Two weeks after Aldnoah.zero‘s violent climax, fans are still a flutter over how season one ended. In a week where there were a number of much-talked about finales (Terror in Resonance, Haikyuu!, Free!, and the Tokyo Ghoul manga among them), Aldnoah.zero‘s was perhaps the most shocking.
Of course, shocking isn’t always good. For Japes and I both, Aldnoah.zero was the season’s most disappointing anime. The twist at the conclusion didn’t redeem it. In fact, for me, it reinforced al. that’s lacking with the show, as the sudden violent end felt more like a “let’s shock the audience so that they’ll be sure to return for season 2” or “let’s shock the audience just to shock them” than a truly strong conclusion.
The producers and writers from Aldnoah.zero could take a cue from other source as to how to both surprise while still keep a story’s integrity intact. Take Game of Thrones, for instance. While the TV series has come to renown for it’s frightful, unexpected character deaths, a deeper analysis of the show (and especially of the ASOIAF novel series) reveals that every major death serves a greater purpose, adding realism, plot development, tonal development, and all sorts of other significant contributions.
And how about another example – one more in line with what we do here on the blog. The Bible presents a lot of twists and turns, most of which we’re dull to because the stories are so ingrained as part of our culture (especially if we’re Christian). And particularly, the gospel accounts of Christmas not only become part of the background, they take on lives of their to the extent where we might miss the entire point, which is this: of all the things He could have done, God chose to show us grace, and in all the ways He could have done it, He chose to incarnate Himself as a human, as a baby.
Imagine how shocking this message must have been to 1st century Jews. Christ claimed over and over and over that He was God. What kind of fallacy must this have been to these Jews, the last people on earth that would have been able to accept that Jesus was God and that He was born into this world. It was not just stunning – it provoked reactions of anger and violence.
The Jews did not expect any of what transpired. They knew a Messiah was coming, but they did not anticipate Jesus and a New Covenant of grace. And yet, when the disciples put the pieces together, based on all that they witnessed, they came to the conclusion that, yes, He was God incarnate. To them, this impossible turn was the only possibility of all. And when we investigate the prophecies of the Old Testament, as explained by writers like Paul and by Jesus Himself, we see that this surprising development made perfect sense.
The Bible, written over so many centuries and by so many authors, tells one story of redemption. While I can’t expect Aldnoah.zero to match the inspired word of God, I hope that it will at least move beyond Slaine torture and meaningless deaths. And maybe, if we’re lucky, by the end we’ll see in the series a touch of God’s grace, because anime is a medium that can tell this all-important story oh so well.