Why the Anime Failed to Impress Many Mecha Fans

Aldnoah.Zero was a science fiction mecha anime first released in 2014. It was the debut work for TROYCA, an animation studio that would go on to produce Idolish 7, RE:CREATORS and Lord El-Melloi Case Files. In addition to being TROYCA’s debut work, the anime-original Aldnoah.Zero was notable for having a lot of big names attached to it.

Gen Urobuchi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero) did the series composition, Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan, Promare) composed the soundtrack, and it had additional animation from A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Your Lie in April). With such a star-studded staff at the helm, expectations for the show were high — expectations that were ultimately not met.

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What Is Aldnoah.Zero About?

In an alternate reality, the Apollo 17 mission discovered a hypergate that led to Mars, leading to immediate efforts to colonize the planet. The existing technology found on Mars allowed the colonizers to quickly become self-sufficient and they eventually declared their independence from Earth.

Known as the Holy VERS Empire, the colonizers now see themselves as completely separate beings from those who remain on Earth. Eventually, tensions rose between the two planets leading to a global-scale war — and Earth did not emerge victorious.

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Aldnoah.Zero Failed to Properly Develop Its Two Protagonists

Aldnoah.Zero‘s premiere episode was initially met with high praise. With its bombastic soundtrack, clean animation and interesting premise, many mecha fans had high hopes for a potential new franchise. The story follows two central protagonists, one on Earth and one on Mars. Inaho, the designated protagonist from Earth, is by far the less interesting of the two.

Inaho is quiet and stoic while the show makes little effort to fully explore his background, making it difficult to really get a read on what’s going on in his head. It’s never explained why he’s so smart other than that he just is, and it’s never explained how he’s so naturally gifted at piloting giant robots, he just is. By comparison, the Mars-based protagonist Slaine gets a good deal of backstory revealed and overall feels like a more developed character. However, his change in character in the second season eventually led to him becoming just as polarizing with fans as Inaho, if not more so.

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Aldnoah.Zero Had Multiple Writers

While Gen Urobuchi is credited as a writer for Aldnoah.Zero, it is worth noting he only wrote the first three episodes of Season 1; Katsuhiko Takayama wrote the majority of the series. Urobuchi would later reveal what his original vision for the series would have looked like in later interviews, and they show a greater amount of care and thought put into the main cast’s character arcs, particularly Inaho’s.

Instead, the final product is riddled with endings that don’t seem completely earned for some or are too mean-spirited for others. The writing itself felt inconsistent, often to the point that the show’s intended messages seemed to contradict themselves. Season 2 doesn’t fare any better, as it goes through a time skip that leaves out a lot of important details, leaving audiences scratching their heads in confusion as they’re unceremoniously dropped into a new conflict alongside new characters.

Aldnoah.Zero concluded after its second season, with no further signs of the franchise ever expanding. Given its track record for mischaracterizations and inconsistent writing, this is probably for the best. For those still unsatisfied with how the show ended, at least there’s always fan fiction.

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