Aldnoah.Zero | Episode 12 (Season Finale) | TFP Review
GingaDaiuchuu: Well I expected some big cliffhanger, but they really outdid themselves. Okay, you’ve got me hooked for the continuation. The show’s use of twists for so much of its effect feels like a bit of a crutch, but it’s fascinating to think how this could possibly proceed at this point. I feel like it demands an even bigger twist to do so that it will be disappointing and/or hard to take no matter what direction it goes in.
At first it seemed that Asseylum may actually be dead this time, but with that making literally a quarter of the episodes ending with the assumption that she is only to be disproved in the next, I thought that it might be a continuation of what could almost be a running gag at this point (which amusingly comes off as something of a subversion of Urobuchi expectations to me, especially since the two with a greater chance of her death occurred after he left the show), but when the same appeared to have happened to Inaho, I gave up any chance of thinking I could accurately speculate. Given how lousy a protagonist he’s been and how relatively well-written a character Slaine has been, the thought of Slaine killing Inaho and taking his place is a darkly amusing one, but it doesn’t seem too likely, particularly considering… he just killed the “good guy” in the situation. Obviously we still have a lot more to learn about Inaho, and I only hope there’s not some magic that comes out of nowhere to make everything right in too ridiculous a way.
General Hentai: Well, thank goodness they didn’t end with a cliffhanger. Everything’s wrapped up: Asseylum’s dead, Inaho’s dead, Sazzbaum’s dead, Kenny’s dead….
Shiroi Hane: While it looked bad, none of them have actually been confirmed dead. Saazbaum in particular was still alive last we saw him.
Sensuifu: It all makes sense… Inaho survives, Asseylum survives, Saazbaum survives…that only means one thing- they must share something in common.
Sly05: I expect them both to come back as cyborgs, perhaps after having been brainwashed so they spend the first half of the second season on the enemy side. That or Inoha, as humanity’s greatest soldier, has figured out the limitations of conventional weaponry and deflected the bullets at the last second with his dandruff.
This episode was mostly silly rather than dramatic due to the continued poor writing. I’m with General Hentai in that Slaine’s actions made no sense given his motivations. This series has been a disappointment.
ProvidenceBreaker: I’ll actually be annoyed if too many people end up surviving that. That would be more plot armor than even the great Kira Yamato could conjure up. Asseylum should change her name to Princess Kenny.
Shiroi Hane: What the heck were they pulling with that sudden ridiculous combining Kat with the abilities of all the others?
EyeOfPain: All the other Vers kats we’d seen only had one Aldnoah ability up to this point, so I’m not sure why Saazbaum is special enough to get three different abilities. I thought it was kinda neat, but had there been some reason to it, that would have been better.
As for everything else, pretty sure I was wrong about any and all predictions I made. I will still be looking forward to the next season, with the writer supposedly killing off a good chunk of the cast, and having liked Inaho.
bctaris: I had thought that Inaho or Slaine were each an intentional parody of the young action hero, split in two. That’s not quite it, but it’s still on target. Where I suggested Inaho was an absurd, even over-the-top foil to Slaine (or vice-versa), it turns out that they each far more simply represent the split psychology of the Hero: the rational mind and the emotional one. Inaho as much as lays it all out in his monologue to Asseylum before the assault, explaining why he can’t hate Martians: the reason he acts the way he does is because he only looks at the fights they get into (and war and conflict itself) from a purely rational objective; emotion gets in the way if you mean to attain your goal. Slaine, however, is the opposite: he only looks at a situation based almost entirely on his emotions, ignoring rational objectives (like not worrying about Saazbaum, for instance) in favor of only what he believes. This was the wonderful tragedy of the whole story to this point.
When they first met, Inaho took the purely rational, even probabilistic, perspective that, being in a Vers aircraft, and not identifying himself, that Slaine was a possible threat, giving his help in the battle maybe only 50% odds that he was friendly to the Terrans and didn’t simply want Asseylum for himself. Until he had further information, this was the natural position for Inaho to take. But Slaine could only act irrationally, using only his emotion–his desperation to find the princess–to make him even more suspicious of the Terrans and Inaho (who, in his rational stance, was acting very guarded and cold) than Inaho was of him, to the point that Slaine decided, in fact, to return to the Vers instead of sticking around to find out for sure. It cements their fate.
The ingenious part is the allusion and repetition in the finale. When Slaine suddenly sees his reason for being–Asseylum–desperately checking on Inaho whom he had just tried to destroy, in a recasting of his own first meeting with her (crashed into a chamber she happened to be in, almost dead) it had to be confusing enough. To have Saazbaum shoot her–an act he instantly understood was his fault–pushes any thread of rationality out of his head entirely. As much as he’s now torn apart by Saazbaum (see below) now he has no idea what to think of Inaho trying to get to the fallen princess. In Slaine’s mind at this point, he probably blames him as much for her death–or, even better, wants to put all the blame on him, the one person in this room he doesn’t feel a debt to. Repeating again their first meeting, Inaho, rightly suspecting in his ever-rational mind (even crawling along the ground!) that the over-emotional Slaine was a wild card at this point attempts to defend himself (or shoot first). This time he loses.
You guys may get caught up in surface tropes and “cliffhangers”–but this was a surprising portrait of a tragic character, with Slaine. Not in a “tragic” weepy, emotional way, but in a classically entertaining, Hamlet-sized way. The focus will be on him and his demons from here on out, and with the Rational side of the story seemingly out of the picture, it’s only going to get more Tragic. I’m surprised. This turned out the more satisfying action-drama down the stretch this season, over the at first more mature but ultimately muddled Terror in Resonance. It seemed like Aldnoah.Zero with its broad but sure brush was doing something curious with the typical adolescent mecha show, and I’m glad it’s so far played out well, under the surface, at least. (I’ll not excuse the final-boss-ish COMBINING Kat for Saazbaum, though. Ridiculous, but fun.)
Sly05: I agree with much of your assessment about the themes of the show and what they were trying to do with Inoha and Slaine, I just feel that the execution was ultimately lacking. They were asking a bit too much for the suspension of disbelief in how they handled Inoha. There was too much of him seeing through enemy tactics within a few minutes and all around being a better soldier than anyone despite being a rookie piloting a practice mech. While it is expected that protagonists be exceptional, their abilities can be better supported and justified by the story.
A good example of that from another series is Shiroe from Log Horizon. The series quickly established as a high level player with a specific set of skills and abilities. It then presented him with obstacles that he overcame with creative ways using that skillset. Log Horizon also allowed the supporting cast to contribute to overcoming plot obstacles and fill the gaps in Shiroe’s talents and abilities. In Aldnoah.Zero, Inoha accomplishes everything because he’s Inoha and there isn’t even much of a struggle (until the end) for him to overcome anything. He’s just that good from the beginning. For no good reason.
I think the series could have greatly improved if the supporting cast made more contributions to the story. That especially means Slaine who I agree remains mostly a mystery. I suspect Slaine will probably be the focus of the second cour with Inoha (in some form) changing his role to be the foil, probably after a mid-season reveal of his survival, but I think the characters needed to be fleshed out sooner for the themes to have worked.
bctaris: That’s true, about that suspension of disbelief. I think I didn’t mind it, however, because I felt like the show was intentionally using very broad brushes in regards to character and motivation, so that I clicked into this view of the characters as classical archetypes used to describe a story that seems more about Big Themes (war, hatred, strategy, etc.) than whatever the plot decides to be beyond a simple war survival story. I admit that’s not always an entertaining perspective to take. But seeing as I’m cynical about the shows like this to begin with, it has some minor appeal.
ProvidenceBreaker: To be fair, we know absolutely nothing about Inoha. There will probably be some flashback eps next cour to flesh him out, if he survived. I can’t see them leaving his behavior a total mystery.
General Hentai: So I guess the next 12 episodes will consist of Slaine mopping around, discussing the consequences of Stockholm Syndrome.
Slaine’s actions make no f**king sense for someone who’s been trying to get to the princess the whole time.
bctaris: Only if you skipped the last couple episode of Slaine with Saazbaum which served to demonstrate how tenable allegiance is; and missed the series-long theme of Slaine where he has battled with those allegiances and debts, trying to understand who, and what, he truly serves. This was the culmination of his character, and in a particularly Shakespearean way.
Saazbaum spared his life because he owed a debt to Slaine’s father. In very much the same way Slaine feels Asseylum spared his life by saving and protecting him instead of simply handing him over to palace security when she first encountered him. All that he fought for, all that kept him going, was allegiance to Asseylum, and really to the idea of allegiance and debt, to the point that he continued to align himself with the Vers even while they abused him. It was always only emotion to him, and this is what the scenes before with Saazbaum were meant to point out: that blind emotion–fealty to a warmongering emperor–is what got the Vers into this mess to begin with. Except Slaine, being the Shakespearean tragic character that he is, didn’t get it (failing, in fact, the test Saazbaum seemed to give him of fleeing or staying with his coalition to kill the princess), and compounded his troubles by falling prey to his emotions again by feeling he now owed Saazbaum a debt for sparing his life.
This–Slaine’s character–is about honor and emotion, and how that is used to heighten and complicate conflict and war, as Inhao suggested in his monologue (about the use of hate particularly). That his actions may not make much sense on the surface is, I believe, absolutely intentional. Slaine doesn’t make sense from a rational stand point. If he was in any way a rational character (like Inaho), after he killed Asseylum’s first assassin and seen her in custody to the Terrans, he would have abandoned his Vers allegiance right there and then and joined Inaho’s group–as, in fact, several of us viewers thought he would. But his allegience for Asseylum was, it turned out, all tied up in his allegiance for her father, and even Cruhteo. (They pretty much erected a neon sign pointing out the confusion in Slaine’s head with the scene of him shooting the Terran soldier, and then joining the Vers soldier. It was simple foreshadowing to what he does next.)
The boy’s a mess. And it’s good drama. Far from the sloppy writing some assume it to be.
General Hentai: Speaking of which, why does Cruchteo’s mech wake up? But Inaho’s one mistake, shooting down Slaine, turns out to be a biggie.
bctaris: The only possibility, as I suggested last episode, was that, of course, Slaine activated it. Everyone seems determined to figure out Inaho, but has missed the fact that Slaine is a complete mystery, too. All we know is that he’s the son of a Terran scientist gone to Mars to study Aldnoah, and that Saazbaum owed that father a debt. And Slaine himself crashed into the Vers palace and himself owed Asseylum a debt. That is it. A scientist come to study Aldnoah, a “science” that only the emperor has control of, would probably get close to the emperor. Not much of a leap from there to assume, like the Vers knights, that he, and/or his son, was granted the power, or even stole it, if that’s possible. I give it a 100% chance we’ll get some flashbacks to cover whatever the tale is next season.