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ThatAnimeSnob

  • Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Joined Dec 22, 2011
  • 42 / M

Aldnoah.Zero

Aug 16, 2014

Notice: This review covers both seasons.

The hype surrounding this show before it began airing was insane, 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 any of that, since I am watching a show for the actual show, not for if my favorite pop idol is voice acting. Also, the whole thing looked so dull in the promotional videos, like none of the characters was giving a damn. And turns out I was right, as I always am, 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. It doesn’t have a drop of humanity in it, and is all about treating people as robots and themes as a canvas for ilogical stuff to happen, just because they sound cool. And boy did it work, since your average anime fan was building temples in the name of this show, for the moment he sees big explotions and big names in the production team he loses his shit and writes fifty pages of pretentious overthinking essays.

All of which are for naught, since other than fancy visuals there is zero effort placed in the making of this series. 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. Which of course is unjustified since they have the same genes, and only use different technology. This is why the “space Nazi” excuse we see in other shows like Gundam or Space Battleship Yamato, does not count here. The Aldnoah thingy, which gives them control over super technology, is not gene-related. It can be given to anyone with a simple kiss. So this whole fuss they made about many of the Martians being in orbital stations around Earth for 20 years, with the claim “They were stranded away from their homeland on Mars” is pure bullshit. Nobody thought about telling these people how most of their first degree relatives are on the planet below them? Not all of them are on Mars and they 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 going on in it which obliterates all forms of characterization, since all you will be noticing is people dying ten seconds after you meet them. 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 Gundam shows weren’t full of genocides and multiple character deaths, but they were never focused that much on such things. Aldnoah on the other hand is all about being 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 factor since the music makes the whole thing feel cool, and is not tragic or sad. 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”.

Too bad that what you actually get is cartoony evil space people who exterminate billions of innocent civilians because they see them as insects. So mature indeed. I guess none of the tens of thousands who were hyping this bullshit knew that 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 fuss. They kill their own people and blame it on the earth people as an excuse to kill them all. Such lovely characters; very easy to identify and cheer for.

And despite all that superiority and malice, they are still manipulated like total tools, falling for the weakest propaganda tricks imaginable. Such as starting a war to avenge the death of their princess. But then they see the princess is alive and well. And yet they keep fighting, this time to avenge Earth because ONE OF THE MARTIANS tried to kill her. And even when they fight for that reason, she is not even the real princess, she is an imposter. They will believe anything, no matter how dumb it is, which makes them too pathetic to care about.

There are a few cases when some of them try to question if what they are doing is right, which is a genuine opportunity to become actual people instead of drones, but in just five minutes they either get assassinated or get 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 yet 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 them, other than being the victims of an evil plot. The show never focuses much on them, and they have no brains to make the audience like them for not being tools as well. Despite all young people of Earth having received military training, 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 the exact same strategy in every single episode, which leads to their predictable, unworthy deaths.

But it’s ok, since they are dying for the sake of making the hero of the story to look cool. He is more capable than all combined military forces of Earth, because 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 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. Which by the way is the only excuse they have for calling themselves superior, because their intelligence or durability sure aren’t. 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 city-leveling 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 to win, and they are equally simple stuff only he amongst all of humanity can 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 they keep trying to fool you into thinking 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. You can thank Urobucher for making you such a humane and believable character.

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, conveniently surviving an assassination, conveniently meeting Inaho the Smirkless, and conveniently giving him super technology when she accidentally passes near a hidden base. Did you notice how she didn’t do any of that because of her personality or goals? Nope, they happened because they serve the plot. She is also a fine example of what happens when a story is depending solely on shock factor, instead of good writing. They make it seem like she gets killed a dozen times throughout the story as means to shock the audience. And then, pop, she appears alive and well 10 minutes later. It’s bad enough if you use such a lazy plot twist once. It’s beyond comprehention when you use it a dozen times in a row.

There is also Slaine, 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 douchy 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. Notice that he didn’t chose to do it, it was forced upon him by the plot. He then proceeds to go help the good guys, after magically finding them because the plot said so, and after conveniently saving them in the last second, he is then shot down by Inaho the Zero Fuck Giver, and abandoned on the spot because his role in the plot is over for now.

The same things apply for the rest of the characters, being plot devices with no humanity in them, doing staged events, just so the story can happen in any way the writer wanted. This is why 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. This is why 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. This is why you have Slaine, who exists to be kicked around repeatedly by everybody for the sake of drama, doing out of character things in the mid-season finale, which leads to the death of the princess (for yet another time).

Lovely script there urobucherfags, your god is never doing something wrong. Oh but wait, he only wrote the first 3 episodes; the rest were written by the guy who made Boku no Pico. This is clearly not a good story. Yeah, and that is why the anime community made 150 topics about how amazing the mid-season finale was, and how amazing the second season is going to be thanks to these ingenious plot twists.

And it is true that the series was fun for awhile by doing lots of crazy shit, that were very uncommon in typical mecha stories. Like Martian humans, the moon blowing up, cities being incinerated while cool music is playing, and having the hero not being a typical shonen protagonist, but rather a calculating robot who uses his brains in order to defeat powerful robots. The strategies were ridiculous (like a black hole shield that doesn’t absorb air for some reason, 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 infodumping going on during pseudo-scientific explanations, in the form of breaking the fourth wall).

Of course just like it happened with Code Geass, the tactics soon evaporate and the whole thing becomes brainless robot power ups and fan service. 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. 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. Also, what the hell was the assassin doing, was she hiding for five minutes, waiting for the princess to come back to life before she pops out, instead of running away?

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. 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. As I knew all along they weren’t. Inaho 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 did. The princess is now a decoration, sleeping in a pod, while another princess that was asspulled in the story appears to take her place. Slaine 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, which are never explained or resolved. What blew up the moon, what about the origin of the alien technology, what about that guy who had post traumatic stress disorder? Screw them, turns out they were nothing but fillers, since if you strip away the robot of the week battles that are always ending with Inaho the Jesus Figure using an asspull, the actual plot fills only a few episodes.

Down to it, if you want to watch a somewhat well animated mecha show (even if 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. 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 Gundam the Origin 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.

3/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
3/10 characters
5/10 overall

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ReviewBonfire Dec 9, 2021

You probably changed your view alot by then. 

Now you wouldn't even score this 4/10  at all, since it hits everything you dislike 

TheLastAlpha Oct 4, 2019

You are a good conveyor of your exact thoughts through your words. I found your review on Aldnoah very refreshing and enjoyable. It connected with my thoughts too. I too was expecting a big one from A-1 pictures after trying for a new one from that studio as I liked a few of its productions as they have a quirky way of presenting their ideas through an anime (feels like a Bollywood TV serial, lol) but guess I didn't get very satisfied. :(

So, if you can recommend a few great animes that are really enjoyable in each genre (if you don't mind me asking as a fellow anime lover) I would be grateful.

Thanks for your time.

Hope we can talk again here.

KnownError Dec 26, 2015

Why do I get a very faint taste of salt while consuming this review?

DarkSky Nov 12, 2015

Not saying I disagree with your points because you raise some good ones, but there are a few points I don't really find valid.  Other than that I completely agree.  I am incrediably sick of emotionless cardboard protagonists and think you raise some fantastic points about him.

In regards to the Vers people though, I think you are underestimating how easy it is to instill an "us versus them" mentality in people.  The second emperor essentially stole most of Hilter's propaganda tricks.  People suffering and desiring an outlet?  Blame an outside party to bring them together!  Hey, don't feel bad about what we do to them, we are the super technology people (Aryan Race)!  What, we don't have different genes (aren't all blond and blue eyed)? Nonsense!  It's all the Terrans' (Jews') fault and we clearly aren't them, so therefore we're better.  Boom, people whipped into a frenzy and superiority/power complex.  Hitler managed to do it in around two generations so I have no problem believing the second emperor did too.  What annoyed me was how that explaintion got about two minutes of throw away dialogue instead of spending some time actually fleshing out what could have been interesting development.

As for the main character, I can see why the other pilots are useless.  Most soldiers don't have a Masters in Physics and possibly Mechanical Engineering like he clearly does.  Cause boy are the Japanese school systems advanced!  Seriously, for the most part most of the technobabble scans are first glance when dealing with actual physical shit like the when he dumped the mech in the water.  What I find nonsense is that a high schooler has the knowledge that such principles exist much less the know how to work with them, some times on the fly.  Though it IS still dumb that the soldiers just stand there and die, that they should be better trained.  Still not their fault they can't beat the enemy, if they had the education to do so, they wouldn't be soldiers.

Also, what bugged me is that we ALREADY have some decent ideas on how to terraform Mars TODAY, WITH OUR CURRENT LEVEL OF TECHNOLOGY.  They aren't exactly practical or cheap or quick, but we could do it.  What I find bullshit is that they have all this advanced technology and no way to repurpose it to terraforming.  Seriously, we thicken the atmosphere everyday with our cars, that shit isn't hard to do, just slow relatively speaking.  They have advanced tech, they could make this shit happen cheaper if not faster on Mars.  Which leads to why they're on Earth, to steal our resources, which probably costs more resources to steal and transport back than to terraform their own damn planet.  Plus they're an empire, if the population is an issue just do what every other dictatorship (China) in that situation does, PUT IN POPULATION CONTROL.  Still cheaper and easier.

Though I agree, it was rather silly that every time someone in power to stop the war found out the truth, they IMMEDIATELY DIED.  Don't get me wrong, it was rather refreshing to see the Miscommunication Kills trope subverted, but let the people live longer than five minutes or it gets rather boring.  Oh, they found out the truth?  Probably going to die now.  I haven't started the second season so I can't comment on Slate's changes, but your comments are probably rather spot on.

WilhelmAndersson Sep 25, 2014

I love this review! A friend talked me into watching it and I suffered through six episodes before finally dropping it. I really wanted to like it but it was outright impossible. I only regret that I did not read the review before I started watching it, I would then hopefully not have wasted two hours of my life on it.