Aldnoah.zero

Yes, more anime. (For those concerned: no, I’m not turning this into an anime blog. Real life has been stressful lately, which hasn’t left much mental energy for intellectual exploration. Rather than go completely dark, you’re getting commentary on where my spare time is being spent. But I am slowly making my way through a book that might result on a post or two on the mind.)

In Aldnoah.zero, in 1972 Apollo 17 discovers an ancient alien hypergate on the moon which leads to Mars. There, the remnants of an ancient civilization are discovered by colonists, as well as an alien technology called “Aldnoah”. The technology recognizes the first person who discovers it, Rayregalia Vers Rayvers, and gives his genetics control over it. He and his genetic line control when the technology can be activated and who can activate it, enabling him to declare himself emperor of a new feudal Vers empire.

Tensions mount between Earth and the Vers empire, resulting in a state of war in 1999. A battle on the moon causes the hypergate to explode, fracturing the moon and scattering debris around Earth orbit. A ceasefire is worked out, but the remnants of the Martian forces establish bases in the debris field around the Earth, calling themselves the Orbital Knights. For years, these knights wait for an opportunity to attack the Earth again.

In 2014, princess Asseylum Vers Allusia, the granddaughter of the emperor, visits Earth on a diplomatic mission to promote peace. However, assassins strike and billions watch as her entourage is murdered. The Orbital Knights react swiftly and begin attacking the Earth. Their Aldnoah technology is far superior to anything the Earth forces can muster. So initially the conflict is extremely one-sided.

Much of the action focuses on two individuals. Inaho Kaizuka is a nerdy high school student. As the war begins, he turns out to be a tactical genius, able to find the weakness in the armor of Martian knights, armor that initially seems impregnable. His abilities turn him into a major asset for Earth forces.

The other is Slaine Troyard, a native born Terran who has grown up among the Martians. He is despised and abused by the knights for his origins. However, he has a close friendship with princess Asseylum. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly evident that Slaine is a remarkable individual, who gradually is able to take control of his world.

I think this might be the most action oriented anime I’ve watched during this binge. As in most of the anime I’ve discussed, there is ample amounts of character development, but it happens between the numerous battles. At first, the Orbital Knights are pretty uniformly portrayed as a sadistic and arrogant bunch, but as the series progresses, we find this isn’t true for all of them, and it becomes evident that their leader has his own complex agenda driven by personal tragedy.

Similar to Gundam and a lot of other sci-fi anime, much of the action happens in mecha, with the Earth forces manning more or less standard battle mobile suit units, but each Martian knight having his or her own unique technology and referring to their personal mecha as “steeds”. So, although this is a character driven story, the mecha features heavily.

So, a lot of action and nerd candy, interlaced with the psychology of warfare and occasional bits of philosophical pondering, such as the idea that war is basically negotiation between different societies, just with the stakes raised. Worth checking out if it’s your cup of tea.

8 thoughts on “Aldnoah.zero

  1. Thanks for the notification Mike. Yes I was concerned, though apparently I was right to be. It’s not exactly that that’s real life and this is not however. We’re just as real as the people you meet face to face.

    I suppose that you don’t consider whatever’s currently stressing you out to be appropriate for mentioning here. That’s fine. I doubt you’d find a more sympathetic audience, though sympathy shouldn’t resolve the issue itself any more than anime does. Unfortunately you’ll have to manage that yourself somehow. Still it’s pretty clear to me that supported people tend to lead much happier lives. I’d say that you’ve invested well here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Eric. I’m grateful for the offer, but there are subjects you don’t want to discuss in a public internet forum, or in some cases, with other than the involved parties. The good news is that one of the issues, which was work related, was resolved this week.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember being impressed by this one, though I cannot remember many details from six years ago when I saw it. I remember it was suspenseful, and not easy to root for either side winning. But a good balance of world building and character building, and some nice tech design as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found it natural to root for the Earth federation, particularly at the beginning, although by the end there were plenty of sympathetic people on the Martian side, and it’s not unusual in anime for there to be no clear good or bad side, so it’s easy to see how you might remember it that way across six years.

      Definitely agree on the suspense! It seemed like every episode had major developments.

      Like

  3. I’m reminded on something Stan Lee said about comic books. Sometimes people just need a break from real life. That’s what escapist fiction is for, and there’s no shame in that.

    Sorry to hear you’re going through a tough time. I, for one, am really enjoying reading your anime reviews. You’ve turned me on to a few shows that I’m really interested in checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks James. And I’m grateful for the feedback. I’ve always done sci-fi / fantasy book and movie reviews, but anime has opened up a new frontier of stories to explore. Part of this binge is entertainment, but another part is research.

      I definitely agree with Stan Lee, although a lot of anime is much grittier than the stuff he usually produced, often stuff you might not want a young kid watching. It’s interesting that (American) comics tend to be preoccupied with superheroes, while anime tends to be preoccupied with teenagers, although both have exceptions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you and I already talked about this in another comment thread, but anime does a lot of really unconventional storytelling, or at least it’s unconventional for us Westerners. And that’s what I really like about it. It gets me thinking about stories in ways that I’m not accustomed to.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We did discuss it, and I agree completely. It’s interesting how much anime has precursors of stuff in western markets that seemed like original content. Of course, to be fair, a lot of anime is an eastern (or Japanese in particular) take on western stories and themes, with things from their own history and cultural memes mixed in.

          Liked by 1 person

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