Aldnoah.Zero: Episode 12 – “Childhood’s End”

Aldnoah.Zero is an anime series set on 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 12 is the last episode for Aldnoah.Zero, and it focused completely on the battle that the Martians launched against United Earth Headquarters. Because the Deucalion crashed at the end of Episode 11, none of them are able to help out with the mission to get Asseylum to the Landing Castle. It’s up to Inaho, Yuki, and Inko to get her there safely.

Count Saauzbam tries to stop them, even going so far as to assemble several smaller mecha together into one giant mecha called the Dioscuria. Now, wait a minute… this is the first time we’ve ever seen that the Martians are capable of something like this. I found myself thinking that this was simply added into this episode in order to power up Saazbaum and make him a tougher opponent. Inaho tries taking on the Dioscuria.

After a short struggle, Asseylum is able to make it to the Aldnoah chamber and shut down the Aldnoah drive. Unfortunately, it’s not a “happily ever after” ending after Slaine finds Asseylum and Inaho. Saazbaum shoots Asseylum, and Inaho tries performing CPR on her. Slaine becomes a real asshole and shoots Inaho. It’s intimated that he’s jealous of Inaho being with Asseylum. With the way the episode ends, it’s unclear whether or not Inaho and Asseylum are still alive. The only reference we hear is in the ending narration, where it’s said that that there were many casualties on both sides and that Asseylum’s whereabouts are unknown. After ending on this note, a message came up saying a second season will begin in January 2015.

Well, then. I’m guessing that Slaine took Asseylum with him after shooting Inaho, and is probably trying to revive her or nurse her back to health. Personally, I’d be surprised if Inaho is still alive, but with the way this show’s gone, anything is possible. And if he is dead, well I’m not too choked up about it, considering how little he was developed as a character before the end of the series.

Aldnoah.Zero is a series that started out with a lot of promise, but it ultimately fell apart as the story progressed due to uneven story progression, sloppy writing, and underdeveloped characters. Now that I’ve reached the end, I find myself thinking that the past 12 weeks of watching this show ended up being a waste of my time.

At this point, I really have no intention of watching the second season when it comes out in January 2015. About the only way I’ll watch it is if I can’t find enough shows to fill my schedule for the Winter 2015 anime season.

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