Last episode had: Marito is feeling guilt about surviving and his mini-arc about the uselessness of “honour” continues. Slaine is now known by the schemers to be someone who needs to be removed. Inaho saves the day once more, naturally. And yes, the Emperor stopped the war, sent a fact-finding mission, then reinstated the war without any seeming change in the facts at hand. Something seems fishy here. I suspect there’s something going on with the emperor.
What’s going to happen now, both in terms of plot and themes? I’m not sure, and there’s only one way to find out.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) The Conquerors’ “Magnanimity”, And On Irony:
1) “Today, the Vers Empire declares war upon the Earth!” – This brings to mind one of my favourite flavour texts from Magic: the Gathering, from the card titled ‘Reparations’, “Sorry I burned down your village. Here’s some gold.” And if the Emperor hadn’t declared war, what would they have done about all the millions killed in the initial assault? Always easier to keep pressing forward, so you wouldn’t have to look back on what you’ve done…
2) “With her death, she had revealed the truth to us!” – And then he speaks about “Justice”, which is ironic, and important. This is a tragedy in its narrative sense – her death didn’t occur, and thus her “death” only obscured the truth further. The more there’s talk of justice, the more they will have to pay when the truth is revealed – “This is divine retribution” he said, which is again somewhat of a callback to the show’s byline, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” And the Emperor is the celestial being who sits in the heavens, eh? They gave him a very French aristocrat air, in how he looks.
“With her death, she had revealed the truth to us!” – That’s almost as bad as “With her death, they commanded us to keep fighting!” – And that leads to more deaths, which make you ever less likely to give up on the fight, because each new death “commands” you to reach the next death. What a sad turn of events. Hyper-realistic, though.
3) Slaine is also on the classic road of Tragedy. One use of power and not telling the truth require more. One situation where he disobeyed orders, and now he has to flee for his life, and has to keep disobeying orders. Is he on the run from his honour, or for it? Will he be able to return to the old order? Unlikely, so now he has to tear it down and create a new order, where his code is the right one, once more. But would that truly be a good order? After all, even if his cause is just, the methods he took about it aren’t ones conducive to a good military, government, or society. Even Cruhteo is only doing what he thinks is just, he’s just operating with missing information.
4) “She didn’t want war, she wanted to be the bridge between the people of Earth and Mars!” – “And she ended up being the spark that set it off.” – Irony, did I mention that word already?
2) War Is a State of Mind:
1) “The war never stopped. We just pretended not to notice, that’s all.” – There’s something about it, especially when a the enemy forces literally keep a sword over your head, and you train your new generation for the hostilities about to come. A war doesn’t require fighting, it’s a mentality.
2) All-out-war, there are no civilians anymore. Also, just look at this line – “Go into war in order to safeguard Earth’s peace.” – I want to point out how ridiculous this line is, but I’ve heard lines like this all too often in speeches by politicians, generals, and even high school principals. Then again, it might be because my high school principal was a retired Colonel or Lieutenant Colonel :3
When you go to war, you might want to eventually restore peace through it, but your actions aren’t “safeguarding peace”, and there’s no peace to safeguard. Especially when you just drafted a bunch of civilians, many of whom are high school students. Marito was right – there’s never been peace, since 15 years ago. The kids were born into war, and raised within it. There’s absolutely no “peace” to safeguard.
3) Ah, yes, interviews to see where to assign each person, to be able to use them to the best of their abilities. More like to find out how to waste their time, and the taxpayers’ money. I still remember going through these myself. Also, if you just referred to her as “Onee-chan” (Big sister, casual), you shouldn’t follow it with “Hime-sama” (princess, formal) :P
4) “Don’t you want to do your part to help defend the Earth from the Martians?” – So many reasons for Rayet to react to this statement – she is the sort of Martian the Earth needs defending from. A chance to strike back at those who used her and her family and cast her aside. A chance to make amends.
5) “Why can’t I go out and fight people? How am I supposed to waste them if I’m in the hangar?!” – Oh my. In the hangar, you’ll have to accept you’re not a main character, and everyone sees themselves as the main character of their own life’s story. It doesn’t help when you do see life as a story.
3) On Truth:
1) “In the end, that the truth was hidden doesn’t matter, we’re still going to lose.” – “The truth doesn’t matter” is an interesting position. But it does somewhat go counter to what he said in the first episode, he wanted them to know the truth rather than have their heads filled with false hopes. But would it have been better to fill their heads with the concept that they cannot win? That’s what Magbaredge meant, someone who thinks they’ll lose before the first shot is fired will not be able to save them, could they?
So, does the truth matter? Yes. Does it matter whether it’s known to be the truth? Questionable, but also an interesting corollary to the situation with Asseylum’s survival.
2) So there is something to this “Divine Emperor” shtick. The celestial empire made his bloodline one that can use it. Then again, so can everyone else, just not innately. This means that while the Emperor and the Princess might not be “entirely human”, everyone else on Mars is exactly like a human, and had been given access to the technology. This might be another reason to try and get rid of the Princess, who has more power than the nights, and might be able to strip away their superior technology.
Also, Inaho, don’t try to sell us, “My superior knowledge might not help, because they have superior technology” now! It didn’t stop you up to now, did it? :P
3) “Your friend was mistaken.” A reminder that he is mortal, might be dead, and that she misses him. Awwww. Inaho, you big meanie! Inaho certainly believes in the truth, and is using it as his weapon.
4) Repeating History:
1) Returning to the scene of his crime, of his sin, we see Marito and the bottle, and the dog-tag of his old colleague. Some stories don’t need many words. Or perhaps, no amount of words would be sufficient.
2) The Greek Tragedy marches on! The dead friend’s little sister is Captain Magbaredge. Was he literally killed by Marito? Were he killed so he wouldn’t be taken captive? Were he “killed” by Marito saving himself? You see, this is an example of a situation where the truth doesn’t matter, just how people feel about the events, that forms “truth”.
3) Inaho’s military kataphrakt won’t activate? No problem, time to go back into the trainer! As he said earlier, this one doesn’t have as much power, but it has more agility and speed due to weighing less. Also, he doesn’t actually have any experience with the military model. Better the weaker weapon you mastered, than the stronger weapon you don’t know how to use. Also better for our protagonist to overcome greater odds.
4) Each such fist is a single molecule? That’s super-technology for you! So, why is a single molecule strong? Because what does a projectile bullet do? What does a knife do? It’s not as much that they break molecules (and certainly not atoms), as much as it severs the electrical connection that holds multiple atoms/molecules together, forcing them to separate.
So, how will Inaho defeat this? Heck, he’ll need to find out about it first. Or will Asseylum somehow take back the Aldnoah from the Martian? Might be a good opportunity for Slaine to arrive, and join his fellow humans.
5) Marito, he intends to help, he wants to help, but he can’t. His past is certainly an important thematic thread here. The Emperor and Marito are the only real characters with a past in the show, right now, and well, Slaine.
6) Well, time to join forces, eh? Next episode ought to be an interesting one, and that Orbital Knight isn’t out of the picture just yet.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- “How dare he use the audience chamber without permission?! Execute him on sight when you find him!” – Talk about high-handed and despotic. Ah, Slaine, your life is less than a dog’s.
- Inaho and Asseylum’s shot reminds me of something I’ve been thinking for a while now. Zankyou no Terror is going for the extreme light of hyper-realism, blacks, blues, and white. Extremely dark blacks, at that. Aldnoah.Zero is going for the yellow-oranges contrasted with blue, which is infamously well-known andappears in too many movie posters, and also in Aldnoah.Zero’s own promotional image. It’s the Hollywood look. Just an idle thought, and there are plenty more shots in this episode that stress it even more.
- “They set their eyes on Earth,” and we see her eyes looking into the sea, before we speak of Earth’s “blueness”. Nice touch.
- Remote fists! To punch into the “soft” underbelly of the ship and pull its intestines (cables) out, hee.
- Playful Martians, Helpless Humans, once more. But now there’s Inaho, and Slaine, let’s see.
- Inko-chan’s cute.
Post Episode Thoughts:
This episode was extra-heavy on the irony. Not in the comic sense, but in the sense that is true for Greek or Shakespearian Tragedy, of the inexorable march of the past, of how past sins catch up with you. Unlike those older tragedies, I still think they’re setting the scene here for a reclamation, for reparations, for new hope. But that’d require people to face the past, and to face themselves.
Marito is obviously the poster child for this, with his old tragedy writ large all about him. Slaine’s past, and his father is a reminder that we keep running into. The Emperor, who was a human and now is indirectly responsible for an inter-species war? And what of Inaho’s past? Scar-tissue forms to be less sensitive than regular skin, and his emotional landscape seems to be one big scar-tissue, after all.
Things progressed not in terms of plot, this episode, or in terms of scale or stakes, but the characters had been made aware of what the stakes are, explicitly. Truth, in all of its terrible glory, in all of its useless splendor, had been invoked.
Now remains the second act, where the plot happens, and the third, where the thematic claims would come to light, and the show will decide on its message. I think this episode, or the next one, will more or less wrap-up the first arc, of introducing all the pieces, and setting their initial moves. I know what it said thus far, but it’ll remain until the finale for us to be able to look back and see where the arc is going. I suspect a hopeful Hollywood ending, but nothing’s certain. And well, there’s also the whole “plot” thing to keep us interested :)