Aldnoah.Zero: it finally clicks

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One thing that has bothered me about Aldnoah.Zero since episode 12 aired back in September last year was this question:

Why did Slaine shoot Inaho?

I get the feeling that most people decided pretty quickly what they thought—it can be summed up in just three letters: NTR. But that explanation, popular especially amongst viewers that really dislike Slaine, always bothered me, particularly after what Aoki (or one of the other creators) apparently said at a Machi Asobi in Tokushima talk event on October 12, 2014:

Q スレイン君は姫様に恋してるの?12話の最後、嫉妬っぽいけど…
A 1クールではあんまり描いてないけど、2クールを見てもらったら「嫉妬」ではなく「別の目的」があるこ とがわかる。12話でスレインが立ち去った時、一体どこへ歩いて行ったのか、がヒントらしい

Q: Was Slaine in love with the princess? At the end of ep 12, it seemed like he was jealous…
A: It wasn’t really depicted in the first cour, but if you watch the second cour, you’ll realise that it wasn’t jealousy, but something else. Where Slaine departs to in episode 12, where he is heading when he walks off, is a hint.

(first translated here)

At the time, the following explanation made the most sense to me:

Shipping stuff aside, I think there’s a good case for Slaine being motivated by jealousy when he stopped Inaho. I think initially he really did think the other was just using the princess but once he saw him crawling towards Seylum he realized it was more than that. This guy was fulfilling the role he always wanted for himself. To be the princess’ knight. And more importantly had succeeded until Slaine’s misguided actions. I think the dissonance between what Slaine wanted to be and what he actually ended up being was the straw that broke the camel’s back. So he lashed out.

(~BC~ on AS)

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Hm…no, there is a key difference here…

But after reading what Aoki had said, I realised that something wasn’t quite right with the ‘jealousy’ theory outlined above, namely “He lashed out.” If you watch the scene again carefully, whilst Slaine shot at Saazbuam haphazardly, as you might expect someone lashing out to do, he was in full control of himself when he turned his gun on Inaho. In other words, Slaine had decided what he needed to do at that point, and took his course of action based on that.

(Setting off some of the most ridiculous forum debates I’ve seen in years in the process…but I digress.)

Slaine ‘On War’

Now that Slaine has revealed his objective in episode 21, it finally all makes sense to me.

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Your Highness, do you know why wars break out?
They…are a means of negotiation between states.
No. Wars break out because there is someone to fight against. To eliminate war, there are two options: invade and assimilate, or utterly exterminate your adversary so that only you remain.

Following on from this, the reason that Slaine shot Inaho was simply that he was an adversary who would have refused to be assimilated; what he said to Inaho was probably just to provide a pretext to shoot him. Some would argue that Slaine could have joined the Earth side. However, he’d probably calculated that the Aldnoah power would give him the best chance of achieving his objective of creating a lasting peace, especially since he was in a position where he could bargain with Saazbaum. He probably also believed that his best chance of saving Asseylum lay with the medical facilities of Vers rather than those on Earth. Hence, the Faustian bargain with Saazbaum. Slaine might be in love with Asseylum—I’m ambivalent on this issue, personally—but whether he is or not doesn’t matter: what has driven the choices he’s made since episode 12 are largely his beliefs about the causes of war.

Inaho ‘On War’

Aoki’s other comment, that “it wasn’t really depicted in the first cour,” was also true. This theme of “what causes conflict, and thus how do we stop/prevent it” was touched on because it was always Asseylum’s primary objective, but only intermittently, most notably in episode 12:

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Seylum, what do you think it takes to end a war?
Well, if both sides wish for peace and set aside their hatred…
No. Warfare is nothing but a means of negotiation between states. Wars break out even when there is no hatred. Territory, resources or interests that you are determined to own. Ideology, religion, or pride. Wars are fought over those objectives all the time. Meaning that when those objectives are met, the war will end. That…or when the human cost outweighs the gains.

Clausewitz ‘On War’

Inaho was referencing Carl von Clausewitz’s most famous aphorism, from his treatise On War: “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” However, it should be noted that that wasn’t actually Clausewitz’s bottom line. Rather, as noted by a number of scholars, this was one of the several definitions of war that he considered on the way to synthesising his famous “trinity”:

War is “a fascinating trinity—composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; the play of chance and probability, within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to pure reason.”

Or to summarise: violent emotion/chance/rational calculation. Come to think of it, isn’t this actually represented in the show? Rational calculation is obviously Inaho; violent emotion is the cause for conflict given by Asseylum (it could also be allocated to Slaine for the impetus behind some of his actions in the first cour, but since that’s changed now, I think this fits better); and chance is what has plagued Slaine over the entire war. Alternatively, reading into the detail of what Clausewitz wrote, Inaho represents chance because his plays against the Vers knights are about all about creative tactics that are also dependent on chance and probability, whilst Slaine represents rational calculation since he is now using war as an instrument of policy in order to achieve his objective. 

Hm…since he’s the one credited for the overall story, I’d dearly love to have the opportunity to speak to Urobuchi Gen about this…! And do excuse me for nerding out: this kind of stuff is quite literally what I do for a living at present. (^^;;)

p.s. I can’t for the life of me remember what I thought the theme of Aldnoah.Zero was before I changed my mind about five weeks ago, after reading through a glut of interviews. The theme I was considering after the change, however, was something along the lines of “Why do we shoot at our own (people)?” which is slightly off…

p.p.s. I’m not ignoring the moral debate that is inherent in what Slaine is doing – I do talk about it a little in my weekly livejournal posts. I also intend to do a post about it at some stage, though it might have to be after the show is finished, as I’m still waiting on one final piece of the puzzle: exactly what Slaine intends to do with Aldnoah…

edit (2015-06-02): I found out recently that there’s a slight mistranslation in the English version of what Clausewitz wrote in German. The sentence is actually “War is the continuation of politics with other means.” The word ‘with’ conveys much more clearly how war is just another tool in the political toolkit, rather than a red line that leaders would not want to cross. For what it’s worth, the line of dialogue that they gave Inaho in Japanese actually does convey that.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

27 Responses to Aldnoah.Zero: it finally clicks

  1. It’s starting to smell like a tragic ending for the boys…………
    nice analysis!

    Like

    • karice says:

      Personally, I’m still hoping that it’ll work out somehow…! That said, it would probably be better for my heart to prepare for the worst; that way, it’ll either be what I expect, or I’ll be pleasantly surprised!
      Thanks!

      Like

  2. Alex says:

    Hey Karice I was just listening to the radio Aldnoah when Lem’s VA was a guest and was wondering if you can give a small snippet of what they were talking about when they mentioned Slaine =)

    Like

  3. Alex says:


    It’s the part that starts at 2:38 =)

    Like

  4. karice says:

    Oh that’s right, it was the episode where Lemrina kissed Slaine in order to give him the activation factor. And where she said: “Do not forget that the princess you must protect now is right before you.”

    Well, basically, they were ‘bullying’ her for being a little upstart: “what are you doing? To my Slaine?” “When this is your first time on the show too?” “We’ve fawned over him 32 times already, what say you to that, huh?!’ etc etc

    (They go on like that for about 3 minutes before Natsukawa convinces them that “it was Lemrina who did it, not me!” “True, I guess this is us just taking it out on you… sorry!” And you can hear one of the staff in the background laughing his head off… heh)

    Like

    • Alex says:

      Thank you! I kind of figured they were saying something like that lol…BTW if you don’t mind in your livejournal you mentioned Hanae held a grudge over them for last time he was there. What exactly was this grudge about?

      Like

      • karice says:

        Hanae was the first guest they had on the show, for #2. But Amamiya and Minase are the lead Slaine fangirls in the staff and cast, so they spent most of the show fawning over Slaine. And since this was the radio that went on-air directly after episode 1 finished, Inaho hadn’t done anything yet: worse, he was just weird in that first episode, remember? So they bullied him a little for that too. It’s pretty bad, actually — it’s the shortest of all the radio shows, at a mere ~21 minutes, and even then, Hanae half-jokingly asks towards the end whether he can just go home already…

        So when Hanae recorded a special radio CD with Ono (one that is available only at a rental store in Japan — I borrowed it when I was there late last year), he brings it up: “I’ve still got a grudge against them for that!” He also listens to the show himself, so he’s heard them fangirling over Slaine in a gakuran and crossdressing, so he was like “They’re, like, bat-shit crazy!” and “Come on! Talk about Inaho too!”

        (Though, given the way they talk about Slaine, I personally don’t know why he would want them talking about Inaho!)

        Like

  5. pira97 says:

    Ep 22:
    Inaho: “he misidentifies her as a part of himself.”
    Asseylum: “I also think of you as a part of myself.”
    (sounds like Star Trek, Mr. Spock speaking, rest in peace Leonard Nimoy)
    Told ya, they were in love, LOL. Poor Slaine, the anti-hero…

    Like

    • karice says:

      Whilst that was the impression I got from the scene, although Inaho’s feelings for Asseylum have pretty much been confirmed several times this season, Asseylum’s still aren’t confirmed, you know… At least, I’m sure that some fans are still going to point out her request, which has to be about Slaine…

      sighs The shipping war simply isn’t going to end until the series ends (and I hope to God it will end then! unlike Macross Frontier!), so I’m just going to stay out of it. 🙂

      Like

  6. I agree with you Karice, that Inaho’s feelings for Asseylum are pretty evident. From her side, i still have a feeling she puts “the people” over all personal love she could feel for anyone…..do you leave someone you love with all your heart and who has passed out alone without any protection? Her life which is dedicated to Vers is more important, i guess. In a way her life might not be hers to sacrifice on her own whim. That’s what i was wondering…….can she even truely think of “personal” love in her position?

    Slaine’s plan seems to be cracking on all sides……….is there even any hope he might get out of this unscatched?

    Like

    • karice says:

      Yeah, Asseylum’s in a really unenviable position — this month’s Animedia basically said what you’ve said here: because she’s royalty, she cannot love who she chooses. As she told Lemrina, she has been taught to hold the Vers people over everything else.

      The eye told her that ‘help was coming’ so as to get her to leave. So in one sense, leaving him means respecting his feelings for her as well. (Of course, whether it was telling her the truth or not is another question…)

      If Asseylum’s request to Inaho was about Slaine (and the direction suggests that it was, since the camera switched to Slaine when she said it), then I’m assuming he will. Nothing’s certain until the show’s done though…the only question is whether they can wrap it up in two episodes or not! (The episode titles suggest that it ends with episode 24, so I’m not putting stock into the S3/movie rumours at the moment!)

      Like

  7. Pam says:

    Hello! Just letting you know that I love your introspections about these episodes on your LJ. Great read. Anyway, there’s something I’ll be complaining about: Crunchyroll translators. Apparently this is about the third (fourth?) time they made a mistake, and I noticed some Japanese speakers at Tumblr talk about the “she is the means to an end, nothing more” and found errors.

    目指す目的の傍らに姫がいる、それだけの話だ, which actually means “The princess (or Her Highness) exists beside my objective I pursue, that’s all.” according to Tumblrites. Your thoughts?

    Like

    • karice says:

      Thank you ^^

      Yeah well, the translator hasn’t been doing too well. They’ve made far more than four mistakes (as there were four in episode 19 alone, and that’s the first time I was annoyed enough to write about it).

      For this episode, what Slaine said is slightly ambiguous because the word for ‘need’ (要る) sounds the same as the word for ‘is’ (居る). With the ‘beside’ (傍らに), it does sound more like it could be “She’s part of it” rather than “she’s needed for it, that’s all.” So perhaps “The princess is part of the objective I pursue, that’s all” would have been a better translation.

      (Do you have a link to the tumblr posts, by any chance?)

      Like

      • Pam says:

        I don’t know if the translators don’t care for the seres, but it shows a lack of professionalism on their part. Your wording sounds a lot better than the tumblrite’s, hehe. Slaine’s particular way of speaking (all stiff and proper with little contractions) confuses me at times, so I’m like “what”.

        Here you go! http://good7luck.tumblr.com/post/113689819645/slaine-never-said-she-is-a-means-to-achieving-my
        http://alice-pt.tumblr.com/post/113670604712/oh-my-god

        Like

      • karice says:

        I must admit that this one was hard: I didn’t actually notice the 傍らに until you pointed it out (and I know that I can get lazy when I think I know what a line means — I really need to check more carefully sometimes!). But given that the translator should have been working with a text file of the actual dialogue, I’m not sure he/she had any excuse…

        Thanks — it took me about a minute to come up with that phrasing though… The more I do this, the more I understand just how difficult translation can be! (And the more I want to do a creative writing course so that I can get better at it!) But the formal way the Vers knights and the princess tend to speak is fun for me, because polite expressions in Japanese are one of the things that I’m interested in improving on at the moment 🙂

        And thanks again!!

        Hm…I feel like this needs to be posted on AS too… sighs

        Like

  8. pira97 says:

    “I also take count Chuhteo…, to be my husband”. The end of shipping war? LOL

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  9. pira97 says:

    Ep 22, where Inaho and Slaine exchanged the word “Teki” when they shot each other. Is it the same “teki” from Chihayafuru when Taichi used? If it is the same why the means are differents?

    Like

    • karice says:

      Context. There’s another post I have to write for Chihayafuru about it, but when I was in Japan, I was able to confirm that the “teki” used in war situations is different from the “teki” used in traditional Japanese contests like Shōgi and competitive karuta.

      🙂

      Like

  10. pira97 says:

    Why Slaine reminds me of Taichi:

    Both have color in their hair
    Both are child friends with the girl
    Both help the girl of her dream and them abandon her
    Both love the girl dearly
    Both get a mentor and went to the dark side
    Both have a rival with black hair
    Both see their rival as “teki”
    Both lose their battle in one-one with their rival
    Both are popular with fangirls
    Both will end up loosing the girl in the end, LOL

    Like

    • karice says:

      pira, please stop trying to compare Taichi and Slaine. They’re quite different: the key trait that defines Slaine is that he is, quite literally alone. Taichi always has people around him, so the main thing that plagues him is something different.

      Also, for the record, even if they’re not my favourite characters in their respective series, I like both of them, and I also think that both have more character development than most other characters in said series.

      Like

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