Yes, let me get to reviewing Aldnoah.ZERO, perhaps one of the most popular series of last season. Except that its popularity is highly overrated to the point where its plot has been reduced to abused NTR memes.
As for the plot, I enjoyed the first half (season 1), where it was all about the human race trying to survive an invasion from fellow humans from Mars. I then realized that the entire plot was similar to the Emancipation Victory route from Civilization Beyond Earth. The first half uses unconventional plot twists, timed perfectly, to create a plot that is not only engaging, but also a roller coaster of emotions. Just when you thought the Earthlings were going to win, BOOM, shit hits the fan. The ending of Season 1 was also an emotional thriller. You wouldn’t expect Asseylum and Inaho to die at the hands of Slaine!
But it was the second half that really took the series downhill. Slaine, now forever known as a shooter with poorer accuracy than a Star Wars Stormtrooper, has embarked on a campaign to wage war against Earth because he was heartbroken. Inaho suddenly comes back from the dead. Apparently, headshots are not that lethal. Princess Asseylum is also back… after spending almost half of season 2 in a coma. Now, the main cause Season 2 sucked balls was of the abuse of plot twists. See, Aldnoah.ZERO is exactly an example of how too much plot twists DOES NOT work in an anime’s favor; it instead raises the amount of “WTF just happened” reactions from the audience. The most unfathomable plot twist of the entire series, Asseylum suddenly marrying Count Crotch-kain, who only appears out of nowhere in the last two episodes. What. The. Fuck.
Seriously, I would have given this anime some credit if it ended in Season 1, leaving Inaho and Asseylum dead, and Slaine leading the remainder of the Earth invasion campaign. Now that’s how it should have ended.
Aldnoah.ZERO features a large cast. From the Earth army to the Martian Orbital Knights, Aldnoah boasts a large, unique roster of characters. Sadly, these characters were not developed enough. Most of the spotlight goes to Asseylum, Inaho, and Slaine. The other characters either serve as cannon fodder or rejected romance interests.
Inaho himself is an overpowered god character capable of appearing out of noweher and pulling off impossible Cataphract maneuvers, like shooting with precision from orbit and detecting holes in a dimensional barrier. It’s like the other crew members of the Deucalion and his sister have nothing to do but get shot at and praying Inaho comes to their rescue like Jesus riding a velociraptor wielding a minigun into battle. Inaho is, in fact, a Space Jesus in a Cataphract.
Slaine is supposed to be like what Jon Snow in Game of Thrones is. An unwanted plebeian with no place in the Vers monarchy, suddenly rising to power and leading the charge against Earth. He’s the typical underdog protagonist nobody likes. And to be frank, I only like him because of his courage to face the monarchy and execute daring plans to rise through the ranks of Vers nobles, until finally meeting his downfall. He wanted to be the hero, now he’s the villain. This series should be renamed Game of Slaine.
Asseylum is your typical princess character. She has guys fighting over her, a key ability vital to the plot (the Aldnoah activation kiss), and a knack for being in situations she shouldn’t be in. Anyway, I don’t care about Asseylum because she only served as RPG fodder in the first episode and then spent the entire second season in a coma.
Simply put, these three characters are a bland mix. Inaho himself is pretty bland and just like Spock. Asseylum is the idealist who can’t do shit. Slaine just wants attention.
Now, aside from these three characters, there are a bunch of secondary characters that do not deserve enough screen time. There’s Lieutenant Marito with the drinking problem and PTSD. I would have enjoyed some character development between Marito and Magbaredge, the captain of the Deucalion. I would also enjoyed some background story on the Orbital Knights. Perhaps it would have made me care more for them when they get blown up by a Deus-Ex-Inaho.
Too many characters, too little spotlight.
I’m a big fan of Hiroyuki Sawano’s epic BGM and frankly, Sawano’s the only reason I managed to stay till the end. Sawano’s music gives me chills and is timed perfectly with a lot of the moments in the anime. When the vocals hit, you know something epic is happening.
As for the OP and the ED, I liked the first half. Not the second half. Heavenly Blue by Kalafina is plain awesome (it’s on my daily playlist) and ALieZ gives me the chills.
Aldnoah’s visuals are stunning. The robots are detailed perfectly, and I really liked the designs of the Martian mechas and their abilities. Mecha fights are smooth and just awesome.
I had a lot of hope for Aldnoah, but it failed me. Too many plot twists causes confusion, the second half somehow feels forced, you can’t actually feel the tense conflict between the main characters, and the mains also outshine the secondary characters. But if you like mecha and Sawano’s music, give Aldnoah a try.