By: Caroline Frost · September 30, 2014
In 1972, a space portal found on the Moon allows Mankind to find a new technology on Mars, but this discovery triggers a terrible war between Earth and the colony. In 1999, the Vers empire of Mars declares war on the Earth Alliance, and the portal goes haywire, irreparably scarring the Moon. 15 years later, when the assassination of Martian princess Asseylum Vers Allusia during a diplomatic visit to Earth triggers another war, high school student Kaizuka Inaho finds himself forced to fight for the Earth Alliance.
They fire off that 75mm canon like it's some game, and you guys tell 'em they can defend the ol' homeland. You call shoving a load of crap down those kids' throat a job?
Well, that kind of plot doesn't sound original at all, and it really isn't. That's never stopped me from watching something, though, so I gave Aldnoah.Zero its chance, and got a couple surprises in return.
The usual Mecha hero ends up piloting a top secret, revolutionary Mobile Suit completely by chance, and beats up the bad guys while revealing himself to be a genius pilot or something similar for such or such reason. Well, that doesn't happen here. Kaizuka Inaho pilots a beat up training unit no one wants to use, and the only thing that makes him stand out is his incredible intelligence.
And what intelligence! Apart from Code Geass's Lelouch Lamperouge, I don't think I've ever seen such a smart character in an anime series. Every episode is an opportunity for yet another crazy but surprising scheme on Inaho's part, which makes it delightful to watch. The one con to that particular set-up, admittedly, is that the only anticipation for the audience lies in finding out exactly kind of madness Inaho's going to come up with, not in whether or not he'll actually come out on top. The creators somewhat make up for it with a surprising ending.
This show is visually fantastic, but it's also musically gorgeous. The score is seriously epic. Here's the best track:
The Mecha design is also really good, especially when it comes to Inaho's trainer, which looks almost live action-like in its quality. It's realistic enought that it's believable, especially because, at the end of the day, the main character doesn't depend on his machine to win, but on his own brain and smarts. And his utter apathy. Inaho's not the typical hot-headed shônen hero: he's so calm it's almost scary, never losing his cool in any situation. It annoyed a lot of people, but it didn't bother me too much.
Thematically-wise, Aldnoah.Zero certainly doesn't try to do anything new. You won't find any kind of deep message like in Gundam SEED or anything scenaristically new: war against aliens, a ton of form-fitting uniforms and female superior officers, faithful friends, crazy main character, epic battles and a dash of romance...it's all there. Well, except for the unexpected ending.
The characters aren't any different, except maybe for Lieutenant Marito, whose serious case of PTSD adds a shade of realism to the story. He's a nice addition to the show, insofar as he gives it a touch of actual humanity, since it's certainly not Inaho who's going to make us feel anything whatsoever. Marito knows what's going on, he's jaded, damaged and still fighting. Human. Slaine Troyard was promising at the start of the series, but ended up a disappointment.
All in all, an entertaining show with good chara-design and graphism, and a very nice score. A good, thoughtless time to be had, but nothing more.
Studio: A-1 Pictures, TROYCA
Aired: 07/05/2014 to 09/21/2014
Number of Episodes: 12
Genres: Science-Fiction, Mecha, Combat, Action, Militaire, Politique.