Asseylum Vers Allusia, I despise you to the very end.
Being Slaine is Suffering
No. No no no. You cannot be serious. This was probably the worst possible ending that Aldnoah.Zero could have had, and I don’t mean that from a storytelling perspective – although I know that may be debatable to some. Rather, what I had hoped for the characters and for the conclusion of the substantive plot didn’t come to fruition at all. My lingering thoughts were mostly pity for the characters I cared about and a deep dislike for Princess. To an extent, I knew it was futile – my desired ending was some sort of a comeback victory for Slaine, or at least one where Asseylum ran into complications with her ascension to the throne. Bar that, I would have been satisfied with Inaho’s death.
The events that happened in the wake of the announcement were actually quite heart-warming, especially with regards to Harklight and Barouhcruz. It was obvious that some of the Orbital Knights would have immediately reverted back to their previous racial prejudices, and it was also unsurprising that the ones who think of their welfare and position first would decide to wait it out before coming to a decision. And there were some warmongering ones who refused to cease and desist, and are apparently still occupying Terran territory by the end of the episode. But I was really touched by what Harklight, Barouhcruz and the Stygis Squadron did, presumably after having come to genuinely respect Slaine. They stayed. They chose to defy orders and stayed to fight alongside Slaine out of loyalty – all while knowing that they had no realistic chance of winning, and that they could easily flee and prioritise their lives if they wanted to. Or they could have even betrayed Slaine, which is what I was expecting them to do. The fact that they didn’t, and instead chose to go out while serving Slaine was definitely moving. Their decision and the clash they eventually had with Rayet, Yuki-nee and Inko were my favourite scenes of the finale. I mean, even Barouhcruz stayed!
What of Slaine’s motives? He knew that he was a criminal, and that he had absolutely no future as either a Terran or a Martian. The idea was probably that he would blow up the moon base along with himself, after evacuating all the personnel who had served him – as well as poor Lemrina. I’m actually really sad she didn’t manage to get the happy ending she wanted, after all that suffering and bitterness. For a few brief moments, Slaine and Lemrina looked like a star-crossed couple. I suppose that will have to do. In essence, with the clear proclamation issued by Princess, Slaine knew it was over. There would be no salvation for him at all, and the very final thing he can attempt is to settle things with his long-time nemesis, even if he would have nothing at all to gain from it in reality. I’m not sure if it was out of hate or otherwise, but a final clash with Inaho would provide a sense of closure for Slaine, and even if he lost his life as a result… well, it’s what he wanted for himself. Slaine should have died. It would have been for his own good, and it would be what any Slaine supporter, including myself, would want given that things have turned out this way. And this is why I strongly believe that Princess should not have intervened, and that she is an absolute shit.
Slaine has no future. He doesn’t want a future. And yet, he has been subjugated to this strange sort of abandonment play, under the guise of Princess wanting to “save him from the chains of misery”. He knows that he is a shitty person, who has directly and indirectly killed hundreds if not thousands. He wants repentance through death. He actually tried to die several times – at first, it was blowing himself up along with the moon base. Then, it was heading into battle with Inaho, and deciding to fall into the atmosphere after he’d lost. And at last, when he presumably failed to drown, he asked Inaho to shoot him in the head and end it all. But he was forced to live. He now has to live with the guilt and the sins of all his actions whilst locked up in prison. He has been blamed for everything, and made into a scapegoat for Asseylum’s assassination, the very thing he strived so hard throughout the entire first season to disprove and work against – while outside, Princess and Klancain visit Earth and have a wonderful time. Inaho occasionally visits him, and I’m sure to him it must look like he’s being mocked somehow. Slaine has not been ‘saved’. He has been left bitter and broken, and even more miserable than he was during his endeavours. This is a classic case, as we’ve seen multiple times in the past, of Princess naively thinking she is doing the right thing while in reality, she is making someone else suffer even more. Whether her ideals are good is debatable. But pushing those ideals onto someone else and ignoring their choices and decisions is just a really shitty thing to do. Slaine is the most interesting character in all of Aldnoah.Zero, and for him to be left suffering like this after so much has gone wrong for him in his life, ironically because of the person he loved most in the whole world… is just too sad.
And that is why, Asseylum Vers Allusia, I despise you to the very end.
At the start of the season, you may remember me remarking that I wanted the entire cast to die by the time the series finished, preferably in a massive fire if possible. You may have noticed that this has not happened, which is rather disappointing. In fact, the entire substantive cast survived, which means the exact opposite happened. If we choose to ignore the fodder Orbital Knights who routinely attacked the Terrans, as well as the nameless Kataphrakts who got blown up equally routinely, hardly anyone has died this season. It was just Saazbaum. If we turn back to the first season, we have Cruhteo and that classmate of Inaho who met his abrupt death in what must have been the first few episodes.
I quickly came to realize that the death of the entire cast was futile, but even after the final battle no-one noticeable had died. For a series from Aoki Ei about an inter-planetary war, I really did expect more than that – in comparison, he had the guts to slaughter the entire introductory cast of Ga-Rei: Zero. I mean, it’s one thing to say that Inaho, Slaine and Princess didn’t die, but even Lt. Marito survived – and to be honest, there’s a strong case for saying that the analytical engine should have killed Inaho sooner or later, which he instead conveniently solved by having it taken out. I still have very little regard for many of the characters, especially the Terrans. If we add Princess to that category and remove Rayet, then the statement ‘I hate all the Terrans’ would be pretty accurate. The characters in Aldnoah.Zero were never its strong suite, although I will profess that Eddelrittuo looks much cuter with her hair down.
The exception that makes the rule is Slaine. I think his development and quest for power drove much of the second season, and I’ve always found his scenes to be far more interesting than that of the Terrans. While I won’t say he didn’t deserve it, it’s a real shame that things ended up the way they did for him, complete with a role reversal at gunpoint that demonstrates Inaho’s complete victory over him. I can’t understand how anyone would prefer watching this soulless robot to a young man slowly losing his morality through his conflicting goals and a series of power struggles. The only consolation is that he never did get Asseylum. Perhaps oddly enough, peace seems to be restored – you’d think that the Terrans would hold more animosity than they’ve been depicted as having, although of course it might have been the case that it all got erased with Slaine’s supposed death. All in all, they opted for a ‘happy’ conclusion in which everyone starts to get along again at the cost of Slaine’s welfare, with Earth and Mars reconciling at long last.
…That is, until someone decides to assassinate Princess again.