For my summer season watching session, I chose to try Aldnoah.Zero based off the recommendations of the internet, much like Akame ga Kill, which I recently posted my first impressions about. A mecha anime about a war between Martian humans and citizens of Earth (Terran), Aldnoah.Zero's premise sounds promising, but does it hold up? (WARNING: this article operates under the assumption that readers have seen the first two episodes of Aldnoah.Zero, so spoiler alert!)
Aldnoah.Zero is a darker show, something made clear very early on. Over the course of the first twenty minutes, a large number of people are mercilessly killed, including civilians.
Truthfully, I'm always a sucker for early violence. The amount of action and consequences of the action are very important aspects of a good show, and that goes for any type of programming. If these early battles did not result in destruction, the entire show would appear comical, and to this degree the action and consequences are handled very well. The music also aids in the establishment of the mood, which is expected because the composer Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill) is a seasoned veteran at writing music for similar shows.
The characters within this show are a mixed bag. On one hand, I really liked the student instructor, Koichiro, and hope that he plays an important role. I also found Inaho interesting, because he is relatively introverted, yet he seems to be respected and in control, be it making his sister breakfast to telling his friends to act as decoys against an invading army.
The idea of there being 37 Martian knights, which basically seem like commanders, is also intriguing. Hopefully this will be put to good use. On the other hand, two of the supposed three main characters thus far seem iffy. Slaine seems like he could potentially be very similar to Suzaku from Code Geass, since he is fighting for a side he is not native to, and a princess close to him has been 'killed'. His future will most likely be determined by the actions of Asseylum, the princess in question. Asseylum herself is also up in the air. So far she seems like a damsel in distress, which is a trope that most dislike. However, she did subdue Inaho in the second episode, so she could end up being a strong female lead, which is much more preferable.
This is where my enjoyment of the show has been partially damaged: humans discover ancient technology on the moon in 1972, which allows them to begin colonizing Mars. Upon the discovery of even more advanced technology, these emigrants separate from Earth and become their own nation. 27 years later, these nations fight a war that causes the destruction of the Moon. Improbable, but okay. By the time of Aldnoah.Zero, a mere 42 years after the original Moon discovery, the differences between the Martians and Terrans cause an insane amount of racism. Slaine is not respected or trusted by anyone from Mars other than the princess.
I understand that these nations are at war, but there is literally one generation gap between the youngest adult Martians and their original Earthen ancestors. The emperor himself is originally from Earth. The time frame for this show's history is unreasonable, so in that respect be prepared. Trickery going on within the Vers Empire is also interesting. It is clear that not all the knights have the princess's interests in mind, and seek only to conquer Earth. If some of the other knights realize this plot, there could be internal fighting. It also seems like some of the Terran characters will have branching story lines, since Inaho and company have already been separated from Koichiro. The biggest danger for Aldnoah.Zero is really going to be maintaining a separate identity from shows that it shares many similar aspects with, such as Attack on Titan, since the overwhelming power of the Martians is similar to that of the Titans from AoT.
Aldnoah.Zero is a show with many interesting ideas and characters. If utilized properly, these traits could lead it to become one of the best anime this year. However, it also could potentially become a complete mess if not done properly. I recommend those interested in darker mecha anime to give this a try, but proceed with caution.
Thanks for reading! Agree with me? Have other points to make? Any comments are valued highly and I will try to respond to anything asked.