If you need any reason at all to be excited for Aldnoah.Zero, you need only look at the staff list. Gen Urobuchi (known for his work on shows such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero) is the creator/writer, Hiroyuki Sawano (known for his work on shows such as Guilty Crown and Shingeki no Kyojin) is composing the music, and it’s directed by Ei Aoki (known for shows such as Fate/Zero and the first Kara no Kyoukai movie). When you’ve got that much talent together the show must be good, right?
In 1972, the Apollo 17 mission discovered a hypergate to Mars on the surface of the moon. The discovery of this gate paved the way for human colonization and development on Mars, but also caused the appearance of the VERS empire which resulted in a long standing conflict. The story of Aldnoah.Zero takes place during a time where Earth and the members of the VERS empire have been at peace (cease-fire) for 15 years, however a series of events soon causes war to break out between Earth and Mars, prompting soldiers to descend upon Earth, intent on exterminating humanity.
I thought the first episode was excellent. We are introduced to people on either side of the conflict, and get a sense of how much of a disadvantage Earth is at compared to the VERS empire. Earth is still undergoing reconstruction efforts and students are currently being trained to combat the ensuing Martian threat; although the authoritative figure who is presented to us, Kouichirou Marito, feels that a bunch of inexperienced students doesn’t really stand a chance.
The way the characters are dressed even echos this suggested difference in level of power, with the VERS empire dressed in attire that resembles that of lords and ladies, while the characters we are presented with on Earth are wearing the regular clothes of middle class individuals. Furthermore, the most authoritative figure, Marito, who one would expect to be the most clean cut individual out of the characters on Earth, is actually presented as a somewhat messy individual who likes to drink. These subtle choices in character design and presentation help to broaden the gap we see between the VERS Empire and humanity.
The art and music of the series are top notch as one would expect. Whenever I hear Hiroyuki Sawano’s music I am constantly reminded of how much of a difference music makes in a scene. Effective, well composed music can make a scene feel that much more dramatic and impactful.
With that said, I was seriously not expecting the first episode to end like that. I felt that the last shot with the two children was absolutely perfect as it demonstrated the innocence of humanity while contrasting what was really happening around the world. Truly, Mr. Urobuchi is deserving of the name that fans have given him (I won’t say it here as I feel like it’d be a spoiler, you can look if up if you desire). Without a doubt, this is my current favorite show of the season.
Episode 1 = 5/5