ALDNOAH.ZERO Season 2 – Anime Review
Synopsis: An assassination plot rekindles a war between Earth and the settlers of a mysterious, high-tech Martian empire in this action-packed anime series. (Official Netflix Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Aldnoah.Zero’s first season ended on, probably, one of the most intense cliffhangers of 2014. Linny and I thoroughly enjoyed the first season and anxiously awaited the return of Aldnoah.Zero, curious as to how it would resolve everything it had left hanging. While the second season retains the high quality animation, and the original soundtrack that impressed so many viewers, Aldnoah.Zero otherwise stumbled drunkenly along with its narrative, unable to properly build off the first season and deliver a unique, fresh, take on the Mech genre.
Linny: While the second season introduces a lot of unexpected reveals and new developments, they all leave a negative impact thanks to how random and uncharacteristic they are. Characters behave in manners that completely conflict with their initial nature from the previous season, which made these new developments feel poorly implemented and not at all carefully planned out. The few interesting reveals Aldnoah.Zero does manage to produce are made ineffectual by how under utilized they are. What has to be one of the second season’s biggest flaws is the decision to revive the major characters it had (seemingly) killed off in the shocking and gripping season one finale. What could have been a show defining and genre breaking move was quickly redacted, turning it into a cheap shock value gimmick and a source of utter disappointment.
Tom: The lack of major deaths drives this season into a hole of disappointment, as not one of our central cast loses their life during this, supposedly brutal, war between Earth and Mars. While the battles remain just as flashy and impressive as before (if you aren’t opposed to CGI robots) the show continues to carry the idea that Inaho is some kind of super thinker. This has an increasingly detrimental effect as you never once feel like his life is in any danger, since the boy can think his way out of anything. It was a problem in the first season, but becomes an even bigger hindrance to keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Inaho is given a robotic eye, thanks to his near death at the end of season 1. While the show attempts to add an element of concern for Inaho’s health, his eye giving him great computational power at the cost of intense pain the more he uses it, it never feels like he’s in any danger at all and that’s probably because he isn’t. It’s a foregone conclusion that, no matter what the enemy throws at him, Inaho will win.
Linny: Overpowered protagonist aside, season two suffers from an overall weak cast comprised of new characters that add little to no value, action or drama wise, further making the season feel as pointless as they themselves. And going back to main cast transformations, Slaine Troyard receives an extreme personality makeover that is as bizarre as it is unlikable. He turns into a cold and extremely manipulative genius and what makes this transformation truly unbelievable is the very weak motivation the show gives him. His cruel nature ends up feeling forced and unconvincing due to the lack of believable motive.
Tom: Slaine has, perhaps, the worst character arc of anyone during this second season. Mostly because it all occurs between seasons, where he apparently suffered a massive personality shift and began displaying traits he never once displayed in the first twelve episodes. Slaine’s devotion to princess somehow turns into a mad bent for control over the Earth. That’s almost understandable. The big problem lies in Slaine’s sudden ability to be almost as cunning as Inaho. Slaine was devoted, intelligent, and loyal, but not once in season 1 does he ever display the ability to scheme and plot on the level he’s suddenly able to in Season 2. Ultimately Aldnoah.Zero Season 2 is a poor follow up to what was a promising start. I won’t say it’s entirely awful and if you’re dying for closure from Season 1 then watching Season 2 may be a foregone conclusion. Just don’t expect anything near as solid as that first season.
Linny: If you were like us and extremely impressed by the shocking finale of Aldnoah Zero’s first season, the bad news is this season will disappoint you as it not only undoes that big finale but proceeds to do extreme rewrites for the personalities of its main casts, either transforming them into cruel individuals or giving them abilities that basically make them impossible to defeat. It takes away any tension or emotion season one managed to build, leaving the audience with a sequel that is best watched only so as to enjoy its impressive space-based mech battles.