Count Cruhteo’s role in the story, at least thematically, appears to be over. He was here to make a choice, and that is how to react when he discovered the truth, of Asseylum being alive, would he go with honour’s demand that he save her and oust those who sought her death, or would he do everything to maintain honour, by going along with the plot? Well, he made his choice, and now he’s out. Poor Slaine keeps getting shafted just as each episode ends – being shot down, kidnapped, and having to shoot other people. Poor boy.
Asseylum is now working with humanity, and had gifted them a fighting chance, to go with their poker-faced military boy-genius, Inaho. Let’s see where they go from here, fighting the Martians, trying to bring back peace? And how will the Martians react? Tensions run high, and the plotters will foster the suspicion amongst those who might listen.
Thoughts and Notes:
Screenshot album. Not 100% SFW due to the shower scenes.
1) A Villain and His Guest:
Hard to believe the pre-opening sequence was only 1:45 minutes long, considering how many mental turns I took there, and how packed it felt. I actually laughed out loud when it ended, and I think it could’ve gone even better had we had Lelouch Lamperouge, voiced by Fukuyama Jun, talking to Slaine, instead of ol’ Count Saazbaum.
Last week people discussed that since Cruhteo’s turn to seeing Slaine is innocent and his capture happened after he lost consciousness, so that Saazbaum might try to tell him that Cruhteo was the conspirator and he the innocent, and this episode definitely made it seem that way. Him speaking of Slaine’s loyalty to the Princess worked on both levels – you can’t trust those who’ve betrayed others to not betray you in turn, so even if you’re a slimeball, it might behoove you to have trustworthy and noble followers.
That Saazbaum said those things while revealing the truth to Slaine reinforces it. I also thought the story about him as a scout with Slaine’s father might be false, but considering he did tell him the truth about the plot, I guess it’s true. We’ve seen Saazbaum flinch when Tanegashima was mentioned, so it seems likely that Kataphrakt they found, and the one who killed Marito’s friend John Humerey, who is Darzana Magbaredge’s brother (seriously, WTF with those unrelated first names), might have been him.
So, what does he wish from Slaine, apart from saving him, and how will he try to convert him? Guess we’ll have to see.
2) Wartime Drama and Comedy:
1) Yes, this is still wartime, and Inko, just a kid, is one of their fighters, so they’re training. Calm continues to be a gloryhound, a bloodhound, and his eyes light up at the thought there might be an opening. But an opening means one of his friends or allies died. Still so eager, Calm? Well, he’d be, once the opening is created, to get his “revenge”. Marito’s lessons went in through one ear, and out of the other, with that one.
2) Of course, all the “schooltime with schoolfriends” portions feel so weird, almost surreal, but I’m not saying it’s not actually realistic – Inko stopping her simulation training because she heard that Inaho might have a crush on another girl, so she must go there to interfere; the sister who must use a brace who is thinking of her brother marrying royalty, and joking about Inaho’s facial expressions.
It’s nice that Yuki is able to tell apart her brother’s expressions, but it’s surprising his friends cannot, and I’d have appreciated it if we could as well. It’s sort of funny, and telling, that Inaho is “a precocious jerk”, where the biggest compliment he can give another person is listening to them attentively, but I guess when you know it all, you get bored quickly, just like little Eddelrittsuo is bored as she listens to her Princess.
3) Of course Yuki could tell that Rayet was lying, when you ask, “Can you really tell when someone’s lying?” that’s like a big flag telling everyone around that’s lying. And also, they keep hammering about her situation while only we know, about how you can’t tell who’s a Martian unless they actually tell you. Yes, we know. They keep building it up, so it’s going to be quite explosive when they finally reveal it, I guess.
4) And we continue with the bit about “Do you know why you can’t get a date?” Well, they do say repetition is a key aspect of comedy, and I can already see how one of them brings it up as she’s about to die to make us feel. But, what are they saying here? The real question is what is their goal – Is it to fight the Martians back, or to deliver the Princess alive to the place from which they can broadcast she’s alive? Because finding loyal Martians would speed that up, should they truly be loyal, and if they wouldn’t shoot them out of the sky upon seeing them…
I can definitely understand the second in command, she has lives she’s responsible for, including a real hope to end this war.
5) “Wonderful Terran food, so many unusual dishes!” “A Terran papercraft bird!” – She’s like someone who fell in love, hard, with everything not from her place. It’d be like someone going to England and going, “Marvelous English tea!” “What a marvelous English tree!” “What a marvelous English building!” Yeah, we get it, it’s English. Well, she’s sort of like a tourist, again, someone not exactly acting as befits a war, but what does? You don’t stop living and laughing, y’know.
But combined with all the silliness at times, it does remind me a bit of Valvrave, or at least of how people spoke of it.
3) Dealing with Trauma:
1) Rayet, facing the reason she now hates Martians, the one who betrayed the betrayers (can’t trust betrayers, remember?). She has her own form of PTSD now, and they actually remind us of it. So, if she has this PTSD, why do we need Marito, as a character, beyond the fact that he’s also teaching others not to fight? Well, that’s part of it. Rayet’s trauma leads her to rage, and to action. Marito’s trauma, bolstered by the fact that for 15 years he couldn’t act, is driving him to cower, to inaction. “Fight or flight,” right? Marito is flight, while Rayet is fight. Two sides of the same terrible coin.
Also, if it’s a Greek Tragedy, then the past matters. They both share guilt, but at least Marito has more of a past.
2) Marito was a Platoon Commander? Hm. Also, “That’s!” yes, that’s a very polygonal blob. Even games these days can do better :> And yeah, when your allied tanks just begin flying in the air like so many toys, it’s disconcerting.
Yeeeeesh, that’s rough. We often speak of fire as being “hellish”. So his tank erupted in flame, with his friend trapped within, being burnt alive, and he asked Marito to shoot him, to put him out of his misery. Yeah, that’s gonna leave some mental scarring.
“Are you alright, Lieutenant Marito?!” – What a dumb question, as you hear him shouting with spittle coming out of his mouth. Maybe it was supposed to be “You are fine!” rather than a question, but again, he wasn’t really, not emotionally.
3) Rayet’s case is more than PTSD. She feels something is missing from her when she looks at the Princess, one who is calm and collected, who trusts others though she should not. They share the same situation, of having been betrayed by their countrymen (planetmen?), but to me they’re both moving forward, as opposed to Marito. Also, is the Princess calm, collected, and happy? No, we’ve seen her blame herself, and rue the situation she’s in. She’s keeping her brave face up for those around her, not because it’s her true face.
4) On Governments, Culture, and Personal Grudges:
1) Ok, Saazbaum’s little chat with Slaine is important, and it’s made more meaningful when you know some of the promotional history material. Mars has Aldnoah, but why did they go to war with Earth 15 years ago? Because they only got resources, such as food, water, supplies for construction and such via Earth, and Earth wasn’t always prompt on providing resources to the people it sent to Mars, especially after those became unwilling to bow their legs.
So what do you have? You have people with historical grievances, who live impoverished lives, who look with jealousy upon their homeland, and then you hand them unsurpassed military might, what do you get? You get war and subjugation.
It’s not helped along when you think the reason you don’t have a culture is because you lack the peaceful world and plentiful resources that Earth has, but it’s not entirely baseless, if you consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The Martians were so busy with survival that they had little time for anything else. Of course, a big reason they don’t have a “culture” is how young their country is, and exactly the fixation on what they don’t have, the fixation on the culture they are missing, that hindered the growth of a culture.
Even then, it seems unlikely, and is a case of either an unlikely sci-fi writing, or that Saazbaum is ignoring the culture that does exist.
2) But Saazbaum isn’t yet done. “The Princess is guilty, being royalty is her crime.” Saazbaum is aware that this culture of hatred is the problem, and the leading cause to the lack of “Culture”, and to Mars’ inability to deal peacefully with Earth. Saazbaum knows this hatred breeds more hatred, of the sort we now see with Calm, and he blames the old Emperor, or his son, for starting it all, for denying peace and coexistence with their fellow humans with them.
Remember how he said, “As a lord, my duty is to secure territory for my loyal vassals”? That was another criticism against the Imperial Family. They brought up a system that leads to war, rather than peace, they created a situation where Martians were turned from peaceful into war-loving and honour-seeking maniacs, and where Martians had died. Back there on Tanegashima, Marito’s soul was wounded, but so was the Martian’s. And now he’s seeking amends.
When you create a society that’s ruled by anger and fear rather than anything cohesive, anything to unite them as a culture, your only recourse is to keep manufacturing enemies, either internal or external. That’s the Imperial Family’s sin, of manufacturing war in order to maintain their power, rather than seeking peace, for the benefit of all.
3) In other words, when you begin something by using a despicable method, all that comes out of it, if it could be seen as a reasonable outcome, is your fault. Shoot at someone, and then their car swerves to hit a bystander, and you’re responsible. Back to paying for the past decisions, a collision course.
Of course, the Princess made no such decisions herself, and neither did the Earthlings Saazbaum’s side is killing right now, or the Martians he’s killed such as Cruhteo. He’s no different than what he’s railing against. He’s striking down, or paying back for one injustice, by committing countless more.
I guess this is his “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” – He’ll destroy the world, including the innocents, in the name of a past sin.
4) Saazbaum said it’s his “Appointed task”, “Tenmei” (天命), which is more like “God’s Will” or “Destiny”. Everyone’s crazy about ’em Greek Tragedies.
5) When You Want Something, You Take It:
1) Remember what I said about Rayet? Rayet envies Asseylum. She wants her peace of mind, she wants her ability to remain happy even in the face of all that had happened to her. Rayet wants to be Asseylum, instead of being herself. Black Swan and Perfect Blue covered what happens next, but thankfully for us, so did Saazbaum – when you keep being jealous of someone else, envious of what they have, you try to take it.
Rayet was jealous of Asseylum’s life, so she tried taking it.
2) Asseylum should be alive, I mean, Rayet let go after Asseylum lost consciousness, dying takes a while more, y’know? But she is face down in the water… and with Asseylum out of commission, the ship’s taking a nosedive, its Aldnoah Drive out of energy. I suppose sleeping doesn’t take the energy away, so is she dead, dying…? I don’t think she’s dead, too early.
Post Episode Thoughts:
This episode felt like it dealt with the second half of the thematic heart of the show, thus far. Marito was in charge of the other half. What’s the message, thus far? War is terrible, the mentality that war engenders, on both sides, that fighting to obtain something, whether it is revenge, or resources, or glory, is the sort that leaves us all orphaned, of culture, of the hope for coexistence, of life.
Yes, Saazbaum is doing it all due to his anger, to his revenge, but he at least identified the structural conditions that had created this situation, and his society is new enough, artificial enough, that he can see exactly who created it that way. This also ties into Rayet’s speech last episode on how you can’t trust those who decided to use such an anachronistic system, that uses, abuses, and then discards the commoners underneath, such as the feudal system.
We’ve had three characters dealing with their past, with their trauma. Marito can’t move forward. Rayet can move forward. But Rayet is also a mirror of the Martians she so despises, as Saazbaum had pointed out – her sense of jealousy had been enhanced, she wanted to be Asseylum, she wanted to have Asseylum’s life. She had been constantly egged into a position of hating both Martians, and herself (also as a Martian). And what do you do when you’re constantly told to hate someone else and be jealous of them? You try to usurp them.
The whole deal with the school-kids isn’t entirely unrealistic, but it’s still somewhat annoying and feels like something tacked on. Inaho didn’t get to do much this episode, and until Marito is allowed to move forward or “pay the price” in some form for his guilt, his character offers nothing new either. The real question is Slaine, who is an interesting character, how will he move forward now? And yes, Rayet, who is a Martian conspirator who took down the Princess; one can only imagine her self-loathing right now, self loathing that led to this act, only to be enhanced by it.