After this episode, I have decided what I would like Butch Gen to do next is a ridiculous parody of his own writing style. There was a scene at the end of the episode where two little innocent kids saw shooting stars and wished that the world would have eternal peace. It just so happens that those shooting stars were giant machines of death with the intent of destroying the earth. It would only have been more hilariously tragic if one of the death machines had landed on their heads and killed them both instantly in stupidly gory fashion.
Aldnoah Zero is pretty similar to the classic Gundam story outline. One part of humanity emigrates to space, in this case going to Mars. Then generations pass and differences become pronounced until the two sides declare war on each other. It even has the Mars race setting up in the old feudal lords and ladies system, so toss in comparisons to Code Geass and Legend of the Galactic Heroes while you’re at it. Also there are giant robots. Almost forgot to mention that similarity too.
The writing in Aldnoah Zero doesn’t flow as normal character dialogue, but it also doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to. It’s a pretty common aspect of Butch Gen’s writing in that characters are there to represent ideals and themes rather than be people and that is reflected heavily in how they speak and what they say. The princess refers to earth as the ‘blue planet’, emphasising the difference in a purely visual, non-partisan way. The knight in charge of her ship refers to the human as a dog that he has to take responsibility for. I’m not quite sure what the word for that style of writing is, but it’s the style plays are often written in. It’s a theatrical, grandstandy sort of speech pattern. I do personally like it, although it does make the show feel distant which can be at odds when it’s trying to draw an emotional response rather than a pure story-interest response. It’s the same style Gen uses in Madoka, Fate/Zero and Psycho Pass.
I did enjoy the episode. It gets a little exposition heavy, but it works it into the characters conversations and through more general world building news reports. It never got into the “as you already know” style of awful exposition and sure wasn’t two men walking around in a circle talking at a dude who already knows all of this. By the end of the episode you understand the stakes, why there was a war, why the war stopped, why there’s a war now and everything that entails. I already have a bunch of theories going around in my head, such as how this war was deliberately started by the knights so they could settle their differences by fighting for earth between them. No idea whether the story will deliver on its promise, especially when they have mysteriously decided to make the main character the most boring berk imaginable, but we shall see on that front.