This is another of those ‘Alternate Universe” shows, but isn’t that what science fiction is about? (or as Harlan Ellison said, “It’s Speculative Fiction.”). Welcome to “Aldnoah. Zero”
In 1972, during the last Apollo mission, an ancient alien hyper-gate was discovered on the surface of the moon. Using this technology, humanity began migrating to Mars and settling there. After settlers discovered additional advanced technology, the Vers Empire was founded, which claimed Mars and its secrets for themselves.
Some years later, the Vers Empire declared war on Earth, and, in 1999, a battle on the Moon’s surface caused the hyper-gate to explode, shattering the Moon and scattering remnants into a debris belt around the planet, an event referred to as Heaven’s Fall. Cut off from Mars, the remnants of the Vers insurgents established several massive orbital space stations within the debris belt (they are referred to as Landing Castles) and a ceasefire was established.
It is now 15 years later, in 2014, and relations between Vers and Earth are strained. In order to extend the olive branch of peace, Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia (the fancy one up there) comes to Earth. An attack on the entourage, killing everyone in it, allows the Vers Empire to launch a new attack on Earth, this time determined to conquer it once and for all, coming down in their castles and sending out their Kataphrakts (or Gundams).
Well, we make a load of discoveries (and I do not feel I am giving anything away; if you didn’t guess these things by the end of the first episode, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn). The first is the Princess isn’t dead, the second is that Vers have been itching for a fight for some time, the third is that moles on Earth who are Vers sympathizers, set up the attack to precipitate the war. The series details the efforts of a determined band of Earth people, along with the Princess, to stop the fight.
I now present my classic two things that bother me. The first is that in the 15 years between the wars, Earth technology has not advanced that much, so they are still using some kind of plasma rifle or other ‘bullet technology’. The Vers have this Aldnoah (thus the title of the show), which is an all-inclusive energy field that allows one to shield and dispense harsh justice. The thing about that is only certain people can wield this power (think Royalty and other personages of high peerage), but since it is a very overwhelming weapon, you don’t need that many folks to clean up the town.
The second thing I had a problem with was Inaho Kaiduka (far left). For a high school student, he seems to know an awful lot about tactics. His using a robot trainer to defeat his rivals is like having a Yugo win the Indy 500. He’s obviously been around the block a few times, but all his friends just revel in his abilities, as they have never seen anything like it, so rarely question it. Now, do keep in mind that many places around the world are under attack; for some reason, Japan is able to hold these folks at bay. It almost comes off that Inaho is able to do this by himself. Well, it feels that way.
A huge concern I had was with the Royalty angle. It seems to be a given that those of royal blood are conceited, arrogant, mean, cruel, vicious and rotten and would step on the bodies of their own family to further their own personal gains. Let’s talk about Slaine Troyard (second from left). He was part of a search patrol that landed on Mars. The princess took a liking to him and he was spared and became her guide and/or protector, but he gets the snot beaten out of him on a regular basis, as he is a mere Terran. With the exception of the princess, everyone else in the Royal House and their friends are class-A….jerks (sorry, it’s a family publication; certain words can’t be used).
Although I did like how the story unfolded, there were just too many instances of happenstance or a lucky break to be plausible. And the ‘conclusion’? POFARP! It screams of a second season, as we are now in Cliffhanger Mode and nothing has been determined, even if jerk bait royal Saazbaum could be dead. Or not.
I am going to give a guarded review of this, requesting that you at least wait for the second season to start, so you can determine if, when you get to Cliffhanger Mode, if you wish to continue. As a creature of habit, I will go one, just for my own needs.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Serviceable)
Plot 7 (Standard approach)
Pacing 7 (The fights slow it all down)
Effectiveness 7 (Royalty was too cartoony)
Conclusion 1 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 6 (Fell apart with a cheesy end)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Send a message.