Aldnoah.Zero was largely an exercise in continuously adjusting expectations. From “Urobuchi’s going to write an ambitious mecha war story!” to “Urobuchi will at least guide the writing of a mecha war story!” to “I guess Urobuchi had a week free, huh” to “jeez, this show is a sack of garbage,” it was a long, bumpy road to a point where Aldnoah would no longer offer less than it promised. Fortunately, the place Aldnoah ended up in was actually a pretty decent place to be – yeah, it’s a dumb show with a stupidly overpowered protagonist, no understanding of tone, and no actual focus, but watching Slaine get senselessly beaten on sure is funny.
Thus it was in Aldnoah’s final episode that it for one brief sequence finally found its groove. After an entire season of being beaten, whipped, dream-crushed, and otherwise mishandled by a long line of caretakers and a seriously demented writing team, in the final episode, for one glorious moment, Slaine makes a friend. “Are you alright?” a young soldier asks him. Startled at being addressed as an actual person, for a moment, Slaine doesn’t know how to respond.
Don’t humans interact with each other purely through violence and disdain? Who is this strange person, that is treating me as if I have a right to live? And then suddenly, suddenly it all clicks. All that violence, all that pain – that was a bad dream, not reflective of the real world at all. In truth, in a world where your writers don’t hate you, people can care about each other – people can love. And maybe, with the help of your new friend, you yourself can learn to love as well.
No, you can’t have that.
No Slaine. Bad. Bad Slaine.