The story begins in the year 2014, exactly 15 years after the great 1999 battle between the UE (United Earth) and the Vers Empire (humans who now reside in Mars after they successfully transported themselves into the planet using an alien hypergate discovered in 1972).
The great battle which took place near the Moon’s surface destroyed the hypergate, sending remnants of the war into a debris belt that surrounds the Earth. Vers people who where cut off from their trip back to Mars now resides on the satellite belt, totaling to 37 distinct military forces led by 37 different knight structures.
Both sides incurred too much damage that they had to settle for a ceasefire. But an assassination attempt to the Vers princess during her peace visit on Earth fueled the already raging fire of contempt by the empire, forcing them to launch another attack – this time to wipe out the entire humanity.
‘Let justice be done, though the Heavens Fall.’
For a mecha series involving alien hypergates and landing castles run by orbital knights, I would say that Aldnoah.Zero fell short of what one would expect from a great background story.
Absence of the ‘Wow’ Factor
One notable thing about good mecha series is their ability to wow you with the awesome display of technological advancements. Aldnoah started right by introducing Vers Kataphrakt (equivalent of Gundam units) that are equipped with extraordinary battle gears that can void any attacks by ordinary units used by UE.
But while they appear to be competent enough to wipe out everything that comes their way, the machines used by their mortal enemies (read: those on earth) were disappointments. They look old and weak compared to the towering sizes of the Martian Kataphrakts. The differences in technical capacities of the units are so obvious that looking for a good battle – with units at par with each other – is almost invisible.
Save of course for Inaho Kaizuka, whose genius added a pinch of excitement on the battle scenes.
Speaking of Inaho and the rest….
Good but Undeveloped Characters
We’ve got three main characters on the show; Inaho Kaizuka, Slaine Troyard and Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia.
They’re good for two reasons:
- distinct personalities
- good circumstance
Inaho can be among the category of mainstream anime protagonists – high school student and ordinary looking. But Inaho’s far from ordinary. He is at the top of their class and is a genius tactician who find ways to defeat Martian kataphrakts just by the use of their inferior units.
He could be the great hero of the story. Only thing is, it is difficult to sympathize with his character. He is stoic, emotionless and warns you of an incoming missile with a straight face. He does not even show enough sympathy for any other character in the story.
Slaine is the epitome of loyalty to the Vers princess. But that was it.
Princess Asseylum is the symbol of goodwill. But she moves purely on idealism (her idea of peace) without knowing the facts. This placed a lot of lives in danger.
There wasn’t any strong and outstanding motivation backing up the actions of the main characters. And even if fighting for one’s survival can be a great point to begin with, they just didn’t manage to pull it off enough to make viewers root for their cause.
But hey…season two’s coming up.
Generally it’s not bad…
If you’re looking for a quick show that gives you an overview about the mecha genre of anime, then Aldnoah.Zero can be a viable choice.
But if you’re up for a thick plot with memorable characters all woven into a high-end mecha battle, then you may have to consider looking for somewhere else. I suggest you begin with the Gundam series.
(The opening and ending themes of Aldnoah.Zero is great. Don’t miss it!)
Done watching Aldnoah.Zero? What are your thoughts about it? Drop them down on the comments!