Aldnoah.Zero – Episode 2: Beyond the Horizon
“Swear allegiance or be annihilated. You have but two choices.“
Synopsis: Martian forces have commenced their attack on the Earth. The Earth’s forces stand united, ready to defend against the attack as cities quickly turn into war zones. Inaho and his classmates must struggle to survive as they find themselves being thrown into danger.
From the moment the episode began to the episode’s conclusion everything was in overdrive: the action, the OST, the plot. Episode 1 began with a slow introduction into the world and it’s characters, but episode 2 took the prerogative and propelled the series into achieving it’s mecha potential, setting the rest of the series up for a compelling and truly emotional battle for survival. The shows various pieces are being moved into place and a plot it forming, however there are still some issues – I’m looking at you, Inaho Kaizuka.
The episode is characterized by the continual slaughter of Earth’s fighting forces, the Martian landing ships obliterating any resistance with minimal force and the Martian Kataphrakt’s eliminating, or, at least, having sport with any who dare to take up arms against them. They’re out for blood; this much is obvious. Resistance is futile and no one can stop them. The astounding inferiority of Earth’s defence forces in comparison to those few attacking Martian’s is, to be quite frank, ridiculous, but in a way that’s both forgivable (the plot explains it away with the discovery of advanced technology on the planet Mars) and also wholly enticing. Episode 2 aimed to prove to the viewer that our character’s fight against inevitable doom will be tough and that they’re up against an enemy who has the power to obliterate an entire city without even breaking a sweat. I’m curious to see how far the Kataphrakt’s can be pushed – what they’re limits are – and it’ll also be interesting to see how exactly our main characters intend to fight a machine that, through the utilisation of the light of Aldnoah, can erase matter through touch. No bullets damage them, no blade, no strike, no grenade. Not only that, the Kataphrakt’s are sleek and sexy to boot! Compared to the design of the KG-7 Areion (which is sexy in it’s own right), the Kataphrakt’s exude a self-confidence that is both elegant and deadly all the same.
I’d also like to make mention of the OST. In episode 1, the OST periodically ramped up into a chilling and exciting levels of thrilling composition prowess, however in episode 2 effectively the entire episode gave off this tense yet melodic vibe. Every battle was epic in it’s own right, but every battle was bolstered by it’s accompanying soundtrack. As such, credit must be given to Hiroyuki Sawano for taking an already awesome episode and utilising the power of sound to send chills through the viewers veins as they watch a world fall a part infront of them.
I mentioned earlier the ‘moving into place’ of various pieces, namely Eddelrittuo, Rayet Areash and Eddelrittuo’s ‘helper’. After the supposed assassination of Asseylum Vers Allusia and the subsequent attack, the aforementioned characters were left with choices to make and a need to rush quickly away from the city, albeit for very different reasons. Eddelrittuo and her helper are the more immediately important ‘hitchhikers’, the former’s distaste for Terran humanity and her feelings of anger towards those who would try to kill the Princess driving a wedge between her and the rest of the humans in the transport vehicle. Once her presence is made known, tensions will surely rise, and with all out war on the horizon – Inaho and his friends more than likely being humanities s last hope – any divisions will surely chip away further at stability, weakening Earth’s defence. Rayet on the other hand posses knowledge that will more than likely be damaging to Vers later on in the series, the assassination of the Princess being revealed as a ploy by Vers to acquire a valid casus belli, thus allowing them to declare war. Rayet is stuck between a rock and a hard place: her father took part in an event which sparked a war that’ll more than likely lead to the genocide or, at the very least, enslavement of the whole Earth ‘race’. She advocated her father’s action; she was willing to join him on his journey to Vers. Now she’s stuck with the people who’s lives are at risk because of her father but she can’t leave them because in Vers she has found herself an enemy. Her growth, despite her lack of presence in the episode, will be the most interesting to watch over the next few episodes.
One of the more interesting battles of the episode was that of the battle between Trillram versus Koichirō Marito and Yuki Kaizuka. It’s interesting that no one seems to believe that Marito served in the army during Heaven’s Fall and it’s even more interesting to see how even he, Marito, could do nothing against the Kataphrakt. This leads me once again to question how a couple teenagers are going to figure out a way to take on these mechanical monsters, Marito having served and thus having witnessed them fighting in battle before. The war only ended last time due to the destruction of the hypergate on the moon. Honestly, I can’t see how exactly Inaho will win this battle, but I suppose only time will tell. Who knows, perhaps for once the adults and the teenagers will work together in battle and Marito will enact his revenge? Here’s to hoping.
Speaking of teenagers… The death of Okisuke Mikuni will almost certainly prove to be the foundation and the basis of the teenagers will to fight and resist the invading Ver’s forces. Okisuke was the happily disposed friend who died so that his friends could escape (albeit reluctantly) and this gives Inaho and his friends every reason to want to kill Trillram. But I’d like to talk about Inaho a minute. Last episode I made mention of the fact that Inaho comes across deadpan and without a developed personality: the guy might as well not even blink he’s so lifeless. In fact, Inaho’s face after Okisuke died almost caused me to burst out laughing (the only thing that stopped me was the tone of the music and the scenes that followed after) – he looked as though he’d dropped a f*cking icecream! The guy makes no attempt at emotion and it’s borderline ridculous at this moment in time. I get it: some people aren’t emotionally involved in their surroundings and have a hard time expressing themselves – that’s fine. But Inaho’s personality is too extreme and it’s a prime example of why, sometimes, anime isn’t the ‘best‘ form of emotional media: it’s really easy to mess up characters who’s expressions can be drawn and don’t require natural inflections. I’m just waiting for Inaho to prove to me that he’s human – calm and collected would be fine! Hell, even psychopathic would be better than ‘plank-of-wood’ characterization that he’s got right now!
Otherwise, episode 2 of Aldnoah Zero was a great episode and the series is now ready to move into it’s next phase: real plot. Inaho’s characterization let the episode down at times and Slaine’s conflict bodes well for a union between our two main characters, but honestly the series could go anywhere at this point and that’s okay with me (as long as it makes sense). Here’s to more dramatic slaughter!