Aldnoah.Zero – 08

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For the first time, Inaho, his friends, and the other Terrans aren’t on the run or fighting for their lives, nor is anyone in particular looking for them…unless you count that ridiculously brief cease-fire (we’re not). Those who would are either defeated or in the dark. Now they have their flying battleship Deucalion and their Aldnoah Drive-activating Princess, what’s left of the world would seem to be their oyster.

The show makes the very unexpected decision not to have the Terrans recover Slaine after he’s shot down. Instead they flee the area, and Cruhteo is the one who finds him. While Inaho, Rayet, and Asseylum have to endure a mildly stern debriefing from Magbaredge and some rather amusing interactions with Inko, Nina and Calm, Slaine is tortured mercilessly for information about why he went to the island.

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Interspersed with sense of his sickening treatment at the hands of Cruhteo as Saazbaum looks on, the show—and Slaine himself—flash back to happier times, which show that after Asseylum saved his life, Slaine was the one who inspired her to want to travel to Earth and seek peace in the first place. He was the spark, but it was only ignited because she was also a good and decent person who saved him regardless of his homeworld.

Cruhteo looks to be on the verge of extinguishing the spark for good when Slaine finally pipes up, telling Cruhteo he killed Sir Trillram because he tried to assassinate the princess, who’s still alive. Like Slaine, we couldn’t know whose side Cruhteo was on, and so had to assume he was an enemy…but he’s not. Once he learns of the assassination plot, he asks Slaine’s forgiveness, genuninely impressed a lowly Terran risked his life for Asseylum.

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Then Cruhteo springs into action…perhaps too quickly and recklessly. If you know other Orbital Knights have conspired against the crown, you’d think he’d be a little more careful acting on the very dangerous information he’s just received. Still, it’s in his character to be all noble and bombastic and arrogant to a fault.

Calling for a cease-fire, asking for Terran assistance in locating the princess, and vowing to punish the traitor knights are all well and good, but blurting it all out on open channels where your enemy can hear you and know you’re a sitting duck…it smacks of incompetence and naivete. Saazbaum descends on his bridge, and Cruhteo is so clueless he just stands there calling for his kataphrakt to be readied…as if Saazbaum would wait for him to mount one so they could have an honorable duel.

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Nope, Saazbaum just kills him. Having a loyal, powerful knight like Cruhteo on Asseylum’s side seemed like a good idea at first, but knowing how ill-prepared Cruhteo was for the game Saazbaum had set up makes us wonder if he wouldn’t have been more a hindrance than a help. The sensible knights seem to have no honor, and the honorable ones no sense.

It gets to the crux of Rayet’s bitter monologue in the Deucalion’s briefing room, which I really dug, so here it is verbatim:

We can’t trust you Martians, either. A nation that latched onto an archaic feudal system that relies on the superscience of an ancient civilization called Aldnoah…Commoners who are obsessed with proving themselves in battle to win social standing…and nobility who casually betray them and grind them into the dirt…How can you possibly trust people like that?!

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Rayet has said often that All Martians are the enemy, but we hadn’t truly appreciated the efficacy of those words until now. Still, as Calm so eloquently puts it during his fantastic flip-flop (thoroughly un-impressing Inko and Nina in the process, as he caves because Asseylum is so cute), there are good and bad martians.

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Yet Between the self-involved knights and the uninformed commoners, the only two good Martians so far are Asseylum and Eddelrittuo. The rest, be it by virtue of their hostility, ignorance, or ineptitude, are indeed the enemy. If there are any other Martians out there—be it knights or their retainers—worth a damn to the cause of peace, we haven’t seen them yet. Will that change, or are our heroes on their own?

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Aldnoah.Zero – 07

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AZ delivers yet another action-packed, cinematic tour-de-force of an episode. After fighting with little but their wits and some luck, Inaho & Co. finally catch a break when the sorta-deserting Slaine tracks down the Princess and “Orange”, his nickname for Inaho’s trainer, and they finally have a decent weapon in his sleek Sky Carrier with which to do battle with their latest Martian foe.

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I’m not going to mince words; Femieanne is not much of a character at all, but we can see how her sturm und drang routine would scare most humans into submission. Not Inaho; he continues to keep his cool and pinpoints all her weaknesses, such that by the time she stops playing around and getting serious about the fight, it’s too late. Meanwhile, Inaho, Yuki, Inko and Slaine buy valuable time for Magbaredge’s ship.

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When a secret cave is revealed in the island’s rock face, the ship is steered in and collapses the opening. What they find is something even the Martians apparently didn’t know about: not only is the very red “demon” kataphrakt that Morito battled fifteen years ago, but an entire Aldnoah-powered hover-battleship, the reveal of which is suitably bad-ass in scale and intensity.

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I can forgive Femieanne being a bit lame because of that and pretty much Inaho does this week, always carrying the expression that it’s, like, no biggie. He decides to put his trust in “Bat” and climbs aboard the carrier so he can gain more height in his fight with the enemy Kat. As I said, he determines the fingers and engines of Fem’s arms are weak points. But between his cool heroics and the battleship reveal, this wasn’t a bad romp at all.

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After that battleship runs Fem over, leaving her a heap of twisted metal and red lights, it’s Rayet, piloting a Kat, who delivers the killing blow. Then Inaho does something unexpected but not out of character: he shoots Slaine down, calling him an enemy, and who can blame him? The humans will need the power of Aldnoah to defeat the Martians, and if Slaine aims to stop them for Asseylum’s sake, he is indeed the enemy.

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