This is review number three hundred and ninety. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup, and I’m actually combining both seasons of the show I’m reviewing. I honestly saw the entire series in one go, and I never knew it was two separate seasons. I don’t really care though, because this anime sucks. It’s Aldnoah.Zero I and II. It’s a twenty four episode series comprising of two seasons about, basically, a mars attack. This review is long, so let’s read on already.
The anime follows a group of humans trying to survive the invasion of the technologically advanced martians. The martians have longed to have Earth, and the assassination of their princess is the perfect excuse to do so. The humans are so low-tech that the martians can easily wipe them off the face of their beloved Earth. Desperately trying to survive, humans will not go down without a fight though.
Taking the Pants Off
Something grand and amazing happened the last time Gen Urobuchi and Ei Aoki teamed up. They worked on Fate Zero for UFOtable, and the series is just one of the best anime you’ll ever see. The story is interesting, despite the large and cluttered cast, and the action is just incredible. I have Saber unleashing Excaliber for the first time ingrained in my mind. The scene is just Ei Aoki at his best. When I heard the two of them are teaming up for an original venture, well, I was honestly scared. O. Screenplay, especially the mecha variety, tends to suck a lot. I’ve seen a lot of Sunrise’s original shows to prove that. Buddy Complex and both season of Valvrave just outright sucked. The potential is there but, damn, it was just a failure. I don’t even know what went wrong, since the writing started out solid. They eventually turn into mush towards the end. I was hopeful for Aldnoah.Zero though, because it is an Urobutcher original. He helped create one of the best O.Screenplay anime with Mahou Shoujo Puella Madoka. It featured his strong writing of character study with a healthy amount of his favorite flavor, nihilism. So imagine a mecha anime with the same strong character study and hopeless theme. I would pay money for that, and I would expect nothing less from The Urobutcher. So why exactly did this anime sucked?
Before we go any further, I would just like to give a shout out to one of my tumblr follower. He actually recommended this anime, but I was busy with my life to really focus on reviews back then. I’m finally reviewing this show, and I’m only three years late. Hey, better late than never, right? I’ll also come clean and say that I tend to stay away from anime people would recommend me. I often get my hopes up, and I sometimes blame them for having me invest in the show in the first place. I’m trying to change though since I kinda want to open up the recommendation post one again, but only after I finish the twelve anime in the recommendation pile. But anyways, this anime is incredibly disappointing. It actually has a lot of potential to it, and the writing is actually pretty solid. I don’t really know what went wrong though, since the first half of the anime is really great. It entered melodrama territory once it hits the second half though. An interplanetary species cleansing is turned into a forced love triangle with no actual romance, just a lot of stupid people behaving like angsty kids. Yknow, tumblr dude mentioned how this anime is like “Gundam” so I wonder, does all Gundam anime eventually have weak stories too? I have never really seen a Gundam anime. I once skimmed through parts of Gundam SEED while waiting for Crush Gear Turbo back when I was in high school, and I really didn’t like it. Yeah, it felt like the world war in space was a backdrop for angsty teens. That’s stupid. With Gen Urobuchi’s talent, why would you waste it on telling a Gundam-like show? No, go for the jugular. Let’s flip this genre on its head, damn it.
Reading the wiki page of this anime, it appears that The Urobutcher and Ei Aoki actually split the workload. The Urobutcher claims this is his original screenplay, but Ei Aoki apparently created the characters. The anime is written by Katsuhiko Takayama, who joined forced with Aoki to create Gai Rei Zero. Katsuhiko also series composed, so something weird is going on here. What did Gen Urobuchi worked on? Upon further googling (like a detective), this anime is actually a venture by Nitro+ and A-1 Pictures. Gen Urobuchi working on the project feels more like a publicity stunt than anything else, because his style is really unique. You can tell it’s his, because he always draws you into the character’s plight and he wants you to trust that the story will get better for them. This is where he hits you with a baseball bat, and “you’re my b*tch” is spray-painted on the sides. This anime doesn’t feel like an Urobuchi original, and even a lighter and happier story, like Susei no Gargantia, has his undeniable writing style. Even in its faintest presence, you know if it’s an Urobutcher work. This anime honestly feels more like Buddy Complex and Valvrave. It feels like an ambitious attempt by someone that doesn’t know how to tell a good story. I would be remised if I would call Urobutcher as such, so this anime has problems before we even begin with the actual show. Let this be a warning to those lured in by the Urobutcher’s name attached to this anime as well. This is not his work, and I don’t recognize it as one.
Despite all that, the anime did have a very impressive first act right out of the gate. So a bunch of martians started going apesh*t on Earth because their princess was just assassinated on live TV. The tension has been building for a long time though, and this was the greatest excuse for the technologically advanced martians to invade a planet full of valuable resources. As my tumblr friend above stated, the bad guys has all the cool Gundams and the humans are left with unimpressive sh*t. When the martians crashed into Earth, they killed a lot of people. Like, ohmygawd, a lot of people died. It was an awesome display of power on the invader’s side, and it also created a beautiful status quo for the show. This anime now follows a bunch of humans on the brink of extinction. The odds are stacked against them, their offensive power is laughable and they can only run. This was the best part about the show, because the unequal footing means that every encounter with the martians means do-or-die for the humans. I especially love how the military forces of Earth must put civilian evacuation on priority first. So, they aren’t only running away from the genocidal invaders but they must also help those that can’t really run. In other words, the humans are just f*cked.
You can’t help liking the martians though, because you can sorta feel their pain. Sure, some of them are arrogant bastards but it comes more from a place of jealousy. The martians had to live on a dead planet, so they hovered over Earth waiting for the day that it can be theirs. When the moment arrived, they did it not for how humans did them wrong. One of the knights simply stated that it’s their turn to enjoy the blue seas they can only look on from above. It’s kinda poetic, and it makes me want to root for the martians. I’m sure that a couple more fleshing out of their story can turn this mecha anime into an incredible one. The humans won’t go down without a fight though. They might not have advanced technology on their side, but they have desperation as their motivation. They want to live, and this drives them to beat impossible odds. Thankfully, the humans have a convenient Mary Sue on their side: our main character, Inaho Kaizuka.
Don’t worry. I won’t b*tch about Inaho being a perfect character, because he is really cool in this anime. He pulled some impossible stunts and his thinking is very Deus Ex Machina, but it does balance out with the humans on complete survival mode. With very little means to fight back, the humans, led by Inaho, manages to escape the grasp of the martians. Sometimes, he does this in very incredible fashion as he works around the near impossible problem in front of him. A lot of the mecha he fights are overpowered as f*ck, and Inaho often has to work overtime for his win. He’s look for a weakness on the robots, he’d use his environment to his advantage and he’s even use himself as bait just to get the job done. The fun part is that he takes on a lot of the Martian Knights with just a training robot with very little capabilities.
The match up themselves is really fun, because a lot of things come into play. Firstly, Inaho’s Mary Sue characteristics will really surprise you because he turns the odds in his favor with ease. After being cornered by the overpowered martians, here comes Inaho to swing the tide his way and it is really entertaining to watch. Secondly, the martians are just arrogant as hell. I love it, because they think nothing of humans. Martians are superior in very sense of the word, so the martians would really underestimate their opponent. Their jealousy and disgust for humans are often the main reason why they would be defeated. They often rely on their invincible technology to defeat the “rats”, as they call it, only for the humans to actually prove to them that they aren’t that untouchable after all. Lastly, the match ups are great simply because of Ei Aoki. He does not reserve anything, so a lot of things happen. People are killed, a lot of sh*t blows up and the storytelling is just intense. It’s not to the level of Gai Rei Zero’s first episode, but it’s very close. This is Ei’s specialty. He knows how to tell an exciting story with the fight scenes. The pacing is fluid, and the animation is just incredible to watch.
The anime has three chapters, and everything I mentioned above is encapsulated in the first chapter. The tone of the anime changes drastically when we entered the second chapter though and the problems of the show finally caught up with it. This anime has a lot of negative aspects, and you can really excuse them at first because of the exciting match ups between Earth and Mars. Things changed when the humans finally had a fighting chance against the martians when they manage to stumble upon a Martian ship deep inside a secret base on an abandoned island. Finally, they have a big ass ship full of advance technology to match the martians. The fights are going to get a lot more exciting, right?
The fighting stopped. In its place is four episodes bogged down with exposition and needless character arcs. There are a lot of them, but let’s start with the most disappointing one. I’m talking about this guy:
A wonderful trend in O.Screenplays I recently noticed is that some of the characters don’t have a definitive role in their shows. I still remember that worthless girl in Zankyou no Terror that basically didn’t do anything. Slaine Troyard is like that, but he’s a lot more insulting. The show actually gave us a faint hint that he does have a big role in the anime, and it might’ve worked if it wasn’t for the second half. Slaine is a human that is aligned with the martians, but he kinda became a free agent after the assassination of the princess. He is really only aligned with the princess, and he kinda went aimless without her. At first, I liked Slaine. He is a human, so we see the martians constantly mistreat and abuse poor Slaine. He mostly takes the pain though, because he is loyal to them. He went rogue though, and he tried to find out his true place in this situation. Is he still human? Is he now a martian? So the journey into finding his true self begins, and it would’ve worked fantastically if he wasn’t such an aimless character. He bounced from finding the princess, aligning with the humans, then aligning with the martians, then to the humans again, and then to the martians again. He did this sh*t for twelve episodes, and he didn’t really gain anything from constantly switching sides. He just kinda did his own sh*t without any real weight to the story. He could’ve literally ridden on a mechanical dolphin, and it wouldn’t matter in the least. He actually cemented his allegiance to one side at the end of the first half, and it still didn’t really made any big impact in the story. He isn’t an effective character, but he really should’ve been.
Slaine could’ve been the outside-looking-in kind of character that the audience can relate to. The show introduced the martians as a race of arrogant bastards, but Slaine still feels loyal to them despite being human. Why? Let’s explore that. Are humans and martians really that different? The show even brought up that martians are actually humans that eagerly left Earth when they heard Mars is livable. So, let’s f*cking explore that. How close are the humans and the martians? Slaine could’ve met some of the good ones, the bad ones and even the ones that could’ve helped open his eyes to truly pick a side. This character has a ton of potential, because he is basically Suzaku of Code Geass. He gained status by betrayal, flip-flopped a bunch of times but he eventually grew into a very compelling character. Slaine’s journey in the first half has so much potential to really make this character grow. F*ck, if Urobutcher wrote this character, can you f*cking imagine the amount of emotional weight he’d be carrying towards the second half? He’d be your f*cking Hitler, and there could’ve been a chance to do that. Slaine’s entire character journey is f*cked up, because he is motivated by obsession and he clings to nothing but seeing the princess again. There was even a chance to let him turn on the audience after gaining their trust, since we did start out with his point of view in the story. He is such a rich character, and he amounted to nothing. He had no growth, no emotional impact and he basically just stood on one corner throughout the entire series just doing random sh*t. Except he could’ve been so much more.
Aboard the giant ship Deucalion, the anime also fleshed out the Heaven’s Fall thing. This is another extremely underdeveloped aspect of the story. It starts with this character that has PTSD as being the only survivor of the Heaven’s Fall incident that sparked the first time martians and humans met. It was a bloody encounter that ignited the tension between the two worlds. Throughout the first half, the incident is being hinted at as a big conspiracy job from both sides. It was a very interesting plot point for the anime, but they focused solely on this retarded melodrama regarding the incident. It turns out that the PTSD guy has the condition for not saving his fellow soldier inside a tank, and it f*cked him up. The interesting thing about his experience is that the Earth government is trying to deny his claims. PTSD guy said a martian landed on Earth first before the Moon blew up. Yeah, let’s just hash this out first.
Apparently, an ancient transporter thing is discovered on the moon by a human. The martians then intervened, because the ancient thing is related to their Aldnoah advanced technology. Earth didn’t back down, so the teleporter thing exploded. Pieces of the moon fell to Earth and killed a bunch of people PTSD guy is the only one telling the tale of the Heaven’s Fall incident. Except his version claims that martians landed first, killed a bunch of people, and the moon meteors killed them afterwards. Throughout the first half, we were solely focused on poor PTSD guy not being able to do anything to help the situation. He climbs a robot then just goes stiff while inside. He even had a whole intervention thing with the ship’s captain and a doctor that handles his PTSD. The anime missed one juicy point about the whole thing though: the conspiracy is a gold mine of exposition.
The government hiding the truth of Heaven’s Fall speaks to how humans are both selfish and inept. Instead of helping the human race, the government instead took advantage of the situation and build a f*cking ship. Yes, that’s an amazing plot point. Why isn’t that explored? It implies that martians aren’t the only arrogant antagonists in the story. The martians f*cking hovered the Earth’s air space waiting for the day to invade it. Of course some people would be on edge, and they’d do something about it. They’d steal the Aldnoah technology, and we could’ve explored it some more. The damn Aldnoah is never explained in the anime, by the way. The show just points out that the martians have a power that makes robots run. This Heaven’s Fall thing could’ve been a great world building aspect for the show as well as a great place to dump exposition. It could’ve explained the hostility towards the two races, and give us a glimpse of how bad both sides are. Martians could’ve been technologically advanced, but they take humans lightly. Humans are evil conniving poison-your-water-supply-to-get-an-edge kind of species though, and we could’ve used that to flesh out this war some more. I’m fine with the whole PTSD thing, because he’s a great character, but the whole thing is just handled badly. The character included because his PTSD, a life crippling handicap, just magically went away in the second half. Yup, conflict just vanished because of things. Yeah.
The human side of the war is greatly missing from the entire anime as well. Sure, we get a bunch of soldiers and refugees trying to survive but we’re missing people in suits. We’re missing the deplorable kind that gets famous for crafting a plan that includes massive amount of people dying. We’re missing the strategy talks between the big wigs that are fighting this war. We got the martians talking to each other, but the humans seemed to be scattered. They aren’t though, because there is still a chain of command during the first half that orders soldiers to attack. So, why aren’t they present? Where are the humans in this equation? You know where they could’ve been presented? In Princess Asseylum’s plot point. Remember, she wanted to visit Earth and got assassinated. She wasn’t though, and she just spent the majority of the anime just doing random sh*t. Yes, she is as aimless of a character as Slaine except she shouldn’t be.
How exactly do you respond to a bunch of people trying to kill you? Something should’ve been triggered, but Asseylum just smiles and move on. Yeah, let’s just manipulate the f*ck out of her and use her status to our advantage. This happened in the anime, except the martians did that. They used their own princess as an excuse to start a war. Shame! Now imagine Gen Urobuchi writing this character. An innocent girl that loves Earth so much, and believes in peace, that she visits the place then gets killed instantly. She survived though, but realized her death is being used as an excuse to do more evil things. This innocent girl’s life is now in the hands of a bunch of humans. Now, imagine the said humans still responding to orders from the higher ups and they realize the princess is alive. Now, imagine if they learned that this girl can activate the robots and make the giant ass martian ship fly. In a state of desperation and the entire human race on the line, do you really think this girl will still smile after what they do to her? Oh my gawd, why didn’t Urobuchi helm this project. This feels like the perfect place for him to wreak havoc. Why didn’t you let him?! He turned a magical girl anime into the most depressing sh*t ever. Princess Asseylum doesn’t have a chance. In fact, the name is trademark Gen Urobuchi. That’s a name he’d give his character, so why didn’t he took charge? It’s all so frustrating.
This character’s innocence is such a beautiful piece for this anime. In a state of war, can you really afford innocence? It f*cking writes itself. But the most infuriating thing about Princess Asseylum is that she has a foil character travelling in the ship as well. There is another martian named Rayet Areash, and she was introduced to the show when she witnessed her father killed in front of her. She now has built this unhealthy aggression towards the martian race, and its f*cking princess is in her sights. Throughout the anime, you can see her coming undone. The loss is too much, her hate is building and the princess’ very existence irritates her. She did something about it, actually, but it isn’t enough. This character has so much more to give. First of all, she should’ve been more savage in the battles. She should’ve been a wild card in every battle, because she is coming unhinged. Add a few happy flashbacks with her dad, and this is just a girl waiting to explode. Can you imagine the strong dialogue she’d have with a martian royalty that has no idea the loss Rayet is experiencing? Rayet didn’t do anything grand in the anime, and she really felt more like clutter. It’s sad that so much potential is wasted by the show. Keep in mind, all of this plot points are just in the first twelve episodes of the anime. Are you able to process all of this? Well, congrats but now it’s time to clean the slate.
The anime had a wonderful climax at the end of the first half, and then they did a time skip. Nineteen months later, the entire f*cking series is reset. New set of characters, new set of circumstances and a new status quo for the anime. The old characters are still there, but they’re overshadowed by new characters. The plot point of Rayeth is abandoned, we never saw the PTSD guy overcome his problems, and even the unbalanced battles with our Mary Sue are gone. The only thing that remains is Slaine. Yes, a character that is basically just wallpaper in the first half took control of the second half. So, what exactly replaced the story about humans being driven to extinction by the martian invaders?
A love triangle.
Gawd damn it all to hell and back. The entire series devolved into a story about a bunch of people in love with each other. Another princess is introduced, more martian knights are forced into the story and the entire war is now being done in space. What? How did that happen? The humans have now built a base in outer space despite the pressure being put upon them by the technologically advanced martians? So may questions here. How exactly did they do that? The martians built a base in the moon, but they didn’t care that humans built a base in the moon pieces scattered all around them? The humans gained advantage over the martians? How? The only advanced technology they have is the Deucalion ship. So, one ship is turning the tides to their favor? How are there still a lot of humans on Earth? Didn’t the martians tried to wipe them out of existence? So in the nine month gap, the humans just got better at fighting and they were able to build a base in outer space, next to the martians’ own base, and one martian ship manned by humans is keeping the war balanced on both sides? Gee, that time skip felt more like a lazy way for the writers to expand this anime to twenty four episodes. It really should’ve ended in the first half, because the second half is pretty much unrelated to it.
Now, I do realize very late in the review that Aldnoah Zero actually has two seasons. Wikipedia lumped the two seasons together though, and I never bothered to check MAL. The first half is the first season, and it had potential. All of it died in the second season. I could separate the posts, but I’ll just consolidate them in one big review. Why even f*cking bother? If the first season had problems, the second season is basically just one giant lump of problems that merged into a mega problem.
They focused so much on Slaine that it really got boring. It features his rise to the martian ranks, but the entire thing sucks. It’s bogged down by melodrama with the two princesses, and he never really got his epic encounter with Inaho. A lot of the characters in the first season are wasted, and the new characters don’t really offer anything new. No, they just plain suck. A cry baby princess that magically appeared out of nowhere, and she’s in love with Slaine for some reason. She allows herself to be used, and it would’ve been a great character study, except she is one dimensional to a tee. It’s like they don’t really want to do anything with her. The tragic part about all of this is Inaho suddenly gaining special powers to become more Mary Sue. It’s no longer a subtle secret. He IS the only one capable of beating the martians, and he only needed a gadget to do it. Ok, why didn’t you let other soldiers have it? Oh, it’s just a convenient plot device to make him more interesting? Cool, but he actually became a lot more one dimensional in the process. His emotional connections with the rest of the characters fizzled out, and he really just did random sh*t in the second half. Whatever progress happened in the first season is clearly abandoned by the second season, and things just got even worse.
There’s nothing interesting about the second season. Well, it does display the ineptitude you’d expect from an O.Screenplay. This is why I don’t like doing reviews of original anime, especially something this long. The second season featured the wonderful short sighted storytelling, wherein the overall plot is abandoned so the show can focus on stuff happening in one episode. Nothing builds and episodes lack cohesion. It also features this wonderful little trope of having a forced bad guy. You see, some O.Screenplays would lack direction that they’d also forget how to end the anime. Aldnoah pulled that sh*t here by suddenly making Slaine the bad guy. The first season ended with two bad guys, and they felt it was necessary for Slaine to be the one to end it. They even did it in the most puzzling way by making Slaine explode the moon base. He didn’t confront Inaho in an epic showdown. Nope. He upped the melodrama and just gave up, like the stupid aimless character that he is. This anime also featured the worst thing about most O.Screenplay anime: the forced mecha. This anime honestly did not need it, but it was shoved in there. Making them fight in space wasn’t even cool, because the entire animation is so mono tone. In the end, the entire anime felt unnecessary and the experience felt like a giant waste of time. I was worried that it’d be as bad as Buddy Complex or Valvrave, but it’s actually worst. It ranks up there with other awful crap like M3: The Dark Metal. I cannot believe they even allowed Gen Urobuchi’s name on this thing. It’s crazy.
This is a weird anime for A-1 Pictures. It’s like they really didn’t have hope for it. It lacks their good animation style, and the entire thing looks sad. I’ve seen them do stuff like freaking Vividred Operation, and that still had an amazing animation quality. Aldnoah.Zero lacked the A-1 Pictures flair. They aren’t strangers to original works, but this one just feels weird. It’s like they were forced do this, like when they did their first clunker with Togainu no Chi. It’s worth nothing that another studio worked on this series called TROYCA, and this is their first outing, so maybe A-1 Pictures just didn’t have enough leg room here. This anime feels more like a weird Sunrise reject though, and that makes me laugh. I do appreciate both studios’ effort for doing a generic mecha anime that most studios does, but this one is just awful. Ei Aoki’s talent is wasted here. The first season is a good display of his work, but it’s like he lost motivation in the second season. The same goes for Katsuhiro Takayama’s writing. It was solid in the first season, and then it just dies in the second one. This is just sad all around.
Sight and Sound
Character design is credited to Masako Matsumoto, and her design sucks. Now, she did work based on the characters of Ei Aoki and Urobuchi though. Masako is pretty much a key animator for most of her career, and you can tell she lacks any semblance of talent in creating characters. The characters themselves are incredibly bland and generic, and this comes off really bad because the characters don’t have any real personalities to cling to. The design is the needed plus to make them standout, and they just suck. The martians look bland, and it’s a shame considering the right kind of flashy uniform could make them standout. For a bunch of proud people, they don’t really show off how superior they are. The uniforms could’ve really made a different, but it just looks bland. The same goes for the humans. The school uniforms could’ve been designed a lot better, and the military uniforms just don’t really look impressive.
The character design is also integral to the show, because there are a lot of characters. When they put on their helmet and pilot a mecha, I often forget who is who. Their hair color is often the only thing that sets them apart, and you can tell how bad the character design is at that moment. I often confuse Inaho’s sister and female classmate because they look the same. They only differ in hair length, actually, and I bet there’s an Urobuchi reason for that. I bet he was planning to kill one of them off. That was the initial vibe I got, but who knows. If there’s one character design that looks decent, then it’d be Princess Asseylum. She is really the only design that is different, since she wears a gown and her blond hair is tied to the side. Everyone else is a generic mess. Even Slaine could’ve looked better, and the character design could’ve actually helped in capturing the growth of the characters. If Slaine’s design changed in the second season, like give him longer hair and a flashier uniform to symbolize his insecurities, then it would’ve meant a lot to the series. Sadly, little effort is given in the designs.
I will say that I like Inaho’s design though. I always enjoyed how bland looking he is considering how Mary Sue his character is. I also thought the way he acts so abnormally is because he is supposed to be a martian, so there’s a contrast between him, a supposed martian on Earth, and Slaine, a human on Mars. There are so many good ideas wasted in this series. Anyways, the mecha designs are OK. The overall series kinda had clunky and stiff mecha, and I don’t know if it’s on purpose. The monotone design of the mecha doesn’t really make them look impressive. Sure, they look awesome when you pause the anime but they look awful when they move. The first season did give the mecha designs an extra “oomph” though, because of Ei’s directing. In the battles, he always highlights the mecha’s amazing capabilities and it gives us a chance to explore the design of the robots. They are incredibly detailed, and every single one stands out wonderfully thanks to the battles themselves. From the giant purple robot that dissolves everything to the six armed beauty atop the abandoned island, Ei gussied up the robots and really made the look pretty. This is thanks to the battles being confined in small spaces like cities and tiny corridors. The focus is solely on the robots, so the bright idea to go to space really ruined the appeal. In space, the robots just look the same and the animation can’t really support the scene it’s trying to deliver. Everything just looks grey and sad, and Ei’s storytelling in battles can’t really go all out. With the robots matching the color of the moon rocks, and the background being all black, the robots just doesn’t look special. They had their cool moments, like Inaho’s training robot getting major upgrades in his final showdown with Slaine and the red mecha with many shooting arms just going insane, but they are far in between. Actually, I can only count three moments that had standout mecha scenes in space and I already told you two of them.
Animation is incredibly low quality. This doesn’t feel like an A-1 Pictures anime, because it lacks the A-1 Pictures skin color. I know a lot of people don’t recognize it, but the skin color is really my favorite part of an A-1 Pictures show. When I see it in a character, I know this is A-1 Pictures. It’s the studio giving you a big wave hello, and they’re telling you the show is in good hands because A-1 Pictures is working on it. Seeing it absent in this anime felt like A-1 Pictures didn’t really do this anime. The visuals don’t pop, the animation is clunky at times and the CG is stiff. I applaud Ei Aoki for giving us incredibly cool scenes with strong storytelling despite the bad animation. The guy is fiercely talented, and I’ll give points for that. The dialogue heavy scenes lack flair though. Camera angles are weird, the facial expressions lack the appropriate reactions and the animation just looks boring. This is especially true in the second season where ten of its episodes are nothing but talking. Seriously, they just talked and talked while some random mecha battle happens from time to time. The mecha battles are impressive on the first season, but things kinda became dialed back for the second season. The battles look the same, the animation is fast and clunky, the colors are just awful and the robots just don’t look that impressive. In fact, the only thing I really liked about the second season is this:
It’s just one wide shot with two streaks of colors, blue and orange, as it sets up the final battle between Inaho and Slaine. The second season lacked so much color, the battles just doesn’t really stand out. It’s just sad through and through.
The anime’s OP is “heavenly blue” by Kalafina for the first season. It’s a very bland song for me, and I don’t really feel anything special about it. I’m not a music reviewer though, but the OP doesn’t really pump me up to watch the anime. It had some cute lines about martians and humans loving Earth, but nothing really that stands out. The OP sequence also lacked flair. They just took a bunch of scenes from the actual show, and they just basically made a poor AMV of the anime. The A-1 skin color did make an appearance, but the sequence doesn’t really give off anything impressive. The second season’s OP is “&Z” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki, and it’s the same as the first. It doesn’t really stand out as much, and the lyrics are just as bland as the first one. The OP sequence is pretty great though full of panning shots, wide shots and impressive animation that doesn’t actually appear in the series. It has one scene of the Deucalion firing missiles, and we never see that incredible awesomeness in the actual show. The OP also encapsulated all the emotions from the first season, but also bogged it down with the ensuing melodrama. So, yeah, that’s weird.
The anime’s ED is “A/Z” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki. They do alternate with another song from the same singers called “aLIEz”. Someone was high naming their songs, huh? The first ED is also weird. I love the singer’s voice, but the lyrics are just a mess of random lyrics and some English from time to time. I love the singer’s voice though, because it just feels very unique. Coupled with the ED sequence, it does have a nice vibe to it. The sequence is about the princess in a ruin or something. It ends with a shot of Earth though, and it suggests the princess is gazing at the planet while in Mars. I love the animation done here, and the storybook like colors is just stunning. The second ED is a lot better though. You can basically call it an anthem for Slaine, because it’s all about having ambition but feeling super emo about things. It’s a lovely song with a haunting chorus sung in German. The lyrics are strong though with lines about war and humanity. The ED sequence isn’t as impressive as it’s just a long scene of monitors inside a robot’s cockpit. It has its own charm, I suppose. The second season’s ED is “GENESIS” by Eir Aoi. I love the energy of the song, and the lyrics about Inaho and Slaine living in two different worlds is pretty cool. It also has the same storybook like animation and colors, but the tone is entirely serious as if the second season has shifted gears. Well, for the ED sequence there is certainly growth but the series itself lacks it.
6/10 “The story might be cluttered, but the idea of desperation is there coupled by some impressive mecha battles.”
4/10 “Drowning in boring exposition, the war was boiled down to a love triangle minus one of the main characters. It’s an unsatisfying and disappointing ending to a show brimming with potential.”
Overall, I’d give the entire series a 5. I had its moments, but the show is nothing more than a disappointing O.Screenplay. Buddy Complex and Valvrave had the same “good idea” with intriguing potential, but they also lacked execution. They lacked vision and a respect for storytelling, and this anime is sadly the same. I do suggest people try the first season, because it did feel exciting seeing the humans desperate to survive. It’s an original idea that I hope gets revisited. For the overall series though, I’d say watch at your own risk. Disappointment is sure to happen, and it’s better to just let this one silently slip away. I do not recommend this.