Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

26 October 2014: Aldnoah.Zero is basically about Slaine being a failure

How is Assey's dress not completely filthy by now?

My spoiler-avoidance efforts led me to watch the first cour of Aldnoah.Zero essentially isolated from the contemporaneous reactions and opinions of other viewers. It was not until after watching the 12th episode that I learned how different my impressions of the show were from the apparent norm. For one thing, it appears I liked the show on a whole much more than most viewers. Secondly, I hadn't realized how polarized the "Inaho v. Slaine" camps had grown. I also raised an eyebrow at the sheer number of motorists on the Information Superhighway who decry Slaine as terrible character. Personally, I find Slaine to be a good character. He tragically fails at essentially everything he attempts, but success does not determine whether or not I consider a character good. (Or else Kirito would be like the most goodest character, yo.)

No pain, no Slaine.

This is the part where someone accuses me of being a Slaine apologist, which I suppose is accurate in the sense that I'm sympathetic toward Slaine, but it's incorrect if it's supposed to either signify allegiance in some contest between two male leads or refusal to acknowledge some universally accepted anime norm. Not that I can't see where Inaho supporters are coming from. The key to good robot anime—I've been led to believe—is making the story about a likeable kid who seizes the reins of destiny—preferably a kid who is guided and disciplined by an older, veteran mentor who later dies. Determined pilots tend to be more popular than whiny shirkers such as Shinji. Inaho not only gets in the damn robot, doing so is his idea to begin with. Once there, he executes with impeccable precision, improvises when necessary, and basically saves everyone's ass time and again despite pitting a loaner training mecha against vastly superior Martian kataphracts. And he does it without displaying any emotion, which is better than being a whiny bitch about it, but perhaps not as fun as being fired-up and hot-blooded.

Inaho's stoical genius actually goes too far and treads at times into Kirito's Zone of Kawahara's Grace. Probably my least favorite part of Aldnoah.Zero was listening to the increasingly shrill objections of Inaho's sister, Yuki. This really impeached her credibility as a soldier and authority figure. I'm pretty sure the only reason the show made me listen to her waste time hysterically carrying on about the risks surrounding Inaho's plans was so that I could be persuaded to believe how awesome and brave he was in the face of mortal danger. Towards the end, I swear to Haruhi, I thought Yuki was going to get the vapors.

This blog entry isn't about Inaho, though. It's about Slaine and how he's basically a failure at everything he tries. If you haven't figured it out by now, the remainder of this blog entry contains considerable spoilers for the series as a whole. The same caveat as the one I stated earlier applies here.

Asselyum and Eddelrittuo
Should someone be worried about the one gauge that's not like the others?

I guess technically Slaine was arguably only a failure at one thing since everything he did was to further his hopes of getting Asseylum to safety before someone tries to kill her again. Well, he definitely failed at that. Not only was Slaine unable to reunite with Asseylum, he was indirectly responsible for her death because he saved the life of the man who assassinates her. It's actually even worse than that. Slaine knew in advance that the man intended to kill her. Granted, Slaine couldn't have predicted Asseylum would happen to be in that precise location at that precise time, but he still had enough time after seeing her to realize she was in danger. Moreover, the entire reason Asseylum was in that chamber at all was to shut down the castle with her magic Aldnoah override powers. There wouldn't have been any need for her to do that if Slaine had just let Inaho kill Saazbaum. So, yeah, Slaine has got to be feeling pretty lousy about the entire thing right about now.

Slaine being less of a fuck-up than usual.

Let's not forget that Slaine basically just got done being tortured for an entire episode by someone who turned out to be an ally. (An ally Saazbaum also murdered, no less, while kidnapping Slaine in order to expedite his whole finding-and-killing-Asseylum project.) At least it got him out of being tortured some more. But, oh, it turns out he was being tortured by someone who would have wanted to help protect the princess, and instead ends up assisting the last person he should have helped. Slaine, you're a putz.

To be fair, there are a lot of failures in Aldnoah.Zero. Lieutenant Marito? Failure. Top to bottom. All those Martians who fought Inaho? Failures. Well, except for Saazbaum, I guess. Good job shooting Asseylum in the face the first chance you got, guy. And, yeah, Assey was a failure. She can basically be blamed for the entire war and the millions of Terrans dead because she naively though she could foster diplomacy by visiting Earth, maybe doing some birdwatching, perhaps learning an 11-year-old won't necessarily know the actual reason why the sky is blue. That was a pretty nice détente y'all had once before you had to go and get yourself (I mean your unfortunate stunt double) Ferdinanded. I guess she couldn't have known there was an assassination plot already in place to generate a pretext to go to war (unless she had been skipping out on her counter-intelligence and force protection briefs), but I'm going to guess her visit would have had a pretty minimal effect on improving planetary relations even in a best case scenario. Asseylum visiting Japan ain't exactly Nixon going to China. It's also Slaine's fault she ever wanted to make nice with Earth, too, what with all his stories about water and birds. Just sayin'.

Cruhteo. Still less of a dick than Saazbaum.

Considering how fast Vers went to war the instant it looked like Assey was dead, I'm sort of surprised hadn't already resumed previously. Remind me again why they stopped fighting 15 years ago? Giant robots and crazy Martian powers aside, Aldnoah.Zero is mostly realistic enough that some of these concerns should be legitimate. They were so eager to attack Earth that I don't see a good way for Asseylum to stop the war now that it's in full swing. From the looks of it, Assey didn't wield any actual authority despite her "princess" moniker. Even if Assey's transmission to the Martian people hadn't been jammed, I wouldn't expect it to have much effect. They'll just find excuses to keep fighting. Who do you think you are? Lacus Clyne? I guess it doesn't matter either way since she's dead now.

Okay, for real. Is Asseylum dead this time or not? We never saw the bullet strike her square in the face, but I don't think it's naive to believe it did. The airbag hood deploying might be intended to create ambiguity, but more likely it's just sparing viewers the sight of her grisly exit wound. Significantly, Slaine believed she was dead. Unless he was just being a failure again by not checking for vitals, his reaction is a clear indication that Assey is an ex-princess. The first shot which struck Asseylum in the torso would have killed her anyway. Yeah, in most television shows and movies, someone can just slap a bandage over the holes and drive on. Realistically, however, Asseylum would have bled out unless she received immediate surgical care and lots of blood replacement, neither of which seemed likely for someone in her situation, and doubly so since we know her body disappeared. At a minimum, Assey suffered serious enough wounds that Slaine couldn't have simply tossed her in the back of Cruhteo's old robot and flew off to some cabin in the woods for a few months of tender convalescing and non-binocular bird watching during the mid-cour break, My-Otome-style. Asseylum (and Inaho) should be dead dead and not just mostly dead.

Slaine and Asseylum
I also hope it is not a sewer.

With regard to one prominent crackpot theory, I don't believe Asseylum is immortal, nor do I believe she conferred this immortality (and Aldnoah powers) to both Slaine and Inaho through her magic saliva. This theory does have some foundation, because we do know Aldnoah powers can be granted to people outside the immediate family; that's how the various knights manage to power their castles. However, there's no indication any of these yahoos are immortal, nor does the bedridden emperor come across as an immortal himself. Asseylum also does not behave like someone who believes herself to be immortal, and all the Martians reacting to her death reacted as if she would be staying dead. If Aldnoah powers offer immortality, nobody appears to know about it, and I figure someone would have noticed by now.

Allegedly not Asseylum
Most of that will buff right out.

Admittedly, it's a little problematic that Assey was loose on the street following the assassination attempt instead of hiding out in a more sensible place for a princess who's been ralphing all morning. I'm willing to accept that there really was a stand-in who nobody cared about after she died. I'm willing to pretend the real reason Assey was loose on the street with El Dorado Ritsuko is because she faked being sick and used it as an excuse to be out in disguise fucking off. Probably buying crepes. They needed some way to have her and Inaho meet cute, okay. I don't see why the stand-in needed to look just like her, though. She was just going to keep the seat warm in a car with opaque windows. Was it really just to fake out viewers for one week? But if that really was her catching the guided missile and shrugging it off because she (and her magic dress) are immortal, then's she's definitely coming back for the second cour.

Slaine and Asseylum
I think Assey would have told Slaine if she gave him the Aldnoah.Clap.

I don't actually see a good reason to bring Assey back. I don't think it's realistic to believe a teenage princess can stop the war, no matter how convincing she might appear on television. I think it's more likely that Asseylum and Inaho are both dead and that Slaine is the real main character of the series. The possibility remains a traumatized Slaine will take on the villain's role in the second cour, but there's no one available to take over Inaho's hero slot. It's pretty easy to accept Inaho over Slaine as the first cour protagonist because he's a teenage boy and the most Japanese of the two. But with Inaho out of the picture, isn't Slaine barred from becoming a rage-induced villain since there's nobody left to adequately succeed Inaho in the narrative? Nobody cares about Calm. Lieutenant Marito is too old. All the other potential replacement protagonists are girls. My respect for Aldnoah.Zero will rise tremendously if it actually transforms Yuki, Inko, or Rayet (or any of the female characters) into the new lead protagonist, but I'm too pessimistic to believe that will happen. This basically pushes Slaine out of the villain spot and into the role of the real main character. The show did begin with him and Asseylum, after all.

Asselyum's good luck charm
Either this thing does super-important crazy Aldnoah magic bullshit
or it is completely and hilariously ineffective and useless.

I think it's likely the second cour will focus on Slaine coming to grips with Assey's death. (I'm guessing he took her body with him to bury on some secluded mountaintop. He wouldn't just leave her there. He probably even took his woefully ineffective good luck charm back.) I think he will struggle to reconcile his Terran and Martian loyalties while trying to stop the war with his Spider-Sense robot. (Assey would have wanted it that way.) And I think there will be some mumbo jumbo about why he has Aldnoah powers which hopefully will neither be batshit crazy (e.g., Assey went all Star Trek II and katra-ed him at some point in the past for no clear reason), nor be inspired by some really Japanese-light-novel bullshit (e.g., Slaine and Asseylum were secretly brother and sister all along). It's a cinch this has something to do with his father, though. We still don't know why Slaine crashed into Assey's whatever room in that escape capsule, nor do we know why his lungs were full of water at the time.

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