Aldnoah.Zero has kept me going despite my predilection for disliking Mecha Anime. Visually stunning, with a grand storied tapestry, can it keep me wanting more? Yes. Yes it can
I’m JustintheThief and I finally got my internet back (24 hours of horror); Here’s my review!
The episode opens on the visual of on of the “castles” while it is still in space. Trillram and Sauzboum are seen discussing what has just happened on earth, and whether Trillram took care of his business down there (disposing the vermin on earth who helped start this whole thing).
We then cut to see Inaho, Inko, and calm opening a garage door and looking relieved and happy. The plan if you remember was to fight back with the mechs that they had been using in practice with live ammunition. We then see Yuki waking up after her harrowing fight with Trillram. She is in the medical room in the school (these need to be there when you are required to learn to pilot and fight in a large metal robot), and one of the survivors, who appears to have some medical expertise tells her that the others plan to fight against the Martian Cataphracts. She looks horrified as the three friends look over their equipment.
The intro song is pretty cool. Nothing too special. But the visuals make me excited for what is to come next. We see Marito (still alive! Yay!) in what appears to be the port, where he is told that once the civilians are gone, the military is turning tail too. A woman, Darzana Magbaredge (say that five times fast) tells him he is the only survivor who fought, and that she is the captain of an Amphibious assault ship. Her XO (executive officer… don’t look so impressed. I had to look it up) is Mizusaki Kaoru. I believe the two of them to be important, since I remember seeing them in the opening.
Marito explains that Yuki is still fighting (he’s out of the loop a bit), but communications are down, do they have no idea where she is, or even if she could be rescued. Darzana seems pretty cold and heartless, but when Marito’s determination to save his students shows through, there’s a brief flash of something, empathy, perhaps (it was beautifully done) and she lets him have one landing vehicle to try to rescue them, but if he can’t find enough people to crew her, he has to give up on them.
Yuki yells at Nao while he is in the bathroom, explaining why his plan won’t work and it is suicide. Nao tells her that the Cataphract is seemingly after them, and they could keep it distracted so I couldn’t do more damage. He then tells her that Okisuke died, and quoted her previous telling to him, that people need to adapt and change plans when the situations arise. It leaves her speechless for a moment. But she tries to volunteer to do the work, but her injuries won’t allow it. He tells her to keep everyone’s spirits up.
We see Slaine at the place where the “princess” supposedly died, contemplating her loss. We see Trillram explaining to an angry Sauzbaum that though he let one of the “rats” escape, Rayet, he knows that they’ll have to come up in the Northern District of Shin-awara. However, impatient, Sauzbaum decides to implement a meteor strike (actual meteors? or like missiles? Or that final attack from Final Fantasy VII?), though Trillram protests, since Cruhteo’s castle is nearby and it might be taken as a sign of aggression. However it doesn’t phase Sauzbaum, who says to keep watching, and he’ll be ready in a few hours.
Inaho talks to Yuki about their plan. They know that anything fired at the Cataphract were all absorbed by the armor, so anything like infrared, echolocation and radar are all absorbed. We watch as Calm and Inko fly a small remote-controlled plane into Trillram’s Cataphract, but they obviously get no new information, due to the disappointed looks on their faces. So Inaho summarizes that the barrier absorbs all light, matter, sound and radio waves, however, if that’s true, then he is isolated within the cataphract, and can’t see or hear anything from their side of his barrier, since anything that he could pick up would be absorbed by the barrier (that is actually pretty brilliant). The others bring up that it is ridiculous, as he was still able to fight them, to an alarmingly accurate degree. But Inaho points out when they go into the tunnel, he gives up, leading him to believe that his eyes and ears are from an outside source, cameras somewhere above him. Which, if that is true, how does he utilize the cameras? If he can be selective about what gets through the barrier, then he could just use his own eyes and ears. And if it blocks all transmissions and things, why can a camera feed get through if nothing else can? I understand that they need something, but there’s a bit of a hole there.
So they are safe as they stay in hiding. We even watch as the group in the school makes the place more secure, and Reyat looking sadly at a picture of her father. Inaho, Inko and Calm discuss the decoys they need to make full use of their Cats (short for cataphracts, I’m going to start using that.), and who will drive the trucks. The princess volunteers, much to the chagrin of Eddelrittuo (haha, every time), saying that she need to accept some responsibility, as does Rayet, who wants revenge for the death of her father. Inaho tells them they will do it tomorrow morning. Yuki looks distressed.
Yuki appears to be on lookout, and Inko (who obviously has feeling for Inaho) checks on Inaho, who is working on his Cat. They talk about Calm, who is asleep, and Inaho comments that he hopes he doesn’t catch cold, as they’ve turned off the climate control to minimize their presence in the building. Inko, who seems distressed, says they could die tomorrow, and he’s worried about a cold. The ever emotionless Inaho tell her that he does get scared, but he can’t just sit around waiting for them to get caught or for Trillram to terrorize everyone. He worries about dying and what will flash before his eyes in his last moments. But he can’t sit and do nothing. He mentions that Calm is probably worried too, and we see Calm again, awake and obviously scared. The whole piece is a sobering moment and a poetical waxing of death and responsibility. Inko goes to sleep, and tells Inaho not to catch a cold either. He finally smiles (maybe not for the first time, but this is the first time I remember seeing it.)
We head back to Marito, who has found four others to crew the rescue vehicle and rescue the survivors. One more surprise, Captain Magbaredge volunteers to help as well. She tells him that he interests her. Could it be she’s curious about his reasoning or motivations? Or is it L-O-V-E! I’m such a romantic. *sigh* They see three red flares shoot in the air in the direction of the school. Marito recognizes the signal. “Commencing the Attack.”
Raynet and Asseylum leave in the decoy truck, With Inko and Calm following. Yuki walks away, seeming proud and worried, and Eddlerittuo just seems worried. Trillram sees Raynet and commences the attack. Thankfully the group sees him as well. Inaho, looking on from afar, sees the cameras and tells them to commence the attack. We see Trillram’s shock when, instead of attacking him, they instead shoot what seem to be smoke bombs in the air where his cameras are, making him effectively blind. He’s stopped dead.
Marito makes it to the school, much to the excitement of Yuki and the other survivors. Flying the docking plane for Trillram, Slaine asks what is happening. He gives them the position of the truck, and Trillram plows towards them. Calm shoots at Slaine, who fires back with regret, hitting Calm, though it didn’t seem like too bad of a hit. Inko fires back as well and manages to hit Slaine in one of the wings. We find out that Calm is fine, and can keep going.
Inaho, who was in the truck with his Cat, tells Asseylum to keep up the smokescreen as the Martian Cat draws nearer. After checking his equipment (and pulling off a cute “good luck” sticky note from Yuki) he joins the fray.
The chase is back on with the truck, harrowing now as Trillram is now very close, though Inaho is nowhere to be seen. Asseylum tells them they’ve only got a little more until they reach the destination, and Rayet says she can buy them some time. But they are finally stopped. Rayet knows they are after her, and tells the still disguised Asseylum to run, but she instead gets out, saying she will take care of this herself. She fearlessly confronts the Cat, telling him to withdraw. She does something, maybe an incantation sort of thing (what would be the technological version of that) anyways, she breaks her disguise and stands before a shocked Trillram as the princess.
The amphibious ship arrives, firing all missiles at the Martian Cataphract. Then, Inko fires her sniper rifle at him. Neither do any good. However, it seems Inko miscalculated, and instead destroys the bridge beneath him, causing Trillram to fall into the water beneath the bridge.
The water allows them to see where the barrier doesn’t protect the Cat, showing the “chinks in the armor” if you will. They find one in the rear armor (Maybe that’s where all the information from the cameras go to? That’d make sense and thus rule out my hole about the feed). Inaho, who was beneath the bridge, comes out with a blade and stabs it directly into the spot where the barrier doesn’t protect. There are none at his feet (or it would destroy the ground he stood on) and the other for the receivers (guess who had the right Idea? This guy!) He makes an opening in the armor with his blade, and fires into it with his machine gun, while mentioning that he did it for Okisuke.
The barrier goes down and the Cataphract falls. The rest are relieved that the crazy plan worked. Slaine looks on at the princess in disbelief. After the ED there is another little scene. Trillram survived and escaped, and Slaine finds him. He yells at Slaine, who explains he was making repairs to the carrier. He blurts out as they leave that the princess is alive, and Trillram states that he’s going to find and kill her, or he will be branded as a traitor. He turns to leave and Slaine takes his gun from him. He goes to take it back from Slaine, but Slaine shoots him in the stomach. Horrified, he looks up at Slaine, who seems to finally realize that he was the one who tried to assassinate the princess. He shoots Trillram several more times in horrified anger.
Whew, I think this is the episode that really gets me hooked. Not that I didn’t like the first two episodes, because I totally did, but I feel this was the episode where we really get into things. First of all, this was kind of the end of the first arc. They were chased, there was hiding, war broke out, and finally, there was a little victory and rescue. All in all, a nice ending to this part. It was even a bit heartwarming, and there was the retribution of Slaine killing Trillram in the end. That was great. This show has such good visuals and has the start of a very strong storytelling approach. A lot of things could be done, and the fact that the main characters seem to be split for now could give us a view into separate realms from the views of each protagonist. I only hope they don’t fall into the category of just another action mech anime. Because we have too damn many of them. I want a good-looking sci-fi story. I absolutely love some sci-fi. It gives me a feeling like when I first watched Rah Xephon, just without all the music.
I feel this could be one of the shows to watch out for this season. It’s going places and though it’s only (I was sad to hear) 12 episodes long, hopefully they don’t try to cram crazy amounts of info down our throats. They can slow down and really develop characters and stories this way. But it could also slow down and become stupid and pointless if they throw everything at us at once and it just becomes Mech battle after Mech battle. But the ingenuity and the forethought the writers have shown so far give me high hope and I believe that the story will not fall to the banality. And, I mean, the girls are actually pretty cute. That’s a plus too, right?
Have any thoughts or theories about where the story is going? Let me know in the comments. You have answers to any of my questions? Give them to me. Just want to go back and forth about what may happen next? I have many theories that this alternate reality is being controlled by sentient, brain eating turtles. We can discuss that. Hate my guts and with to destroy me utterly and trap me in the Phantom Zone? Stop following me! It’s getting really creepy…