Aldnoah.Zero Season 1- Anime Review

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Aldnoah.Zero has undoubtedly become one of the most talked about anime this season. I sped through the first ten episodes of the series over a couple of days and then watched the remaining episodes as they launched on Crunchyroll. The show has viewers pretty split on their opinions so far, so here’s what I thought of the show!

Despite having been created by Gen Urobuchi (Famed for Madoka Magica among others), the series doesn’t start off with the most original of ideas. Set in the future Aldnoah.Zero starts off with showing us that humans have been split into two fractions, the Terrans who are born and live on Earth and the Martians who live in space. The two have been at war for quite some time, and in the first episode we see the Martians send down their princess, Asseylum Vers Allusia, in order to make peace and put an end to all the problems. Naturally things don’t go quite as planned and in the first episode the Princess is seemingly killed, giving the Martians an excuse to go to war and attempt to take over the Earth.

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As the story progresses we’re introduced to Slaine and Inaho, our two main characters. Slaine was saved by Asseylum and brought up with the Martians despite being born a Terran. Inaho is a young teenager with an eye for strategy on the battle field and who finds himself quickly becoming one of the lead players in the fight against the Martians. Slaine is somewhat caught in the middle here, he doesn’t belong in either camp (and the Martians certainly don’t feel like he has any right to fight alongside them), but he wants to take revenge for the loss of the princess, but things get quite complicated once he reaches Earth…

The truth is the princess wasn’t killed, it was all a ploy by the Martians in order to go to war as they’ve always longed for by making it seem as though the Terran’s killed Asseylum. Upon learning this truth Slaine is forced to suspect the Martians and try to stop the war by informing people he can trust that the princess is indeed alive, which is much harder than it sounds. Inaho on the overhand ends up with Asseylum and vows to protect her until he and the army people he ends up working with can get to the central base so they can send a message to the Martians that Asseylum is safe and well. Sadly, this is where the series begins to fall apart.

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The plot holds up strongly, and although Inaho is a bit too much of a genius and overcomes battles he really shouldn’t be able to, there is compelling action and things overall do try and make sense. The issue with Aldnoah.Zero lies with its characters, especially Slaine and Inaho. Inaho is meant to be one of our lead characters, but he never shows any emotion at all. He has no depth to him and it’s very hard to relate and/or care for him at all. He smiles once in the last episode, but that honestly does not save him. Slaine is not much better, but he at least has his love for Asseylum to give him some depth. He’s not completely void of emotion either, he’s angry and on edge and just wants to see justice done for everything that’s happened, but at the same time he must choose whose side he’s really on. Most of the time he is against Inaho whenever they cross paths, there is one episode in which they work together but that doesn’t work out long term. It’s one thing I can honestly credit the show for, it doesn’t work like Valvrave or Buddy Complex where you have two enemies then become friends and work together.

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Aldnoah.Zero feels a lot like Code Geass and Valvrave in its plot, but overall it has a few twists and turns to keep it feeling fresh. Episodes are far better when Gen Urobuchi has had a stronger hand in the writing of said episodes, but the good episodes certainly outweigh the bad anyway. Not everything in the plot makes sense, but the heavy and jaw-dropping twists make up for any loose ends. The very final episode leaves us with the biggest twist yet and it’s very much a Gen Urobuchi ending in a lot of ways which you have to see. Having it spoiled on you will lessen any and all impact it could have on you, so you have to see it in order to appreciate it. It’s definitely worth keeping in mind that the show is receiving a second season next year so it’ll be very interesting to see where things go when it comes back. A second season means the series has more than enough time to tie-up any loose ends it has left and I’m confident that it’ll do so nicely.

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In terms of animation the series has been handled by A-1 Pictures and looks really nice for it. Character designs are all different enough to be interesting and while the mecha all look very similar to mecha in other series, the animation of them makes them stand out enough to be pleasing to the viewer. The animation is of a high standard that we’ve come to expect from the studio.

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In terms of music the series is being handled by Hiroyuki Sawano, who is famed for Blue Exorcist, Attack on Titan and Kill la Kill. Although overall the musical score is good, it’s not quite something to write home about either. It doesn’t feel as strong as the soundtrack for Kill la Kill was for example, and a lot of the tracks felt like they were reused. There is one track used at the end of the first four or five episodes which, considering I was watching a large portion of the episodes together, started to grate on me a bit.

For the most part Aldnoah.Zero has its problems, but its compelling nature will keep you interested, as will the twists and turns. For a first season it’s not a bad start, where we go from here with season two will determine its future in my opinion.

Scores:

  • Overall 6
  • Animation 8
  • Story 7
  • Soundtrack 6
  • Characters 4

Aldnoah.Zero can be watched on Crunchyroll right here.