Aldnoah.Zero Arrogance

Most of the fights in the mecha anime Aldnoah.Zero follow a roughly similar pattern: In a reversal of the typical structure of giant robot combat, a technologically superior and seemingly invincible enemy is overcome by the tactics and ingenuity of the protagonist Inaho and his allies without the need of secret prototype weapons or trump cards. What I think makes these battles and the opponents’ eventual defeats work really well both narratively and thematically is that their downfall is usually based on them being blinded by arrogance.

One might argue that this is unrealistic, or more specifically that an opponent with such an edge in terms of firepower would likely not have overlooked some of the weaknesses that end up being exploited by Inaho. However, given the culture of the Vers Empire, the feudalistic space culture that attacks the Earth, I find that it makes a lot of sense. The subjects of the Vers Empire, especially their “Orbital Knights,” have been raised to believe that they are inherently better than people from Earth, and that this superiority derives from their discovery and use of a powerful technology called the “Aldnoah Drive.” While from our perspective it’s easy to point out that the “inherent” superiority of the Vers is anything but because it derives from an outside source in the Aldnoah Drive, actually history has shown that similar reasoning, as strangely illogical as it can seem, has often been used to justify similar mindsets or even forms of racism.

Consider the hypothetical example of a nation of people who believe they are simply better than their neighbors because they were born on land that was more arable. Although one could easily say that this is just a matter of luck or probability to an extent, it wouldn’t seem that strange for them to believe that they were somehow blessed by God or some other great power, and that they deserve this blessing on some fundamental level. It’s circular reasoning to be sure, but that doesn’t necessarily stop anyone from believing it.

Thus, the Orbital Knights believe that they are inherently superior in every way over the Terrans, therefore they receive the more powerful technology, therefore they are inherently superior in every way over the Terrans. They buy so much into not only the idea that the people of Earth are too stupid to figure anything out, but that they actually have no Achilles’ heels to exploit in the first place. With nothing to challenge them and without even acknowledging that they may have overlooked something in their robots (or “Kataphrakts” as Aldnoah.Zero calls them), potentially preventable defeats are addressed too late.

5 thoughts on “Aldnoah.Zero Arrogance

  1. The potential problem here is that very repetition. It reduces the credibility and charm of a hero who out-thinks his opponents, if those opponents aren’t really thinking. Sure, it can be seen as amusing or even written off as an attempt to entertain without being genuinely clever, but after a while it wears thin and your “big, serious foes” are neither of those things – just a bunch of arrogant buffoons. Then the racism angle becomes too on-the-nose and almost comedic, as though racism doesn’t deserve to be studied, only ridiculed and preached-against. Thankfully that’s not quite where Aldnoah has ended up yet, but it’s close enough for some. Not that Aldnoah isn’t silly for other reasons, but still.


  2. I think the point about arrogance is also highlighted by illustrating those Vers folks who are more arrogant than others. The two Counts are good foils of each other for this reason–one is perhaps not exactly arrogant as much as working purely on the assumption that Earthians are incapable/inferior in all ways, but was able to follow logical deduction over the course of the events and get past that issue.

    The other, well, is just vengeful, if thoroughly so, without the presumptive beliefs of Earthians clouding his judgment.


  3. The fact stands that according to the canon timeline humans have only been living on Mars for 30 years or so. The show tries to dance around it, but I think it really eats away the plausibility of them having such a vastly different culture and their superiority complex.


  4. Just finished watching the show so came back to finally come back and read this post. I think the way the Orbital Knights got continually defeated was okay given the weaknesses of their suits in certain areas that had to be figured out. But it was always the same character who ‘knew’ or ‘figured out’ how. The Captain? Nope. War veteran? Nah. The more experienced older sister? Nope, same character kept doing it. That didn’t help said character was difficult to read. We never got the satisfaction of people working together to take down superior foes with their wits. Was the Orange Suit in the battle? If yes, then victory. We’re also lead to believe he has no special upgrades and that this is merely a trainee mecha that is doing this…But still has tons of added on equipment which no one else can seemingly utilize. Unless it was a shield. Everyone else can use shields.


  5. Pingback: Mix It Up, Make Something New: Aldnoah.Zero | OGIUE MANIAX

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