Aldnoah Zero 2 Review

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Season 1 of Aldnoah.Zero left everyone with quite a shocker of a conclusion. So much that it created quite a storm over the internet. Following up that season, director Ei Aoki brings us the second half of this bloody battle. But can it live up to the hype of its first?

e17aldnoahzero07Synopsis
After the dust settles from the major war at Count Saazbaum’s castle, the UFE and Vers Empire return to their respected sides to lick their wounds. The fate of many of those in the midst of that bloody battle are revealed in either critical states, or unknown comas. However the war cannot stay at bay for too long as key players take their place in command and move on.

Slaine Troyard is one of those key players. After rescuing Count Saazbaum from his near death, he’s knighted and placed on the battlefield in order to push his own vision of the future he believes Asseylum wanted. However, in no time at all, we discover that Slaine’s true vision is to unite the once divided Orbital Knights and use their power to finally take Earth from the Terrans. All while his beloved Asseylum lays wait in a coma.

Story
The second season of Aldnoah.Zero kicked off with a rather unfortunate beginning. With a cast left in shambles from the first season, we’re forced to watch as every panic created situation was all for naught. Simply put, e16aldnoahzero12everything was undone. While I welcome the cast being reunited, it also removes the fear of death and shows a lack of the writer’s commitment. Naturally, it also makes any death flags going forward feel disingenuous.

Despite this uneasy feeling, the show carries on in a rather entertaining way. Seeing Slaine move from being our insight into the Vers’s side for the first season, to a mastermind made leader was interesting despite the hatred for his actions. It’s nice to hate a villain, and Slaine managed to pull it off. More so because of the subtle love triangle that was present from the first season, as well as being able to learn his desires through his time spent fighting to save Asseylum before.

Probably one of the more interesting characters this time around was Lemrina, Asseylum’s previously non-existent sister. While I felt her character could have done so much more, she was still believable in her struggle to validate her existence. Enough that I found her much more entertaining to unfold than her rather one-note sister.

Season 1 gave us a couple of very well fleshed out Counts, Saazbaum and Cruhteo. However season 2 managed to bring many of the Counts to the forefront instead of leaving them to be picked off one by one. Mainly thanks to Slaine’s actions.  While most remained shallow and bloodthirsty, Klancain and Mazuurek struck an interesting cord in their actions.  One being duty bound and the other being a refreshing peacemaker.

Alternatively, the UFE remained Aldnoah.Zero’s weak spot going into season 2. Thankfully, the Vers was interesting enough that season 1 was not harmed by this fact. However with the plot not being filled with as many twists and turns as season 1, and the writer seemingly playing all of his cards safe, the weakness in the UFE cast became more glaring. Inaho was given too much stage presence and the entire UFE army was left standing around looking useless. The show quickly turned from mankind fighting to survive, to everyone waiting for Inaho to show up. It became comical at one point.

Despite these issues, the show carried on in an entertaining way. The imposter speaking on Asseylum’s behalf, the fate of the original crew, Slaine’s rise to power, the addition of a new faction, and the interesting Aldnoah Kataphrakts all kept me watching each week on the nose.  Though I can’t help but wonder if some of this is due to my investment in the franchise.

e22aldnoahzero11Animation
Aldnoah.Zero remains a very good show to look at. The character designs and visual set pieces remain solid from beginning to end. Only failing on rare occasions. While I was a bit displeased by the move to space and feel it really draws from the visual spectacle found on land, it didn’t keep the fights from being fun to watch.

When the show isn’t selling me on good animation and big combat sequences, it never ceases to impress me with some very emotional and inspiring shots.  Watching a princess gaze through glass to a space battle with her expression showing in the reflection, or an emotional scene enhanced by a moon backdrop; it’s all something I couldn’t turn away from.

Sound
One of the many elements that I absolutely loved from Aldnoah.Zero season 1 was its musical scores and how well they tied in with every twist and turn.  Unfortunately, in season 2, this aspect wasn’t put into play at all.  Instead, it just seemed like background music tossed in over and over.

That coupled with the fact that the tracks were the same ones from season 1 made it feel lazy and I grew tired of them.  I don’t know if this is the fault of A-1 Pictures or Sawano Hiroyuki.  Either way, I’m extremely disappointed in what they decided here.  Again, great tracks, but why not compose new ones?

e19aldnoahzero01Verdict
Despite my many criticisms about Aldnoah.Zero 2’s inability to live up to my expectations coming out of a great first season, it doesn’t stop it from being a decently entertaining show in the end.  It’s just severely frustrating that the writing chose to play it safe from beginning to end.  Even in an interplanetary war, we seen no signs tension or death in the midst of difficult decisions that were being made.

It’s hard to recommend the second season for those coming out of the first season, just because of my dislike for how careful they played their cards, but the ultimate conclusion to a great world was worth looking over the flaws.  I’m still happy with the Aldnoah.Zero series, and still recommend it to just about anyone.  The question just becomes if it’s worth just ignoring that season 2 happened.  By that note, I leave it to you to decide for yourself.

Interested in watching Aldnoah.Zero? As of this review, it is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.com.

Good

REVIEW VERDICT:
Good

Goods:

  • Few interesting newcomers
  • Good visual design
  • Good action
  • Some interesting plot directions

Bads:

  • Writing plays its cards extremely safe
  • Very little tension and death is trivial
  • UFE becomes useless and Inaho the Ace
  • Music and Visuals not well coordinated
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.