Aldnoah.Zero, first reaction (3 episodes in)

I was planning on writing something about this show ever since I saw first episode. But then I decided to hold back and wait. I thought that I’d give this show 3 episodes, and then say what I think about it. Why did I want to wait? Because it is a mecha series, and this genre is something you should be careful when dealing with. I’ll explain.

So the series is set on our planet, after it had a war with Mars. People on Mars are the same humans, only they have far greater technology then terrans (which is us, people living on Earth). And the series begins with a good will mission from Mars visiting Tokyo. I won’t go into details, but something goes wrong and that brings up a new war, that promises to put an end on Earth’s independence. The story, while having such an enormous scale, has, of course, a few characters it is focused on.  And it is, as usual, high school students.

Aldnoah.Zero episode 2, pic 14

CG mecha in Aldnoah.Zero

So here is the reason why I waited before saying anything about the series. We have A LOT of anime about kids piloting robots. If Aldnoah.Zero was going to be another series where a kid is the only one who can pilot this new awesome robot that is the only weapon that can defeat the enemies (which is a plot of dozens of mecha shows), well, I felt I would have to say so. If it was going to be an Evangelion-level struggle of “I don’t want to pilot this thing” type, I felt I would have to mention that too. Lucky us, so far Aldnoah.Zero is none of those things.

Aldnoah.Zero episode 1, pic 9

Just some nice scenery for you ^. ^

So let me tell you about two characters you are going to meet in this series. First is the protagonist, Inaho Kaizuka. He is an introvert, reserved, calm and polite person. During this crisis, out of all the people around him he is the only one who can and willing to take it upon himself to act, make plans, calculate and take risks. He is not the sort of person who can motivate people by speeches, but he can assure them by staying calm and unwavering. He says about himself that he is not fearless, yet he never shows distress or fear or grieve, even though he already has reasons to do so. He is way better suited to be a commander, to be in charge of planning and preparing operations, but he puts himself in danger, just as readily as he let his friends take risks. Now to make it more interesting, this guy is just a normal student, he is smart, but he does not have any unnatural abilities or superior weapons, and the guys he faces are powerful enough to annihilate trained troops with great gear. So, to tell the truth, the fact that he is still alive is something to be regarded as luck.

Aldnoah.Zero episode 1, pic 5

Inaho Kaizuka

Second is Slaine Troyard, a terran who was captured (or rescued, if you will) by martians. He is a trained soldier, who had to accompany a certain person in this good will embassy and teach her about Earth. But this sudden war required him to go to Earth wit other troops, and participate in the conflict. And Slaine did not forget who he is, the last thing he wants is to kill his own people. Yet he was raised by martians and he learned to obey. On the other hands his masters don’t seem to care much about him. Slaine is treated as a half human, he is mocked and constantly reminded that he is an outside, hence an inferior person to any martian. And he takes it, never rebukes, never tries to defend himself. He is not the type who grinds his teeth to restrain himself, to bear humiliation without saying a word. He feels fear, and taking the insults without rebelling seems the easiest road for him. You can call him a coward if you want, though I think there are a few people out there who would display more bravery being put in his shoes. But if you think that this character, while maybe realistic, is going to be utterly pathetic, let me tell you something. We are three episodes in, and already he mastered the courage to shoot one of his superiors. Not because he decided to change his loyalty, he didn’t do so as of yet, but because he saw that the person in front of him was a traitor.

Aldnoah.Zero episode 1, pic 2

Slaine Troyard

There are other interesting people in this anime. But I’ve said enough I think, now you can decide whether you want to watch it, or not. I will put a couple of pretty screenshots here, so you can check out the art style and see if you like it.

See you next time (^_^)/

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12 thoughts on “Aldnoah.Zero, first reaction (3 episodes in)

  1. This show just made my ‘to watch’ list ^. ^
    I am not a big fan of the mecha genre but I can’t not watch a mecha anime with a good plot and animation =)

  2. “Lucky us, so far Aldnoah.Zero is none of those things.”
    You can say that again. It’s kinda refreshing to see these kids have a valid, realistic reason to pilot multi-million dollar/yen war machines.

    I’m a big fan of the Macross/Robotech series but not for Macross Frontier where there are only a handful of kids among a whole fleet of trained veteran pilots who are special enough to pilot the latest batch of prototype Veritech fighters. My friend is a Gundam fan but he skipped Gundam AGE when I told him the main characters will be teenagers.

    • I know what you mean =) Though in this universe a high school can afford a couple of fighting robots, so I suppose they are not crazy expensive. Also they are piloting junk, not real war machines, at least that is the impression I’ve got. Those orange-coated robots are the same machines they salvaged from their school, it is not like military decided to entrust them with their valuable weaponry or anything =)

      I would like it if they make an anime about adult soldiers living through a war. Such a show would be completely different from what we normally see, though. Individual soldiers who engage in actual combat don’t play a major role in the course of war. And people who make decisions that lead to a disaster or victory are more or less office workers. I think the industry doesn’t believe that this type of anime can be a success, otherwise we would have seen more shows like it.

      • I was under the impression that it was some sort of emergency measure where the military stationed some training machines for all schools in the region to use. I wasn’t paying much attention for the first episode, thinking it was just another mecha-with-kids anime. Honestly, I was ready to put the show in my low-priority watch list when suddenly New Orleans was decimated at the end, followed by other cities while an innocent kid made a wish at the falling Martian castles for peace to all. That scene changed my view of it and later episodes made it my favourite anime this year

        What is the significance of the color orange in anime? Naruto, Goku and Ichigo sport the color orange. Orange is also the color for airplane trainers in the Japanese Army in World War 2(not sure about modern JSDF) and Aldnoah.Zero show the trainer KATs prominently.

      • Yeah, same here. I have been yearning for anime about adult soldiers during war time. There are glimpses of that in anime but they not explored in detail or got overshadowed by the young main protagonists, silly situations or extremely bleak.

        Really, most of the time we see adult warriors as troubled veterans who barely survived the previous devastating war while the young ones are there trying to force their ideals onto the new war. We see that too in Aldnoah.Zerp with Marito but so far the kids are just going with the flow. They are not spouting any silly personal resolve or belief in every episode because they are too busy surviving and making sense of what is happening around them.

        • I think they said something about high school students having to go through robot piloting training, so I think it was sort of a common practice there.
          This was a well done scene. Even almost any mecha show I can think of has some sort of a cataclysm or big fight in the first episode, they still managed to make it impressive here.

          I had never heard about Japanese airplane trainers using orange as their colors, that is pretty interesting. It might be that they associate the color with rookies or something. Though it might all be just a coincidence, color of Goku uniform might have been made on a whim, and Naruto got his color as a reference to Goku (Kishimoto being a big fan of Toriyama).

          The only anime I can think of that probably fits into this idea of realistic war would be Legends of the Galactic Heroes, but I can’t say much about it, I’ve only seen 3 episodes. But I do have high hopes for that show. Also there are little things like Buki yo Saraba, but that to isn’t exactly what we are talking about.
          To me it seems that people who make Aldnoah are trying to keep it intelligent, to avoid putting nonsense into the show. And that is a pretty hard task, especially if they are going to resolve the conflict by the end of the season. I don’t know if they will be able to do so without heavy story-magic =) But I appreciate the attempt. As you said, the kids behave how you would expect them, they are not making speeches, but at the same time having beaten the enemy twice does raise their spirits. It is too bad Marito doesn’t play a bigger role in the series, but oh well, we can’t have everything.

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