Aldnoah.Zero: Episode 4 – “Point of No Return”

Aldnoah.Zero is an anime series set an alternate version of Earth, where an ancient alien hypergate was discovered on the surface of the moon. Humanity used this technology and began migrating to Mars to settle the planet. When the settlers discovered more advanced technology, they founded the Vers Empire; this new empire claimed the planet and the technology for themselves. The Vers Empire declared war on Earth. During a battle that took place on the moon’s surface in 1999, the hypergate exploded and shattered the moon; the moon’s debris created a belt around the Earth.

The series begins in 2014, which is 15 years after Heavens Fall. On Earth (specifically in Shin-awara, Japan), we meet a high school student named Nao Inaho and his sister, Yuki Kaizuka. Yuki is a Warrant Officer in the Military Personnel of the Earth Alliance. Yuki helps instruct at the high school, because military training is part of their high school experience. She works alongside Koichiro Marito, a lieutenant who also teaches at the school. Marito appears to be a bit of a heavy drinker, and believes that the kids are being lied to about things; he was in the military 15 years earlier, and saw things that have been hushed up by the top brass.

Episode Four sees the characters reuniting after the fight as the Vers Empire starts sending down meteors. We discover that the Terrans didn’t see Asseylum transform into her true self, because she ends up revealing this fact to Nao and Rayet. Asseylum wants to find a way to contact her grandfather to let her know that she’s alive, but she asks Nao and Rayet to keep her secret. I have a feeling that Asseylum is going to end up regretting revealing her secret to Rayet, since Rayet is the daughter of one of the assassins that tried to kill the princess. I suspect this could end up being a major plot point later on in the series.

Slaine reports to Count Cruhteo that Sir Trillram was killed when he was caught in a meteor bombardment. He also almost reveals that the princess is still alive, but decides against it. It’s a good thing he didn’t, because Slaine is able to pick up on the fact that the count is also involved somehow with the assassination attempt on the princess. Right at the end of the episode, Slaine is insistent on being able to go into battle to “avenge” the princess; however, we don’t know how the count reacts to this. I’m also guessing at this point that Slaine may take it upon himself to try to unravel the assassination conspiracy and figure out how to bring everyone involved to justice.

Most of the episode focuses on a battle that one member of the Vers Empire undertakes against the Terrans; this battle ends up including Nao, Calm, and Inko.

Overall, this episode had a lot of focus on the group that’s traveling with the refugees, with the strongest focus being on the princess and giving her a little bit more in the way of character development. Outside of that, it was primarily fighting and some focus on Slaine and Count Cruhteo. In a lot of respects, it felt like that not a whole lot actually happened in this episode; to me, it felt more like this episode was laying a foundation for the action that will propel the story forward.

While I’m still liking Aldnoah.Zero, I found this episode to be a little on the boring side. Things that happened in the episode are important, but the execution and pacing just seemed to be a little on the slow side and leaning a little more on the “info dumping” side of things.

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