Aldnoah.Zero Episode 6 Notes – The March of Irony

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:

Screenshot album.

1) The Conquerors’ “Magnanimity”, And On Irony:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 6 notes - Emperor Rayregalia Vers Rayvers declares war

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:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 6 notes - Calm Craftman wants to fight

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 statementshe 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:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 6 notes - Marito Kouchirou speaks of 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:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 6 notes - Marito Kouchirou faces his past

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.

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 6 notes - Darzana Magbaredge reveals truths

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:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 6 notes - Martian Superiority

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. They set their eyes on Earth,” and we see her eyes looking into the sea, before we speak of Earth’s “blueness”. Nice touch.
  4. Remote fists! To punch into the “soft” underbelly of the ship and pull its intestines (cables) out, hee.
  5. Playful Martians, Helpless Humans, once more. But now there’s Inaho, and Slaine, let’s see.
  6. Inko-chan’s cute.

Post Episode Thoughts:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 6 notes - Amifumi Inko is still alive

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 :)

Return to the Aldnoah.Zero Episodic Notes page.

9 comments on “Aldnoah.Zero Episode 6 Notes – The March of Irony

  1. zeroreq011 says:

    That’s an interesting observation made about truth and fatalism. Successful conflicts are waged and won just as much on the backs of morale as they are men and material, because without morale, one might find a deficiency in quantity and quality in the latter. Ultimately impossible might not matter for a “professional army,” where duty’s honored solemnly where duty’s solemnly called, but not all “professionals” are that disciplined, and maintaining discipline is even worse in the event of a draft, where ranks are swollen with individuals with little to no experience in the physical and psychological tempests of war.

    I hope you’re right about your conclusions of it being a Greek Tragedy, because I feel the show’s been dragging its feet with Act I. Are Greek Tragedies always supposed to be unsubtle about its character and thematic conflicts? It feels like they’re just borderline to being ham-fisted.

    • Guy says:

      My conclusion though is that the finale is not going to be a Greek Tragedy’s, where everything falls apart and no one can escape their destinies. They’re going the standard Hollywood route of “growth” and “victory”. Also, Hollywood films up until the last act are usually pretty slow, and since Greek Tragedies are about the morals, never truly went for “subtle” – they’re more about showing you a story that’s deterministic and making sure you understand it, even the choir is there to make sure you can follow up on what’s going on.

      I’ve had a philosophy course where the professor was a retired Major-general, and we spoke of information-decay, but then it also got to the morale-decay, of societies (Black Plague), and military units, which is something he actually had to research. At 10% losses, people worry, at 15%, things wobble, at 20%, things break. Even though that with 20% losses units can keep on operating, and at some wars you can see, especially on the single-unit level, people operating with 50% losses, on a division-level and higher, 20% is about the point where morale breaks, and units feel they can no longer fulfill their roles.

      So yes, morale is uber-important.

      • zeroreq011 says:

        Hm. I see.

        On a side tangent, I think Maoyuu actually brought this up, though I think it mentioned the breaking point to be 30% losses.

        For that tangential matter, I think even Log Horizon even mentioned it in passing.

  2. Crisp says:

    “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.”

    Read Kant. Slaine’s is what Kant will describe as a just man. Someone following their moral code to the end. His loyalty is always unshakable, it’s never with the order. He’s not in the road of tragedy, he’s in the road of ascending to higher grounds. At least that’s his storyarc according to Katsuhiko Takayama, who is in charge of the series composition and now script. He’s the character who is going to win “emotional and mental strength” of the cast. This episode and those before it cement his role. He’s the key of the story over the Princess. The Antagonist (TM) isn’t looking for the Princess anymore, she’s relegated to irrelevant for now..

    Slaine and his father, the research, and possibly the charm he gave to Asseylum will be the true factors with Inaho’s actions.

    • zeroreq011 says:

      Yeah, Urobutchi-influenced scripts don’t look or deal kindly to principles that deal with absolutes like Kant’s categorical imperatives, so I think you’re wrong here.

      • Crisp says:

        Urobutchi isn’t writing this show anymore. He’s occupied with a movie and the show’s writer and compositor, Katsuhiko Takayama, already described Slaine’s storyarc of a young man who wins resolve and triumphs over his obstacles. He’s the one writing the script now.

        The show line “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall” is based on the quote Kant takes as pillar of his ethics: “Let justice be done, though the world perish”. So, you’re completely wrong. It’s about being truth to your maxims, the results don’t matter. Asseylum and Slaine, and a number of other characters, will be rewarded in the end for sticking to their principles.

        The show’s antagonists are nothing but one-dimensional moustache twirling jokes, except for the main one. It is dealing with absolutes when the portrayal is completely biased.

      • zeroreq011 says:

        Urobutchi didn’t write the majority of Gargantia, but from a thematic point of view, it’s hard to argue against his influence on the over-arching script. They had the same conflicts that Urobutchi likes indulging in his work, and his same insights at their core, so until Aldnoah runs a lot more episodes, I wouldn’t count anything media attached to Urobutchi’s name as influence negligible.

        I think you’re over-simplifying the motives of the show’s antagonists. Believe it or not, many of the show’s antagonists, Cruhteo, for instance believe that justice is on their side. It’s self-conceited on their part, sure, but it’s also something they earnestly’s their right, and thus their moral imperative to honor. Kant doesn’t have a place here, because the question isn’t who’s clearly just or not, but whose justice do I follow.

        The show presents different takes on justice. Justice, as the show presents it, is arbitrary.

    • Guy says:

      It’s been about four years since I read and wrote of Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, his only work I’ve read in full rather than fragments, or of, in other philosophers’ works, but it still feels as if you’re making a mess of it, and of Slaine.

      To Kant, “following your moral code” is hardly enough. He has ideas on what being moral looks like, and even has notions that certain acts would be self-contradictory as “moral actions”, and he specifically uses lying as an example, because it runs counter to the categorical imperative, that you can’t be considered to also want everyone else to follow the same act (though the first episode of Kino’s Journey is an interesting take/answer to that particular example).

      Now, here’s a quote from something I wrote of each character’s dilemma, about the 4th episode, linked in my 5th episode’s write-up, about Slaine:

      Slaine is also conflicted with himself, but here we’re really getting to the Greek Tragedy. Allegiance to the law, or allegiance to his superiors? The life of a traitor and his superior, or the life of one he’s sworn to defend, on the side of justice? Trust, when lying is dishonourable, but telling the truth and obeying his commanding officer can lead to the biggest disgrace of all? And not extending trust can lead to Asseylum’s death as well!

      Slaine is as far from “following his own code to its limit” as one could possibly get. Slaine is constantly having to reevaluate his code, his choices, and his world-view. He’s nothing but self-doubt and constant reevaluation.

      Going against his superior officer? Not extending trust? Disobeying orders, hiding the truth of Asseylum being alive? He does these things out of necessity, which means going against his code. He’d like to trust in others, but he’s forced to hide the truth from them because he can’t trust them. He’s had a code up to now, and now he’s embracing only a small part of it, “Defend the Princess at all costs,” which causes him to toss out everything he was raised on, including the hospitality, training, and yes, trust, Cruhteo and the others had shown him.

      What Slaine does runs counter both to his own nature up to now, and to Kant’s ideas.

      He’s not in the road of tragedy, he’s in the road of ascending to higher grounds.

      I addressed that in this write-up. Where I said anime shows rarely actually turn out like tragedies. They begin as one, because it’s interesting, as tragedies are built on the past catching up to you and dilemmas – interesting stuff, but then rather than follow all the way through when people stay true to their natures, and in Greek tragedies, when they literally cannot avoid their fate and change their decisions, they go the route of change, and everything turns out well.

      Slaine is changing, which is why it’s not a real Tragedy. But whether that’s “evolution” or “devolution” is up to the watcher to decide. Though yes, this change is almost always depicted as a positive thing in narratives.

      • Crisp says:

        The way I see it there’s no conflict in Slaine’s loyalty. His loyalty is with Asseylum and nobody else, he’s always kept it. He was conflicted in what to do and who to trust aside of his devotion to the Vers Princess. What he re-evaluates are the choices he makes to make things better for her. Some work and some don’t, but his maxim (his devotion to the Princess) is unscathed. His dilemma is the supplementary loyalties and choices: his birthplace or his new land? By this same logic, I don’t think Cruhteo will be punished unless he betrays the Princess after he finds out the truth.

        I see. I must have missed that. Yes, Slaine’s a character who was placed in the bottom. He had two options: break or to start raising. He took the later choice. He is winning, as the compositor said, mental and emotional strength to feed his resolve. If Inaho has the brains and the information, Slaine has the heart and the drive. One is logic and the other is intuition. They are meant to complement each others.

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