Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

28 November 2016: The End of Aldnoah.Zero ~Air/Slaine Did Nothing Wrong~

I'm going to assume Asseylum has lots of copies of this same dress.

Last week's "The Uncanny Valley of Military Anime" post did not explicitly name Aldnoah.Zero as one of the shows safely on either side of the valley, but I at least thought about it. Omitted for length constraints, I also did not address it because I've—for over a year now—been planning on writing a series of posts addressing various aspects of it. I think I have to admit at this point it ain't gonna happen, just like I'm never going to actually write that Pretty Cure primer or the rest of my Iriya v. Saikano comparisons. So let me at least address the part that bothers me most: The Ending. (Considerable spoilers follow.)

Klancain and Slaine
Can I have my dad's robot back?

Setting aside all the other problems with the ending to Aldnoah.Zero (of which there are many). I think it is notable that a third challenger to the putative Slaine v. Inaho rivalry for Asseylum as a romantic partner quite literally flies in out of nowhere and marries her. I have two major problems with this.

And this is how Tokyo 7th Sisters was formed.

First, it seems to me his appearance serves mostly to sever the love-triangle subplot in a most desultory manner. Not that there could have been a satisfactory conclusion to this problem set, but this resolution strikes me as particularly craven. The suffering which Slaine is willing to endure on Asseylum's behalf is intended to make him somewhat sympathetic, particularly since it's obvious his love is unrequited. We're set up to expect to see him "rewarded" at the end, or, conversely, made even more miserable by being rejected in favor of his loathed rival in order to make him seem more tragic.

That whole eye thing was stupid too.

Personally, I don't consider Inaho an engaging protagonist (although I can understand why some viewers might like him), and I find it unconvincing that Asseylum would necessarily be so drawn to him in the context presented by the show, but it would have been acceptable to see him "win" from a storytelling perspective. Unfortunately, the show painted itself into a corner in the second season with a plot line it wasn't prepared to conclude. If this was the best Aldnoah.Zero could do with this narrative layup, it should not even have attempted the shot. Really, Inaho and Asseylum should have "died when they are killed" by Saazbaum at the end of the first season. (Or, more respectably, Asseylum should have died when she is killed by Rayet earlier on.)

Klancain and Asseylum
Make Vers great again.

Second, the series simply concludes Asseylum needs a husband in order to legitimize her claim as the next Vers ruler. It makes sense that Slaine would need to marry into the royal family to secure the loyalty of the other clans, but it doesn't follow that a member of the royal family would need a husband. Sure, there are examples where females are usually barred from ruling (such as Westeros in Game of Thromes) and thus need to marry in order to secure power, but none of this was previously established in Aldnoah.Zero, nor did it factor into the show at all until Asseylum's sudden pronouncement. It's as if it did not even occur to anyone producing the show that maybe Martian girls could be allowed to hold positions of power in their own right. Really, the entire marriage angle is a transparent effort to kill the love-triangle subplot and to discourage 'shippers from making the "what if" noises about a sequel that we would hear if the show tried a more conventional non-committal resolution.

Slaine and Lemrina
Maybe if you had better hair.

So what about that valley? Aldnoah.Zero stays out of the military anime uncanny valley by featuring absurd battles between "super" robots and "real" robots. The combatants and their leadership continuously stumble through strategic, operational, and tactical mistakes, which I suppose is the sort of thing you'd get when all anyone knows are indistinguishable-from-magic powers and giant robots. Giant robots with a kill switch that will completely deadline them until you agree to soul kiss the younger sister of your teenage crush. So, yeah, Aldnoah.Zero is safely unrealistic enough that I'll give its wartime stumbles a pass. That said, the show did integrate ISTAR properly in an episode or three, which is a lot more than can be said of most shows.

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