Summer 2014 – Week 12 in Review

I don’t even know what to say in this intro, because nothing else this week comes close to Aldnoah’s lunacy. Everything else was fine, good shows are good, yada yada. Let’s get to the show.

Oh wait, also, I’m apparently gonna be one of ANN’s staff reviewers now in addition to my streaming work. Meaning I’ll be doing regular full-show reviews there, along with participating in their completely insane Preview Guide. Meaning I’ll be watching the first episodes of basically every goddamn full-length show coming out this season, and writing some sort of reflection on every single one of them. Meaning my hands are probably going to be bloody stumps by the end of next week.

So that’ll be fun! Something to look forward to. Anyway, Aldnoah fuckin’ Zero.


Ahahahahahahaha my god this episode. What can you even say to that? TIME TO MURDER EVERYONE. SLAINE GETS ALL THE SUFFERING. NO SURVIVORS.

Wonderful. Most of this episode felt like a surreal riff on every silly thing the show has sort of leaned into before – Inaho’s “motivational” “hatred is not a useful emotion” speech, Saazbaum friggin’ transforming, the fact that his final robot is just all the previous robots put together, like the final boss is a tiger duct-taped to a shark or something…

Wait, there was also this: Slaine’s life story, a drama in three acts.

And then that ending. My god that ending. “Being Slaine is suffering” has always been a running joke for this show, but actually having him be indirectly responsible for the princess’s death, and then go through like fifty heartbroken Slaine-faces… man, this show is mean. I actually really liked how they cut out all the music theatrics for that last scene, as well as the framing, but that didn’t make it any less “this is drama!” in the Code Geass school of crazy storytelling. I really didn’t think they’d kill both Inaho and Asseylum, but it kind of makes sense – it’d obviously be a much more powerful moment if I was strongly emotionally invested in either of them, but I can see how the cast might open up now that they’re not at the center of it. Unless they’re both actually still alive, of course.

Well done, Aldnoah. Your crazy shenanigans actually had me laughing all the way to the end. I’m not sure what you’re actually going to do now, but hey, at least you’re making some confident calls.


Sword Art Online II 12: SAO pulled its classic “half episode of hope, half episode of disappointment” this week, demonstrating once again its remarkably consistent inconsistency. But hey, at least the good half looked very expensive!

Barakamon 11: Handa went back to the city this episode, as Barakamon worked to pull its inspiration/art-instinct conflict into a satisfying conclusion. And it worked! Barakamon’s heavier elements have been consistent across the show, meaning nothing that happened this episode felt out of place. Plus the show managed to juggle its more serious questions with its humor, likely a byproduct of the characters just being naturally endearing people. Solid episode in general.


Shounen Hollywood 12: This episode featured an owl-based love triangle. I don’t know if that’s what you’re into, but nothing else has worked, so clearly Shounen Hollywood has nothing to lose. I wish you luck, Shounen Hollywood.

Zankyou no Terror 10: Twelve attempts to reveal his upbringing, local girl ruins everything. I really liked the nationalism-based reveal in the first half of this episode – it was an extremely graceful way to tie up Shibazaki’s half of the narrative while also making it reflect cleanly on the “youth in rebellion” and power structure themes of the Nine/Twelve/Lisa material. It’s looking like Zankyou’s really gonna pull this off.

Zankyou no Terror

Hunter x Hunter 148: And one more time, Hunter x Hunter reminds me of everything I love about it. Revisiting the old stories, checking in with all our friends, and reiterating the show’s fundamental values. From Gon realizing he’s connected with the life-cycle of the tree (echoing Chimera Ant’s thoughts on human nature), to Ging’s “the secret of the tomb was nothing compared to the relationships I built,” along with his last, perfect line. He wants what he can’t see in front of him, but the treasures you find are the people standing beside you, and that’s been true all through this series. Seeing Gon and Ging recount their adventures to each other for the first time put a tear in my eye, and then checking in with everyone else… way too much for me. They even cut back to Meruem and Komugi! That’s just not playing fair.

I’m going to deeply miss this show. Things this good just don’t last this long – you never get to spend this much time with a cast while maintaining focus, execution, emotional acuity… it’s been years now, and it still feels like this show could just be getting started. I want to go explore that continent! I want to know how Kurapika escapes his own demons! I want… and that’s a good thing. I feel like a kid again, watching this show end. It’s sad to say goodbye to friends.

I’m going to miss you, Hunter x Hunter, and I refuse to say this is goodbye. It’s been a wonderful journey, but there’s always another adventure waiting. I can’t wait to meet again.

Hunter x Hunter

24 thoughts on “Summer 2014 – Week 12 in Review

  1. I don’t think Asseylum is dead, or at least dead permanently. Isn’t she the one narrating? Plus that scene in the OP which hasn’t happened yet, plus the fact that she’s already “died” twice and come back both times.

      • In anime, either a headshot or a torso shot ALONE is survivable. But she got both. HOWEVER, the torso shot was to her right lung, and the heart is on the left side. If we assume the “headshot” was a grazing shot or such (since we don’t see her head clearly), there is a CHANCE she’ll live (especially since her body is “missing”). I’m not saying she will, but it’s possible. Life status: possible.

        Same thing goes for Inaho. It’s possible that the “headshot” was a grazing shot, but this one I highly doubt because 1) why would Slaine miss at such close range and 2) he too much to be from his previous wounds. Life status: unlikely.

        It’s hard. My brain says keep ’em dead and see what happens, but my heart says let ’em live and kumbayah.

      • I don’t think Inaho is alive, but I do still think Asseylum is. Shots to the chest are survivable even in real life, plus she has ~magic~ and the power of plot.

      • I… would like them to stay dead.
        The story would be more interresting that way.
        Well, Inaho started to open up to others, so finishing his character arc so abruptly kinda feels like a loss (and he realized his feelings toward Seylum).

        Seylum would just drag everything down by being so Pincess-y it hurts.

  2. “Meaning I’ll be watching the first episodes of basically every goddamn full-length show coming out this season, and writing some sort of reflection on every single one of them.”

    I realize this must be a crazy amount of work for you, but I’m really looking forward to reading your stuff. 😛

  3. I’m probably going to watch Aldnoah Zero part 2 just to see what new, completely unnecessary miseries they can inflict on Slaine the next time around. What unknown family members will he discover (just in time for them to be slaughtered)? Which old friends will betray him and pee in his morning orange juice? Which internal organs will be stolen from him? How many times will he be lashed before he’s crucified?

    Kidding aside, I also noticed that, yeah, that last scene has some very effective direction in it. If the story wasn’t all hyperbolic nonsense, it might have been really effective! My main positive takeaway is that I want to see UFOtable make a GOOD mecha anime. The animation and production on that show has done a lot of the heavy lifting.

    But other than that, yeah, that episode was nuts. At least before I knew what the show was trying to be and to accomplish (it wasn’t really succeeding, but it was trying), but after that? Now I have no idea. It’s like the show pulled a switch from trying to be a rival for Gundam to suddenly trying to be the next Valvrave.

    On another note… sigh I miss Hunter X Hunter already. I’m pretty much guaranteed to read the manga at this point, I don’t think I can walk away from the characters after all that.

  4. Inhao getting shot by a super emotional Slaine was so great.

    Hope they’ll do a arc by arc basis thing for Hunter X Hunter in the future. I know theres a couple of continuing manga chapters out.

  5. Congrats on more work with ANN! You indeed have enough to do there.
    I’m looking forward to reading your opinions though. I’ll try to read every one of them for your hard work. I always enjoy reading your opinions. Might find some interesting shows that I had no intention of watching to.

  6. I really liked this last episode of Aldnoah Zero.

    The end of the episode was pretty clear vindication of something I’ve suspected–the writers deliberately kept us from getting behind Inaho’s eyes or in his head; they haven’t shown us his thoughts or revealed them through cinematography, and this episode confirms that not everything he said was strictly true either. They were presenting him as a genuine cipher, someone we weren’t meant to quite understand, and that was a large part of what made him so interesting to me… It reminded me a lot of Hajime from Gatchaman Crowds, actually. There were enough hints to make it fair, and that crawling scene was the first time we’ve ever seen him really be honest. That gave it a lot more impact than it would’ve otherwise had.

    (And in retrospect, Asseylum’s “you’re really kind” and his sister’s “wow, he really likes that girl” were both completely accurate, despite the conventions. Of course they would know, they’ve spent a ton of time with him!)

    The Saazbaum fight was great, too. I think part of that is that I play video games and Saazbaum was a Final Exam Boss Fight right out of a Zelda game. The Martians have been relying on shock and awe all along, and watching Inaho just utterly dismantle an opponent he already understood was cathartic as hell, especially considering who it was. And “drop gun, cocky head tilt” was the second-best moment of the episode, especially with how Saazbaum reacted. (Best was Saazbaum’s head-tap. That was amazing. Slaine following the advice shortly afterward was funny, in a really dark sort of way.)

    I can’t assess the writing quality of the episode yet (aside from the aforementioned Inaho bit), not without an idea of where it goes from here–both characters could be alive, both could be dead, I have no idea what in the hell they’re doing with Slaine, and I have no idea who the story will be following now or where things go… But thinking about all of that is incredibly interesting, which is really all I ask at the midway point.

    I’m looking forward to Aldnoah Zero, Cour 2: “Asseylum Just Snaps and Totally Wales on Everything.”

  7. My own problem with Aldnoah Zero as its stands now is definitely its consistent lack of sufficiently compelling characterization for its central characters and only a very small emotional investment developing within me as a direct result. If they could fix that, then the twist would still be technically jarring given the show’s attempts to be arguably darker and more serious than the average Mobile Suit Gundam television series, but at least it would be more involving. In other words, I would be sincerely and extremely inclined to watch the rest of the story develop, due to the significance of what this could mean for the characters and their dynamics.

    At this moment, I can only wonder about that from a very aloof and almost indifferent stand point, purely out of intellectual curiosity, more as a brain exercise than as a personal show of interest in the cast as it exists. If Inaho could live or die and I wouldn’t feel particularly happy or sad, either way, that’s a big obstacle towards making me stick around for the long haul. It doesn’t help that whatever limited sympathy I might have felt for Slaine seems to be evaporating as we speak.

    Part of me wants to feel bad for the princess, but I don’t feel I really knew her enough to truly go there. So that’s more of a good intention on my part than a virtue of the material.

    There is also the specter of nobody actually dying and this situation being highly manipulative. If they had kept it more ambiguous, I’d be less affected by a sudden turn around next season.

    I’m not opposed to crazy storytelling twists, they can be fun, but if you’re going to make use of a degree of melodrama…then the drama needs a wider base to have more of an effect. The characters need to be stronger, either through better characterization or more development, at least enough to more fully connect the audience with them. It would help if the atmosphere wasn’t so grimly serious and instead embraced part of its own silliness too. Code Geass did what I described above and, you know, even Jojo Part 2 accomplished some of that on a smaller scale.

    Aldnoah Zero seems to be perfectly willing to go over-the-top with its musical score and some of the action sequences, indeed, but otherwise….the tone seems a lot drier, attempting to present an overly confident face while aiming for a sense of solemnity, emotion and poignancy to even these highly controversial proceedings that isn’t supported by its content or writing quality.

    Will I watch the rest of the series next? Only if by then I’ve been convinced that these issues have changed for the better. I’ll continue to read up on the blog coverage, of course, including this one.

  8. What’s wrong with this mecha lunacy past couple years? First Valvrave, then Buddy Complex, then this… If they wanted to pull Michael Bay on us, why start as a more or less sensible war drama?

    When the season started, I thought AZ was decent drama and parallel Argevollen was toy advertisment masked as military flick. Now guess what, AZ turned out to be Code Geass-style high-on-crack ride and Argevollen IS suprisingly decent military flick. Oh what the hell.

    • Buddy Complex wasn’t really lunatic. I wouldn’t particularly recommend it though.

      In retrospect, I wish Aldnoah Zero had been more like Code Geass or even Gundam actually, but it wasn’t too much like either. Neither was Valvrave, for that matter. They’re both lacking in comparison to what I’d expect out of either goal.

      Given the semi-positive talk, I might come back to Argevollen later on.

  9. On HunterXHunter, no words. Beautiful finale to a beautiful series.

    On Aldnoah.Zero, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL XD. There’s a fan-theory floating around that Aldnoah provides immortality or something (just call it Geass already!) and is passed through a kiss (now picture the emperor kissing his vassals to bestow them his power…), so that would explain why Slaine has it, but also means INAHO has it too. So they all would be still alive.
    I think this is not the case because I mean, Asseylum WAS technically dead at a point. My bets are on Asseylum dead, Inaho alive (the bullet only grazed him), and the last half of the series a full on Roaring Rampage of Revenge on his side. On the other hand, Slaine reminds me of Suzaku SO MUCH. By the way, if he suffers some more, I won’t mind. Bring it on, Aldnoah.Zero! Show us in how many ways you can break a man!

  10. Congratulations on the ANN gig. Look forward to reading your stuff there. I really like their preview guides, it really helps me sort out what I want to see. Most of their reviewers have pretty good taste IMO and can see through the hype some shows generate.

    I wasn’t going to watch the second half of Aldnoah because I found it’s characters utterly boring. Boy, do they have my attention now after that gutsy, gutsy move.. Timeskip with new characters? Characters like Rayet and Marito stepping into the breach? The power of Aldnoah can resurrect the dead causing thousands of fans worldwide to facepalm? Slaine becomes The Joker? I cannot wait to find out.

  11. Like Megumi Han said, “Actually, it’s like what has happened up until now in the story was nothing more than a prologue, and it gets me even more expectant for what’s to come.” The next arc’s scale is immense and feels like HxH has been written entirely just for this arc. I’m looking forward to how it develops.

    That aside it was a perfect note for the anime to end on and perfectly summarized its charm.

  12. But Aldnoah Zero still wasn’t as stupid as Captain Earth.
    The main villain powered onto his final form… Robin Goodfellow !
    After defeating Salty Dog, Robin Goodfellow is the final boss.

    No matter how much ominous music you use, no matter how terrifying and evil, it look, I can’t forget it’s named Robin Goodfellow.

    And that’s why it’s important to carefully chose a name for your main antagonist. Something that really strike fear on the viewer. You know, like Death Gun.

  13. Well if nothing else Aldnoah Zero is valuable in showing what not to do when writing… Like Quentin Tarantino, never hate a movie….

    Anime needs more good writers. It really does….

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