Hey, how’s it going there? My last post was in… holy shit, it was back in June. Anyway, before I get to reviewing New Game, I think I owe you readers an explanation for my very long absence from the anime world in general. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you might know already. But for those people who don’t even know I have a Facebook page, get over there and like it already.
So, I’ve decided to continue my studies in Singapore. It’s a one-year Master’s degree program, so things are quite jam-packed. I’ve been cooped up with lots of reading and work and to be honest, I just feel so bummed out. Thanks to this workload too, I can’t even keep up with all the new anime that continuously comes out. However, a lot of my friends recommended New Game as an anime that I should watch because Aoba is a good girl reasons. So, since I finally got a well-deserved two-week break, I decided I might as well binge on it. And that I did.
I’ve finished binge watching Grimgar last week, but I needed some time to actually mull over the anime because it left quite an impression on me. You see, I’m a huge fan of MMO-themed anime. When Grimgar came out, I was like “meh, it’s probably another SAO”. But when I finally found a hotspot fast enough to batch-download the entire series (and eventually came to watching it), Grimgar had me glued to the screen and had me thinking a lot about how anime has come to shit these days.
I just watched Gen Urobutcher’s movie, Rakuen Tsuiho: Expelled from Paradise. And let me tell you, there’s A LOT of philosophical themes present in the movie.
But first, let’s get the mundane details out of the way. Graphics: awesome (5/5). Music and soundtrack: surprisingly great (4.5/5). Angela is a twin-tailed loli in a mecha suit; +100 points. There, now with that gone, let’s move into the real shit.
In the future, due to a vague, unexplained macro-disaster, the entire planet Earth now resembles a fusion of the Middle East and Fallout. Those who managed to survive on Earth remain in small pockets of post-apocalyptic civilization, while the more privileged have evolved to become digital humans living in orbit above the Earth in a system known as Deva. These digital humans, living as binary code, have forsaken their meat shells in favor of increased mental acuity and the ability to stretch their mental faculties as far as possible.
The entire story of Rakuen Tsuiho is centered on two protagonists. Angela Balzac, a hot-headed Security agent for Deva, is sent to Earth to investigate Frontier Setter, a mysterious hacker that has disrupted the peace of Deva multiple times. On Earth, she meets Dingo, a cool-headed and chill mercenary. The two then embark on a journey to uncover the mystery of Frontier Setter, a journey that causes Angela to question her existence and unravels the true nature of Deva.
Like most of the stuff Urobutcher makes, Rakuen Tsuiho is not exempt from having multiple philosophical themes stuffed in it. Here, I’ll discuss three of which I’ve found to stand out: the Experience Machine, Plato’s Cave, and meritocracy.
Or also known as the “Pleasure Machine“. It is a thought experiment conceived by philosopher Robert Nozick to test the limits of hedonism. The thought experiment requires you to answer a simple question:
Suppose there is a machine that offers you all the pleasure that you can have and discards all the unpleasures that you might currently have or will experience. Would you go inside it?
See, the basic idea of hedonism is maximizing pleasure, while minimizing unpleasure. Should there be a machine that eliminates all kinds of unpleasure, from physical to spiritual, surely a true hedonist would choose to live within the machine and forsake reality. Why am I bringing this up? Deva, or the platform where digital humans live, is nothing but a simulation of reality. It is not reality in itself, but rather a projection of the ideal environment made up by human desires; in short, it is man-made.
In Rakuen Tsuiho, we see Angela telling Dingo how life is within Deva. She tells Dingo that she has visited a galaxy 10 billion light-years away and has touched subatomic particles. The question is: Did she actually do that stuff, or was it just the experience of her doing it? Perhaps what she thought she had accomplished was merely an experience simulated by Deva’s massive computing powers.
The discrepancy between actually doing something compared to merely experiencing is further shown in Angela’s incapability to adapt to life on Earth. As soon as she arrives in town, she is confronted by three street thugs. Though earlier we see Angela capable of marvelous hand-to-hand combat, she quickly falls victim to sickness because she disregards her corporeal body’s needs of rest and nutrition. Also, though she claims to have experienced degrees of satisfaction in Deva that is unattainable by the human body on Earth, she still relishes in the satisfaction of eating hot porridge while sick.
It’s rather complicated when you think about it, though, but next, we’ll be discussing one of the most profound allegories in Western philosophy.
Ah the most famous allegory in Western philosophy. The entire movie reeks of it. If you’re not familiar with Plato’s allegory…
Suppose that there are several prisoners chained to a wall of a cave. They are not able to move their heads at all and cannot break free of the chains. Their eyes can only see the wall in front of them. Behind them is a light source and a small path where other people carry puppets. The prisoners can only see shadows of the puppets moving around on the wall. They believe the shadows as their “reality”.
This is how life in Deva is. As a supercomputer, the images projected in Deva are just that: images of reality and not reality in itself. No matter how realistic the world of Deva is, it is merely a computer program. Angela, a citizen of Deva from birth, believes that the world she sees in Deva is reality and we see her dumbfounded or “blinded” when landing on Earth and witnessing a new reality she is not accustomed to. She, who would never get sick on Deva, contracted a fever when she landed. She, who did not require sleep, felt the toll of sleep deprivation.
Her expulsion from Deva represents the first steps that every person must take to exit the Cave and learn about reality. As she spends more time with Dingo and Frontier Setter and sees more of Earth, she becomes convinced that the reality inside of Deva is not actually “reality”, rather just a projection of reality. She then becomes enlightened, and tries to come back into the Cave to let her fellow people know. But, she was met with opposition from the High Council and sentenced to imprisonment because the High Council found her to be a lunatic. Later, after being formally expelled from Deva, she chooses to live on Earth with Dingo. She had accepted that Earth was her new reality and has given up on Deva.
Critique of a Hierarchical Society
This theme makes its presence after the halfway mark of the movie. Basically, life in Deva is not as bliss as we were told to believe. The laws of economics still apply to Deva, and Deva is basically a giant supercomputer that, despite its vastness, has limited memory. It is stated that 98 percent of humans are living in Deva in digital form, meaning that the system needs to effectively manage resources.
How does it do that? Simple, allocate the resources based on one’s worth. How is one’s worth determined? By the central processing unit, or “government”.
Simply put, living in Deva is living in a hierarchical society. The upper class, or “elites”, are provided with more memory because they are deemed to be worth more than the middle- and lower-class. This is subtly obvious during the early parts of Rakuen Tsuiho, when Angela is approached by a man who offers to take her to a “private” and “hi-res” map. This implies that there are restricted maps, or territories, that are only accessible for those with enough resources, or “worth”. These restricted maps offer better amenities, security, or “resolution” (whatever that means) as opposed to the open-access maps.
Since there is limited memory to go around, the system cannot stand inefficiencies. Those who do not contribute to society are subject to deletion or archival incarceration. Those who do not work are demoted from their rank and allotted less memory. To achieve upward social mobility in Deva, one must work and work and work their way to the top. As summarized eloquently by Dingo:
What you can get and what you can accomplish, that’s all determined by the whims of society. Unless you’re constantly currying favors, hunting for compliments, and ingratiating yourself, you can’t make a decent living. Where’s the freedom in a life like that? – Dingo
I personally believe that this is a critique to our current conception of meritocracy, which believes that if a person is at the bottom of society, it is their fault for not trying hard enough. A person’s worth in society is judged solely by their ranks and possession, not by their innate character. Besides, why live in so-called Heaven if you still need to work your ass off? I thought Heaven was all about jacking off all day and not needing to worry about a single thing.
Those are the three major philosophical themes which I have found to stand out in Rakuen Tsuiho. In sum, I totally recommend this movie. Rakuen Tsuiho is a great movie that not only shows a decent mix of action and cool visuals, it also challenges the viewer by presenting philosophical questions that we tend to avoid in our daily discussion. Now, I know there might be a lot more; I would appreciate if you readers were to share your opinion about Rakuen Tsuiho and its themes.
To end this review, let me just quote Dingo one more time because he is hands-down the best character in the movie.
Maybe you really have been set free from the shackles of physical bodies, but aren’t you locked in a prison that’s much more insidious? In the cage of a manufactured reality.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for my next anime review!
With all these advances in technology, why haven’t we been able to build a robot with an AI on the same level of a human? If we could, then could we build robots that can seamlessly integrate with society, feel emotions, and actually cry? And what would be the future of human-synthetic relationships? Those are the questions that you should be asking when watching Plastic Memories, a beautiful love story between a human and a synthetic.
Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, and GATE are all about discovering and exploring new worlds full of strange beings and people. Durarara! explores the darker sides of conspiracies and urban legends. Detective Conan is basically an anime version of NCIS. Most anime have their settings in metropolitan cities (ahem, Tokyo) and base their stories around city life. Non Non Biyori (Repeat) decided to fuck all that and move to the countryside. Far from the exhilaration of school drama, battles, and exploration, Non Non Biyori dared to ask the question “What it someone from the city was placed in the boring Japanese countryside?” and do an anime about it.
I watched Non Non Biyori (Repeat) a while ago and wrote a rather shallow piece on its “freshness” amidst the onslaught of stale anime the industry is constantly regurgitating. Only now, after rewatching it and watching Repeat, have I formed a concrete opinion of the anime. For me, Non Non Biyori (Repeat) goes beyond just four girls having fun the countryside. It is not just the typical slow, boring, everyday anime; it delivers a message of boredom and the increasing relevance of romanticizing the simple life.
The famous Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said “Boredom is the root of all evil.” Everything that happens is a result of boredom. Adam was bored so he asked God to create Eve. Fujos be like “God should’ve created Steve” but that’s not how biology works. Wars have been fought simply because people en masse were bored. In our modern life, we always strive to relieve ourselves from boredom. Bored while waiting for a train? You got your phone. Bored at a meeting? You got your phone. Bored at home? You have a dakkimakura and unlimited internet for porn. But, is this type of boredom relievement actually beneficial? Or does it just turn us into vegetables?
In Non Non Biyori, the main protagonist is Hotaru, a jailbait fifth grader who moved from the bustling city to rural Japan because reasons. As a city kid, she experiences mild culture shock in the village, as life there is starkly different. In the city, she was used to a life of convenience. She was almost always never bored, or so it is implied. As she moves to the countryside, deprived of her conveniences, she finally begins to feel true boredom. There’s nothing to do, or so she thinks, in the village. Enter the village kids: the cute Ren-chon and the sisters Komari and Natsumi. A heartwarming friendship forms between them, which we see develop during the course of the anime.
An interesting aspect of Non Non Biyori and Repeat is its unorthodox slow pace. While most anime today are either too fast-paced you don’t what the fuck is going on and who is who, or too snail-paced you have to wait five weeks to know who won a fight, Non Non Biyori uses the slow pace to actually show viewers meaningful character development. Through the course of the anime, I’ve seen Hotaru grow into a person that knows how to have fun, despite how limited she is in terms of resources. Back in the city, she might not even have had the chance to practice her sewing, because kids her age would be busy with extracurricular activities. She wouldn’t also have had the chance to explore and appreciate the nature and people around her. I recall one episode when Hotaru and Ren-chon visited a candy store. I was touched when I saw Hotaru’s eyes beaming over simple candies, candies that she might have taken for granted in the city. It just goes to show that most of the time, we take things for granted.
Which brings me back to Kierkegaard. Boredom, to Kierkegaard, was simply a “motivator” for doing something. However, with the rise of social media, communications technology, and instant gratification, people are no longer “properly bored”. They simply turn to their phones and view cat videos on YouTube when they’re bored. This type of boredom I call “fake boredom”, because it is a type of boredom that does not initiate anything. What we need more is “proper boredom” and to that, we need to be more limited. Unplug, run away from the bustling city, and live as simply as possible.
Romanticizing the Simple Life
Related to the point above, Non Non Biyori (Repeat) is also an anime that romanticizes the simple life in the country. Of course, the anime does cherry-pick only the “good” aspects of living in rural Japan.
Our current modern life demands us to always be on our feet and on the move.
You wake up, still groggy from last night, and have breakfast. Your phone rings, an email from your boss comes in. He says there’s gonna be a meeting at 9. You hurriedly shove toast into your mouth and rush out the house to get on the 8.15 train. In the train, you’re on the phone, scrolling through dozens of unread emails and listening to that new Justin Bieber song. People push and shove. You groan. At the office, you hurry to the meeting, which you were late to. You take your seat and now have to listen to Fat Bob drone on about sales in the past quarter. You go through the entire day visiting clients and attending more meetings. The work day is over, but you still have to have dinner with your girlfriend. After that, Netflix and chill. And finally, you fall asleep. The cycle repeats…
Of course, that’s just an illustration that I made up on the spot. The point is, we’re constantly busy with our superficial lives, we tend to forget that our own self needs a break and stop worrying. Only will we actually “live in the moment”. Non Non Biyori (Repeat) is all about abandoning the superficial shackles that bind us to the fast-paced life that we have become accustomed to. This romanticization of the simpler life is becoming increasingly relevant in society, especially Western societies, as people are constantly working themselves into the ground and living their lives in a hamster’s wheel.
Non Non Biyori (Repeat) is a series that tries to be a “different” type of slice-of-life. Whereas the typical slice-of-life simply focuses on cliched plots and overused character archetypes, Non Non Biyori (Repeat) tries to deliver a fresh, new take on how slice-of-life should be: insightful without being boring. Because an anime shouldn’t be called “slice-of-life” if it does not actually represent a realistic “slice” of the life it wishes to depict.
Charlotte has finally come to a close and I’ve decided that it’s one of the best of this season, despite what the Internet hive mind says. Maeda did excellent work on Charlotte, and while the overall story was pretty great, it did lack some of the impact Angel Beats! had, especially in the character development department. Let’s get on with the review.
I usually did reviews using a scoring system based on several aspects of an anime, like plot, etc. But I’ve decided to switch over from a semi-quantitative review to a fully qualitative one because I don’t feel comfortable rating everything with numbers. And of course, there will be spoilers.
Charlotte tells us the story of Otosaka Yu, a high school student. Yes, it’s Maeda, it’s Key, and it’s a fucking equivalent of a young adult novel in America, so you can expect all the cheesy romance and overused tropes. Yu has this uncanny ability to “possess” anyone within his field of vision for 5 seconds, but at the same time, he’ll be unconscious. He uses it to cheat his way through high school and steal the heart of his crush. But, his plans of fulfilling the ultimate visual novel experience fall apart as he meets Nao and Takajo, who are both members of the Hoshinoumi Academy student council. Yu then transfers to Hoshinoumi and is invited as a member of the student council, where he spends his days finding similar ability-wielders and convincing them to stop using their powers.
I divide the main plot of Charlotte into 3 major parts: (1) pre-episode 6, (2) episode 6, (3) and post-episode 6. This is because Episode 6 is the most pivotal episode in the series, and effectively acts as an important point of reference.
Episodes prior to episode 6 introduces us to the characters and sets the background and the Charlotte universe. We have a world inhabited by “diseased” teenagers with special abilities, the mysterious scientists (that receive very little air time) who hunt down these teenagers to dissect them in a lab somewhere, and the Syndicate, another mysterious organization that tries to shelter ability-wielders. Furthermore, we learn that ability-wielders lose their abilities as they reach adulthood, which is vaguely defined as “turning 17”. Yu and Nao, along with other members of the Hoshinoumi Student Council, receive orders from the Syndicate to seek out ability-wielders and try to coax them into hiding or against using their abilities lest they be hunted down by the scientists.
So, we mostly get to watch a repetitive routine during this period. They find an ability-wielder, Takajo gets fucked up, and everything ends well. That’s why it’s very boring and slow. But, the good thing is that the story puts us right into the action and not bore us to death by including tedious background introduction episodes.
Now, we get to episode 6, the most important episode. In this episode, the story suddenly takes a dark turn as Yu suffers over Ayumi’s death. He becomes antisocial and depressed, living off nothing but sweet dangos and pizza and living in an internet cafe, while occasionally beating up people for money. It’s really depressing. But, just in the nick of time, Nao shows up and saves him from potential drug abuse, sending a message to the entire audience that you should never do meth.
Now, after Episode 6, we finally get the much-needed conspiracy theories and time-travel bullshit that make up the entire premise of Charlotte. It turns out that the world Yu lives in now is a result of countless time-jumps conducted by his older brother, Shun. Shun founded the Syndicate to protect Yu and many other ability-wielders from being targeted by scientists. Also, it is revealed that Yu’s ability goes beyond merely possessing people; he can actually “loot” the abilities of others. Yu then loots Shun’s time-jump ability, as he is unable to do so due to his blindness. Using time-jump, Yu leaps back in time to save Ayumi. The two are reunited once more and retreat to the Syndicate Then, they come under attack by a terrorist organization, leading to the death of Kumagami. Shun experiences a mental breakdown, while Yu and Nao are severely injured. During his time in the hospital, Yu comes up with a plan to loot the abilities of every ability-wielder on Earth and after he heals, he departs to execute his plan.
I’ll stop there to not spoil the ending.
So as you can see, Charlotte follows a rather textbook plot advancement. It starts slow and casual, allowing the viewer to at least understand half the premise of Charlotte. Besides, it allows Maeda to do his usual thing and insert his usual running gags, like the obligatory baseball episode and that one character who constantly gets fucked up just for comic relief. So, pretty much very casual. Then, at the end of episode 5, things start to climax as Yu loses Ayumi and goes down a dark vortex. Though Nao saves Yu from his dark descent, the following events became more serious as Yu learns the truth behind everything, until finally ending off with a strong happy note.
An Allegory of Life and More
If you care to look deeper though, Charlotte‘s story is allegorical to a coming-of-age story of your average young teen. At first, life was all about being constantly happy. Through the eyes of Yu, we see that he was a person that wanted to be at the top of the social ladder and get good grades. He was also a narcissistic irresponsible fuck who abused his powers for his own gain and thought of nobody but himself. Just like your typical teenager.
Then, as a dramatic incident happens, Yu’s life changes course for the worse. Episode 6 represents the downward spiral in life that many teenagers face. Drugs, fighting, internet addiction, eating unhealthy… all of this shows the “other side” of a once happy life that follows a tragic event. In this case, Yu just lost Ayumi, a sister he held dear. But, he is saved by Nao at the last minute, showing that going alone is okay, but having friends around makes things a lot better.
After that, we approach the post-episode 6 arc. In this arc, Yu suddenly becomes more responsible after knowing a lot more about abilities and being able to save Ayumi from death. He takes on more responsibility, knowing that he can loot abilities. If he were to abuse his looting ability, Charlotte would have ended badly. First he takes down a terrorist organization, and then learns about the comet Charlotte and the reason behind all of this madness. Him knowing about Charlotte and the death of another loved one is the revelation he needed to finally embark on the most impossible task: cleansing the world of ability-wielders. This part symbolizes the ascent to adulthood, as irresponsible young teens finally man up and start to take on a perilous journey into the forest of being an adult.
Aside from story, the abilities are also an allegory. More specifically, an allegory to the special passions or talents a teenager has during his adolescence. Let me start with the nature of the powers. Notice that the powers grant both a positive and a negative effect, and have a limiting factor. Example: Shun’s time-jump allows him to travel back through time, but at the cost of his eyesight. Also, without light, he will not be able to time-jump. It represents the conflict between ideals and reality. The positive effect is an idealized manifestation of the wielder’s dreams or hidden aspirations, while the negative effect and limiting factor represents the realistic hurdles that appear to inhibit the realization of such ideals in real life. Additionally, the powers also represent the uniqueness of the wielder. In our society, teens are told they are “special” and can do anything. But, their uniqueness is often inhibited by the real world. Thus, the powers represent that.
Next, the fact that abilities disappear the moment the wielder turns 17. This represents a coming-of-age realization that the wielder is not actually very “special” at all, and learns to adapt with the rest of society. It can interpreted as good or bad, though. The good side: the teen learns that they can have legitimate aspirations and dreams and use adulthood as another stepping stone to reach those dreams. The bad side: it shows that in a conformist society (note that this is a Japanese anime), as soon as a teen reaches adulthood, they are expected to abandon all things unique to them and become another faceless member of society to earn their keep.
Next, the evil scientists that scout out extraordinary ability wielders. They are what you could consider “therapists”. I like to see from a bleak side: I see the scientists as mentors or teacher figures in school that try to force adult ideals on teens. As a result, teens break down and burn out before even reaching adulthood. Example: Nao’s brother was subjected to immense torture which breaks him in the end. He can no longer play music, he’s an empty husk, and has no intention of going on. The stress that parents or society puts on these teens is immense (represented by torture) and some just can’t take it.
There are many symbols, themes, and allegories to go around in Charlotte and for those who care to look and think deeper, these are what makes Charlotte such a fascinating anime.
Subpar Character Development
And we reach the negative part of this review. I personally found that Charlotte lacked a lot in character development. The most prominent example is the lackluster romance spark between Yu and Nao. It was like Maeda’s previous Angel Beats!, though at least Otonashi and Kanade had a very special red thread between them, but aside from that, they have no reason to be with one another.
One could argue that Yu and Nao were meant to be due to the events of episode 6. While that episode is indeed a remarkable romance flag, it does nothing after that. It was just that one moment and nothing more. Post-episode 6, we see very little chemistry developing between the two (as if there were some in pre-episode 6, which there was not), and in the events leading to the ending, Yu suddenly confesses his love to Nao, which seemed very rushed and unnecessary. As if it were added only to canonize the Yu-Nao ship and provide a cheap and wobbly foundation for the “muh feels” ending that followed. It basically failed compared to the Otonashi-Kanade ending, which makes me cry like a bitch every single time.
Good Music to Cap it Off
And we now reach the end of the review. And what better way to end than listening to Yake Ochinai Tsubasa, the ending song. I loved both the OP and ED of Charlotte. Mostly because of Aoi Tada and Lia. It stays true to Maeda’s usual recipe of an upbeat opening with cryptic imagery, followed by a soothing ending that’s not too depressing.
In conclusion, Charlotte is a pretty solid anime, especially for fans of Maeda. If you look past the subpar character development and potential plot holes caused by time-jumping, Charlotte is an amazing anime full of allegories that makes it earn its place as one of the top slice-of-life anime.
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.