Translation: Mademoiselle Tharsis

This comes from the booklet to BD6, and it killed me even more than Shimura-sensei’s comic did, so I thought I’d share. Please let me know before you post it anywhere else!

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NB: Read from right to left, of course!

Aldnoah.Zero through an international relations lens…

“You must stop the cycle of violence, the cycle of hatred.”
-Alfredo Bunye, around 1955.

Aldnoah.Zero_01
LET JUSTICE BE DONE, THOUGH THE HEAVENS FALL

Aldnoah.Zero is a tricky show for me to review, because there is so much that I want to say about it. There are elements that I absolutely loved…and a few details that I have to gloss over… My own viewing experience was also rather mixed, straddled as I was between the Western and Japanese fandoms. It suggested to me something about original anime that I’d never really thought about before: that the marketing campaign can be a really important part of engaging a target audience, which conversely makes it more difficult for overseas audiences to appreciate. And that’s probably the main reason I really enjoyed A/Z, even though most of the discussion on English-speaking forums shifted in the opposite direction as the show wore on.

But what did I love about Aldnoah.Zero? I could wax lyrical about quite a range of things that I had fun with over the last nine months, but let me focus on just three in this post: the “real robot” vs. “super robot” concept that, to me, was pretty unique in the mecha sub-genre of anime; the fact that the show seems to have been tailor-made for someone of my (developing) expertise; and finally, the two protagonists. Of course, there were also things that threatened to ruin my enjoyment, one a writing or research issue that I really wish the creative team had considered a little more carefully, but also two others that were beyond their ability to address. Without further ado, let me begin.

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The main problem with Aldnoah.Zero…

“The princess of the Vers Empire has turn
“The princess of the Vers Empire has turned her people against her.”

I bet you didn’t expect me, of all people, to begin my final reviews of Aldnoah.Zero with this subject line, right? And there are so many possibilities for what my choice might be—not Inaho, obviously, but there’s Slaine, or Asseylum, forced plot twists, characters that appear out of nowhere, bad medical science, too much technical jargon…what else have I missed?

I can assure you, however, that my choice is a little unusual: the shot I’ve chosen as the picture header reflects it, though I’ve never actually written about the issue with regards to that specific scene before. But if you’ve read most of my musing and reflections on Aldnoah.Zero, then at the very least, you won’t be particularly surprised… So without further ado, the very worst thing about Aldnoah.Zero throughout its run, was…

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Aldnoah.Zero: it finally clicks

AldnoahZero_Clicks_01

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: Read more of this post

Aldnoah.Zero: The Black-tailed Gull

It took me one full day to realise that the Japanese people on my twitter timeline weren’t just pulling things out of thin air. I can’t figure out if English speakers recognise the same degree of symbolism, but in Japan, there is a ‘language of birds’ in the vein of the ‘language of flowers‘. In fact, each day of the year has a ‘bird of the day‘, so-to-speak, and each of the 366 birds that appears in the calendar has a specific meaning.

It turns out – and I am now sure that Asseylum coming back this week was no coincidence – that the black-tailed gull ( umineko / ウミネコ ) is today’s bird: February 22. What’s really significant, however, is what it stands for:

Black-tailed_gull Aldnoah_Umineko
“Co-existence and co-prosperity” (共存共栄)

…Though I think I’ll leave everyone to ponder for themselves what this means for the story of Aldnoah.Zero… My own reflections on it are in my episode post

Since birds were the major motif touched on again in episode 19, I also tried to work out exactly which species of migratory birds it was that Inaho saw. The Japanese A/Z fans on twitter seem to agree that they’re wild geese (雁; they sound like it too), and one suggested that they’re the greater white-fronted goose. However, that doesn’t match the colour scheme of the birds depicted in the show. I’ve had a good look around google, but am having no luck finding a goose with plumage that’s dark except for a white underbelly and lightly coloured wingtips…

But perhaps that’s not necessary, for wild geese in general have a special meaning as a ‘pillow word’ in classical Japanese literature:

Aldnoah_Geese1 Aldnoah_Geese2
“Someone who is coming from far away” (遠つ人)

Translation: The Tale of the A/Z Mangaka, by Shimura Takako

From Shimura-sensei’s most recent Aldnoah.Zero post:

Shimura-manga_2015-02-15
Oh, Inaho…LOL

NB: Both Slaine and Asseylum call Inaho ‘sensei’, but I tried to imagine what they’d probably use if they all spoke English instead… To be frank, Asseylum might already be calling him ‘Inaho’ rather than Mr. Kaiduka…but I’m still debating about that balance… Ah…rethinking ‘Miss Asseylem’ too…

Also, I’m not the biggest fan of doing typesetting…but this experience really helps me understand how difficult it can be finding phrasing that not only sounds in character, but also fits within the constraints of those darned speech bubbles!

edit: One more thing I’ve learnt since is that “koumori-gasa,” literally “bat umbrella” is the Japanese term for the huge Western style umbrella. And that’s why Slaine having one is such a huge thing for all these AU stories from the studio (e.g. the extra story 3 drama CD) and this little comic from Shimura!

Aldnoah.Zero: the Kaiduka Family is ♡

I’ve been meaning to post this set ever since Shimura-sensei first uploaded them as part of her S2 countdown in December, and it seemed appropriate as a celebration of seeing Yuki and Inaho together again in this second cour…even if it was just a flashback! To be frank, I really want a new scene between them in the present, but I fear that if I leave this til next week, I may be crying instead, due to the minor flags that have been raised (incl. the fact that it’s Inaho’s birthday on Feb 7 – and nothing good has come of the birthdays we’ve seen so far! p.s More commentary here). Yuki’s line from the very first teaser for the second cour (“I became a soldier because I wanted to protect you and the world you live in”) also hasn’t been said yet, and I’m expecting it for next week…

But Nao-kun, what the heck do you mean by “I guess I have no choice”??? もう、心臓に悪いから、やめて!!

Yuki-nee, down with a cold

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It was Yuki-nee that first came down with a cold,
and of course, Nao-kun nursed her back to full health…

…which then passed to Inaho…

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Waaaahh! I passed it to Nao-kun!!

Calm down, Yuki-nee.

Is the drug store open? Shall I get you one of those chilled forehead packs?

I’m good. I’ve eaten the rice porridge (that I made) and had my medicine. And there’s hot Pocari too.

Ah-! How about rolled omelettes? Do you want some? Would you be able to eat them?

Yuki-nee, it’s fine.

What can I say? I just LOVE their relationship! Please please please stay safe, both of you!!

Aldnoah.Zero: the state of the war

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Vs/027, which was made available on the official website after episode 13 aired…

I’ve been thinking about where the other Martian Landing Castles landed, and thought it might be worthwhile to point out a couple of things suggested by everything that the TV series has presented to us. Read more of this post

(Summary/Translation): The world of Aldnoah.Zero

I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for world building — that’s probably why I love Tolkein’s Middle Earth as much as I do — and despite all the complaints about ‘bad writing’, Urobuchi Gen and the other creators of Aldnoah.Zero have actually put a lot of thought into the world they’ve created.

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A world with a moon torn asunder…

The first half of the first cour was about showing us the similarities and differences between the world of A/Z and our own, and going by episode 14, we are probably going to be getting a better idea of the Vers side of A/Z over this second cour. Those who wish to learn about it through the show will want to stop here: for everyone else, a few translations from the S1 guidebook (and a couple of extras from a few other sources) can be found under the cut… Read more of this post

Aldnoah.Zero S2 countdown, zero hour: whither to?

Aldnoah.Zero-final
Zero hour is finally here!!!

Finally, as the story starts turning again, it’s time to wonder: where might it be heading? Here are some pointers from Hanae, Ono, Aoki and Takayama…

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