“It is not me that you admire. It is my activation factor.”
The Beautiful and Damned
This week, there was good and there was bad. To an extent, I’m surprised there was even good at all, especially considering where it came from – but more on that later. I want to talk about the bad first, and in Aldnoah.Zero you must be aware by now that the term ‘bad’ is synonymous with ‘Kaizuka Inaho’. Amusingly enough, they decided to lampshade the fact that the Aldnoah-powered Deucalion is crewed by children too young to ordinarily serve in the army. I hope that’s actually Urobuchi lamenting on one of the many failings of A.Z’s first season – wait until those guys hear that the ace pilot is one of those children! I was actually thinking that things were looking sunny-side up, since Eggs showed more emotion in the OP alone than he’s ever had throughout the entire series. Then the episode actually happened, and I laughed bitterly. Looks like I’ve been taking a few courses in optimism run by Princess. I almost couldn’t stand it, seriously – he manually calculated Inko’s weight by looking at her? And he sensed stress in the ‘formant analysis of her voice’? Why would you… why would anyone… just, why?! To be honest, if he’s going to figure out that Princess is actually Lemrina from the stress patterns in her voice, I’d actually prefer them using the mix-up over the sky being blue. It’s still not great, but it’s more plausible compared to Inaho activating his cyborg powers and analysing tone deflections in an audio clip.
You’ll notice that I have started addressing Lemrina by name. This is out of a newly-found respect. I am proud to announce that I like this girl. Finally, at long last I have found a character that doesn’t deserve to either die in a sea of fire, or suffer severe post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of seeing others die in said fire. Lemrina contributed to a lot of the good in this episode. She is the cynical light of VERS, an empire otherwise populated by the likes of Princess, Saucybum and Slaine the Master Shooter. Initially, Lemrina didn’t seem to have much of a personality at all, but I now understand that she is more intelligent than she looks. In essence, she knows what’s going on. And because of this, she is everything Asseylum should have been in a princess. This is probably largely due to the totally different worlds the two inhabited – the illegitimacy of her birth has essentially made Lemrina grow up, and see the society around her for what it actually is, through a sardonic lens whilst grounded in bitter reality. Yes, she is her sister’s replacement. Yes, Slaine only wants her Aldnoah. Lemrina hasn’t had the luxury of dwelling amidst the naïve, self-created smoke and mirrors of Princess, and she understands that there is no-one in alliance to her, least of all Slaine and Saazbaum – they find use in her false projections of Asseylum and capacity to use Aldnoah, and Slaine will play the mutual pity card if it means he can fly his Tharsis again. I am looking forward to seeing what she does, and what her ultimate plans are – because she doesn’t look like she has any intention of letting Princess come back. Instead, in wanting to claim everything she sounds like she’s after a bit of revenge. I hope she gets it.
If there’s anything I’m holding an interest in other than Lemrina, it’s the Versian socio-politics – it’s always been an undercurrent though, and as half-baked as it is it’ll never get beyond the speculative discussions between Slaine and Saazbaum. Both of them talk a lot, but they’re either being contradictory or offer no viable solutions. Slaine believes it’s possible for the VERS Empire to become prosperous by conquering the Earth, and that the key problem is how Aldnoah concentrates power in the aristocracy. Okay, great. What does he plan to do then? Spread Aldnoah? Get rid of it entirely? The vengeance of the Terrans will come smashing down upon them if they opt for the latter. And as for Saazbaum, he wants to make change happen after conquering the Earth. This is new! I’ve always thought that for him, avenging Orlane and laying waste to the Earth was the end goal in itself. At any rate, I don’t think they’ll ever get a chance to practice what they preach, because the starting point for anything is conquering the Earth. It’s interesting though – they decided to trash the civil war-style sub-plot potential back in the first season, but there’s still a bit of socio-political awareness in place, which is nice.
On a separate note, have they resurrected Count Cruhteo?
In terms of actual plot progression, we are gearing towards a monumental large-scale clash between the Terrans and Martians in space. What is probably more important is the long-awaited reunion between Koumori and Orange-kun, both of whom have confirmed that the other is still alive nineteen months later. While they made it seem like their exchange this episode was of significance, it feels more like introductory fire to me – other than affirming names, nothing much was achieved. The proper clash will of course occur during the real battle itself, during which they will fight for the love of a comatose blonde girl floating in a tank.