Aldnoah.Zero – 18

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A blue rose, which represents love because it’s a rose, but also either a miracle or impossibility because it’s blue (because it doesn’t occur in nature) is one of those symbols that’s instantly obvious once you hear of it. Another example is a golden violin: looks great but can’t play music.

Our two protagonists Count Troyard and Ensign Kaizuka are both holding blue roses, but aren’t yet sure whether they represent the love that will never be, or the love that will triumph against all odds. But the fact they have them motivates everything they do.

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For Inaho, it’s taking every measure, both inside and outside the UE chain of command, to secure his princess. He and Rayet let Mazuurek free for this purpose, something they don’t disclose to Inko. Inko’s not-so-subtle and unsuccessful probing of Rayet for info keeps her left out of the loop, something Rayet regrets but can’t do anything about.

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As for Slaine, he’s been challenged to a duel, and he’s going through with it, reporting to less hard-line counts his intention to lead the battle once the duel is over, and getting their support based on the unique perspective he has as a non-Vers-born. He can see how Verisan hubris and arrogance has blinded them. That their unswerving belief that a sustained Terran resistance is impossible is the very opening that allows it to be possible.

Of course, the duel is happening because Lemrina invited Marylcian to the base. Whether she expected that exact outcome is unclear, but now, as I said last week, she will see if Slaine can truly be the one she can depend on. She offers herself to Slaine, even if she’ll only ever be a substitute for her sister. I have to think she has to be invested in Slaine’s victory, since Marylcian probably wouldn’t be happy when he finds out she’s not really Asseylum.

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Down on Earth, the Deucalion faces off against a generic Count-of-the-Week with a highly-specialized kataphrakt whose primary weapon only fires in straight lines. That means a surface battleship can use the curvature of the earth to stay out of the Count’s range, while her cannons’ parabolic trajectories can reach the Count’s kat.

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While not overly complicated or important in its scope, this is a nice little battle that perfectly illustrates (once again) the very flaws in the Orbital Knights Slaine seeks to root out. While he wasn’t planning to duel with Marylcian, backing out would have been pointless and probably sealed his doom.

Instead, by defeating this relic of outmoded thinking that isn’t getting the job done on Earth, Slaine stands to gain more legitimacy among his peers, and offer unassailable proof that the flaws he speaks of are real and are crippling progress.

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But first, he has to actually defeat Marylcian, whose Herschel makes for a bad match-up, as he attacks from every direction with his cloud of Bits-like drone cannons, so great in number and complex in motion even Tharsis’ predictive abilities are taxed to the hilt. There’s a point when Slaine is in retreat and really getting knocked around that I momentarily entertained the possibility that his blue rose meant impossibility, rather than miracle.

There’s also a nice moment after the Count-of-the-Week battle where Inaho is simply looking up with his robo-eye, watching the duel from the dock as a confused Inko looks on. It’s a great way to connect the two protags in three-dimensional space, and the fact that the distance between them is quickly closing.

Slaine has been making all the big bold moves while Inaho continues to observe and wait patiently for his chance.

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Of course, there’s no way Marylcian beats Slaine. It’s been beaten into us at this point that he’s far to stodgy an Orbital Knight to survive a plucky Terran gambit. Slaine, like Inaho has done countless times before, equips his opponent’s pride and superiority as a weapon against him, retreating into one of the moon base’s supply shafts in an apparent act of desperation or even cowardice.

Marylcian unwisely follows him in, unwittingly greatly lessening the unpredictability of his weapon. From then on, it’s elementary, with Slaine popping the hatch off Marylcian’s cockpit and ejecting him into space, thus ending the duel. A witnessing Barouhcruz grudgingly accepts the result, and Slaine’s grand rise proceeds apace.

In fact, after the duel it rises higher and faster than I thought it would, with Lemrina-as-Asseylum proclaiming she is starting a new kingdom on Earth, independent from Vers, and will take Slaine as her husband. His win over Marylcian sealed the deal for her, leaving just one complication: her comatose sister.

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In a creepy post-credits scene, she nearly shuts off all of Asseylum’s life-support systems before switching them back on, unable to outright kill her sister, but perfectly fine with replacing her in the world. She can float in that tube for the rest of her life while she rules her new kingdom. Here, Lemrina is starting to fall victim to the same Versian hubris that has claimed so many Orbital Knights: underestimating her enemy: in this case, her sister, who finally opens her eyes when Lemrina leaves the room.

Slaine’s big battles in orbit, Inaho’s smaller battles below, and Lemrina’s scheming and maneuvering continue to satisfy, all of it building to what should be one hell of a final confrontation. The main trio’s larger arcs have been nicely supplemented by smaller, more down-to-earth running stories of Inko, Rayet and Yuki. Finally activating the dormant Asseylum at this point is a welcome move I hope A/Z follows through on.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

5 thoughts on “Aldnoah.Zero – 18”

  1. Well now, that ending was rather interesting, what with asseylum finally waking up.

    However, to be honest, I am really half as invested in this series as I was in its first season The problem is that inaho is just a gigantic Gary Stu in that he is practically the only one moving the plot for the earth side and every other character is reduced to telling the audience how awesome he is. Like I said previously, at least Cross Ange’s side characters still have story behind them and that it isn’t all about Ange being the superheroine.

    What more, his side of the story have become so excruciatingly repetitive. Out comes an arrogant Martian count, hammers the earth forces into near defeat. Then Stu-kun comes to beat the guy with no swat at all, rinse and repeat. There is just no tension in these battles anymore. And the guy has no weakness. AT ALL. Compare that to, say Lelouch of Code Geass, who while an exceptional tactician, isn’t exactly one of the best pilots in that series. And his plans don’t always end up winning for him, which made him really engaging to watch. Here, the guy is just an overpowered Stu.

    But hey, Slaine’s side of the story is still interesting. Though he is also a Gary Stu, but in a lesser degree than Inaho Stu-kun.

    1. Yeah, I don’t really mind Inaho and his staggering competence.

      It’s about time a show said “let’s do away with all this ‘flawed hero’ crap so popular these days and make a protagonist whose only flaw is he has no flaws, who makes everyone around him look helpless and incompetent by comparison, as he quietly goes about his business kicking one Count-of-the-week’s ass after another, unconcerned with the fact that no one else is contributing in a meaningful way.”

      In a way, A/Z is amusingly subverting the idea that a protagonist must entertain and must make everyone around him better. Why? Why can’t the fate of the world rest on one nerdy high school kid’s shoulders; shoulders that are perfectly capable of bearing that weight without complaint? Because it’s not interesting? Personally, I find it interesting…if—or even because—it’s a bit ridiculous.

      Mind you, I’m well aware such an approach isn’t for everyone, and I am looking forward to Inaho facing a real challenge, which at this point seems to be Slaine and Slaine alone.

      1. I don’t mind a Gary Stu either, as long as there is an intriguing story built around him.

        A/Z has always been about Inaho and Slaine. The question was would they be friends or enemies. At the end of the first season, we had our answer:

        Men can’t be friends if they are in love with the same woman.

        I always love it when a shows opening or closing gives hints as to the direction of the series, and it was the choice of the first season ED that has determined the second act of A/Z .

        “ALIEz”, anyone?

    2. IMO I think the point in having Slaine and Inaho. Both are MCs, and they are purposedly contrasted in their situations.

      Slaine follows the more traditional typical anime hero path, underdog rising story. Who doesn’t love a Rocky beating his oppressors. Its a tried and proven formula seen in most shonen and Ultraman, while the hero appears losing at start, we know full well he’ll win in the end.

      Inaho follows the more non-traditional hero path. He face and beats through every challenge methodically, its very formulaic and simple in execution, which is boring for people who likes excitement from tension and drama.

      Both are entertaining; Slaine have his underdog/space drama in spotlight, sci-fi & tactics second. Inaho have his sci-fi & tactics in spotlight, and family/war drama second.

  2. Something tells me Lemrina missed her chance, here. By toying with her sister’s life, Karma comes along and grants Slaine’s miracle.

    Odds on Lemrina’s attempts to keep Slaine to herself when the real princess wakes up?

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