Last week’s episode was one of my favourites. I actually prefer it when people talk and make clear what matters to them to fights that don’t have stakes, or drag on too long. Last episode we’ve seen Marito try to make progress towards dealing with his past, we’ve seen Saazbaum explain why he does what he does – including how he too blames the Martians, and it concluded with the point that if we’re constantly told to be jealous of something, we’ll try to take it away. And so, Rayet tried to take Asseylum’s life, of which she was jealous, away from her.
I wrote about it last week, but I don’t think Rayet’s actions had been a plot-twist, or an ass-pull, they were built up over the whole episode with her thoughts and Saazbaum’s words. It was a cliffhanger, but we all know the Princess will make it, right? Well, time to see what the crazy kids are up to this week.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Stating the obvious:
1) “The Aldnoah Drive shut down.” – “That shouldn’t be possible, so long the Princess lives, no one else can shut it down without her permission!” – Poor Eddelrrituo, your words contain your answer, and it’s also obvious. But then again, people can’t consider what they consider to be the unthinkable. To Eddelrittuo, Asseylum dying is exactly that sort of “unthinkable”, but Inaho knows, “Once you remove everything that’s impossible, the remaining solution, however improbable, must be true,” and it’s actually obvious here, painfully so.
2) I often comment on how children are all-capable in anime series while adults for the most part are only there as opposition and/or to show us how incapable they are. That’s very much the case with Adlnoah.Zero as well, with the villains being the manipulative adults who keep the past’s woes in the picture, or Marito who literally can’t do anything, we have Slaine and especially Inaho as being able to do what the adults can’t, right? Well, here we have Asseylum out of comission, and while Inaho is quick to take action (a 16 years old using a defibrillator? The mind boggles, and before you guys say anything, I was a medic in the army for three years), we still have the adults coming to the rescue! Go go capable adults!
Well, if they do learn it at school, beyond basic CPR, then it truly is a sad world to live in, where all the kids are prepared for war. Also, Inaho told Eddelrittuo he’ll do the compressions, but he could have had her do the breaths, each is tiring, and when you have two people, you have one person doing each.
And in the end Inaho takes care of everything on his own once more. Poor adults.
2) Rationalization and Agency:
1) Rayet’s speech, it’s a combination of what’s motivating her, which is jealousy, and the other part, which is the self-rationalization of placing blame. But look at what part she describes first, it’s not that Asseylum is to blame for all that happened, but it’s that Rayet has no place to go back to, nothing she can be, while Asseylum was accepted and welcomed. It’s jealousy. Again, refer to the final section (5) in last week’s write-up to see me exploring this more in depth.
And this is also why Rayet is now pulling the gun. She might not have thought her assault on Asseylum through, and her speech now is partially rationalization (because that’s how humans operate, we act, and then come up with the explanation after the fact, which we say is true retroactively, that it’s always been true, even if it’s not). Right now she had been caught here, so she must keep alienating people, because that’s her true role, the lonely stowaway, the one who is despised and ostracized by the whole world, or so she sees it. She sees no other option.
2) “It’s all your fault” she says to Asseylum, which mirrors what Asseylum herself thought previously. “They accepted you in spite of what you are.” – You mean, they accepted her for who she is. But Rayet keeps talking about “identities”, about being part of something, about being defined by one’s allegiances. “I’m a Versian. No, I’m a Martian.” “It’s the fault of the Martians.” Rayet keeps talking about groups, and keeps talking about herself as part of a group, or rather, of there being no group she is part of. She feels alone, but rather than trying to relate to others as individuals, and to have them relate to her as an individual, she judges everyone and anyone based on sectorial allegiances.
No wonder she feels alone and can’t trust anyone, because she doesn’t treat them as individuals, she doesn’t even treat herself as one.
3) Being a heroine of a story, which means her individuality is her most important trait as a character, Asseylum’s position is the exact inverse, “It’s my fault people died, and that relations between the two planets are so bad!” – She takes it all on herself, rather than assigning blame to other individuals, and even whole parties. Asseylum towards Rayet as well, she treats her 100% as an individual, rather than part of a collective.
Likewise for Inaho, “You hate our enemies and fight them. Our enemies fight you as well. You’re an ally, what more reason do I need to protect your life?” But Inaho is thinking both of the individual-level and the group-level, he thinks of a fellow individual and how he’s part of the same group as he is, and how he relates to other groups he’s related to as well.
3) Repeating History, Because We Know Not the Past:
1) “Martians killing Martians, Rayet’s father and Asseylum, Rayet’s father and his co-conspirators, the Martians and Rayet, Rayet and Asseylum. And I too took the life of an ally.” – I wonder how long before we get to, “We’re all humans, we’re all people, so it’s the same point throughout”? Of course, Inaho believes in “sides”, in “us” versus “them”, but that’s what we have Slaine for, to blur that line, to make Asseylum’s dream of unity come true. But unity means becoming one, and to some degree removes the differences, couldacceptance be a reachable goal?
2) Again with the history lesson, very much the air of Fascism and Nazism even, of turning a country’s suffering for their economic plight and blaming it on others, fostering a sense of Nationalism that finds an “Other” to be its target of rage. Of course, if “We” are superior to all, then that “Other” is inferior, and painting another as non-human is a good way to give yourself moral permission to kill them, to take from them, and to rule them. When you say someone’s actions are “inhuman” you’re doing the same, preparing them to be punished as one might do to beasts.
There’s also the question of “original sin” here. Yes, it was foolish to go onto Mars, and to think they could be sufficient, and seeing that’s impossible, the rulers went against Earth, to maintain their power, at the cost of others’ lives. But Earth too, for its treatment of the Martians, and for being the ones who sent them there to begin with, must still pay. So all must pay, and what then? Will Saazbaum rule? It’s all rationalization, it might be true, but unless his goal is to kill everyone and destroy everything because no one is innocent, what else will he go for that wouldn’t make him identical to those he rails against?
3) Death Flags! Death Flags Everywhere! “We’re safe here, aren’t we?” and “If this place gets wiped out, Terrans might be extinct.” At least we know what we’re fighting for, not humanity, but Terrans’ Humanity. It’s very fitting that it’s in a former-USSR nuclear shelter, because this too is trying to invoke the fear of humanity’s biggest threat being other humans. Humanity might get wiped out, but it’d be because other humans will have done so.
Also, Inaho’s “It pays to be prepared”? More death flags. It’s almost like he likes fighting, unlike Calm, Nina, and Inko, who want to be rid of it as quickly as possible.
4) Repeating History Even When We Do…:
1) “We will remain friends after all of this is over, won’t we?” – “Yes.” That’s confirmation that they’re friends, and have a personal relationship, beyond just saving her because it’s war and helpful to him, and Inaho was even blustered when Asseylum said he’s a kind person.
2) “Stop this tragedy, I beg of you.” Saazbaum is in an ironic position here. He knows it’s a tragedy. He underwent a tragedy for what he now knows was a useless war, a war where one side was blamed for something they were not guilty of, just so others could maintain and wield power. But his own past tragedy is what makes him unwilling to stop the current one. And the current war? Also a war where an innocent party is blamed, where rage is whipped up in order for them to be able to strike out and wield power. He fights those who purported this past injustice by replicating it now himself.
3) “Before the War”, a nice name, but what it means that it’s all a prelude, a prelude during which much of humanity had been wiped out. Then again, it’s not really a war when only one side’s fighting, right? You need two sides for a war. Well, good thing there’s another 14 episodes. Makes me wonder what will be the point at which they’ll stop during this half-cour.
Shorter Notes / Asides:
- The meddling doctor, he realizes more people are wounded by their past. He thinks this might help heal Magbaredge, and that Magbaredge’s forgiveness or whatever reaction will help heal Marito.
- Rayet, keeping up the brave face in the darkness, while Asseylum keeps up a brave face as she shines the light of Aldnoah once more.
- And… mirroring! From Rayet in her cell, to Slaine in his.
- The surface is unsafe? And space isn’t, with moon-debris everywhere? Well, guess you don’t have to worry about the impact if things strike Earth, at least.
- “A flying battleship, it’s like something out of those Japanese comic books.” Ho ho ho…
- Speaking of Fascism and Nazism earlier, here’s a memory of the USSR.
- I spoke before of how being used to something beats using something you’re not used to, and Inaho’s right, if you get hit you’re dead, so “more armour” isn’t really much help.
- “I wouldn’t say I saved your life, this is war after all.” Meaning he just gave her a bit more of it, which is sort of what saving one’s life is – everyone dies eventually, after all.
- “Mother Russia” and “Father Vers”, heh. I’m used to nations and planets being described in feminine terms, must be because they “provide” for us, and are home, is this part of the fact that Mars is such a foreboding and strict environment, as it were?
- Shooting someone’s handcuffs off with a gun aimed at their body, looks cool, but so utterly ridiculous.
- Saazbaum and his crazy “honour”, even as he’s acting without honour (killing innocents, blaming innocents for his crime to orchestrate a war). Giving a weapon to someone who might use it against him.
Post Episode Thoughts:
I didn’t think this episode was as good as last episode, but since that was my favourite one, or right there at the top, it’s fine – this episode was still pretty good. If I could think of one big criticism for this episode is that aside from Inaho finally admitting he does work for Asseylum as a person, as an individual, rather than as just doing it because it’s beneficial to him, then most of the content we see here is still rehashing the same ideas as the last episode – Saazbaum is still going on about how the Vers family whipped the Martians into attacking Earth in order to maintain power, Marito is still about his trauma, and Rayet is still about blaming Asseylum for her role.
But, before I do go into what had changed, it’s not always a bad thing to rehash the same ideas, when they don’t feel like empty words. Yes, they’re working with finite time, but just throwing one scene where we see what a character is like isn’t always all that convincing, whereas spending more time on it can get us to accept that this is what the character is like.
So, what did we get this episode that was a new focus? Individualism. Inaho finally accepts Asseylum as an individual, because she keeps addressing him as one, not letting him escape anywhere. Saazbaum? He’s motivated by his personal tragedy, where another group of individuals made use of a group to attack others, for their own personal gains. Saazbaum’s honour and debt to Slaine’s father? Another remark on the power of individuals, and individual connection.
Even Rayet, her whole arc, her whole conflict, is on treating herself as part as a whole, and others as stand-ins for groups, rather than treating people as individuals. Her resentment of Asseylum is exactly because she wishes to be seen as an individual, and to treat others in that manner as well.