Transformers, Robotech, Voltron and the often-ridiculed Gobots (they had a spin-off movie featuring Rock Lords who turn into um boulders.) Those are the cartoons I grew up with as a wee lad, which may explain why into adulthood I remain a devout fan of all things mech. With that in mind, I was really looking forward to Aldnoah Zero’s UK release. Not only does this A-1 Pictures show feature plentiful scenes of giant robot action, but Gen Urobuchi (who is responsible for creating stellar shows such as Psycho-Pass) also scripted it. A little over a year after its Japanese TV airing, the series is now available to purchase on DVD starting with this collection containing episodes one to twelve.
Aldnoah Zero takes place in an alternate version of Earth, where back in the late sixties astronauts uncovered advanced alien tech on the lunar surface. The discovery allowed mankind to eventually build settlements on Mars, leading to the birth of the Verse Empire. As any Gundam fan knows, Terrans and space colonists rarely get on – so it should come as no surprise that years later the Verse led Martians declared war on Earth. The conflict ceased after a fierce battle resulted in the Moon getting obliterated. Ouch that sucks, but on the plus side I guess we won’t have to worry about werewolves anymore!
Fast-forward to the year 2014 and after a brief armistice Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia of Mars decides to visit Earth with the intentions of brokering a permanent peace treaty between both planets. The diplomatic mission fails however when Earth led terrorists assault the royal motorcade. Incensed by the unprovoked attack, Verse’s nobility order an immediate invasion of Earth. Thus the stage is set for a titanic tussle between Earthlings and Martians (not to be confused with the big headed aliens who die when exposed to musical tunes.) Time will tell who will emerge victorious and whether the Mars conquest is nothing more than a ploy to secure natural resources. Terrorism being used as an excuse to take over a nation? That could never happen (cough, 911, cough.)
My rating for Aldnoah Zero (Season One) is a four out of five. The series strikes me as something that Code Geass fans would enjoy due to its combination of political conspiracy and mech fuelled carnage. Just like Geass, the cast’s motivations are clearly defined and the narrative does a good job of showing how the war affects both sides of the conflict. At this stage my favourite character is Slaine Troyard, a downtrodden Terran who serves the Verse Empire. Slaine has been put in the uncomfortable position of fighting against his homeland but he dare not protest, as he owes his life to Princess Asseylum. I can forgive his betrayal of Earth because who wouldn’t pledge their allegiance to a cutie who resuscitates you with some steamy mouth to mouth?
Although I like Aldnoah Zero’s supporting cast the same cannot be said of protagonist Inaho Kaizuka, an emotionless student who has been drafted by the Earth army. A tactical genius that possesses no people skills, his personality borders on autistic savant. Inaho’s deadpan demeanour can be grating, but on the plus side his presence makes the CG enhanced action sequences a treat to watch. Despite piloting an antiquated Kataphract it’s fascinating to see how Inaho outwits enemy bots that can wield beam weapons, strike from afar with rocket punches and seemingly absorb all damage. Against the odds Inaho always finds a way to triumph, so I am keen to see how episode twelve’s cliffhanger will play out. Unfortunately for me the next DVD collection is two months away. What should I watch until then? I know, the Gobots movie! Who cares what the critics say, I think that film “rocks.”