Aldnoah.Zero is a series I’m in one of those love (actually, lets go with “like”) and hate relationships with. Every week I get hype, start up the new episode, and am totally into the show for the full 24 minutes. It’s EXTREMELY entertaining and I do enjoy it. The problem begins once the episode ends and immediately all you have on your mind is everything that was so incredibly fucking stupid in that and the prior episodes and this feeling remains until the next week’s episode starts playing on your screen. This is an entertaining show, but it’s not a good show by any means outside of that, and is not even a case of “so bad it’s good”. Anime is an entertainment medium and so I’m still continuing to watch and enjoy myself. Looking at a shows flaws – and oh this show is full of them – as well as admonishing it, does not mean I don’t enjoy it as well. So no, I’m not (and never do about any show) saying this stuff to be ‘different’ or fucking contrarian. Besides, this is probably one of my longest posts ever (not the longest though, and nothing close to the Inami three parter), I wouldn’t write up this much bullshit just to feel ‘unique’.
THIS IS LONG and I do jump around a lot.
– Inko. She’s fucking cute.
– The OST. The placement, timing, and quality of most of the tracks so far has been outstanding. There are some bad ones (like the insert song in episode 5, which was awful) but it’s mostly top quality stuff. It’s very typical of Hiroyuki Sawano, whose name has become more and more familiar to me lately – however being “typical” for him has proven to always be damn good. The music itself is great, but the way its used in every show he’s worked on is what really makes it carry a lot more impact. People were complaining about how we’ve heard the same insert song multiple times (and now as an ED in some episodes) and how people shouldn’t keep getting hyped by it, but the fact is the song alone is just a good song – the reason people love it so much is due to the way the placement and timing is handled. Along with all that you have Kalafina/Kajiura for the OP which is as incredible as you should very much expect from one of the best composers currently alive.
– The art. Nothing amazing but it looks very nice and is (as far as I’ve noticed) very consistent. The mecha are also handled extremely well in that they don’t clash with the rest of the art, probably thanks to their extremely simple designs and increasing quality of handling that sort of thing these days. This is something I’d expect from A-1 at this point, so I’m very pleased with the visuals. Aside the quality though, I also really like the character designs – the men are kind of typical, but all the girls and women are really well made and varied, and boy do the moes have big lips.
– The voice acting. I don’t have much to say on that, show is full of a lot of talented seiyuu and all the voices fit their characters well. This show doesn’t do anything special here and is not a stand-out ‘amazing seiyuu’ casting list or anything, but it’s still a positive.
– The action sequences. Aldnoah is genuinely exciting and really gets you into it when shit starts going down. However, this is mostly due to the music rather than the scenes or what happens in them, sadly. From whatever makes it so enthralling though, it really is entertaining most episodes thanks to these scenes existing and everything else bolstering them. It keeps your mind busy and away from actually thinking about whats going on in the show at the time and just gets you immersed into the episode. Though to be fully honest this isn’t always that great, for example the entirety of the action in 5 was just god-awful even while watching it, it also had a terrible song.
Most of the show.
The story is fucking stupid. It had a lot of potential at the start even through episode 1 and left such a great chance at something amazing when it concluded. Instead we got something full of plot holes, an emotionless self insert beyond belief who is superior to all, a convoluted story that continually contradicts itself in the most obnoxious ways, and one event after the next that relies on the viewer being either retarded, ten years old, or able to suspend their disbelief beyond a level anyone has the right to expect from them.
Lets start with one of the most simple issues: the ‘death’ and subsequent “lol nevermind” of the princess. There are two problems with this, the first being Urobuchi. He’s someone who sometimes goes overboard with it, but usually manages to make character deaths matter. Hers did when it was actually true. We had no real connection with the character, but her death was unexpected and extremely powerful in terms of moving the story forward – it had value and meant something. Yet, instead of having the balls to stay with it he retconned it immediately after. If he wants to pull out the horrible cliched bullshit, fine, however this created a lot of inexplicable plotholes that I really just don’t see being closed up later.
I’m referring most heavily to the fact that nobody was made aware of the princess’ situation, which makes absolutely no sense and was made even more nonsensical in episode 4 when it came up again. According to her handmaid, the SECURITY DETAIL themselves decided to use a stand-in for the princess due to her feeling sick (which they may well retcon later on as well somehow). This means it wasn’t something she did secretly (not that you really could, given the stand-in would have to know and you’d need another one of those hologram devices and have it set up to display her perfectly as the princess, which can’t be simple) this was something an entire fucking staff heard as well as her own people who were likely there (you wouldn’t drop your princess off alone or just with her fucking maid). There is no way that Cruhteo’s ship was not made well aware of the change in plans. Hell, even if this was a very last-second decision, A WHOLE GROUP OF PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT. If you want to go the “only the police escorting her knew” route (which makes no sense, she’s a princess, cops don’t get to say “lol lets change things and not tell anyone” but they would know for sure even if nobody else did) NONE OF THEM WERE SHOWN TO HAVE DIED and actually you are given a clear view of at least one motorcycle cop 100% fine standing on the road talking into his radio as the final missile chases the limousine way away from him proving he’s totally unharmed by the end of the situation. There is literally not a single way for nobody from the Vers empire to know she was not really in that car, let alone for a bunch of humans who were involved (like the motorcycle cop) not to know, yet there isn’t a single sign of anyone knowing the truth which is total nonsense.
Why be picky about such a small thing though, right? Well the issue is that THIS IS THE ENTIRE REASON THE STORY IN THIS SHOW EXISTS AND IS HAPPENING. If even a single person knew the truth and was not one of the oh-so-evil mcbigbad’s henchmen, then this series could not exist. Yet Urobuchi and his co-writer apparently didn’t think of how such a situation would be possible and just expected nobody to notice how fucking stupid it is. This is all made even stupider once you get to episode 5 and Slain actually does bring it up, and is subsequently ignored and simply makes the situation worse for absolutely no reason whatsoever via magic. If this wasn’t such a big relevant factor in the plot then I’d just write it off as a dumb mistake, but this is the 100% reason Aldnoah.Zero exists, yet it seems to be one of the least thought out parts in the entire story even though it’s the biggest and single most important event in the entire story.
One other issue with the princess that I have specifically is her explanation of her disguise. It’s just smoke and mirrors essentially – it’s all just holographic bullshit. This is impossible. I don’t mean “now”, I mean ever. If it’s really just holograms and other optical tricks this doesn’t explain how she physically hides her presence and things such as her long hair which, sure you can’t see it, but you’d feel it, or her big dress which would have the same issue. A hologram can HIDE things, not make physical shit nonexistent. And far more importantly, if that kind of technology exists who is to say she’s the real princess either? Or that anyone is who they claim to be? This is just a retarded situation waiting to happen – as it already did with the stand-in for the princess, someone who looked 100% like her. Next we’ll get fake Inahos dying to trick the audience, fake inkos being torn asunder, people pretending to be other people to get information, and all sorts of fuckawful third grade level shit.
Aside from that, there’s a lot of this type of plain dumb shit in the show. One of the biggest being the MC (and sometimes his friends) who manages to beat every big boss so far, yet no adults can think of any way to counterattack. It’s so retarded to expect people to believe that trained military professionals, INCLUDING people trained specifically as strategists, are all idiots. You are constantly given scenes full of soldiers standing there holding the trigger down in their mecha on a gun they see is clearly doing nothing, and yet they try nothing else, don’t even use basic tactics, and completely avoid thinking up any plan or even try and analyze the enemy to help the others who might survive. AND YET Inaho and pals manage to do this every single fight. So far nothing special or amazing or “overpowered MC” type of shit has happened. Every single time they’ve defeated a villain of the week they’ve done so using VERY BASIC LOGIC and SIMPLE TACTICS. And again, even in the most recent episode, the soldiers SIMPLY STAND THERE SHOOTING. They do not move, they do not even put basic military tactics such as fucking flanking into play, they very literally stand and hold the trigger down.
Hell, with the plasma-katana wielding guy, not a single one of the trained army guys were smart enough TO DODGE. Yes, not only are tactics too much for the military, but even STEPPING OUT OF THE WAY OF A GIANT SWORD is beyond their fucking ability. This is something that nobody can believe nor should ignore no matter how hard you remind yourself it’s just a cartoon thats supposed to be fun to watch.
As a side note about that specific enemy, I think it’s hilarious that everyone ends up saying something along the lines of “A beam sword?!…No…that’s a KATANA!” as if there’s a fucking difference between the two, like his katana is made of superior Japanese plasma folded over 1000 times. And why doesn’t his mecha have any head-mounted guns or something else that’s ranged at all? I understand he has his honorabaru samurai bullshit going on, but who the fuck designs a mech that stupidly? Even every single Gundam has at least the awful little HMGs in the head. However, this leads into another actual issue with the show – this guy could be defeated incredibly simply. Unlike the prior villain of the week who had crazy invincibility shield, this guy simply was able to block bullets due to the heat from his plasma sword. Aside that his armor was very easily damaged by normal gunfire. To beat him all you would actually need to do is flank him. Even 2 katafucks (what a stupid name for a mech) could have taken him out with ease because he has no way of protecting more than one way, just have people shoot simultaneously from other directions you retarded pieces of shit.
The worst part about this guy is that he shows up again in episode 5 and even though the humans knew his method of defense and attack, what did they do? The usual. Stand and shoot. They did absolutely nothing to try and combat him or avoid him. Hell, how does the MC win both fights? Let me remind you: BY GRABBING THE GUYS ARM AND DODGING. WOW. The same fight twice happens the same way twice. The soldiers stand there and do nothing but shoot and act surprised nothing is happening, die without a fight, and the child shows up and does the most basic things he can think of to win – and it works. Actually, one of the funniest parts of the show is that Inaho HIMSELF admits that it was fucking stupid after they commend him on such a great operation.
Actually there’s ANOTHER ISSUE with episode 5’s battle. The carrier used its cannons ONE AT A TIME and also only while the soldiers in the mechs stood and watched. They literally refused to shoot at him from more than one angle because it would ruin the MC’s chance to shine yet again because he would have lost the moment he landed on the ship if they just shot both cannons at once or at least one of them while the mechs shot as well. Yet, with no explanation of why, this did not happen. I spoke of basic things like simple tactics or DODGING earlier – but this is even more basic and ignored: the world does not exist as a turn based rpg. You do not have to wait for one cannon to shoot and him to blow it up before shooting with the next one. This is totally unbelievable and not something you can just toss to the side as ‘not mattering’ because it’s such a big fucking deal in how stupid it is and how INCREDIBLY FUCKING CONTRIVED EVERY SCENE INVOLVING THE MC IS and how far out of the way the entire episode is butchered just to cater to his appearances and victories.
Going back to Trillram and his invincible shield, we see jets attacking him early on doing no damage thanks to the shield and subsequently being destroyed with ease thanks to the fact its flying at the time and clearly a giant plane with a giant mech on it is quicker and more maneuverable than a fucking squadron of F22s somehow. Anyway, this is the ONLY TIME we really ever see the Earth using conventional military methods. Problem being we NEVER SEE THEM ATTACKING THE OTHERS, yet as far as they’ve shown us he’s the ONLY ONE with those shields. This means that, for example the sword guy again, one or two fighter jets or bombers could totally destroy these guys with ease. And hell, the sword guy doesn’t even have a way to counterattack them because he’s stuck on the ground and has no ranged form of attack. If you just distracted his sword away one missile could blow through his armor without issue, let alone several or a nicely sized bomb to take him out entirely. Even two fucking tanks or one sneaking up on him could have destroyed him.
There’s also another question of “why doesn’t the military attack the ‘castles’? They don’t have the shield either as far as we’ve been shown and they house the entire enemy military and all their leaders. With a small show of force or even a single nuclear weapon you could destroy an entire one of those ‘castles’ as far as we’ve been shown. All nukes don’t blow up massively and spread radiation everywhere, we have tactical nukes in real life that can minimize the residual effects and keep them contained in a manageable area – but even ignoring that, we have plenty of other choices without any radiation at all even. There is no excuse for why we couldn’t have bombed these things to shit.
Continuing with Mr.Samurai because he was a big issue for so many reasons, after killing the soldiers who went after him at first during his first appearance, he comes to the dock in a flashy way – throwing his sword directly into the bridge of one of the hovercraft things they were escaping in, making sure it would not run away and that they weren’t able to counterattack. He does this because of being aware of the fact he’s got no way to attack at range, so he improvised – just throw the goddamn sword. However, for fucking no reason at all when he gets there and gets it back HE DOES NOT DO THE SAME TO THE BOAT THE MAIN CAST IS ON. He instead takes the sword and very slowly saunters in their direction. Not only at first, but even WHILE HE SEES THEM PREPARING TO GEAR UP AND GET MORE MECHS TO ATTACK HIM and he still does nothing but slowly walk his way there. This makes absolutely no sense except for the fact that the show needed the MC and friends not to all die then and there, but if thats the case why have him PROVE HE ACTUALLY CAN USE HIS BRAIN 30 seconds prior by doing exactly what he should simply repeat? If you don’t want me to expect him to throw the sword again, don’t show him doing it to begin with, then I wouldn’t complain about him no fucking doing it.
That scene also showcases yet another issue: pointless and irrelevant deaths (by the way, the blonde girlfriend of Inko is totally going to die and make her turn grimdark eventually, it’s so obvious).
A man we met maybe 2 minutes prior and got a few lines from was the captain of that other escape ship and was killed immediately and we’re expected to be angered by this injustice. Every death in this show is so contrived and at the same time so hilariously lacking in anything that might evoke some kind of emotion towards it happening YET YOU CAN TELL they are TRYING to make you care and EXPECTING you to. Even one of the main deaths in the show, that of “Friend Guy B” whose name you can’t expect me to remember given he was in the show about 10 minutes and never did anything but stand on the side, felt completely empty. This is the most childish handling of death imaginable – sure, a lot of people die, but nobody actually important and not in ways that make sense at all most of the time. And worse, the one death that was handled REALLY WELL ends up being fucking retconned less than 5 minutes later in the second episode of the fucking show, and in her stead we just get more randoms being killed nonchalantly. While it may seem otherwise, killing seemingly random characters and making it have some impact on the viewer is not undoable, it just takes actually knowing what you’re doing as well as not being fucking lazy. The bigger issue here is that Urobuchi and pals are so afraid to kill any of the main cast or let any of those deaths stick when they do happen. JUST DON’T HAVE DEATHS THEN. Death is not NECESSARY if its fucking half-assed and just shoved in so you can say “we kill people in this show so its mature, right?”. If you absolutely need to include other deaths, do it well, don’t just kill them off out of nowhere ‘because’. Make it tense, make it dramatic, do fucking SOMETHING more than just having it in there as lazy as possible just to meet a quota. But no, instead we get these overly contrived deaths of nobodies constantly and the show continues to expect you to give a shit.
Characters…the characters are total shit. Nobody in this show is someone I care about, that I have a connection of any kind with, or feel anything towards (aside Inko being really cute). To make it worse, none of them are remotely interesting or intriguing. I couldn’t give a shit less about any of them whatsoever and none of them even make me want to learn more about them or see how they grow, with ONE SINGULAR exception. Oddly, that exception is a character who is barely in the show – Count Cruhteo. He is the sole character that feels like he has so much more to him and to his involvement in how this series will end up. Sadly, I’m probably going to be wrong about that by the end, but since the first episode and still now he’s the only character that’s got me wanting to see what develops around and within him. He’s caught in the middle of a bunch of bullshit, and I hope he ends up going to war with fucking everybody and becomes both the main protagonist and antagonist before the full series is over – but that won’t fucking happen. It makes the most sense though and the shows catchphrase (specifically the justice part) fits his situation the most. His precious princess is dead (or was meant to be) by the hands of his own people who simply wanted war, and he’s got his own reasons to hate the Earth already. At the very least he should ally with the Terrans at some point. And really with the current events in the show, the only reason Slain had NOT to tell Cruhteo about the princess being alive is gone now, so he has no excuse not to bring it up to him in the next episode (worst thing that could happen is getting hit again, wow, truly not worth trying to stop him from destroying the Earth) – but it’s pretty much guaranteed not to happen because the show is fucking stupid.
If nothing comes to fruition with him within this and the next half of the show (the one airing later), I will be INCREDIBLY fucking disappointed in this series and in Urobuchi…though I already am. And on the side of all that you have thing like the king or emperor or whatever he is having absolutely no sign of giving a shit upon hearing his granddaughter may be alive. Just an “oh” and no change of expression. Now, in this case, maybe it was due to expecting lies thanks to the other guy ‘warning’ him – however this is the situation throughout the show with almost everyone, not to mention the fucking MC.
Even ignoring the pointless deaths and how unlikable everyone is the characters are all meant to be taken seriously, yet they’re all written like a child threw them together. The biggest example is Marito who is the most grimdark whiny faggot character in the show who spends almost all of 5 and multiple times in other episodes stewing over his ‘sins that he cant erase’ and bullshit like that.
Aside that, the entire antagonist in this show is a group of people who want to go to war with Earth simply because they are ‘the bad guys’.
Another massive issue I have with this show is that it quickly went from conspiracies and intrigue mixed with awesome action into plain ass “villain of the week” bullshit and essentially a more childish version of the already fairly childish Gundam series. I got into this expecting something incredible and instead I’m stuck watching a kid out-think the military in the most hysterically basic ways and watching a fucking stupid plot continue to crumble in on itself. Everything that happens is a huge cliche. You have your not-actually-dead princess, you have your evil bad “I’m evil because I’m bad” badguys every week and being the main idea of the antagonists (we want to fight earth because fuck earth), you have your worthless fucking cannon fodder ‘soldiers’ who just stand and shoot, you have dumb cunts STANDING THERE WATCHING YOU BE DESTROYED FOR LIKE TWO MINUTES STRAIGHT after you tell them specifically “I will buy you time, run while I get destroyed by this guy” and thus entirely wasting your efforts, and you have a lifeless self-insert for the lead who is magically smarter and better than everyone else alive.
Oh right, in the newest episode (5, arguably as bad as episode 2) we’re given yet another showcase of how superior Inaho is at EVERYTHING. His plan consists of doing absolutely nothing the others were not capable of doing, yet simply didn’t bother to spend 3 seconds thinking up. If he was some kind of genius I wouldn’t complain because, hey, it’s anime – but he’s only using tactics and ideas that are so basic and totally doable for anybody, things that there is no way the soldiers wouldn’t think up let alone their commanding officers.
It doesn’t expect you to believe Inaho is a genius, it expects you to believe every other human being is an incompetent fucking dipshit.
On top of that, to make the entire quality of the show drop further, the episode ends with the king of the Vers empire – who had just made an armistice of peace with the Earth forces – declare war because someone said “maybe he was lying lol?” to him 3 seconds prior. I mean, really? Fucking seriously? The king did not think to check anything through, think for maybe one full minute, or do anything else but just heard one guy tell him “hes bullshitting u lol” and decides to kill everyone? This is fucking terribly stupid and totally unbelievable, especially after he found out his granddaughter was probably dead and STILL DECIDED it was worth stopping the war and investigating before deciding to take military action – yet literally a whole lot of NOTHING manages to sway him within the same episode to just say fuck it kill everyone because fuck everyone I’m the king.
If all of this is an indication of Urobuchi’s writing talent now – which yes, I’m aware he’s not writing the entire series, however he outright stated himself that he personally wrote episodes 1, 2 (quite easily one of the worst episodes of any show this season), and 3, as well as some near the end – then I’m disappointed in how far he’s fucking dropped. He was never the best, nor perfect and he definitely hasn’t made all amazing shows, but this is just pathetic. It reeks of amateurism and is extremely childish in the worst ways, even moreso than Madoka’s nonstop pandering and other bullshit. The deaths are just random characters, the cliched bullshit like the princess happens, everyone is a cookie cutter “im soooo cuhrazzy n eviiiiiiiil mwahahahahaha” villain, all the good guys are typical good guys and completely worthless, the MC is how he is, and sadly every single character is completely lifeless and has nothing that makes the viewer care or interested in any of them. Even the few situations that could be okay otherwise are pulled down by hilariously childish writing where they repeat things multiple times in the exact same way, explain obvious shit, or make shit way too obvious so the viewer ‘won’t miss it’ even though they just spelled out the situation 10 seconds ago. It’s totally retarded and treats the viewer the same way it treats the soldiers – like total fucking idiots who can’t wipe their own asses.
Again, I have a massive amount of issues with this show and do consider it to be a genuinely terribly shitty series, yet at the same time enjoy it a DAMN LOT and have to give it credit for that much. The music especially seems to be what is holding the show together – even the action scenes only seem good thanks to the wonderful music timing and placement. I also like some of the character designs (namely Inko, Count Cruhteo, and the CO and XO of that carrier) thanks to the fact that the designer of them is the same person who did the art for Hourou Musuko, and there are a lot of awesome (not incredibly unique, but still great) ideas at work in this series. It’s just none of them are handled in any way but total shit. This is a show that had and still possibly could have massive potential, and no matter what it does with itself I will still be watching it simply for the excitement it gives me every week and the amount of discussions every episode opens up.
What’s truly sad is that the stuff I’ve mentioned is just a handful of the issues in this show and just barely touches on the problems present even in the specific scenes I brought up.
I’ll keep watching because it really is incredibly enjoyable and exciting every episode, I just wish it didn’t have all these massive problems holding it back and reminding me it’s not nearly as good as it feels like it is once the episodes end.