「謀略の夜明け -The Turning Wheel-」 (Borya ku no Yoake -The Turning Wheel-)
“Dawn of Intrigue -The Turning Wheel-“
Aldnoah.Zero continues to be the same combo platter of reward and frustration it’s been (almost) all along, but the overall result is still pretty entertaining.
There’s some mighty interesting stuff happening with Aldnoah.Zero at the moment, as the larger story is continuing to evolve in a disquietingly logical direction. Unfortunately there’s really still annoying stuff like the creeping chauvinism (seriously – must every scene with the females at Trident Base be B-grade fanservice and shallow self-obsession?), but as with most of this second cour, right now that’s thankfully not prevalent enough to derail the train.
It’s worth remembering at this point that Takayama Katsuhiko is a pretty good writer, based on his track record (let’s not discuss certain obvious exceptions) and, with the skeleton of Urobuchi Gen’s story to flesh out, he seems more than capable of delivering something more interesting and coherent than, say Psycho Pass 2. I very much like the way he’s building up to the eventual bishoudown (I’m using that until the world acknowledges its brilliance), with both geopolitic and adolescent hormones slowly coming to the boil, with the future hanging in the balance.
For those who’ve been complaining that Inaho thinks too small (a tactician rather than a strategist) I think this episode conclusively proves otherwise. He’s taking matters into his own hands in a big way, and well he should – Inaho is smart enough to realize that he’s the smartest guy in the room, and relying on military lifers with a mixed track record (at best) to save his planet and his beloved probably isn’t the best plan. In Count Mazuurek he sees a real opportunity – I think he would have even without his left eye – yet he knows the authorities will never be able to take advantage of it. So what does he do? He moves himself – first interrogating Mazuurek to confirm his own suspicions, then engineering his escape once he’s convinced him that the circumstances surrounding Asseylum stink like week-old sashimi.
It was interesting that Inaho chose Rayet to help execute his plan – though whether or not he’d have done so if she hadn’t walked in on his interrogation is debatable. It occurred to me, too, that Rayet might just try to kill Mazuurek as she did Asseylum, so I’m glad the ep acknowledged the elephant in the room. I could do without Rayet’s crying jags (can we see one of those from one of the boys, maybe?) but compared to the other teen females on Trident, she’s a veritable tower of strength and depth of character.
There was another Inaho-related bit slyly inserted at the beginning of the episode, in his conversation with Dr. Yagarai. Did the bombshell that the mods Inaho has made on his analytical engine could eventually destroy his brain foreshadow a Valvrave ending? Gods, I hope not – that would be so tired and irritating – but Chekov’s Gun obviously applies here. There’s more than enough inherent drama between Inaho and Slaine to push this story forward without needless distractions like that one, especially given what Inaho’s gambit may do to Slaine’s plans for VERS.
The giant question hanging over Aldnoah.Zero is, of course, just what Slaine’s endgame is. Is this entire power grab a cover to eventually do what Asseylum would want – peace with Earth, with reform of the feudal system a fringe benefit? If we take what Slaine is doing at face value, it would certainly seem to be a betrayal of Asseylum’s wishes. But then, as we see Slaine speaking wistfully to the tanked Asseylum about flightless birds and birds in gilded cages, it’s impossible to discount the possibility that he’s gone balls-out sociopath – his narcissism and megalomania convincing him that Mars, Earth and everyone attached to them (especially Asseylum) are his to toy with and dispose of as he pleases. It’s no coincidence that the last thing Inaho asked of Mazuurek was “Find out what Slaine Troyard’s objective is” – he’s smart enough to know just how much rides on that information.
Slaine, for his part, has plenty of problems of his own. As expected Lemrina is chafing at being Slaine’s tool while he lovingly coos to his caged bird, and this has led to her granting a live audience to Marylcian and Barouhcruz. Marylcian takes the opportunity to bare his racist fangs and challenge Slaine to a duel (and, interestingly, to use the exact same “caged bird” analogy to Lemrina that Slaine spoke of with only himself, Asseylum and Eddelruito present) over who should inherit Saazbaum’s Royal Guard role. Slaine will obviously win this – it’s like Floyd Mayweather fighting Niles Crane – but the development itself is a testament to how precarious Slaine’s stranglehold on Saazbaum’s power is, and how vulnerable he is to internal threats. At the moment, it’s advantage-Inaho.
Zephyr’s Quick Impressions:
If there’s a link between all the episodes of this second-cour so far, it’s the focus on the reasons behind not only the war itself, but also the reasons of the involved individuals themselves. Fact of the matter is, the individual motivation is something that doesn’t always mesh completely with the overall narrative of the war being fought, and it all boils down to the notion that everyone here has their own reason to fight. People change with the times, and there’s a lot to say here about how well they’re portraying the main cast and the development of their respective personalities, beliefs, and reasons as they’ve carried on in the war. Rayet’s certainly no longer the same person, Inaho’s voiced a clear desire to rescue the Princess, Marito’s no longer bound by his past, and the list goes on. The fact that all of this is happening amid a lull in the fighting also highlights both the pros and cons of being given a sudden break after nonstop fighting, and it really adds a realistic touch to see how everyone’s taking in things at their own respective pace. It may not be the most splendid depiction of the mental/psychological aspects of war, but it sure beats not having it mentioned at all.
All things considered, the narrative of ALDNOAH.ZERO continues to swing up, and the title of this episode ends up quite fitting. It really is the dawn of intrigue in many ways—even if you know Slaine’s going to make it out of this duel in one piece—and I’m interested in seeing how Mazuurek ends up changing the equation here before it’s all said and done. Will he survive to live on the world he has come to cherish? Will he survive just long enough to see the dawn of a new world? Or will he just die without ever having accomplished the mission entrusted to him by Inaho and Co? There’s a lot they can do with his character from this point forward, and arguably, it’s a plot line that might just rival the ongoing struggle between Slaine and Inaho—amazing considering how we were just introduced to the good Count not too long ago.
Before I end here, here’s some limited + exclusive ALDNOAH.ZERO Art Canvas (you can get them individually or as a two pack) that are being released in the near future. Bit pricey, but figured some of you out there would be interested. Did I mention there’s a planned Variable Action figure of the Tharsis? Yeah.