Aldnoah.Zero First Impressions Review
Normally when I see a mech suit on the promo picture of an anime, I almost ignore it on auto pilot. I have seen far too many flat and lazy mecha anime that I simply quit trying to look for gold in a pile of crap. This is not to say there hasn’t been series in this genre I haven’t enjoyed, such as Code Geass. However, even with A-1 Studios’ name attached to one of the newest mecha shows, Aldnoah.Zero, I was still not interested…that was until I found out who would be composing the music: Hiroyuki Sawano, the hottest anime composer in years and the genius behind the soundtracks to Guilty Crown, Kill la Kill and Attack on Titan. The guy is a musical monster, and his name alone drew me if only for the hopes of bearing witness to what I like to call a “Sawano Moment” (I’ll explain that later). Surprisingly, though, this would be only one of the things that would make me excited for the rest of this series.
Right of the bat, we meet Saline and Princess Asseylum from the Vers Empire. What’s the Vers Empire? Well, this is the part of the plot that is probably the best and most original thing it has going for it. During the year 1972, some inhabitants of Earth came across an alien hypergate, the Aldnoah, on the moon that introduced a new form of high-technology. Using this, some of the people of Earth began migrating to Mars where more of this technology was found. Thus, these Earthlings decided to create there own empire on Mars and keep the secrets of the new found technology within the newly found Vers Empire. Which is why Princess Asseylum is….a risk. She desperately wants to go down to Earth in an attempt to restore peace 15 years after their war of 1999, which the Vers Empire initiated. Slaine’s job is to tutor her about Earth, but secretly to dissuade her from wanting to go. This ends badly do to his liking for her (of course…), and the other generals and politicians are not happy. Upon arriving, the Princess is seemingly killed by a brutal attack, basically giving the Vers the greenlight to land on Earth and start yet another war, making one believe that the Princess was killed by her own people just to initiate a new war. The episode ends with the complete destruction of New Orleans while to children in a different region wish upon a bunch of shooting stars (which were actually the Vers Empire’s generals) that the world will be full of peace and everyone would get along with each other. Irony.
The premise is a nice one, and one that will have alot going for it if it is done correctly. Slaine is an interesting character, and the many generals could make for many exciting characters as well. The worst thing about this series so far, though, is the Earth characters. They are GOD AWFUL. They have all been seen before, they are boring, shallow, and ultimately useless. The person they are trying to push as the main character is so uninteresting that I prefer to believe that Slaine is the main character. And I could get into all that but honestly, there’s no need. There is hardly any importance to those characters yet, and I can hardly remember a single one.
Oh, and there’s mechs. Just thought I’d mention that. Kind of like the episode did.
Another one of the great things about the show thought is the art style. A-1 has some of the most realistic and beautiful landscapes and backgrounds you will ever see in an anime. The city of New Orleans and outer space were gorgious to look at. The character designs are nice as well, lightly drawn and full of color (well, at least the Vers Empire citizens). No real complaints other than two things. 1: The blandness of the Earth characters. They have been seen a ton of times and have no identity. 2: The mechs. I know this is like beating a dead horse, but the CG mechs need to go. It’s out of place in anime in general, and takes away from the gorgeous art from this anime in particular. Other than that it’s a fantastic looking anime, probably one of the best of the season.
The final thing I’d like to talk about is the music. It’s awesome. I could end there. Hiroyuki Sawano does it again with this series and leaves you excited for what is to come. His piano tracks are gorgeous, his general score is fitting and fills the space wonderfully. However, up until the last five minutes I was a little disappointed. The music was great, but it was missing something. A “Sawano Moment”. That moment in an anime (and I think I’m going to use this term for any anime regardless of the composer) where the story, action, and art all come to a climax, and the music pushes it over the edge to give viewers something that can only be described as orgasmic. And I hadn’t gotten that yet….that was until the destruction of New Orleans. I wish I could describe it to you, but I’d rather not. It needs to be seen and heard instead of read.
Overall, the series has a ton of potential in all departments. It had a decent amount of impact in the first episode, but dragged a lot in the middle due to it taking place on Earth. If they expand more on the Vers Empire and give us more “Sawano Moments” than this could be the sleeper series of the season.
Aldnoah.Zero is a series with a lot of potential thanks to its interesting premise, crisp art and awesome soundtrack. As long as they stay away from mecha cliches, and too many similarities to Code Geass, and overexposure of the boring Earth characters without some development, Aldnoah.Zero could be the sleeper hit of the summer.