Apologies to Keikakucat for stealing his joke for the title
Aldnoah.Zero was an interesting ride. One of the growing number of anime marketed on writer Gen Urobuchi’s name despite his limited involvement in the show, the show started strong only to slowly descend into mediocrity and disappointment. I hung on to hope that the show would recover its footing and end up being something worthwhile longer than most of my friends did, but by episode 9 or 10 even I had given up. For all its promise and ambitious intentions (producers from Aniplex mentioned in preliminary interviews that the show was meant to compete with the venerable Gundam franchise), Aldnoah.Zero was a dud that squandered its potential on bad plotting decisions and ignoring the development of its best characters in favor of its most boring ones.
And then episode 12 happened.
They say that if you start strong and end strong, people will usually forget about a disappointing middle . Aldnoah Zero certainly got the starting off impressively part right; its ending , on the other hand, isn’t so much “strong” as it is “crashing the ship into a flaming wreck with all hands aboard.” And by the time it was over, I had completely forgiven the show for making me put up with the ho-hum doldrums that were its middle episodes. AZ‘s last episode isn’t good by any measure, but it is definitely memorable. The heights of insane tragedy porn that the last few minutes reach are so overwrought that it makes the show a more memorable experience than a last minute save by a competent finale ever could have.
In its final minutes, Aldnoah Zero went from being a disappointment that I likely would have completely forgotten about within a month to one of the most enduring shows this year, starring one of the most hilariously tragic characters around in Slaine, 2014’s whipping boy of the universe. Slaine was Aldnoah‘s most promising but underused character, a poor dope who spent the entire show helplessly careening from one traumatic personal disaster to the next, only to then get shat on by life so hard that you have to wonder if the gods of the Aldnoahverse have some sort of grudge against the guy. Maybe he kicked a lot of puppies in a previous life?
Whatever the reason for Slaine’s endless misfortune, the amazing spectacle of watching Aldnoah.Zero turn itself into a giant, smoldering crater just so it could unjustly punish the poor bastard one last miserable, glorious time made enough of an impact to change my perception of the show. It was no longer a disappointment that I only stuck with out of inertia and misplaced hope; it’s now something I’m dying to see more of. I’ll be watching the second season when it comes out in January 2015, just to see how it recovers from the complete disaster of its first cour’s ending and what new hilariously incompetent mistakes it will make next. And most of all, I’ll watching with a big bowl in hand, to catch more of Slaine’s sweet, sweet tears.