Who Likes Slaine and Who Doesn’t

I didn’t know that the original screenwriter for Aldnoah.Zero bailed out as early as he did back in season one. Once I found out about it, the blunders in storytelling made sense again. Urobuchi Gen isn’t half as bad as edgy people make him out to be, he also has a knack for commenting on the state of the human condition and I recognize him for it.

Rayet
The moment Rayet transformed into a Terran

As far as books go, there have been only a handful that I’ve read with interest and even less of them had the influence to shape my perception of life. One of those exceptions was the Bible, with the second one being Azuma Hiroki’s Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals. Otaku would probably have had far less of an impact on me had I had any real interest in philosophy beforehand. Even so, it answered many questions I had at the time that my understanding of it had become a lens through which I evaluate almost every anime that comes out. Aldnoah.Zero also passed under it.

The most important thing I took from the book was the dichotomy between a human and what is supposed to be an animalized human. I’ll try not to go into specifics of what Azuma’s theory is, but hopefully my post makes sense in the end. For now let’s say that Kaizuka Inaho is human and Slaine Troyard is an animalized human.

Humans are a species that builds complex relationships with other humans. People don’t always do the most selfish or the most safe thing to ensure their personal prominence or survival. Bravery, a virtue that may sometimes turn out to be quite foolish, is a mark of a human. Inaho is somebody who took arms because, well, that’s just what he was supposed to do if he wanted to keep his other friends and family alive. He derives strength not only from his personality type, but also from the community surrounding him.

Slaine Troyard, on the other hand, is a traitor to his own race. He’s traded Terrans to gain trust and dominance over another race. He’s made no effort to make friends on the way, only pawns that he can manipulate. All of this for an eccentric goal of worshiping his loved one, a human being that he reduced to the status of a figurine. He’s the kind of creep who’d prefer she never has the strength to practice her freedom. In fact, he’d rather have Asseylum rot in her bird cage forever. He’s a control freak, a sociopath, somebody who has forsaken his people and abandoned his humanity.

I also suspect he killed his real dad, just like he killed Saazbaum, and I base that solely on the premise that the postmodern view doesn’t allow for the existence of The Father, as preached by Azuma and others. The view asserts that children of the postmodern world will forever be lost without Him, left to play their little customized games, to satisfy their immediate animal-like cravings. That’s why Slaine’s utterly baffling moves from season one make complete sense now, where before it seemed like the new scriptwriter, Takayama Katsuhiko, was throwing darts as to what to make Slaine do next.

Urobuchi is somebody who understands the divide between these two types of characters. The typically crazy, selfish characters with their petty ambitions fall into Slaine’s category. Characters who take the high road earnestly or, should I say, naively go with the times and move together with the community fall into Inaho’s category.

The lone wolf, the edgy I Hate Everybody teenager, the sleazy otaku who hates his neighborhood, even the occasional serial killer and child rapist will grow to like and to sympathize with Slaine. As for the rest of us, we know what real men look like. They don’t shoot people in the back or run away when they’re in a position to reach a compromise. They work things out in favor of the common good, sometimes to their detriment.

Whether or not Takayama Katsuhiko deserves praise for exposing Slaine’s character and to play along Urobuchi’s intentions still demands some investigation. For one, I don’t think he had any idea what he was doing during the second part of the first season. Only after the second season had started had he begun to realize just what Urobuchi’s original plan was. Aldnoah.Zero has surprisingly become an interesting deconstruction of the postmodern condition, and while some of you may scoff at such fancy words, I honestly do think that’s the case.

Personally, I think the ending won’t favor Inaho. Inaho’s death is needed to showcase the folly of Slaine’s ways. Asseylum doesn’t want to live under the blue sky and watch all the lovely flying species just because they’re aesthetically pleasing to watch. Earth is more than just cute animals and scenery porn, it’s filled with people and that’s its charm. She’ll be heartbroken to lose anyone dear to her, and when she finds out Slaine is responsible for everything, that’s when we’ll see Slaine’s character crumble.

There’s still the remote possibility Takayama overly likes Slaine, but that can only end in a pussyfooty Happy Ending. I think the worst possible scenario would be if both Inaho and Slaine died, or became friends. In glorious postmodern fashion, such moves deny any powerful statement to be made, because they drive the point that the issue was only ever a thing between two characters. Given the state of anime creators these days, I cannot rule out such a gutless outcome.

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4 thoughts on “Who Likes Slaine and Who Doesn’t

  1. As for the rest of us, we know what real men look like.

    Pff. Pull the other one.

    It’s important to realize that none of the characters in this story are “real men”. It’s wholly possible to like (and even prefer) Slaine, as a character, without taking this silly anime more seriously than necessary.

    Sometimes we want the catharsis of seeing a truly broken mind get what’s coming to them after shaking the earth, or even attain some level of redemption. By contrast, good luck getting any kind of payoff that rich with the other characters.

    If you’re hoping to find some sort of story worth the trip in an anime like this, you can’t be obsessing over role models.

    1. Not sure if I follow, but seems like you’re saying Slaine’s interesting and offers payoff because broken characters are interesting. I don’t see the same value in him as you do. The payoff in my case would be the story making full circle on the mentioned deconstruction. The show is all about the meta commentary, or it’s become my personal reading, and so the only reason for the story to make itself interesting and to make any sense to me.

  2. “The lone wolf, the edgy I Hate Everybody teenager, the sleazy otaku who hates his neighborhood, even the occasional serial killer and child rapist will grow to like and to sympathize with Slaine. As for the rest of us, we know what real men look like.”

    Clearly, the Bible didn’t shape your perception of life enough if you’re prone to classify people as scum of the earth based on whether or not they sympathize with a character in a highly manipulative ass-pull anime made for the express purpose of trolling its viewers and with almost complete disregard of realism in character behavior and plot movement. I’m sorry for the outburst, but that passage of yours is among the most outrageously sanctimonious bullshit I’ve read in quite a while.

    1. I’m not sure whether you’re more angry at my comment or the show itself. Besides, I’ve included that line because it amuses me (in certain ways), not because it makes much sense. Sorry for not making a disclaimer. :)

      Aldnoah.Zero really does have weird ass logic, but approached cautiously it becomes less muddy. The framework I’m reading it in is probably not the best, but it suffices to keep up with it. Others obsess over details. Either way, those who haven’t resorted to calling it a troll show have kept it interesting for themselves. It’s a “communication anime” after all.

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