Aldnoah.Zero: Episode 8 – “Then and Now”

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 Eight focused on two story plots. The first focused on Princess Asseylum, with the episode starting out by backtracking to the part of the story we didn’t see in Episode Seven which shows Magbaredge and the Terran forces finding the Martian ship. With this discovery, Asseylum reveals her identity. This gives us the explanation for the Deucalion.

OK, I’m happy to see that we actually got the explanation that I complained about not getting back in Episode Seven. However, this just adds to the idea of this series having some sloppy writing. By separating out this scene from where it should have fallen in Episode Seven, it creates a choppy narrative.

But most of the episode focuses on Slaine, who’s been captured by the Martians and is being tortured in order to get him to talk about what he’s been doing. Slaine keeps refusing to talk, so Cruhteo ups the ante. After receiving a report about what happened on the island back in Episode Seven, as well as Slaine eventually telling Cruhteo about what he’s done and what he’s figured out, Cruhteo starts piecing together what’s been happening. He pulls a 180 and starts treating Slaine as a man who’s been true to his word. Cruhteo then declares he wants to find out who’s behind the assassination plot.

Whoa, wait, hold up a minute… I’m a little confused. Did I miss something? Earlier in the series, the impression had been strongly given that Cruhteo was an active member of the assassination plot and seemed to know who was behind it. Suddenly, he doesn’t know? WTF? This seems to be another case of sloppy writing. Either the writer didn’t convey Cruhteo clearly enough for me to understand, or the writer made a decision to suddenly change Cruhteo’s character.

The sloppy writing, the relative lack of character development, and radical changes in characterizations make Aldnoah.Zero a confusing mess. It’s really sad, too, because this series seemed to have so much potential during the first couple of episodes. Honestly, it feels like someone’s making up this series as they go or something. That’s the only way I can explain why the series’ narrative has fallen apart as much as it has within eight episodes.

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