Aldnoah.Zero Episode 3 Notes – Taking Action, Creating Hope

(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.)

So, last episode to me was a bit wasted, in terms of time. A lot happened in terms of plot, but other than that, our thematic points had been: Earthlings stand no chance against Vers (which also related to episode 1’s theme of how the adults filled the children’s heads, and theirs own, with lies), Trillram is a jerk, and our MC is only moved to action when something happens truly close to him.

This is the last episode written by Gen Urobuchi. I suspect he wrote each episode to have an almost discrete theme, and here we will finally see what direction the main characters, and the show, wishes to go in.

Thoughts and Notes:

Screenshot Album. 131 images, and at 1080p resolution, so, erm, yeah.

1) Adults and The Past:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 3 notes - Marito Koichiro can't give up hope

1) “My castle is about to take its meal.” – Again with how the Martian Moon Knights see the earthlings as prey. They’re not even predators who need to kill, but hunters who kill for sport. They’re not engaging in this offense to protect themselves, even ostensibly, but to punish. They’re going down there to prove how superior they are to the “apes”.

2) Poor sister. As an adult, she is helpless. Bed-ridden. She can only be worried about her brother, who is never “all-there”. Just last episode we’ve seen him cooking an omelette while he should’ve evicted himself.

3) So, the children are going to use the school mecha to fight. The school that filled their heads with ideas they could win, while using technology that is subpar to what they’ve already seen defeated. That doesn’t seem as the wisest course. Let’s see how it turns out. All smiles though, the bluster before one gets going.

4) “Darzana Magbaredge” – Such name. Almost “Ragna the Bloodedge” :P More seriously, the adults are running away even as the kids are rushing to fight. It’s the right call, of course. You don’t fight for the fight’s sake, you fight for something. Here, the previous fight was to let the civilians escape. The Martian Moon Knights are as close as it gets to “fighting for its own sake” – they’re fighting for sport.

5) For someone who kept talking in the first episode about fighting lost fights, and how one can’t make it up for filling others’ ideas with false hopes, you’re now suggesting that the army divert more people, more resources, for the hopes of letting one person escape? Who’s the one who will have to make it up to everyone else later, the one who is trying to sell them on a hope that isn’t realistic? I guess it’s all different when it’s personal, eh?

This makes her offer to him fitting – to get a chance of saving his students, he has to find enough people to volunteer. He has to sell hope to people, he who said there was no greater crime than selling false hope, which would lead people to a hopeless demise. Irony.

2) Crazy Kids, Filled With Hope:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 3 notes - Kaizuka Inaho knows it's crazy

1) “I know what I’m doing is crazy, but you told me to trust my gut.” – Turning another’s words against them, Inaho is turning into a fine adult!

2) Ok, let’s get serious here – “This dude is obsessed with killing us, so we’ll be the bait so he won’t attack anyone else.” – First, didn’t Trillram say he wasted too much time on them and left? Second, this sort of logic is irrelevant because he’s toying with them, and Trillram can level the whole city, probably. And if not, there are enough other Martian forces. They’re running away, as if there’s anywhere they can run to. The whole of Earth is now one big shooting range, and you’re only putting things off.

3) The whole, “I can’t let an injured person do it” in the end was an appeal to emotion that made little sense. You just admitted you’re going to act as bait. What does it matter if the bait is wounded or not? It’s likely going to be decimated. Guess these are the effects of the “instilled hope” Lieutenant Marito spoke of, and that it’s human nature in stories – never give up, always keep going.

4) Hmm, must kill the rat! But sure, I too wondered. They know the zone it is in. They have vastly superior technology. Just flatten the whole area!

Trillram is such a dorky jerk. Speaking of the “little rat” and her “hidey-hole”, heh. But see, “Sacrifices must be made,” this is what separates our villains from our protagonists. The protagonists will only sacrifice themselves, and will leave no one behind. The antagonists will sacrifice their “allies”, such as Princess Asseylum – more honour for them.

3) The Plan™!

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 3 notes - Bored with the plan

1) Essentially, Trillram’s mecha has a portable black-hole. Nothing comes back from it. If the sensors are behind the “wall”, then no information should come to it, so how can he see? I do feel the whole set-up of the talk with the big monitor is a bit unnecessary. They can just talk without all of that. The whole way the kids flew the model airplane, smiled – it’s as if they’re not taking it seriously, but as part of a game or a science experiment.

2) We see the kids as opposed to everyone else. Everyone else is just waiting for someone else to save them. Dejected, lost. Inaho and his friends are actively obtaining information, actively trying to come up with a plan.

3) Yup, I suspected as much. He can’t see, but he can “see” them through buildings. He gave up when they reached a tunnel. Meaning he’s using satellites or orbiting castles (which are also satellites, if we want to get technical). His monitor gives him “footage”, and it’s exactly that, but it’s not footage obtained directly by him.

4) Heaven and Earth! The cast-down princess, the discarded knight’s offspring, and the hope of humanity. Together, against a joint enemy. Together, for a joint dream. Like Marito, they need to find people who share in their hope, or who alongside them will reject the despair. People willing to risk their lives, in order to ensure a better chance at it? Obviously, if Inaho is engaging in this plan, he doesn’t think they can just sit tight forever and wait the Kataphrakt out.

“It is my duty to undergo this trial.” – Oh boy. Well, that’s the shounen mentality, but actually spelled out. And yes, that’s chuunibyou, which is very much about the shounen ;-)

4) Hope, So Terribly Grand:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 3 notes - Amifumi Inko had been infused with hope

1) “You’re worried about a cold, when you two might die tomorrow.” – A good way, and a good spot, to bring it all back into focus, to discard this silly atmosphere, even as you engage in it.

2) Inaho has a point. There’s no one to rescue them. The adults are just as helpless. Sure, they might very well die tomorrow, but thinking of it isn’t going to help them any, so… he won’t, or he won’t let such thoughts distract him.

And then a nice touch from Inko, “Don’t catch a cold, okay?” – Life continues. They live now, and they might survive tomorrow. No reason to dwell on the threat of impending death.

3) This moment is straight out of Hollywood. The cold and commanding superior officer delegates her duties and joins the rescue-mission. She too wants to rescue the civilians, she just couldn’t order it at the cost of the main objectives, and then it’s tied off with “I’ve taken an interest in you, Lt. Koichiro Marito.” – This is so Hollywood.

4) Those are your students, whose heads you’ve filled with hope, the greatest and most terrible of weapons, Marito, going on the offensive!

5) Action Time:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 3 notes - Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia fires a grenade launcher

1) This show looks good. The fireworks/smoke bombs go into the sky, and with the yellow sparks it truly looks as if these are signs of jubilation alongside the light music, as Earth’s new counteroffensive begins! ;-)

2) Princess with an RPGKewl.

3) “Forgive me!” Slaine had said while he fired. Flying while closing his eyes. We can already see he’s being torn inside.

4) So, now it remains to be seen why Inaho’s kataphrakt had been carried by the truck. Why didn’t he just run on its two feet? What is he trying to do? Sink Trillram’s Kataphrakt? That might be it.

5) I guess she used some magical technology to hide her appearanceour dear Princess Asseylum. Yes, technology so advanced and which can be used in whichever way the plot demands is essentially magic. She looked cool, and Trillram looked absolutely stricken. Others might see her as well, and to kill someone only to have their “ghost” stand there. Her imperious lines, commanding him to leave, to cease his “uncultured behaviour”, were quite rich as well.

6) And now Trillram sees that the plan is to sink him. No shield, lest he taken in the entire ocean? I wonder how that’d work out.

7) Ah, this is actually much more elegant! When surrounded on all sides by water, they can see if there are areas where the armour has chinks, and then they can direct their fire there.

Ooooh, now they tied it all together! Very clever! He can’t see, because his barrier absorbs all signals, including radio and infrared. So how does he get the signal from his cameras? Meaning there had to be another opening.

6) After the End: A New Ending, A New Beginning

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 3 notes - Troyard Slaine finds his resolve

1) “Sir Trillram, you’re alive!” – “Are you being sarcastic, huh?!” – Gotta love this cackling villain. Poor Slaine, everyone’s dumping all over him.

2) Trillram, how can you be so stupid? Slaine cares for the princess. He doesn’t care for you or your clan, especially as you are traitors. Should’ve just shot him, rather than go all James Bond villain and explain your entire scheme to him. Facepalms You’ve essentially created another person you will have to silence, just now.

3) And for the first time Slaine takes control of his fate, in this series. For the first time he does what his conscience tells him, rather than what his superior does. And what does it lead to? To taking a man’s life. Such are the joys of “Freedom” and following one’s conscience.

4) Goodbye Trillram. It wasn’t nice knowing you, but it’s nice to see you go.

And then Slaine keeps shooting. Panic, or reveling in his newfound freedom, in his newfound and reaffirmed mission, to protect the princess?

Post Episode Thoughts:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 3 notes - Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia means serious business

This was a solid episode. Our MC acted. He sat back, he calculated, and then he sprang forth his plan. There was a small “Gotcha!” moment here – “Why did Trillram’s Kataphrakt have to have a spot where it’s vulnerable?” – and the way they answered it made sense, with the information we’ve had access to. It was elegant, I liked it.

Seems they’re trying to sell us on how Inaho did nothing up to now because he had nothing to do, or not enough information to carry it out, but Okisuke’s death pushed him over the edge. I still find this bit in particular a bit… undercooked, still. The whole “We might die, but thinking of it won’t help us in any way, so I won’t” might be commonplace, but it felt like it belonged, especially with the sort of character they seem to be setting Inaho up as. The final touch about “Don’t catch a cold” felt great. Even in war, even as we’re close to dying, we still cling to life.

The rest of the episode was mostly solid action, solid camera and music work, and several cool moments, such as “The Princess of Peace” shooting off an RPG and talking stiffly to an unruly underling, while collaborating with the daughter of a man who tried to kill her. The final two bits that seemed to matter were Slaine finally acting out, finding his own inner compass, and acting on it, and how Lt. Marito was forced to convince people to believe, to hope, and how he hopes himself, after his monologue against hope in the first episode. That was very… Urobuchi.

Return to the Aldnoah.Zero Episodic Notes page.

9 comments on “Aldnoah.Zero Episode 3 Notes – Taking Action, Creating Hope

  1. Artemis says:

    Best episode by far, for sure. I was getting a bit impatient during the first half – feeling a bit nervous that it would be another dialogue-driven episode where nothing much would actually be achieved – but the second half really brought things home. And that final scene with Slaine was excellent; I all but cheered out loud. I know a lot of people aren’t very fond of Urobuchi (to say the least), but this episode just proves to me once again that the man knows how to write compellingly.

    • Guy says:

      Well, that we all wanted Trillram gone and that people would “cheer” to me is not a good thing :P It was a caricature villain, rather than an actual person. All it is good for is for the moment of its defeat. But hey, at least we’ve only had two episodes with him. He was Sugou from SAO levels of terribly-written, honestly.

      I do wonder. I’d say that the first three episodes could’ve been relatively easily condensed into two. It doesn’t sound bad, but if the ratio continues, that’d be a series where 8 episodes would feel wasted, at which point I begin losing my patience. I just hope it’s a “beginning of the story” kind of thing.

      But! I picked that screenshot I’ve used at section 3 on purpose. There’s a lot of thought given to the framing of that shot. It’s a great shot, but what exactly is it trying to tell us? I spoke in the episode of how lightly the three kids seem to be taking all of this, smiling and high-fiving one another, as if they’re playing a game. Here we see them sort of bored, sort of casual, and very much not treating this as a weighty thing. The episode spent a lot of time on conveying this feeling of immateriality.

      • Artemis says:

        Well, I can’t and won’t argue that Trillam was a well-written villain – as you say, he was mostly just a caricature of one – but I was actually cheering for the choice that Slaine made rather than for Trillam’s death itself. If anyone else had killed Trillam then I probably wouldn’t have cared all that much, but the fact that it was Slaine was what elicited that reaction from me.

  2. Ah yes. The butcher is back in all his glory. Brought with him is his gun wielding magical girl, murder committed by the innocent MC and everyone’s favourite, cold hard irony.
    While controversial as hell, I still standby the statement that Gen Urobuchi was the best thing to happen to anime. While he does have his fair share of disappointing anime (looking at you Susei no Gargantia), I don’t think anyone can deny that this man knows how to write.
    I do genuinely hope that Urobuchi provided enough guidance for the other writers with his first 3 episodes and that they will follow the direction Urobuchi has set for them. I don’t think anyone would want to see another one of Gen Urobuchi’s shows to fail due to incompetent writers.
    However, with these first 3 episodes, I think this one may be very hard to butcher.

    • gustave154 says:

      What Suisei no gargantia was awesome what are you smoking dood. But AZ is looking like Urobutcher’s best work yet.

      • Guy says:

        1) Urobuchi only wrote the first 3 episodes for Aldnoah.Zero, out of projected 24, so it’s hardly “his work”, it’s also hard to call based on one episode.

        2) Likewise, Urobuchi only wrote the first and last episodes of Gargantia. Furthermore, I found the last episode to be terrible, and the show in general to be my least favourite of the works he’s associated with, except for Fate/Zero.

        But hey, opinions.

    • Guy says:

      Would it be hard to butcher? I’m not even sure where they are going with it, there are quite a few directions they might go.

      We’ll see, of course. And also, to me the worst part of Suisei no Gargantia was the finale, which Urobuchi wrote ;-)

      • Aeternix says:

        I don’t think the last episode of Gargantia was the worst part. I seem to remember a ‘secret sauce’ episode that had me slamming my head into a wall until it ended. Goodness that was a horrid filler episode.

        Gargantia was, to me, a fun and lighthearted show. It did not try to go too deep with its messages (the theme of finding yourself and growing up are pretty common ones) and the ending turned out to be quite optimistic. I would agree that it is one of his worst works, but I would also say its his ‘happiest’ or most optimistic. Even so, his worst works are still quite good.

        Aldnoah.Zero on the other hand . . . I just don’t know about it. The show seems like it wants to be a smart and theme heavy show, yet it doesn’t have the narrative skill to achieve it. I point to the, quite frankly, horrendous exposition dumps in the first episode. I mean, I know Urobuchi’s a great writer, but he’s better than having a princess spout facts about her people in an elevator to a servant who clearly knows the information. The writing felt cheap, easy, and more in line of a more mindless show. I’m actually surprised that Urobunchi wrote that first episode as it seems rather amateurish in its world building. Fate Zero had a really exposition ridden beginning episode, but at least it’s explaining made sense in the context it was framed. Aldnoah.Zero is finally getting back on track with this third episode, seeming more like Code Geass in style, but I still feel it’s falling short of what it wants to be.

        In short (tl;dr), I feel Gargantia knew what it wanted to be and, for the most part, succeeded. Aldnoah.Zero still seems lost at what it wants to be, but at least now it seems like it knows what it wants to do. Unfortunately, Urobuchi isn’t writing anymore. Whether this is a good or bad development is anyone’s guess.

        Also, loved the review! Really good in depth coverage. Matched most of my sentiments exactly.

        • Guy says:

          Filler is bad because it is wasteful. The finale was bad in how some of the messages there betrayed those that came before. I’d take “betrays what it’s trying to do” as being worse than “lazy/boring/stupid” any day of the week.

          Also, Aldnoah.Zero is 3 episodes in. Not knowing or showing us what it wants to be about isn’t all that surprising.

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