Continuing World

Two Endings

Aldnoah Zero and Captain Earth just wrapped up. But I don’t worry about that, because Argevollen’s not going anywhere, which is more of a good thing than not.

My brother and I usually watch these shows back-to-back, saving Aldnoah for last because it is the better show, in a I’m-trying-to-be-objective-here manner of speaking. However, I had the sneaking suspicion that Aldnoah Zero was going to end in a downer and a cliffhanger, because that is what split-cour shows usually do (Code Geass, Gundam 00, Fate/Zero), so I decided to go with it first.

Well, I was right. Important “characters” die, and I put air quotes around that word because reasons, and we’re left scratching our heads as to what would happen next in the second season.

Then we watched Captain Earth, and the reason why I’m able to write this post and not be a bitter rambling jerk on Twitter is because of that finale. Simply put, I hated one and loved the other.

Let’s start with the bad news: (oh, and spoiler alert, duh)

Aldnoah Zero

Inaho and Asseylum are both killed by Slaine. The former quite unambiguously so, while setting up the latter and thus being an instrument to the kill.

I. Did. Not. Give. A. Shit.

As you may know, people grieve dearly for fictional characters. My entire office floor exploded the morning after that one episode in Game of Thrones, because it was unexpected (even if it was inevitable in retrospect) and because the characters did matter, appearing in the show since the first episode and were considered Important Main Characters due to Having Done A Lot To Advance the Plot. But aside from that, they were written as characters, as kind of real people with hopes and dreams and invoking empathy from the audience because hey, they might not be real but I sure feel for them!

I couldn’t get that from anyone in Aldnoah Zero. Everyone is written to advance the plot, plot, plot. It’s a plot show, where tons of things happen every episode, and I respect that. I almost even like it, if the writers didn’t just look at the jar labeled “Characterization” and toss it out.

Let’s look at Inaho. Oh, Inaho. He’s the stone-cold badass, defeating super robot gimmicks with a straight face because he remembered what went on in physics class. What does he do in his spare time? What his wants? I understand that he’s written to be the total opposite of the quintessential hot-blooded pilot character, but this is taking things to the extreme–we’re left with an boring meatbag that says and does the most rational things because that’s what the plot needs. There’s no excuse for this, because Chirico Cuvie was a fully-realized character back in 1983.

Princess Asseylum, well, you could replace her with a frilly lamp and the story still works, so that kind of explains her character in a nutshell. She’s a plot device and became obsolete the very moment she turned off that one Aldnoah Drive.

Maybe they actually live, which would be a really dumb cop-out.

The battle also sucks, because we’ve been inured to Inaho’s shenanigans. Saazbum’s mech got torn down easily after all those hard-fought battles. And don’t give me that “Martians were arrogant and underestimated the enemy, lol” excuse, because Saazbum had ten episodes to learn that lesson.

Maybe I do care about one character in the show, though, and that’s Eddelrittuo. Girl’s just doing her job, ain’t got time for politics when there’s a whole royal mane to be braided. She could really drive, too.

Am I hating on the show? I still like it, for various reasons. If there’s one thing the show excelled at, it’s maintaining dramatic tension from start to finish. There isn’t a dull moment. The score is top-notch. But this isn’t a mecha anime to me. It’s a science fiction show that happens to have mechs in it, some of which get wrecked in entertaining ways.

Captain Earth

I don’t particularly love Aldnoah Zero, but I recommend it to people, because it’s entertaining and solid enough to someone who doesn’t watch shitton of mecha anime. It’s clean and reasonably well-animated, but it’s visually drab and boring. Opening’s storyboarded pretty well, but that’s it.

I don’t recommend Captain Earth, unless you’re a Star Driver fan and are willing to stomach five episodes of setup to an honestly out-of-place arc that riffs off on Darker Than Black, which only after then becomes legitimately good. Which is to say, I don’t recommend it at all unless you’re a very specific kind of anime fan, who’s like me.

What I could say without reservations though, is that Captain Earth is much more gorgeous than Aldnoah Zero. It looked pretty and vibrant even from episode 1 and it looked absolutely brilliant in its final episode. The part where Daichi chases Puck and stands between him and Earth, declaring himself as Captain Earth, and charging the motherfucker down with the first OP playing, jettisoning the Earth Engine’s parts until he’s down to the little mech inside to break into Puck’s core, freeing Hana and destroying the evil perverted computer once and for all… holy shit, all of that was silly and amazing! Just how I like my mecha anime.

Why do I care? Because the characters made me give a shit. Captain Earth the show builds up its mains as a team and lets them work amongst themselves. They mingle, they bond, and before you know it they trust each other with their lives. They become really good friends, and love is given time to grow. I started the show thinking hey, Daichi’s kind of a wuss, and Hana’s got the intelligence of a baby, but boy do they really grow. Everything else is a mess, which I won’t defend at all, because it doesn’t matter. If a show makes me feel good, strong emotions that it makes me forget about its faults, then it wins.

Captain Earth was flawed, but I could somehow feel that the staff truly believed in what they were making. It wore its heart on its sleeve and made no excuses for it. In contrast, Aldnoah Zero was emotionally bankrupt to me. It didn’t seem to care for its own characters, and had this callous air to it.

How could a more polished show lose to something that isn’t as good? Oh, that’s just me. If you’ve got another opinion, then great! Just shows how fun it is to consume fiction–we all react differently based on our own experiences.