make no sense but also have the depth of a footprint on the moon. Well written characters are those you get to like regardless of their actions or beliefs. Johan in Monster for example is a very cool character despite being a mass murderer. The villains of this show on the other hand are the ones you would encounter in 60s comic books. “Growl, tremble before my divine presence you scum. I pity how you will die without even being able to defend yourselves. Get wiped out by my godly hand as I end your meaningless existence.” The joke doesn’t stop there; they are written to be so cartoonishly evil, that they included the classic backstabbing all generically evil beings do. They kill their own royalty and blame it on the earth people as an excuse to kill them all. Such lovely people; very easy to be likable.
And despite all that superiority they show, they are manipulated like total tools, falling for the weakest propaganda tricks imaginable. Such as starting the whole war because they wanted to avenge the death of their princess, and when she appears alive, they keep fighting to avenge the bad times she had on Earth because ONE OF THEM tried to kill her. And even then, she is not even the real princess, she is an imposter. Damn, they will believe anything, no matter how dumb it is.
There are a few cases when some of them try to question if what they are doing is right, but in just five minutes they either get assassinated or convinced that the extermination of Earth is a lovely thing to do. Such as the emperor of the evil space people, who was hell bent on stopping the war if no proof of the Earth peoples’ ill intentions were found. And as soon as one of his trusted followers reassures him his granddaughter, the person he cared a lot for, is alive and well, he ignores him and allows the extermination to keep going as if he never trusted him for a decade, or loved his granddaughter for twice as much. This keeps happening several times in the show and proves how ill-conceived bad guys they are. The only thing missing is holding huge signs with the words YOU MUST HATE US on them.
As for the good guys, the poor innocent Earth people, there is very little to care about other than being the victims of an evil plot. They don’t have any charisma or even brains. Despite all the young people of Earth having received military training, all their tactics in warfare are limited to the amazing strategy of standing still and shooting at the enemy. Which, because of the technological gap between the two sides, has the same effect as throwing pebbles at a tank. And if you think they learn from it, nope, they keep using it in every single episode, which leads to their predictable, unworthy death. Which is also a motif going on in this show; the evil space people attack, throw in a superiority complex monologue, the good military guys try to defend themselves by standing still, they get killed, and then the hero of the show appears to save the day.
Ah but yes, even the Earth people have their hero. And he is more capable than all the combined military forces of Earth because he is a teenager. I mean we all know adults are useless and only teenagers are able to do things right. That is why he has a superpower which allows him to move during battles instead of standing still and waiting to die like everybody else. Yes, this is unthinkable, I know. He is also the only person who can defeat enemy mecha despite their superior technology because he is the only one amongst the whole evil space army who has a plan during battle. You see, the villains are busy feeling superior and assuming the super technology is enough to win. They don’t think ahead like the carton cutouts they are and freeze from horror when they realize they can’t defeat an earth guy with simple punches or slashes. This gives more than enough time for our hero to use his ultimate winning strategy of… throwing the mecha in the water. Yes, that is all it takes to defeat these ultimate monstrosities, you throw them in the water and they deactivate faster than the wicked witch of the west. Later on he uses other types of strategies and they are equally simple stuff only he can somehow think of.
Well I guess that makes him a wonderful fellow and the only one who actually has personality in this show; right? Hell no! He doesn’t have a personality because he doesn’t have emotions. This trait is even on the name of the anime -> Aldnoah Zero FUCKS GIVEN! I tell you, it is a miracle if the only moving and thinking character in this whole show loses his temper and lets a tiny smirk to escape his permanently frozen to uncaring facial expression. And although he occasionally tries to make you think he actually cares about people even if he doesn’t show it, that quickly ends up being a troll. He will say he wants to avenge the death of one of his friends on one episode with the same interest he asks for his pajamas to be ready when he returns from battle in another. And let’s not overlook how he thinks of a plan to defeat the evil robots only after examining their powers. And by examining I mean sending oblivious Earth soldiers to get brutally killed by the enemy. Lovely Guiney pigs you got there Inaho; their sacrifice is excused if it serves the glory of your exploits.
There are more characters that get a focus in this show besides Inaho the Uncaring (meaning they don’t die after 10 seconds) but in the typical Urobutcher fashion they are all plot devises rather than people. Such as the princess who is used as an excuse for the war to begin, as well as surviving the assassination only for accidentally meeting Inaho the Smirkless and give him super technology by accidentally passing by a base that happens to have super mechas in it. No need to have personality or goals, or something that doesn’t serve the plot; is there now? And holy cows, how many times was she killed only to be trolled 10 minutes later by showing her alive again? She is one of the best examples of how dumb a plot twist becomes if you use it more than once in the same show. Well it becomes super dumb when it’s used about a dozen.
There is also an errant boy the evil space people kick around just to further show us how irredeemably evil and stupid they are. I mean one of them brainlessly monologues the whole evil masterplan to him in a way that yelled “I deserve to be killed for my stupidity and you to betray us for our satanic acts” followed by him doing so. He then proceeds to escape the entirety of the alien defenses by stealing a ship under their very nose and heads to save the good guys in the nick of time. You think this is heroic and shows character? Nope! He magically finds them using a logic that makes no sense, saves some guys he doesn’t care for, only so the secret base of the mechas is accidentally revealed, and then is shot down by Inaho the Zero Fuck Giver, and abandoned on the spot because his role in the plot is over for now.
I can mention more characters or events and they all boil down to how bad the writing is, since everybody is just a plot devise with no humanity in it, and anything they do is staged to happen just so the story can happen in any way the writer wanted. Not how they wanted. You have the princess getting a pardon by everybody because she is the needed battery of the ship when 10 minutes earlier everybody hated her kind and wanted her dead. You have Inaho the Heartless showing no emotion and being a master strategist, falling in love with the princess for no reason, and doing some really retarded things in the finale of the first season because having emotions like a normal person makes you an idiot.
And of course there is Slaine, who exists to be kicked around repeatedly by everybody for the sake of drama, only to have him do the most out of character thing in a battle, which leads to the death of the princess (for yet another time). Lovely script Urobucher; can you do worse? Oh but wait, you only wrote the first 3 episodes; the rest were written by the guy who made Boku no Pico. Not that anyone in the anime community cared about that when they made 150 topics about how amazing the mid-season finale was.
Anyways, for awhile the series was fun for having the hero using his brains in order to defeat powerful robots which rely on brute force alone. The strategies were ridiculous (a black hole shield that doesn’t absorb air, flying cameras which nobody can see and get blinded by simple smoke) but were giving off a feeling of intelligence. And by intelligence I do not include the forced way he explains his strategies to the audience by basically talking to the wall next to him (meaning there is a lot of lazy infodump going on during pseudo-scientific explanations in the form of breaking the fourth wall).
Of course the illusion of brains this show goes for is very easy to break. Just like it happened with Code Geass, the tactics soon evaporate and it all becomes nothing but brainless robot power ups and fan service. Out of nowhere our hero gets his own super ship, which the Earth military had in its possession all this time but did nothing with them). There is a prolonged scene where an enemy mecha transforms as if you are watching Power Rangers, and it means nothing in the longrun, or is even presented as scary. And there is a scene where the princess is killed (again) while she is naked in the bath by another naked girl. Inaho gives her first aid by essentially gropping her, and then the naked assassin pops up out of nowhere and starts bitching about the cruelty of life, as if she was waiting five minutes for the princess to come back to life instead of running away or finishing her off. It was supposed to make you worried and sad but it doesn’t, because all you see is one emotionless dude surrounded by naked chicks.
There was also an attempt to have political intrigue and mysteries in the form of two different civilizations clashing, but it is impossible to give a damn when the Earth people are useless before Inaho the Peeping Tom. So goes for the villains, who are so shallow to the point you don’t care what is going on with the story as you care about the asspull Inaho the Mobile will use next time to defeat yet another mecha nobody else in the cosmos has the feet to be able to do that.
Despite all these obvious problems, the anime community still failed to see what a piece of crap this show is, evident in the mid-season finale, when they made it seem like most major characters got killed. Hundreds of pages were written full of praise and high expectations for what will come up, and the anticipation for the second half was enormous. Of course I knew it was all a troll but who ever listened to reason?
And what a plot twist, turns out nobody was dead after all!... Again. Inaho now becomes Kano; gets a cyborg eye that makes him even more hax in battle and is otherwise the same uncaring bastard who wins in all battles as he always was. The princess is now a decoration, sleeping in a pod, while another princess that was asspulled in the story appears to take her place. Slain out of nowhere becomes a Machiavelian asshole and with a complete character rewrite starts backstabbing everyone and keeps the war going by becoming a super elite pilot for no given reason. The earth military magically learns how to shoot straight and can now kill a few Martians towards the end, again for no given reason. And lots of other shit happen, like the moon blowing up or the origin of the alien technology, or some guy having post traumatic stress disorder. And guess what; they don’t matter in the longrun, since by the time the series ends, none of the dozens of side stories that were going on were resolved. In effect, they were there as fillers and teasers, since the actual plot progressions could fill only a few episodes.
Down to it, if you want to watch a somewhat well animated mecha show (the CGI is subpar and there is very little animation in battles if Inaho is not fighting) regarding one-dimensional villains and emotionless plot devises blowing up stuff for the most unrealistic reasons imaginable, go ahead and watch this show, I am sure you will like it. If on the other hand you want to watch a mecha show with worthy villains, charismatic heroes, and noble causes such as fighting for a better future, then watch Gunbuster or 08th MS Team and stay away from Aldnoah Zero. There isn’t a speck of reason or emotion in it; it has as much humane warmth as the extent of the facial expressions the main character shows when his pajamas are not ready upon returning triumphant from a battle where he was running around and pushing robots in the water.
Also, eggs are in discount, gotta buy those.
If there's one image that could sum up this show for me:
First off, I would like to say that I had enjoyed the show in the first half, as it was entertaining and the politics actually seemed rather strong. That all ended, however, with the Emperor of Vers' ridiculous renege of his previous suspicion of the Knights, and to continue the war despite just being explicitly informed that his daughter was alive. And what of this influential man's agency in the rest of the show? Nada. To think that the man with the most power in the Vers Empire is absent for the rest of the show. It was a ridiculous and egregious omission on the creator's part.
The inner government of the Vers people had an interesting premise, and both Saazbaum and Cruhteo touched on the Knights' bitterness towards Terrans rooted in their culture and regressive society. It was a strong concept and one that could readily have been explored, if not for the need to showcase Inaho's cool manly manliness. Initially I was critical of people that found fault with the science and tactics in the fights - the first major mech battle definitely promised a decent translation of warfare to rival some of the better shows in its genre.
That all faded by the time the woman with the rocket arms came around. The show got wrapped up so much in its monster-of-the-week formula that it completely overlooked the more intriguing aspects of Vers society that could very well have been explored. I would sacrifice all the action in the majority of the episodes if not for some lip service to the complexities, manipulation, political maneuvering, and deceit in the Vers Empire.
Instead we got another typical mech show full of dull characters. Inaho's victories felt rather hollow. For a supposedly superior race, the Vers Knights easily succumbed to petty emotion and lost in battles because they made stupid mistakes rather than their opponent actually being smart. While Inaho did use interesting solutions it was just lost in the overbearing theme that everyone from Vers is just really really angry.
The ending made no sense what-so-ever; nope, don't even try and justify it for me. You have Saazbaum riding down on his own zord that assembled just like in the old Power Rangers show. I couldn't take it seriously, so it was even worse when I was expecting something extraordinariy from this amalgamation of eye-rolling mess, but instead was treated to a rehashing of the same old abilities the monster-of-the-week segment already provided; there was nothing exicitng or new about Saazbaum's zord so the final mech fight just felt vapid and devoid of any effort for strategy on Inaho's part. And again, Saazbaum loses because he gets angry - all Vers citizens should seek anger management.
Then there was the final five minutes... hoooooly fuck do I want to shaft whoever greenlit that ending with a rake, followed by the guy who wrote it. First off, in the penultimate episode Saazbaum flagrantly confesses that he was the traitor and that he still wished for the death of Princess Asseylum. So when witnessing Inaho about to execute Saazbaum Slaine... saves... Saazbaum? (See Jackie Chan above).
Isn't Saazbaum like the one person you shouldn't be saving? He went down to the planet to kill your princess and you just fucking saved him...
What was Slaine thinking? Surely his anger towards Inaho wasn't so strong that it could cloud his judgment so detrimentally that he forgot his purpose for being there. I digress, that is the only explanation that would exonerate Slaine's character, except it wasn't consistent with his previous actions and completely broke the character.
During the next scene everything that transpires is Slaine's fault: Asseylum is shot by Saazbaum (he did warn you that he was going to kill her), and Slaine reacts like it's a massive surprise that it happened. Oh and he kills Inaho for no apparent reason, followed immediately by a half-assed narrative about how the humans won the war and how "Princess Asseylum's whereabouts are unknown". Okay there Lelouch.
This is what I feel is the conclusion of an over-hyped and terribly executed Code Geass wannabe. It wanted to be deep and insightful and instead came across shallow and poor. The only thing pulling the score up for this show is the technicals. The animation I had no problem with, and I wouldn't have had with the sound had they not used the same music over and over. I just wish it could have had a better writer.
This was originally a recap on the finale (containing spoilers) as well as the following final impressions. You can read the post on my website found here.
This was the worst show I’ve sat though in a few years. Usually, I’d drop a show as terrible and contrived as this after a few episodes. For me however, I had fun reviewing and trying to convert people. I’ll start wih a brief synopsis, before explaining why this is a terrible show, and you’re a making the world a worse place if you enjoyed it.
I need to disclose the following two bits of information. First, I never ever (ever, ever) care who creates an anime. I don’t care who writes it, directs its, edits it, voices characters or creates the music for it. I don’t care which studio animates the story, which network broadcasts or which American company simulcasts it. I care about one thing — the story and how that story is told.
Secondly, I don’t like mecha anime. I don’t like any specific genre actually, and should have added genre to the “I don’t care,” list above. I do tend to lean towards more dramatic stuff, sometimes fun and silly stuff, romantic stuff — but I’ll watch anything with a story that’s told well. Aldnoah.Zero is not a story that is told well. More on this later. First, how about a quick series abstract?
Show is ugly and stupid, like the person you despise the most.
Aldnoah.Zero takes place in an alternative world. That’s right, it’s not the future. In this world, the Apollo 17 mission from 1972 discovered a stargate on the moon. Not a stargate, ahypergate, sorry. The portal would take Earthlings to Mars, where a human civilization develops. There, they discover the Aldnoah, a powerful technology left by a mysterious and never-explained ancient Martian culture.
This new Martian civilization becomes the Vers Empire, and through some bad leadership and political intrigue, the Vers go to war with the “old humans” on Earth.
Inaho is smartest person in known universe — everyone else, equally dumbest.
Ok, that’s done. Next I’ll explain why you’re dumb if you like this show; maybe just empty-headed, or perhaps you’re just not a critical thinker. Then I’ll go over some other things besides the story and it’s execution, and finally, I’ll rate the show.
In a nutshell, here’s my problem with A.Z. The world the series takes place in is completely contrived and the storytelling is consistently convenient for the sake of moving the plot along in that world. Many, many things make no sense whatsoever, and people who champion this series turn a completely blind eye to those things.
Fans of this show need to get a grip.
Also, there’s more information on the series’ web site than there is on a the show. If you really want to understand the seires, the timeline of events, the character’s name and relationships to each other — in any meaningful way — you have to do more than watch the show. That’s fucking bullshit, sorry.
For example, in 1972 humans colonize mars and begin a civilization there. They found the Vers empire when they find the Aldnoah technology. Ok, so what’s wrong with that? First, are you telling me that the governments of the planet Earth would allow that to ever happen? You’re telling me, that they wouldn’t’ keep a firm grip over the happenings on the most important event in Human history?
Also why, when the Vers empire was created, did the people in the empire begin wearing clothing from the late 19th century. I’ve looked up thousands real life photos to compare the costume design. Seriously, it’s because the people who wrote the story and designed the world thought it would be cool, no other reason.
Count Claudius from Mars. We’re gonna’ go back in time!
Anyway, several years before the series begins, the “new” humans on Mars and the “old” humans on Earth duke it out. Only, they really don’t. What’s important to know is that the moon explodes in an catastrophic event. There’s a cease fire, but the Vers empire continue to orbit the Earth in their landing castles.
As the series opens, we follow Princess Asseylum of the Vers, descend to Earth for a peace conference. However, not all the Martians want peace, and a bad-element uses the Princess to start the war back up, with maximum escalation in mind. Ok, now comes the fun part.
We’re introduced to Inaho and his high school friends. When things begin to go bad, this group of high school students become the masters of the universe. All the adults, I’m thinking people over the age of 18, are almost entirely useless. But if you’re under the age of 18, and wear a school uniform, you can do anything. The sky isn’t even the limit.
Vers in the satellite belt biding their time.
The Vers political stuff continues, and towards the second half of the series, the plot starts to pick up. Prior to that, the show is episodic with its Vers villain-of-the-week-type-format. That’s really it. The main group of Earthlings fight to survive, while certain characters are involved in the larger plots and attempt to establish peace.
So, what’s my problem with that. Well, I could literally go from episode to episode and explain all the plain stupid, entirely convenient and obviously illogical things that take place on this show. From the combat, to how the characters act (and react), to — fuck — everything! I probably should spoil it, but I wont.
Ok, I’ll spoil one minor fight scene, without specifics. So the bad guy comes down to fight the good guys, right? Ok, the villain, in his ship, lands (dropping from plane), on an aircraft carrier, that’s in the middle of the ocean. Hes defeated when he’s pulled over the edge and his shit explodes underwater. There’s two connected reasons why this happened, and those reasons cross paths over the course of the series.
Complete and Utter incompetence.
First, the Vers are the most idiotic, bungling, incompetent people in the history of mankind. Secondly, Inaho, un-emoting high school student and main character, is the most intelligent being in the multiverse, ever X infinity all time greatest boy you could possibly imagineforever.
Basically the villains are so inept at doing anything. They’re the worst sort of antagonists in any fiction created anywhere in the world. In the European clothing, they're continually prone to make rash decisions, think they’re superior even though they’re living in the past and generally be idiotic hot-headed characters.
Have you ever seen Death Note? Remember the struggle between an absolute mastermind and his adversary who with some supernatural assistance barely just gets the better of him?Aldnoah.Zero manages an 180 degree turn from that.
Besides the story, which is all I care about, the show is ok at times, and awful at others. The characters are poorly drawn and remind me of the potato-headed children in Skyrim. I don’t know why, I haven’t played that in a long time. The animation is slightly better, but I will say this — which may be important to some of you — the robot suits, the landing castles and all the “cool little boy action figure stuff,” actually looks pretty good.
I should defend that statement above. I have no problems with little boys, that’s not to say that I particularly like little boys, but you know what I mean. I mentioned this in an earlier review, but I have a friend who grew up with Gundam and other mecha anime. Through some conversation I learned quite a bit. But when he compared Aldnoah.Zero to Knights of Sidonia– well — I killed him.
No, I’m a non-violent person. But, we debated that point. Yes the main character on Sidonia is a young boy, but there’s a reason why he’s a genius pilot. An awesome reason at that. There’s no reason why the young male main character on A.Z is a genius or can pilot a mech with hair trigger precision. The likely reason can only be this — that boys his age are the series’ target demographic. It’s true and you know it; this show is targeted at 15 year old boys. If you’re older than 15 you should be ashamed of yourself. If you’re under 15, grats for being so mature. Don’t get cocky.
I’m off track and I apologize for that. So, the show is ok looking overall. And if all the above appeals to you (weird, but ok), the stuff that matters looks good, and feels good to watch. I should mention the several full-body female piloting shots and nude showering scene as noteworthy as well. It was completely exploitative, even to a 39 year-old who still loves ass, titties and occasional, but copious amounts of fan service.
I don’t know what my point is here, but I know that Aldnoah.Zero doesn’t have fan service. It’s a serious show, for serious boys. The fun factor of the show is almost nil. It takes itself entirely too seriously, but has no problem showing crotch shots of the character who wears cut off shorts. I guess the following scene happened, so I could be wrong.
Cruhteo inserts pistol. Slaine takes it all.
I’m putting my kid-gloves on for my A.Z rating. Mostly because I realize that as a fan of the genre, you may have inherently gotten more out of this series than I have. Although, I’ve continually tried to imagine what that “more” is, to no avail. If there’s any deep messages, hidden meanings, or perhaps something I just don’t get feel free to explain the show’s mass appeal.
As it stands, for the illogical setting that the creators built, along with the most convenient shitty ass story telling I’ve seen in years, and with its weekly predictability, I’m givingAldnoah.Zero a 2 out of 5.
You’re probably asking, “why did you rate it so high?” That’s an excellent question and the only excuse I could make would be that it was because of my friend, who enjoys this kind of shit. He was completely sincere when telling me that he enjoys seeing kids suit up and pilot these mechs and fight enemies. The same kind of sincerity exhibited by innocent empty-headed newborn babies.
That seems to have left me with two final thoughts. Well, three. First, I don’t like babies. Next, even though I don’t like babies, it’s not their fault that their brains aren’t as developed as adults. Lastly, and why this received a 2 instead of a 1, if your brain isn’t as developed as others and you make poopy time in your little boy pants, you may like this show. So here, have the 1 extra.
Thanks for reading my A.Z recaps you one guy from Duluth!
EDIT: With the airing of the first couple of episodes of the second season, I have changed the score of the conclusion due to it being a bullshit troll that is completely ridiculous and that symbolises everything that is wrong with Urobutchers writing. Your welcome.
It is I, Crimson, and I welcome you back to my small corner of internet where I review things!
I'm now in the process of plowing through the various titles of Summer now that I've gotten "Hitman Reborn" finished, so first on the list is this one, "Aldnoah.Zero"
"Aldnoah.Zero" (referred to as "AZ" from this point onwards), is an original Mecha Anime TV series created by A-1 Pictures and created by Gen Urobuchi, who is commonly referred to as "Urobutcher" by the community due to his "shocking" and "over the top" plot twists.
A part of this years batch of Summer titles, "AZ" was among the ones that garnered the highest amount of hype, with a lot of people being drawn to it due to the big names headlining the production. During the airing, and afterwards, the Anime has gained a lot of praise for "deconstructing" the Mecha Genre, and having characters that bring a "breath of fresh air" to the genre, along with its climatic ending. This popularity has also generated demand for a second season, which is due to air in January next year.
But how is "Aldnoah.Zero"? Is it worthy of the hype and praise? Let's take a look...
"AZ" starts off with a half decent premise that is enough to entice the viewer to watch the show. In 1972, an ancient alien artifact known as a "Hypergate" was found on the Moon by mankind. With this new technology found, Earthlings began to use the Hypergate to migrate over to the planet Mars, and colonise it. Shortly after this, those who became natives of Mars discovered ancient technology that was far more advanced than that of Earth, and formed the Vers Empire, who then took the planet Mars and its power and technology for themselves.
After these events transpired, the Vers Empire declared war on Earth, what was once their home, and in 1999, after a battle on the moon, the Hypergate exploded, shattering the moon, with the debris scattering onto the planet and creating a belt around the Earth.
Now cut off from Mars, the various remnants of the Vers Empire created space stations within the belts, and a ceasefire was established ending the war.
The story takes place 15 years after this incident, in 2014, where the princess of the Vers Empire comes to Earth to establish peace between the Martians and the Terrans (Earthlings). However, she is attacked by an armed group, who are actually working for the Vers Empire, and with her death, the Vers Empire launches an attack on Earth for revenge.
However, the princess is still alive, and she now knows of the conspiracy set up by her own men to have an excuse to conquer Earth once and for all. Princess Asseylum, along with the Terran High School Student Inaho Kaizuka and his friends, join the Terran military forces, in order to combat the Vers Empire, and inform the King of his daughters wellbeing, and end the war and treason once and for all.
The premise is fairly unique for the genre, and the amount of backstory surrounding it is, indeed, rather impressive. The idea of Mars and Earth battling each other in ta historical war is very well written and well thought out, and I liked it a lot.
However, aside from this, there isn't a whole lot of uniqueness to it all. The series tries to lead the viewer into believing that it is the most unique premise conceived of the genre, but in reality, a lot of its elements have been done multiple times by countless shows of the same demographic, and there are still many elements that still exist that make it feel like every other Mecha title ever created.
We have teenagers piloting giant robots, we have a female with supernatural abilities, we have a main character with emotional issues, we have every female being an object with bouncing boobs, we have two opposing factions... It's all been done before. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not really a good thing either.
Up and down plot:
With regards to the actual plot "AZ" is rather hit or miss. Sometimes it's very good, and other times it's not so great.
The plots strength lies in the fact that it doesn't really focus a lot on over complicated mecha terminology that most mecha shows do, and this is a good thing, as it takes away a lot of pointless bullshit that most people don't give a shit about. The story itself can be very entertaining sometimes, but mostly only during the action scenes, where there are a lot of cool fights, with a lot of tactics and planning thrown behind them to make them rather unique for the genre.
However, there are also a lot of bad points, with the main one being that there really isn't a whole lot going on at all. I mean really, the plot doesn't particularly have much happening, aside from a few dialogue scenes and mecha fights. I never really felt particularly engaged as much as I wanted to be, or should have been, because there's just not much to the story other than "There is a war! We must stop this war!"
The story is fun, and the fight scenes are cool, but there's really not a whole lot of depth or actual things going on.
Middle Ground Pacing:
The pacing for "AZ" is okay for the most part. The series is only 12 episodes in length, meaning it can easily be powered through in a day (like I did). Every episode is important to the storyline, and something major happens each time. However, the pacing, at times, can feel rather episodic, with a new villain of the week showing up each time. This eventually ceases after the first half, but I couldn't help but notice it and get some what annoyed.
Other than this however, the pacing is very good, with little complaints from me.
Dramatic, but expected, Conclusion (EDIT: which is actually bullshit)
One thing that the fans of this series continously went on and on and on about was the "unexpected", "dramatic" and "HOLY SHITTTTTTT" ending of the series.
The ending attempts to be dramatic and unexpected, but fails spectacularly. This is an Urobutcher show, and as such, despite being dramatic and emotional, this ending was pretty much expected, and wasn't surprising for me in the slightest. Urobutcher ends every single one of his shows in the exact same way, meaning, if you know a show is done by him, you can almost guarantee a grimdark, over the top and dramatic ending that is "OHMAGADDDDDD" if you're a casual.
Urobutcher really needs to try new shit, because despite this ending being good, it was unoriginal and predictable. I wasn't impressed by "Madoka Magica" and I wasn't impressed this time either. The gimmick is getting old now.
On top of predictability issues, what really pissed me off with the ending to this show, is the fact that it had so much fucking potential. With a second season looming, there were so many questions floating around in my head, and so many potential directions for the plot to take. However, all of these questions and potential directions, are completely null and void now, because, after the airing of the first episode of the next season, it turns out that this ending was nothing more than a staged piece of shit. The ending is a troll. It is null. It does not matter. Nothing has changed. What was the fucking point in this ending, if none of the events are remotely significant? What's even worse about this, is when it did happen, I fucking knew this was going to happen! I predicted that this would happen, and I was right! Screw you Urobutcher!
So all in all, the story is far from perfect, but it's decent enough to give the show a watch and keep you interested.
The main characters were one of the elements of "AZ" that recevied a lot of praise from critics and fans alike. Sadly, I disagree, and here's why:
Inaho Kaizuka: Inaho is the main protagonist of the series, and is a Terran high school student. Along with his friends, he is thrust into the war against Mars. As a character Inaho has very little emotion, he's on of the stoic types who doesn't talk much or appear to feel much. However, beneath this exterior, he is shown to be very intelligent, and a progidy in military warfare.
The shining part of his character is this intelligence, as it shows a lot in the battles he fights. Like Lelouch in "Code Geass", he is a tactical genius, who calculates every possibility to help achieve victory. This is very fun to watch and is the cornerstone of his character.
Sadly, aside from this, Inaho is a very uninteresting character. He feels next to nothing about anything, and doesn't really seem to give a shit about what is going on, or winning or losing. His smarts eventually get boring too, due to the fact that he is overpowered, and is the only one capable of doing anything right, meaning that he is always going to win. He never gets defeated, making him very boring and one-dimensional.
He also doesn't develop much as a character, until the final scene, which I call bullshit on. Fuck you Urobutcher!
Slaine Troyard: Slaine is a Terran who was sent to Mars years before the series began, and childhood friend of the Princess. He is very devoted to the Princess, and serves as a some what rival to Inaho.
Slaine is a much more interesting character, due to his conflicting emotions. He does not know who is in the right, and is constantly battling to decide whether to fight for Mars or Earth, which is key to the ending of the series. He also has deep feelings for the Princess, which are his drive and motivation.
As a character, he is probably the most interesting of the cast, but he still doesn't develop too well, serving as simply a plot device to reach the shows overall goal: the ending. However, he will be getting far more screen time in the second season, which should be very interesting.
In regards to secondary characters, most of them, aside from Princess Asseylum and Rayet are entirely forgettable, uninteresting and serve little purpose in being there. I really can't remember any of their names, nor do I care to, and I can't even recall what any of them did for the story aside from that one old guy in the military with the traumatic flashbacks... What was his name again? He was important? I think?
The villains themselves are more memorable and have clear goals, but they suffer from the "Akame Ga Kill!" syndrome where every single one of them are one dimensional cardboard villains, that are swimming in black morality, without even a droplet of reasoning or logic found within them. I like villains who aren't just evil "because" and I didn't get that with this show.
In summary, the characters aren't that great. They're not the worst in the world, but they're all either plot devices or have no need to be there. Screw you Urobutcher! It's his fault!
Art and Animation:
"Aldnoah.Zero" was animated by A-1 Pictures who are well known for having high production values and worked on various high budget shows such as "Sword Art Online" and "Magi". With this in mind, how did they do?
Well, they did great. The general art is very nice to look at, and is beautiful, vibrant and detailed to all hell. The universe is very well constructed and conveyed through the art style. The character designs are also very detailed, and they stand out from one another, especially Slaine, whos design is in a class of its own. He looks very unique and nice.
The animation is also very good, with most things moving fluently and beautifully, everything flowing together nicely. It's clear that a lot of effort and money was put into it. However, the Mecha themselves are made using CGI, and as such look quite bad sometimes, and the CGI animation is very staticy and nowhere near as fluent as it would have been had it be done in 2D.
3D CGI ruins Animation, and I wish they'd stop doing it. Other than this though, it looks lovely.
"Aldnoah.Zero" does very well in the sound department.
The music is very well done, and really conveys the events that are going on-screen well, with most of the pieces being epic and of good quality. There is a particular recurring piece of theme music that plays during the battle scenes that I really enjoyed, and it pumped me up for said scenes.
The series has one Opening Theme, "heavenly blue" by Kalafina, and it is beautiful and epic as hell.
There is also two Ending Themes. The first is "A/Z" by Hiroyuki Sawano Mizuki and the second is "aLIEz" by Hiroyuki Sawano and Mizuki. Both are great pieces of music, with the second being better.
The accompanying opening and ending videos are also excellent.
The voice acting is also very good, with only one or two characters being irritating. I'm not a fan of Inaho's voice, since he portrays no emotion, further ruining the character however.
The sound effects are perfect. They're well produced, unique and bring the world to life. Lovely.
So how is "Aldnoah.Zero"? Well, it's an okay series, and a good time-waster, but it's nothing special, nor is it worthy of the hype that surrounded it during the course of its run.
It's an alright Anime, and I enjoyed it at some parts, but it was ruined by that hack Urobutcher, and fucking Inaho and as such, it wasn't as good as it could have been.
It tried too hard to deconstruct a genre which has already been deconstructed by Neon Genesis years ago.
But hey, it's not like it's the worst thing ever conceived in the Anime medium, that would be "Free! Eternal Summer".
If you need a new show to sink your time into though, give it a go. I also recommend this to all Mecha lovers as well, as they will enjoy it.
Will I watch the second season next year in January? Definitely, but I question how they'll be able to make one, as the ending felt rather final.
And now, it's scoring time:
Premise 2/3 - Interesting enough to suck you in with lots of backstory to it, but not the most unique.
General Plot 1/2 - Fun to watch with some interesting fight scenes and character interactions, but there's not a whole lot going on otherwise.
Pacing 2/3 - Something happens in every episode, and the count isn't too daunting, however, it can be a little slow in some areas.
Conclusion 0/2 - A very epic and dramatic conclusion, until you realise it is nothing but a troll that is complete bullshit.
Artwork 3/3 - Everything is very colourful and detailed, with the world and its feel being conveyed very well.
Character Designs 3/3 - The character designs are all beautifully drawn, with each of them looking unique and detailed. Can't fault them.
Animation 3/4 - Smooth and fluid, with everything moving beautifully most of the time. Unfortunately the Mecha's are animated in CGI, which creates some very choppy looking 3D scenes, and too many of them.
Personality 1/3 - Inaho is fun to watch, but otherwise, is difficult to care about. Most secondary characters are also forgettable, with only Slaine, the Princess and Rayet being memorable or interesting.
Development 1/3 - Pretty much no one but Slaine and the Princess develop.
Uniqueness 2/4 - Inaho is a textbook cliche from top to bottom. However, Slaine is fairly unique and is enough so that this gets a higher score than 1.
Voice Acting 3/4 - Most of the voices are well casted, and of good quality, however one or two of them are a little annoying.
Music 4/4 - The music is epic, memorable and well done. Opening themes and ending themes are also great.
Sound Effects 2/2 - The sound effects are nice and sound great with lots of variety.
It's okay... Watch it if you feel it's necessary.
But hey, I thought "Katekyo Hitman Reborn" was an underrated Shounen that was better than most popular shows, so my opinion probably doesn't matter to you people.