The latest anime from the guy they call the Urobutcher. You can guess as to why…
This is JustintheThief; Here’s my review!
The episode starts with a quick credits opening on black with a girl talking over it to an ambient silence. She’s talking of looking out at a planet and wondering to whoever she is talking to if “Seeing the planet of your birth makes you homesick?” We then see a beautiful blond girl turn to a young man. His name is Slaine (I wonder if that’s foreshadowing on his name?). The girl in question is the Princess of Mars (Not the one written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, her name was Dejah Thoris), with Mars known as Vers. She is incredibly cute, asking Slaine about why the water and sky of Earth is blue, with Slaine doing his best to answer.
However, the two are interrupted by a royal looking military figure named Count Cruhteo, and we learn her name is Asseylum (obligitory joke about ‘dat Ass’ eylum… Something… I’ll work on it. It’ll be gold.). She leaves Slaine with promises to talk again, and with a dirty look towards him, Cruhteo follows her out. Slaine, who has been looking stiff and nervous the entire time, finally relaxes and looks up confidently as they leave. We are then treated to an overhead view of the floor, which shows the earth, and are then pulled magnificently through the body of the ship, passing through inside it, until we are treated to the awe inspiring sight of an impressively sized ship in orbit around the sun, with many other similar ships, and the distant moon, destroyed and only half of it still orbiting its planet.
We hear a television announcer talking of Princess Asseylum (*snicker*) and her goodwill trip to earth, while a young man cooks breakfast. The main part of the scene is an introduction to Inaho, the young man cooking eggs, as he gets ready for school and chides his sister, Yuki, and instructor at his school, about getting up late, and telling her to hurry so she can catch the next bus, so she can be on time.
However, the background noise of the television gives you a little insight into the world that they’ve created, and is, I think, the more important part of the scene. It seems that the Earth and Mars have a bit of a problem with each other, with apparently the two planets having a sort of animosity towards each other and the tension seems to be at a boiling point. The announcer seems to feel the majority of earth is happy for the ambassador coming, but there seem to be a minority who do not. This hint shouldn’t be ignored. Sometimes, the background of a scene can be just as important if not more important than the foreground (something I should probably work on myself).
We then get a fast bit of infodump while some of the students are looking on their iPad-like things. We learn about the discovery of a Hypergate on the moon left by an ancient civilization, during the Apollo 17 mission, which lead to the colonization of Mars and the discovery of ancient Martian tech, designated Aldnoah, and the Vers Empire of Mars claiming to have ownership of the technology. Incidentally, this is where I figured out the alternate timeline of the show. Apollo 17 was the last mission to the Moon in 1972 and they found pretty much nothing. It’s interesting to note that they use real life events to ground their science fiction. I love it.
We meet some of Inaho’s friends here, Calm, Okajo, Inko and Nina. They have some playful banter about grades and maneuvers, and we learn that 15 years ago, the Martians apparently attacked earth during the ‘Heaven’s Fall.’ The scene moves up to the partially blown up moon, showing the date to be 2014! I think that the Heaven’s Fall incident is what destroyed part of the moon, though I am personally baffled at the timeline? There has been that much of a leap in technology and a distance between Earth in 42 years? I can see the technology being advanced due to the discovery of ‘Aldnoah’, but relationships between planets being that distant after so soon in space? It’s hard to believe, but I think there’s more going on here.
More infodump from the radio! 15 years ago the Vers Empire declared war on the Terran Federation. After a long battle on the moon, the Hypergate went out of control and destroyed the Moon. Well, that explains some of my previous questions (and makes me think I should watch the episode closer the first time). We see the students drilling in mechs, while Yuki comes to work late, and we discover the drill instructor Marito, who appears to be a drunk, telling her to lighten up. Lieutenant Marito has obviously seen some serious shit.
Obligatory bar scene. Marito is seen drinking with his doctor (possibly a psychiatrist?) and they talk about the attack on Earth by the Vers Empire. He talks of how training to use the mechs is now a school requirement. While his doctor thinks this is a worthy job, Marito seems to think he’s only indoctrinating kids with the idea that they will defend their home and gain glory. He explains that he knows that the Vers Empire used the Aldnoah against the Earth, and that it is impossible to stop. Jaded veteran, check!
We are again back on the ship with the Princess and Slaine, and an attendant to the princess who doesn’t seem to like Slaine. She’s saying goodbye to Slaine to head to earth. She explains that regardless of the feelings any of them have, someone has to help the Earth and Mars find a common ground and truly have peace, and that she’s the one to do it. He then gives her an earth charm necklace to protect her from evil (*hint hint* foreshadowing!), reminding her that she saved him and her father, and implying that his father is dead. From what? He’s an earthling, and doesn’t seem to hate the earth? So what did she save him from? Perhaps death at the hands of the Vers Empire, or something.
Then enters Cruhteo again (Who I don’t like for some reason). He then hits Slaine across the face with his walking stick (figured it out). He calls him a Terran, showing our first real hatred between the two planets, and berates him for trying to dissuade the Princess from going to earth (there’s something sketchy here).
Eddelrittuo (I take back my jokes about the Princess’s name.) the attendant, is asked if she thinks Slaine is lesser than she because he is a Terran. They talk of how they are all descended from Earth, regardless of “however long ago it may seem.” Which is weird to me. It was 42 years ago. There are assuredly many adults who remember both. That’s younger than my father. Why do they talk about it as if it was hundreds and hundreds of years ago? Though it is hinted that the first ruler who used Aldnoah evolved to become a different race from Earthlings. There is a mention that the princess is “One who stirs the power of God to life,” which I assume is in reference to Aldnoah, since it has been referred to with references to God before in the episode. Asseyelum is seen toying with the charm as she talks of her hopes that she can help bring peace to the planets.
We go back to Cruhteo (yeah that dick) again.He is seen getting a call from Saazbaum Castle. Saazbaum seems even more nefarious and oily than Cruhteo, making veiled allusions to the fact that should something happen to the princess on earth, the 37 clans would “react swiftly and decisively” (I read between the lines “attack”) to the threatening entities, Terrans. However, Even Cruhteo doesn’t seem to want the Princess hurt, as he grows angry when alludes to the fact that they could benefit from the attack on the princess. It seems that the attack 15 years ago were lead by these 37 “Knights.” Something is up with them…
There’s a quick scene of two men in a van, discussing that “It is time,” and they’ve spent too long “Laying low.” Martian supporters? Supporters of the “Knights” previously mentioned? Perhaps Terran Extremists?
We then see a parade in full swing as a limo carrying the princess with an armed escort approaches a large crowd waiting to greet her. We again see Inaho and his friends as they are watching the procession from a high walkway. The inconsequential conversation they have are interspersed with clips from the previously seen men in the van on phones. One of them leaves the van parked inconspicuously in a parking garage.
The students discuss the defenses of the Princess’s car, as we see one of the van’s occupants take a picture with his phone with a caption that says “target lock.” I feel I know what’s going on. I was right as a remote control opens the back of the van, revealing a missile launcher. Inko tries to get the boys to help the student council direct traffic as the missiles fire. No one except Inaho notices, who calmly suggests they run. The missile blows up part of the convoy nearby as the kids look on.
More missiles hit the other vehicles as the, limo tries to break away. Panicked, Calm, Inko, and Okajo look where the limo is going, saying it got away. Inaho, still calm, watched where the missiles were coming from, and notes that it isn’t over yet. We see the missiles hit the car and it flips. One of the doors opens on the limo. The van driver does something and another missile flies and the van detonates. We see the blond hair of the princess just before the last missile smashes into her. Though going back to that charm that Slaine gave to her on the ship, I think there is something to that. Maybe it’s just me, but that little key moment tells me she’s not dead. Thoughts?
Saazbaum is seen, seemingly speaking to the other “castles” talking about the peace the princess believed in and slandering the “villainous Terrans.” We see several of the other Knights as he calls for action to avenge the slain princess. A plan that has already been set up called Operation Earthfall. Which is apparently an opus spanning “generations.” 42 years! That’s all that you’ve been away from earth! Generations my ass! Or there’s some other reasoning I don’t know… probably that.
We see Cruhteo commanding that they land the castles, though internally he seems to blame himself for the death of the Princess. Maybe he’s not as much of a douche as I thought (Still mostly a douche. And I don’t like him.). We watch as Slaine watches the landing from the room we first saw him in, watching earth through the floor.
An earth military squad is show, saying 19 of the 37 Landing Castles were descending. Why only 37? Will the others come down eventually? Will those actually try to help the earth? Is there something even more nefarious? They are landing spread out all over the globe. One man scoffs, noting the lack of coordination that the castles seem to have. Lieutenant Marito enters, calling him a fool (basically). His explanation is that each of those castles are self contained armies basically trying to land first in the most populated places to wrack up the most kills, like a video game.
Yuki, Inaho’s sister, is also there, calling the whole thing sick, and marveling that they would all break the truce. Marito scoffs. As he speaks, we see the Knights looking upon their mechs, probably something to do with the Aldnoah, which look much more advanced than all the other mechs we’ve seen so far. Marito explains that they’ve been warring with each other for fifteen years, waiting to survive until they could attack the earth.
Finally, we get an image of New Orleans, one of the places mentioned as a landing place for the Landing Castles. The castle lands with a blinding explosion. The resultant shock way destroys everyone and you can’t help but watch in awe and a little horror as you watch people disintegrate, buildings fall, and all the lights in a city go out.
The landing castle remains as two children farther off see shooting stars (which is probably debris from the castles) and make wishes on them, with the little boy wishing for world peace.
Alright, here’s the thing. I haven’t been able to get much into mech shows since I was 8 and Gundam Wing was on Cartoon Network. Since then, a very few shows with Mechs have kept me interested. Gurren Lagann was one. And I’m really enjoying Captain Earth right now. This season it was a toss up for me between Aldnoah.Zero and Argevollen. I watched the first of Argevollen. It was fine. But this. This is a show that makes me think and feel AND has badass mechs in it that brings me back to my childhood dream of piloting a Gundam.
Once again, it’s an introductory episode. This one is more an info dump than the character introduction that Akame ga Kill was. It makes me feel like the characters won’t be as important as the history or the plot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as they can keep the characters from becoming stagnant and boring, but interesting character growth is one of the things that always keeps me coming back for more in a show. I can’t count how many anime I’ve mostly despised that I kept watching for one interesting character (seventeen). However, Gen Urobuchi is known for his compelling and interesting plots AND characters, so maybe this episode was just to get all the lore and history out of the way so that the characters and plot can shine and you know what has come before. And A-1 has brought us Tetsuwan Birdy: Decode, Night Raid 1931, and many other incredible shows. So, maybe I’m just worried because the episode was such an info dump. Honestly it’ll probably be fine. And it wasn’t like the info was uninteresting. This world they created here is vibrant and rich, and a bit of backstory is no bad thing.
The show is visually stunning. The seamless movements through different places. And personally, I think the pull back shot through the ship to orbit at the beginning of the episode was visually the most pleasing part of the episode. Though the crashing “Landing Castles” and their aftermath were a close second. The music, I didn’t notice much, but it still effected me. It seemed very minimal, but used to the best effect so as to pull you along and key you in on what is happening visually. The music before the “Landing Castle” crash was incredible. This is to be expected from Hiroyuki Sawano, the guy who composed the music for Attack on Titan, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, and Kill la Kill.
Well, color me impressed. Well done again, Urobutcher… who will you kill this time?
Again, my schedule isn’t set yet, due to life keeping me busy, (damn you!) but I’m doing my best to catch up, and I’m going to have another review up tomorrow, and perhaps I can play catch up this weekend. This sub I’m using is brought by the team [Vivid-Watashi]. I’m going to do my best to start (soon) getting these reviews out on Sunday. We will see.
Now I’ve got two action shows I’m excited to watch (that’s very rare for me. I’m more into cute girls doing cute things). There is so much to this world, I feel that the next several episodes will be just mind-blowing with twists and turns. I hope at least. Liked this review? Let me know! Hated it? Keep it to yourself? Got any theories or ideas about what’s going to happen next or answers to questions I asked? Let me know in the comments. We will have a lively discussion!