Aldnoah.Zero Episode 4 Notes – Fragile Joy, Weighed by the Guilt of Lies

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page, but up to a couple every week will have their write-up appear on the main page, when I think they warrant it. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

Last episode was the last written by Gen Urobuchi, and ended with an affirmation of hope, after we’ve been told it’s a lie. But the world is never so simple.

Likewise, last episode ended with each of the three main characters, Slaine, Asselyum, and Inaho each asserting their agency, their motivation to act and change the world in which they live.

Now, now’s the interesting part – where will the show go from here? What themes will it discuss? Let’s find out (Sorry about the delay, had a podcast in the middle of the episode, and then I had to grab something to eat).

Screenshot album.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) Honour’s Weight, and The Weight of Living:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 4 notes - Orbital Kknights' Justice

1) The first three episodes had been a mini-arc. The way this episode opened was more than just reminding us what happened thus far, but to reorient us on where we’re headed. The show’s byline says, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” It means that even if the luminaries (another celestial reference) are the ones to blame, one will follow on what is just, to its fullest course.

That means that Count Cruhteo who was Asseylum’s guardian, and who went upon the warpath to avenge her is going to have to put his money where his mouth is, he’ll be torn between duty to his compatriots, duty to his princess, and duty to his code of honour – and that’s where his real conflict lies – the code that demands not waging a false war and showing Asseylum is alive, or the code where his honour will be besmirched for having engaged in this war, when the instigators had been his own compatriots?

2) Interesting, we see the weight as the mechs walk and are picked up, and then nearly crush the poor student. Then the inverse of “weight”, as they try to make light of the topic. No, it’s not really funny, but Inaho, Inko, and Calm did appear to treat it all as somewhat of a game last episode, and it seems to be somewhat of a theme, so we’ll have to see if they do more with it.

Of course, them being kids, how weighty the mechas are, compared to how fragile their bodies, also reinforces the seriousness of the situation. “BAM, BAM, BAM” – not even rockets, just walking around in wartime.

3) So, meaningful glances all around. Our three heroes back with friends. Asseylum seeing humanity as people she can work with, the “daughter-rat” staring at her thoughtfully, perhaps thinking of killing her, or whether it was wrong to try and kill this selfless princess – though I doubt any of the Orbital Knights truly bore her any ill will, and finally – poor Slaine still standing there, seeing the results of the justice he had carried out.

2) Back Amongst The Living, Carrying The Ghosts of The Dead:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 4 notes - Inko and friend have a teary reunion

1) Oh yes, the other noble, which Trillram worked with, promised us a rain of death, didn’t he?

“We made it out just in time.” – Yes, we knew this was incoming, but if they wanted us to truly feel the tension of the “Just in time”, they should’ve given us more reminders of it being prepared, and how imminent it is. Otherwise, it’s just a thing that happened, “And everyone made their way out scant minutes before the meteor bombardment struck.”

2) Homecoming. The changing of the guards is done, with the incapacitated adult passing the reins to her younger brother. Hope, in the presence of the Lieutenant without him objecting, just acting “gruff”, and people rejoicing that they can reunite, even if they will never be able to go back. The childhood is gone, and even though they are but kids, it’ll be up to them to progress.

3) Well, this sucks, “Take out enemy communications!” Now other side can’t surrender, or show that this all has been one big misunderstanding. Of course, when you want honour and cover-up, this might all be part of the plan.

4) “Exoskeleton therapy”? If her arm broken, she can still do stuff with it, but she’s still moving a broken arm. Come to think of it, why not have the exoskeleton move like a robotic hand, without her? Lack of fine control and fingers? Hm.

3) Community Built on Shared Lies that Keep Us Apart:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 4 notes - Calm hates Martians, and Asseylum overhears

1) This was a nice and clever little moment. See people air their anguish, their sadness and anger next to you, and then blame the group you’re part of. You sit silently, in fear, and hurt, because things won’t turn out well for you if they were to find out you’re part of “the other group”, and because you might feel some guilt. Right? That’s one of the horrors of living in a world full of schisms. And then we have the same deal with Inaho and Rayet – he says the party she belongs to is the enemy (and if not her, then certainly her just-deceased father), and she feels the same sort of thing inside.

“Martians are all the enemy”, for betraying her father and her? Is she putting up a mask? She’s a martian, and well, so is Princess Asseylum. It can also be seen as “Trust no one”, and that her sense of guilty contains the seeds of self-hatred.

Also, we’re reinforcing Inaho as being able to remain “calm and rational” even in these trying times.

2) Slaine lies. The meteor bombardment that was supposed to cover the conspiracy ended up covering one of the conspirators being killed. Sadly, it also means the conspiracy might breathe on. I can understand Slaine though, as he doesn’t know who to trust, at this point. And yet, his “justice” and “honor” now have him lying. He’s learning firsthand just how grey morality is.

Cruhteo thinks of his honor, his territory being targeted by another, but at least it’s closer to what’s actually going on..

3) “Better to run away than stand and fight.” – “Exactly the opinion I’d expect from someone who survived the war 15 years ago.” – Meaning, only the people with such opinions got to live on, because they escaped? One could see such an outlook as both a commendation, that it’s true, and life must be protected, or as a chastisement, that he’s a coward, and it might have been better to die.

Of course, it might also mean that 15 years ago they were helpless, so it makes sense this is the message, but now, now they have hope. Of course, this hope is the one he thinks is false, but it could be due to the previous beating. He says humanity is living a lie, but it might be that he’s the one living said lie. Guess we’ll see.

4) “And… Action!”:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 4 notes - A kataphrakt of doom

1) Considering the speed at which the sword was swung side-to-side, it couldn’t have stopped all the projectiles. And if his armour was enough to withstand it, why did he bother at all? Dunno.

2) Again with the “weight”. The enemy kataphrakt makes its way to the ship, pounding as it goes, a sense of impending doom – a foreboding. An implacable and unstoppable enemy. That is horror.

3) “Stay inside, princess!” – From her aide, that’s not necessarily sensible. If the Orbital Knight makes contact with the ship, the princess will die regardless. If he’s not an assassin, she might survive, at least.

Inaho to the rescue! Again with the short-distance communication system. Let’s see what he can do. Also, that short-distance comm system is only useful because his friends came to aid him. That means he wascounting on them to do so, or it’d have been a meaningless gesture.

4) The katana-lightbeam stopping the bullets makes little sense, as he’s not swinging it nearly fast enough to catch them all O.o

5) “Would you like to know why you can’t get a date?” – “I thought you were supposed to arrive fashionably late, Ma’am.” – Yeah, this is supposed to be badass and cool, but spare me.

6) Also, Inaho might be likened to Lelouch, but Lelouch could never contain his smug attitude, his joy over a plan well-done, over outthinking his opponent. Inaho has a plan, and he carries it. If it worked, good, and if not, time to rethink. No expression. Can’t be as invested in a character who’s not invested.

7) “You’re not worth my time!” – The bully’s line after being chased off. “It was my plan to withdraw all along!”

ED – They’ve actually changed the ED! Cold machines and monitors. Synthesizer lines. Much more energetic. So, the third three episodes had been our peaceful respite? Oh my.

Post Episode Thoughts:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 4 notes - Inaho and Rayet discuss rationality

This was a nice episode. Certainly in terms of explosions and the direction feeling “meaty”. I liked both the way the kataphrakts felt impactful and menacing, showing the fragile lie of the non-serious atmosphere of the kids’ behaviour, which was then reinforced as they hung about in the back of the transport ship. Yes, once they’ve taken action and then won they were all smiles again, but these had been the fragile smiles of those who must act, because to sit and wait patiently feels them with even more dread.

I don’t feel we know much more of the characters, but they’re certainly repeating their nature so we’ll see it – Lieutenant Marito feels some guilt over having survived the past war, and is fighting against his past, and for the (hopeless) hope of the future. Inaho is shown once more to be The Man with the Plan™ but also the “cold fish”. The Princess once more shown to be willing to sacrifice herself for her duty.

The only real “growth” came from Slaine, who is understanding the world he lives in, and the need for duplicity and lies.

Themes? Still with the hope for hope, and that it’s one messed-up world.

Return to the Aldnoah.Zero Episodic Notes page.

9 comments on “Aldnoah.Zero Episode 4 Notes – Fragile Joy, Weighed by the Guilt of Lies

  1. python490 says:

    Do you know who will be taking the script writing from here on out?

    • Guy says:

      I don’t see any indication, but I suspect it’d be Takayama Katsuhiko who is credited with Series Composition, he wrote the scripts for Baka to Test, Ef, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ga-Rei Zero, and some other shows, including Boku no Pico (no joke). I actually didn’t like plenty of these series, but many of them are adaptations, and it might be more the fault of the directors… we’ll see.

  2. Nice catch on Inaho’s short-distance comm system. I actually didn’t notice the irony of Inaho putting on a comm system while telling the people he will be using it with to “stay inside.”

    On the matter of the seemingly emotionless MC, I personally found Inaho a breath of fresh air from most stereotypical mecha MCs who are initially hot-headed imbeciles or spineless cowards. I like his cold and calculated attitude during battle, processing all the information presented to him and using it to meet his goal. This seems to be a skill that is sorely lacking in many mecha MC’s where apparently ranting about politics and justice while charging at the enemy will win you the fight.

    However I would agree on how he is a little difficult to connect with on an emotional level. I do hope they explore Inaho’s past to explain how he became such a calm and calculated person midst such chaos and danger at such a young age.

    • Guy says:

      “This MC is not like all those other MCs!” doesn’t actually do much for me. There’s a reason people tend to rely on stuff that works, at the expense of what doesn’t.

      That seems to me to be quite close to “MC is willing to kill everyone without blinking an eye!” ala Akame ga Kill!’s fans’ reactions.

      It’s not a good thing to be like that. And it also doesn’t make for a good character. Even if we disregard “Can relate to or understand”. We could’ve replaced him with an auto-pilot or an eggplant and nothing much would’ve changed. He’s like early-episodes Tsumugu in Nagi no Asukara – he tells us how people work, he tells us why it’s not very useful. He’s a mouth-piece for the author and a 30 year old person.

      He’s not actually a character yet. And even if we understand why, it still doesn’t necessarily make him a good character.

      But sure, people appreciate a change of pace now and then. I just don’t think this was the right choice, for… nearly any series. Should he actually change, to me it’d be just as the “hot-headed but cools down” or “coward that stands to face his opposition”. It’s a story, these things are there in a 2D manner so they could easily be changed later, but the other ones make more sense. And make for better stories.

    • Finite says:

      Inaho very refreshing when it comes to anime characters especially in the mecha genre. Non of that obnoxious hot heads, whiny anti-authority rebels or bumbling cowards that seem to flood anime. The anime that you could say broke me from the mecha genre for a while would be Linebarrels of Iron. The MC was so annoying that I despised other similarly designed characters from other mecha shows.

      Strangely enough I can relate to Inaho. I have trained myself to be distant from people since I was young and as a result my demeanor have always puzzled a lot of my friends. I’m not cold or calculating as Inaho but I do find “unregulated” emotions tend to be very distracting and wasteful at times.

      I don’t think it was irony when Inaho is putting on the comm system while telling his friends to stay back but more as if he was kinda manipulating them.

  3. Poet García Madero says:

    I thought that the sword stopping the bullets wasn’t so much the sword itself, but the immense heat coming off it frying the HE rounds, detonating them early.

    • Guy says:

      A lot of bullets hit, and when Inaho switched ammunition-type it did apparently use the sword to actually block them, by barely moving it. Why didn’t he aim at the legs? And a whole bunch of other stuff.

      It was essentially magic, and the in-world argument was very unsatisfactory. But because it has no real bearing on the plot, I noted upon it and moved on.

  4. Nigel technika Lee says:

    Yes, its due to the conjecture by Inaho that the sword’s heat is causing the Leidenfrost effect (a true science). Although if that was the case, shouldn’t Calm actually proceed to “pince” the Martian Kataphrakt because it only can block one side with his one sword?

    • Actually I would doubt any real damage if Calm should fire. That Beam-Katana Kataphrakt might not be invincible like the one in ep2&3, but the armor is enough to shrug off AP bullets with small dent (HE might be better but it might also pre-detonated). Might need half a clip on the same spot to actually breach that armor, unless of course, hitting it with a high mass impact, or pierce it with a not so trusty knife.

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