Aldnoah.Zero: Wind, Snow and Stars (The Battle of Novostalsk)
September 14, 2014 4:52 PM - Season 1, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Saazbaum starts his assault on UE HQ with his landing castle. Saazbaum himself leads the charge as Saazbaum's troops decimate UE forces to find and kill Asseylum. Edelrittuo and Rayet manage to get Asseylum onto the Deucalion. The plan is to deliver Asseylum to Saazbaum's landing castle so she can forcibly shut down its Aldnoah drive.
posted by needled (9 comments total)
Holy shit, that was awesome/ridiculous. Sorry for the bulleted list instead of deep essay-like examination, but there was too much going on:

• Rayet pulls a Han Solo! (This is where being really unobservant increased my enjoyment; I didn't pick up on what was happening at the end of Rayet's jail cell scene, so her reappearance really was a surprise.)

• I LOL'd when I saw that it was Eddelrittuo driving the Humvee like a stuntperson, then just 30 seconds later got legit choked up when I realized she wouldn't be able to join the princess.

• (Also, I hope when this is all over someone makes a supercut of Eddelrittuo's little frustrated growls.)

• Marito's big speech being met with blank stares, a pause, then business as usual. Wasn't he a teacher? I'd love a flashback to him in a classroom...

• "Bullets are drawn to cowardice!"

• Which is great enough on its own, but to then have the speaker get creamed halfway through the rallying speech was amazing.

• I've failed to mention this before, but I really like that one shot in the credits where the soldier taps the toe of his boot on the floor a couple times. It's just a nicely observed little moment.

• I stole this from a commenter on the Random Curiosity recap, but: "Thank you, Slaine! But your princess is in another landing castle!"

• Did you get the homage to Attack On Titan? It was a little hard to catch, so let me spoil it for you: the first five minutes of this episode were the last five minutes of last week's episode. Shout-out!

• I didn't mind the "NOW you tell us!"-factor of the Princess revealing that she could turn off any Aldnoah drive. It makes "sense" and didn't feel (to me) like a last-minute invention by the writers.

• I like the unexplained Soviet iconography on the UE base. It's a nice way to hint at the alternative present of the show, and I'm glad nobody expositioned it away.

• I haven't been as emotionally invested in this show as I like to be when I follow something, but the Captain's stoic order to ram the landing castle gave me chills.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:50 PM on September 14, 2014

My impression of the episode was different: While it was full of action and exciting moments, the story was on rails and didn't go anywhere it wouldn't obviously go.

The castle lands, the United Earth main base is invaded, and the landing castle of who-we-should-probably-assume-by-now-is-the-ringleader is invaded in turn. But that's kind of rote, since we've been building up to this since episode 2. The two main characters, Inaho and Slaine, were both mostly useless: Slaine runs around a lot somewhat aimlessly, and Inaho replies "we're at war" to every question until I was hoping one of the other characters would slap him for being tiresome. Some of the secondary characters' lives are threatened but nothing comes of that. About the only interesting development was the separation of the princess and her handmaiden, although given the full story arc to date, I don't expect the writers to make anything of it.

I suppose I should rewatch it to see what I missed, since it seems to be blowing everybody else's mind, but honestly I don't feel like there was any there, there. The next episode will have to be a humdinger if they want to wrap up everything and lure me back for the second half of the series this winter.
posted by ardgedee at 5:33 AM on September 15, 2014

There's something to be made from the princess' realization she's a tool and subsequent volunteering for the suicide mission, but even that's less a revelation of character than it should be, since from the beginning of the show she's been portrayed as somebody willing to get dirty when she has to -- I mean, it's a key part of the opening sequence.
posted by ardgedee at 5:46 AM on September 15, 2014

Best girl: Edelrittuo
Worst girl: Slaine

On re-watching the episode, the scene of the kids playing cards, with a plate of sandwiches and milk cartons next to them, was rather sad. They looked like kids on a school trip, or just hanging out in the school cafeteria. And then moments later there's Inko in the kataphrakt mumbling "Please don't let them hit me, please don't let them hit me, …," Nina bleeding on the bridge, argh. And Edelrittuo smiling through her tears, argh again.

Am I the only one worried about Asseylum's current mental state / stability?

> the Captain's stoic order to ram the landing castle gave me chills.

I love Capt. Magbaredge. She's remained calm and always tried to make the best decision under the worst circumstances. Actually, I love all the female characters in this show (except for maybe Femieanne). They're more three-dimensional than most female characters you see in Hollywood action flicks, and because there are a lot of them you get to see a range of personalities. And they're all trying their best, whether Yuki-nee trying to protect Inaho, or Inko piloting the kataphrakt through her very understandable fear of death. The series definitely passes the Bechdel test.
posted by needled at 9:17 AM on September 15, 2014

I've been listening to the tracks in the OST album released Sep. 10, and I'm really drawn to the instrumental tracks, like Track 16 - Ver$ and Track 17 - aズ-17歩 (Sawano Hiroyuki, what's with the cryptic track titles?!??). The piece of music I consider to be Asseylum's theme (heard in Slaine's remembrance scenes with Asseylum as well as Asseylum and Inaho's scene at the beginning of Ep. 11) is not on this album, though. And that earworm, "Keep On Keeping On" (track used for Earth-Vers cooperation scenes, such as Slaine and Inaho teaming up in Ep. 7, or trying to get Asseylum onto Deucalion in Ep. 11) is not included, either. Guess I'll have to wait until they release the second OST album.

Bonus epic Sawano Hiroyuki tracks:
βίος from Guilty Crown
Before my body is dry from Kill La Kill
posted by needled at 12:49 PM on September 15, 2014

I LOL'd when I saw that it was Eddelrittuo driving the Humvee like a stuntperson

She's not tall enough to reach the pedals! Is she pulling some kind of Short Round move and driving with blocks on her feet?

My favorite line (whose follow-up I should have seen coming): "If you're that scared, you're more likely to be hit. Bullets are attracted to cowardice! Stay strong, and everything will fly right past-" (BOOM)

And is there any significance to the "Shire" Platoon name?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:37 PM on September 17, 2014

Sawano Hiroyuki, what's with the cryptic track titles?!??

Taking a page from Aphex Twin, perhaps? drukQs was full of non-words, and the Windowlicker single includes a track named with a complex mathematical formula.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:43 PM on September 17, 2014

I'm hoping Mustang 33 was able to safely eject from his kataphrakt. Otherwise, Mustang 33, you were a good man, drawing the bullets to you and away from Inko.

I think the platoon names are just random?
posted by needled at 2:59 PM on September 17, 2014

Ep. 12 preview

OK, that preview confirms my suspicion that ep. 11 was the time crunch episode, gearing up for the big finale but lacking time / resources so something had to give. Ep. 11 had the re-use of previous episode scenes but without additional footage, contrasting with the re-use of previous scenes in other episodes, and the large number of Korean studios and animators listed in the episode end credits, which hadn't been the case in previous episodes. I wonder if ep. 12 was also heavily outsourced, or the ep. 11 outsourcing happened because the Japanese animation staff was working on ep. 12.
posted by needled at 7:13 AM on September 18, 2014

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