In 1972, a device is discovered on the moon allowing instantaneous travel to Mars. A settlement is established until a stash of alien technology is found. Now with the upper hand, Mars declares independence; becoming the Vers empire. The conflict culminates with the destruction of the moon, leading to a ceasefire - although tensions remain high.
A princess of Vers visits Earth as an envoy of peace, but an assassination attempt instead causes the war to reignite. With superior technology, the Vers forces quickly make gains and are eager to claim territory. Inaho is a part of the earths defense, and is quite surprised to find the princess alive counter to what everyone claims. It doesn't seem like anyone is interested in listening to reason either. Survival comes first for the time being. And their main concern may be Slain: a devoted subject of the princess determined to avenger her.
Aldnoah Zero is a sci-fi giant robot anime with problems, hidden under a heap of high quality production. Unfortunately this is the kind of show people excitedly talk about until someone says
The first season begins with the invasion of Earth, and the contrived meeting of the Martian princess with Inaho, the genius wiz kid mecha pilot. On the martian side, there's Slaine: a mecha ace pilot seeking the princess he's so devoted to. There's a fascinating character interplay between the adversaries; essentially fighting over the princess but actually seeking similar goals. There are intrigues on the Martian side while the Earth side simply struggles to survive (at first). As wiz kid strikes down Martian nobles, the tide begins to turn, culminating in a shocking last episode for the first season.
Having painted itself into a corner, I had a bad feeling about where the story would go, and sure enough it backtracks. This was enough of a letdown, that I stopped watching two episodes into season 2, then forgot about it for YEARS. I randomly remembered I didn't know how this anime ended, so I picked it up again. Point being, my enthusiasm puttered out entirely after the climax of season 1. Season 2 often feels like a slog, and lacks focus but has it's moments. The central characters of Aldnoah Zero are well developed. The Inaho / Slaine rivalry was a brilliant theme to weave throughout the story. It keeps both sides intertwined, and provides perspectives for both sides.
Aldnoah Zero is primarily a mecha anime, and from that perspective quite good. While many battles are simply Inaho miraculously figuring out a way to defeat a seemingly invincible super mecha, there are some more contemporary battles too which are cool.
So what's wrong with Aldnoah Zero? The first season isn't perfect, but the brisk pace moving towards a goal with a astounding crescendo at the end means I didn't notice the problems at the time (which is good actually). Screw it, I'll just say it: the problem with this anime, is uses kid gloves when it should have defiantly slapped you in the face, looked you in the eye and said: "Yeah, we did that" in the way the first season ended. The lack of follow through totally deflates what was built up, leaving the show to meander in it's lost momentum. More characters / intrigue are introduced, but doesn't fare as well. The Inaho / Slaine rivalry continues, but gets repetitive. It's more of Inaho having a solution for everything, and Slaine existing to be tormented.
If it sounds like a disaster, don't worry because liberal use of high production gloss, a good soundtrack, and giant robots paint over these problems better than I'd like to admit. Are there enough shiny things to ignore story/character flaws? Almost kinda yes. Aldnoah Zero has a lot going for it in the first half, and even if the second half isn't that great, can coast along well enough. I have mixed feelings on it, but can't deny it was mostly entertaining. It's worth watching for mecha/sci-fi fans, since there is a solid draw there, but for others maybe not so much.
Koichiro: Sins you've committed cling to your soul and haunt you forever. And sins gone unpunished aren't forgiven until you die.
Femieanne: Cower before my power, bow down before me, then despair and die.
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reviewed by archen in 2020