Aldnoah.Zero Second Cour Premiere Review
During the lead up to this new anime season, I decided to check out the first bit (or First Cour, I guess) of Aldnoah.Zero. I liked it. It had some great animation, even with the CGI, good action, and an interesting premise for a series. So when I saw that the Second Cour or whatever was coming in January I had two thoughts: 1) Oh, cool, we’re gonna be getting more of this, and 2) Wait, how the hell are we going to get more of this? Turns out, we’re getting more of this through some bullshit. Also, SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF ALDNOAH.ZERO FIRST COUR AND PROBABLY THIS EPISODE, TOO.
At the end of the First Cour, Princess Asseylum was shot by Count Saazbaum, the guy behind the attempted assassination that started the series off. Slaine shoots him, but he’s still alive. Inaho climbs out of his Kataphract and starts crawling towards Asseylum only to be stopped by Slaine. Inaho pulls a gun on Slaine and Slaine shoots him in the face. So two of our three main leads is dead, and the third is in a not ideal place. Second Cour picks up 19 months later. Slaine is now a Vers Knight and the pilot of Tharsis. He’s even got his own manservant now. He was knighted by Saazbaum and now serves him. Asseylum is still alive and is now doing anti-Terran propaganda for the Vers, saying how shit humans are at appreciating the Earth. Meanwhile, the crew of the Deucalion is attacked by a new Martian Kataphract and Inaho, who also isn’t dead, whoops its ass.
Inaho is the main character that I liked the least in this episode. During the First Cour I was very much on the fence about him. In his first battle with a Martian Kataphract, the one that destroyed everything it touched, I was getting Gary Stu vibes off of him. As the series went on it kept getting worse, as his battle started to get shorter and shorter, but he still needed others to help him pull of his plans. In this episode that goes right out the window. When he fought the new Kataphract, he figured out how to beat it and then beat it, taking basically no damage the entire fight until the Kataphract exploded when he killed it, in about two minutes using one magazine and two grenade launchers. Even in the most Gary Stu-iest of fights last time he needed help from the other characters. Hell, in the final fight with Saazbaum he got fucked up pretty bad. Now that he’s taking out these things that were such a huge problem the last time around by himself with no assistance, it either makes him Jesus or the enemy grossly incompetent.
And I’d put my money on the Jesus thing. He was shot in the face at point blank range but managed to survive, only losing an eye. It would have been better to have that pendant thing Asseylum carried around to be some kind of lost Aldnoah artifact on Earth that resurrected to the dead. Plus, now he has the power to activate Aldnoah, which means that humanity still gets to have their awesome flying battleship without worry from here on. Almost every piece of development for him has been making him more and more into the savior of humanity and the only thing that can turn the tide of the war. For me, that makes him less interesting and also calls into question why he’s even on the front lines in the first place. A character even asks that in the episode, but is told that he’s so awesome it doesn’t really matter.
With Slaine, there’s a bit more to him this time around. It looks like the only reason he actually joined up with Saazbaum was to keep Asseylum alive. When I first watched this I wasn’t paying that close attention, so when he let Saazbaum live and became a Vers Knight under him, I was a little confused. Watching it again, I can see where he is coming from. I’m guessing this is some kind of long con thing, waiting for Asseylum to heal before making his move. It could be interesting to see this play out from here on, but it could also be pretty stupid.
I can’t really talk about Asseylum in this episode because it would spoil something kind of big that I don’t to spoil. Plus, she doesn’t really do much.
There was one new character introduced in this episode. Her name is Lemrina, another Vers Empire Princess who isn’t all that keen on Aldnoah. There’s a point in the episode when she questions her own purpose, wondering if she is only around to be used as a tool for her activation factor. I’m guessing she’s sick or something along those lines, since we only ever see her in a wheelchair. She even goes so far as to call her blood repugnant. But immediately after that little speech, she gives her thanks to Saazbaum who is also using her as a tool, just not for her Aldnoah powers. It happens so quickly after her questioning the purpose of her life that it really feels weird. But then again, Saazbaum is apparently great at the soft sell of evil so maybe that has something to do with it.
Aside from the developments to our leads and the introduction of Lemrina, there’s not a lot else to say in the character department. Nobody has really changed over past 19 months on either side of the conflict. Well, except Calm, who seems to have taken to his role in all of this, but he’s not important so who cares.
My only big problem left with the episode are the Martians themselves. I really didn’t like the Martians’ backstory and reason for invading Earth, and it gets bad in this episode. Asseylum’s speech to the troops of Vers is about how humanity sucks for not appreciating the Earth when they had it, wasting all of their resources and destroying the planet in the pursuit of pleasure. Once she said that I basically stopped caring about the Vers as enemies, even though I barely cared about them in the first place. This rally of the troops is so stupid that makes me think that the writers are really stupid with trying to get their environmental finger wagging at the world into the series, or it was intentionally stupid. If it’s the first option then it’s just stupid, but if it’s the second option it takes away even more credibility away from the villains because it makes them look like idiots. Just a big old wave of stupid.
With all that being said, I’ll still probably end up watching the show. The animation still looks great, even when combining the CG with the traditional animation, and I do want to see how this all unfolds. If you watched the first part and liked it, you’ve probably already decided to keep watching series. If you watched the first part and didn’t like it, this won’t turn you around on the series. Most of the problems I had with the First Cour are still here and made more prominent. Add on top of that the way they kept the series going after that first ending and the fact that basically everything else from the First Cour carries over without any appreciable change, the start of the Second Cour is just kind bleh. Enough to keep the momentum going but not enough to make me excited to watch the rest.
With none of the good things from the First Cour getting any better and the bad stuff being made worse, Aldnoah.Zero Second Cour won't really do much for you unless you liked the first half. Even then, what it does do for you isn't anything special.