Spoiler Warning: I tried not to write anything too spoilery but I may have failed (especially towards the end of this), sorry! (๑•́ㅿ•̀๑)
After so long I can finally say that I’ve finished watching Aldnoah Zero, but seriously, this series broke my heart!
So I’m not really a fan of space and robot fights (because I can’t follow what’s going on half the time) but A/Z just blew me away. I am so glad and so mad that I watched this that I’m crying tears of blood right now
A/Z is a story about two different races, Martians/Vers Empire (Mars) and Terrans (Earth) who are attempting to create peace, however, those efforts are thwarted when a group of hostile Martians plan the Martian Princess’s death on her debut on Earth. Using her ‘successful assassination’ as an excuse to invade Earth, both Martians and Terrans are dragged into a war for about 2 years.
Our main cast include a super emotionless but tactical high school genius (Inaho), a sheltered Martian princess who wishes for world peace (Asseylum), and a Martian raised Terran boy who wishes for nothing but his princess’s happiness (Slaine).
When I first watched this I had been totally expecting some badass fighting with Inaho and Slaine as friends (you know, since they care for the same person and all). I especially thought this was going to happen while watching episode 7, when they both team up to beat a Martian Kataphrakt (giant robot machines). Of course, this creator all but laughed in my face and did the complete opposite (because we get battles with Inaho and Slaine as enemies!)
Throughout the series we have really great art and animation. I don’t think I had a problem with anything, the fight scenes were exciting not only because of the animation but because of the thought behind them (I will say that the fights are better in s2). We have both Martians and Terrans wielding Kataphrakts, however, with advance technology (Aldnoah I believe) Martian kataphrakts are stories bigger and have special abilities such as invisibility and cloaking. Being at an obvious disadvantage, humans must use wit to defeat their opponents.
This here picture is an example of one of the designs of a Martian Kataphrakts, the Dioscuria which is piloted by Count Saazbaum, an Orbital Knight (an organization made up of elite Martians that are only one step below the Royal Family). Some of its capabilities include stealth, dimensional barrier that absorbs all energy, and the ability to split into 3 mechas (pretty intimidating, no? Well, never fear, Inaho is here! or Slaine, haha).
The music was also a plus! I didn’t particularly like the opening for the first season but I did enjoy the second opening a lot. I have a habit of always skipping the opening and endings of anime series but this time I actually didn’t skip the opening. There’s also another piece during fighting scenes that I totally adored called Keep on Keeping On which was composed by Hiroyuki Sawano (also composed for Attack on Titan, Seraph of the End, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Guilty Crown, etc).
It looks like the previous link I had wasn’t working anymore so here’s a new video but careful, some spoilers! Also, this is the full male version of the song
I’d also put up a video for the song Keep on Keeping On but if I do then you’d be watching the last episode of the series so I won’t. Instead I’ll leave a link here, I believe the subtitles are in Italian? As for ending songs, I also preferred the second season’s ending than I did the first (though it’s still pleasant to listen to). You can listen to the second’s amazingness here, it’s called Genesis and is by Eir Aoi.
Random: There’s something about this song that reminds me of another one but I can’t place my finger on it…Also, I’ll stop with the OST because the more I look, the more I love, haha. Just know that I’m regretting not buying the CD at AX this year
Season 1 for me was strangely alright but also lacking in many parts. We get to meet Inaho, who is surprisingly a good fighter, being leagues apart from his comrades because he’s super smart. You can always tell who he is on the battlefield because unlike his comrades, Inaho uses an orange Kataphrakt that his school used for training (hence his nickname Orange). We can usually count on him being rational (because seriously, episode 7), and I just adore his emotionless face (even though that’s also a minus). We can tell he cares for certain characters, such as his sister (getting mad at her when she does something rash, smiling with her), his friends (he’s fighting for them), and as much as it pains me to say it Asseylum (especially that last episode of season 1, how he’s just crawling to her body).
However, even though I’m saying all of this I also can’t help but feel there’s something lacking about his character. I mean, what can’t he do? It’s especially sad to see how he’s mostly gone for the second season and we only get to see him if there’s some kind of fight going on (mastermind). His eye though, that was amazing.
I’ll also admit he was funny at times.
There’s also Asseylum, the Martian princess (I’ll add her here because she’s a main character). I have a love-hate relationship with Asseylum for a couple reasons. One, I really like how she loves Earth and is on the side of peace among Martians and Terrans. There are parts where she does what she has to (like when she helps fight off the enemy, bam bam! and trying to shut down the Aldnoah in the Vers Landing Castle) and others where I’m just like, what are you doing?! She immediately forgives Rayet after she’s resuscitated, her naivety towards the way war works (especially considering she becomes Empress), the way she forgets about Slaine as soon as she’s on Earth (no worries?), how she believes just her position may help restore order (not realizing something bigger is happening), etc.
Random: that dress she wears is crazy. How can she wear that when a war is happening?! Haha
I’ve got a feeling that she likes Inaho (or just has a preference for him) and he might even reciprocate those feelings? I can’t be sure since the romance in A/Z is never developed. However, if they do like each other than it’s rather sad that they had to part ways (her getting married and all).
And speaking of characters, there was also Lt. Marito, who I viciously despised in the first season. Having been a part of the war 5 years prior with the Martians, Marito is currently coping with PTSD, a.k.a. he’s useless as soon as he gets into a Kataphrakt. However, he’s not annoying to me just because of that. What really gets me is that he’ll talk really big (like he knows things) and then be a complete wimp as soon as he tries to be the hero. Honestly, he’s more of a hindrance. Of course, in the second season he’s mostly cured of his fears, being able to operate and go out in the battlefield, so there’s some kind of redemption there.
There were also many other characters I felt could have been better developed, such as Inaho’s friends Inko, Calm, Nina, and Rayet (I’m sure there are others but they don’t really show up so I won’t mention them). Out of these four, Nina and Calm fade into the background, only appearing every now and then (Calm being a mechanic and Nina part of the flying crew). The two others, Inko and Rayet, have more screen time but I couldn’t create any emotional attachment towards them.
Rayet is obviously the Terran raised Martian who hates all Martians because they killed her father. Throughout the series that’s all we really get. She’s antisocial and even tried to kill the princess (almost succeeded too). Then there’s Inko, who obviously has a crush on Inaho and who tries (and miserably fails) to get him off the battlefield. She’s actually a pretty decent pilot but that’s as far as her development goes.
Inaho’s sister is also rather annoying, for similar reasons. She tries to get Inaho off the battlefield and all I can think is, you guys are still alive because of him, you’re going to doom us all if he leaves! But I give her some leeway because Inaho is her brother and she’s obviously worried. Of course, other than being the impulsive older sister who is always worried about her brother, we don’t really get further development. Sometimes I wonder how she’s still alive and then I remember that it’s because Inaho takes care of things before it gets too bad.
Then there’re the Vers Empire characters, which I won’t talk too much about since they don’t stay for long. The only lasting characters seemed to be Count Cruhteo and Count Saazbaum (s1), and I ‘like’ them (as bad guys) for the most part. Like the previous characters, all we really get from the Martian characters is that they like to kill and are using the war for this reason (with very few exceptions).
However, there is one I will talk about – Slaine, the Martian raised Terran.
In the first season I was just on the edge of my bed, wondering when Slaine would become a badass since he was a main character. Of course, I was disappointed when he didn’t. In season 1 we really only see him running around all over the place, trying to find the Princess. When fighting, I wouldn’t say he’s good and if it weren’t for Inaho in episode 7, Slaine would have died. He usually acts on his emotions and that leads to my disappointment (since his feelings are largely jealousy).
But then season 2 happened and I was just like, will his badassery happen here?
Now I wouldn’t say I was completely disappointed here, because there was some nice stuff going on. In fact, I liked season 2 better even though it was the hardest to watch. My attachment to Slaine was just too much: learning about his past, how he is treated because he’s human, and seeing everything go wrong for him…But yes, season 2 was mostly focused on Slaine and his rise and fall in power.
It was an interesting twist we got but it was also something that fell short. He’s easily defeated when the Princess wakes up and in the end he lets his feelings of jealousy come through when he was doing so well! Still, I can see why the Stygis Squad came back to fight for him at the end of the series.
One thing I’m asking myself is why did all of this happen? I mean, there was so much fighting, loss of life, and in the end things just become peaceful like it was intended to from the start. It might just be me but I can’t seem to figure out the point of this series…
Why did it take the princess so long to do something? Where did the new Count Cruhteo come from and why now? I believe Cruhteo died in season 1 and this guy shows up 19 months later…What made him take Asseylum? Was there suspicion about Slaine on his part? Was that really all Count Mazuurek was good for? I was really hoping he’d be more involved since Inaho sent him to infiltrate and protect the princess. Oh and the princess, was that locket all she needed to remember?
Will Martians and Terrans finally be able to live peacefully together? That ending just looked so nice and peaceful but why was this peace possible now and not before? Does Asseylum becoming Empress and marrying Cruhteo mean she’s more respected now? Nobody wants to kill her anymore? Did all the anti-Terrans die during the war? Does her being Empress mean that the old guy died? It just seemed like he was crazy to me.
Why is Slaine ‘dead?’ Is everyone (especially Asseylum) fine with this? I mean she did ask Inaho to save Slaine but was this what she meant? Are his sympathizers dead? I mean, we saw them attack the Deucalion but does that mean they’re gone? Was Slaine the only one ‘sparred?’ I almost wish Slaine had died because living in a prison for his whole life (I assume since people are being told he’s dead) is really sad.
Why does Slaine smile at the end? (I think this is what got me the most, especially since I kind of get why he does, I just don’t like it)
Why did nobody die?! Ok, this is one point that I’d really like to emphasize. We get Asseylum almost dying three times only to find out that no, she’s not dead and she’s not going to die. Nobody except random soldiers end up dead on the human side of the war and only these elite, bloodthirsty soldiers on the Martian end die. I think it would have been more exciting to have someone important die, just saying.
There’re just too many questions I have…and so many things that I think could have been different.
And because of all of this I would give the series a 6.5/7 out of 10. It’s not an amazing series and it left me with too many questions by the end of it. Too many complaints and tears, haha. It is slightly above average but only because it looks so nice, has good music, and because it had an interesting idea. Unfortunately, the lack of development in almost all places is what killed it for me.
I did enjoy watching it though, except for season 2 where I knew what was going to happen and I didn’t want to see it happen…(but that’s just me being a weirdo, haha)