Back in 1972, an alien hypergate was found on the moon. Using this foreign technology, humans found that they were able to live on Mars, and began settling there. After those that moved to Mars discovered more of this technology, the Vers Empire was created – claiming the alien secrets of Mars for themselves. In 1999 the Vers Empire declared war on Earth, which caused the hypergate to explode and destroy the moon. Fifteen years later, in 2014, an attack on the Vers princess during a peace mission to Earth caused the Empire to launch a new attack as they seek to destroy the ‘terrans’ once and for all.
Now we’re into the second season, we know that Martian princess Asseylum Vers Allusia has been shot and is currently hidden away within the Vers Empire. Too keep up appearances, Asseylum’s younger sister Lemrina Vers Envers is assuming her elder sister’s visage in order to urge the soldiers to continue the war. Both Inaho and Slaine are gaining more power and look to face off against one another very soon.
Sadly, this second season has also been another slow starter. In my review of Aldnoah’s first season, I thought that everything started off at a far too leisurely pace considering the intergalactic setting and the high-tech war-mongering, and it looks like we are doomed to repeat this for a second time. However, the first series did pick up rapidly towards the end, so I’m giving this season the benefit of the doubt in the hope that more action is just around the corner to save me from impending boredom. I do believe this is the reason why Aldnoah has so much criticism the first time around about the plot and having too many questions unanswered. This is where I hope the second season will pick up on, addressing all those loose ends and combining them in a way that makes the wait worthwhile.
We are starting to see new dimensions given to main character personalities. At the end of season one, I thought that Inaho and Slaine’s characterisations were pretty much concrete. However, different perspectives I have seen since have made me think otherwise. It has shown us that no villain or hero is invincible in this anime and both sides have many flaws and shortcomings with the decisions they make and how they conduct themselves. No one is without guilt for the way things have been handled. We have seen that the incredibly logical and rather unemotional Inaho feels more deeply about things than anyone expected, and certain situations in Slaine’s life, both past and present, are leading him to do unpredictable things and behave out of character to what we have come to expect.
I’m happy to see that the above-average animation has been maintained throughout, with particular detail given to CGI battle scenes. The combination of the two isn’t seamless, but it is definitely impressive compared to the rather lacklustre efforts shown on some of the other animes streaming this season. The music to this anime has been done by Hiroyuki Sawano, the composer of the Attack on Titan soundtrack, and a trained ear can hear the similarities between the two and make the connection.
Mecha animes aren’t usually my thing. In order for me to even consider giving a pilot episode a watch, it has to promise me something more than the generic archetype setting. Aldnoah Zero did that, and that’s why I’m giving it a second chance. The first mecha anime I ever watched, like most people, was Evangelion, and I have never watched a mecha anime since that I thought was totally original, or at least original enough not to have me making comparisons. There is definitely something in this anime, but the producers are keeping us waiting perhaps a little too long.
I do believe that Aldnoah Zero is starting to come into its own, even though it has taken two seasons to do that. I would recommend those that dropped this show in its first season to give it another chance, as I believe it’s worth it. I’ve noticed that there are a lot more plot devices and symbolism being used, which lead me to believe that this season will roller-coaster its way to the kind of high-octane conclusion that we have all be secretly hoping for.