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A/Z 'running commentary' (Ep 20)

edit (2015-03-08): post locked. Please comment on my latest A/Z post if you want to respond to anything.

Hm, once again, Inaho and Slaine are being compared, and this time it’s associated with the Japanese title: The Price of Glory/Honor (名誉の対価). For the former, that price seems to be his own physical health; for the latter, it’s his mental health. As for the English title: I guess it’s about Asseylum finally regaining her memories of what happened in S1…but let’s look at this in a little more detail.

  • Colour me surprised: I didn’t actually expect the team to pull out, though looking back now, that really was the only thing they could do. Makes for a nice variation on the battles we’ve had so far. And it was great to see how much Nina has grown over the course of the war. Of course, now they’ve been ordered by the brass to go back in… And on top of that, Inaho is really feeling the side effects of over-using that analytical engine… Can they refuse to obey this order if it turns out to be a suicide mission? (I’m getting vibes from Japan’s behaviour in WW2 here…)

  • And poor Inko, who will be sick with worry but probably feels powerless. Is there anything that she—or anyone else, for that matter—can do to lessen the consequences of this war on Inaho? Speaking of which, one thing I’ve read on twitter about the 3rd rental-only Aldnoah Radio special (available from TSUTAYA if you’re in Japan) was Hanae on Inaho’s left eye: apparently, the pain he feels is enough to make the average person cry out in pain. When I first read about it last week, I really wondered why they couldn’t have made it more obvious in the show, though I did realise that it’s because Inaho is the way he is — he’d downplay it so long as it helps him save everyone he wants to save. Just as they showed us in this episode… Has he crossed that point that Yagarai spoke about in episode 17, the point where “it’s too late”?

  • Rafia (Scandia/スカンディア), Sebrin (Electris/エレクトリス) and Olga (Ortygia/オルテギア) work together quite well, unlike what some people were predicting. We’ve got one of Scandia’s weaknesses — might another one be associated with how its invisibility cloak is generated? For Electris: my best guess at this point would be that water might be something to throw at it. As for Orga’s Kat, which seems to have the ability to duplicate itself, I’m stumped (though I haven’t really thought about it too deeply). I’m sure Takayama has come up with something interesting though, so looking forward to next week, I guess…though with plenty of trepidation too! [NB: Not sure about the spellings, but the names that I’ve put up for the Kats are what the two girls on the radio show used for them. Mazuurek's Kat was also revealed in the radio 4 weeks ago to be Sirén - or Sirenum, according to the Japanese wiki (シレーン)]

  • Hm…why is Harklight still in the blue uniform?? Though he looks increasingly worried about Slaine’s mental state. That final line of “For the time being, at least…” Foreshadowing an even darker turn?

  • That said, translating 「粗野なものたち」(soya na monotachi) as “vulgar trash” was a bit much, don’t you think? Whilst 粗野 does mean “coarse, rustic, vulgar” etc, ものたち doesn't have anything inherently rude about it, though it does indicate that Slaine probably doesn't regard Terrans as 'civilised' people ('hito'/人). NB: and if your encounter with Inaho was the reason for this impression of the people of Earth... Sorry, Slaine, but that's your own fault. You shot at Inaho first.) More importantly, however, Slaine would not use language like “trash” in front of Lemrina. Surely something like “It’s filled with coarse, vulgar people” would have been more appropriate.

  • It’s still sad—and somewhat insulting—that this is the view that Slaine has taken of Earth though. Especially considering how he’s been treated so badly by most of the Vers Counts. Whilst I can understand that you’ve never really had a home, having been moved around so much by your father’s work, that view of yours is a bit too jaded, don’t you think, Slaine? I guess it really shows how he completely gave up on everything, except for the Princess. And he had even given up on her: the “there are no such things as miracles” was specifically about the possibility of Asseylum waking up. Which is why he had Lemrina proclaim that ‘Princess Asseylum’ would take him as her husband and create a new kingdom on Earth.

  • But if he had given up on her, then what has he actually been trying to do in taking over Vers and attacking Earth? Changing Vers society has been suggested and trumpeted by a lot of Slaine fans, but if that’s all it is, that doesn’t quite fit with the “Just stop what you’re doing for me” line in 「&Z」. If Slaine wanted to do something for her, his ultimate goal should be that which is represented by the bird everyone seems to associate with him: co-existence and co-prosperity. How does he expect to connect the Vers conquest of Earth into that?

  • And now that Asseylum has woken up, all he hopes for is that she never regain her memories, because that’s the only way he thinks he can protect her happiness… But that’s a fake happiness…and one that would eventually have fallen apart anyway, even if Mazuurek hadn’t managed to pass on Inaho’s message… I don’t know about you, but I’d hate it if anyone ever did such a thing to me: have me living on not knowing what I’ve done, or what’s been done in my name.

  • I’m a little confused at ~16:00: when Slaine says “We mustn’t tell her everything yet. But even if she looks down on me or derides me for what I am doing here…” I’m fairly certain the ‘she’ here refers to Asseylum, not Lemrina. But the translation doesn’t make that clear.

  • On a separate note, the wretched note in Slaine’s voice when he says “But now” at ~16:30, is AMAZING. Fantastic work by OnoKen here. On the other hand, I felt that the animation in this episode is not quite on par with some of the others. I’m actually a little bit disappointed with some of the closeups, where the eye motions and slight changes in expression feel a little forced. What they did in episodes 15 and 17 was far better… The credits suggest that they were a little pressed in creating this episode (two story boarders, and two episode directors)…might that have something to do with it? I’d also be interested in knowing who did the key frames for all those scenes…

  • And we finally have Mazuurek making his move. I was pretty impressed with the way he went about verifying what Inaho had told him about the fake Asseylum. Though if Slaine had been at his audience with Lemrina, I’m sure he wouldn’t have been able to ask that question. I’m guessing that the request to see Count Troyard as well was also a test, for the answer would have complemented his observations about Slaine’s movements. And of course, Eddelrittuo’s far too honest. But I do like that part of her — it’s nice to see that the fake masks that so many of the Vers peerage wear do not always extend to the people who serve them.

  • And the result is that Inaho has managed to pass Slaine’s pendant back to Asseylum, which triggers her memories of Earth. (It’s just the montage from the opening, and includes that shot of Slaine shooting Trillram, which she can’t have seen — another indication of how pressed they were in completing this episode?) We don’t know just how much she’s remembered at this point, but nevertheless, where will this now take us? To that symbolic shot from the first season’s opening…?

  • And there’s also Lemrina, breaking because of an increasing certainty that Slaine won’t look her way even if Asseylum died, but who’s now found that her sister has been moved. Slaine has obviously been lying to her…but what is she going to think the lie is? I highly doubt that “they didn’t tell me she’d died because they didn’t want to hurt me” is the one she’ll settle on… Instead, she’ll realise that her sister has woken up…which means that her place in this world is disappearing into thin air…

Edit: just wanted to look up those acronyms...(~10:00 onwards)

  • GPWS = Ground Proximity Warning System (as per title)

  • VOR = VHF Omni Directional (Radio) Range: "A VOR ground station sends out an omnidirectional master signal, and a highly directional second signal is propagated by a phased antenna array and rotates clockwise in space 30 times a second. This signal is timed so that its phase (compared to the master) varies as the secondary signal rotates, and this phase difference is the same as the angular direction of the 'spinning' signal, (so that when the signal is being sent 90 degrees clockwise from north, the signal is 90 degrees out of phase with the master). By comparing the phase of the secondary signal with the master, the angle (bearing) to the aircraft from the station can be determined. This bearing is then displayed in the cockpit of the aircraft, and can be used to take a fix as in earlier ground-based radio direction finding (RDF) systems. This line of position is called the "radial" from the VOR. The intersection of two radials from different VOR stations on a chart gives the position of the aircraft. VOR stations are fairly short range: the signals are useful for up to 200 miles."

  • For navigation (i.e. Nina's "I was trying to put us on 110."): it seems like the waypoint (or base) that the Deucalion was aiming for was at a heading/compass direction 110 from where they'd been. Nina had been slightly off that track, so Inaho gave her directions on how to correct it at the speed they'd been going at.

  • As for the turbulence (where Nina herself took charge of working out the speed she needed to be at): try some of these. Just don't ask me whether she had to slow down or speed up...

  • Finally, an LLZ (or LOC) is a localiser, part of the instrument landing system that helps aircraft land on a runway. The suggestion is that Inaho may have been overusing his eye helping them find that LLZ most of the night, translating into the pain that he was trying to hide. (Alternatively, it could be that the use of the eye builds up over time, so even the short bursts where he uses it in battle or for observation contribute to the side effects we're starting to see.)

p.s. To me, the A/Z team has checked their military facts far better than their medical ones. People will probably keep complaining about the mistake that everyone makes (you don't shock a flatline!) but the biggest problem is really how 'coma' or 'a person in a vegetative state' has been depicted, even though they're still better on that front that a whole lot of other shows. The first mistake is that Asseylum's eyes should have been opening and closing when she was in that vegetative state, even though she wouldn't have been aware of anything. Though since that's difficult to explain to people, I can understand why they went with the incorrect media tradition where 'opening of eyes means she's waking up'. Asseylum's fuzzy/blurred memory is actually to be expected, and could believably be a lot worse (so I really wish people would stop complaining about how it's a 'plot device'). What's less believable is that she seems to have suffered no other cognitive or perceptive damage, even though the original injuries were bad enough to send her into a coma. I'm also a bit iffy about her being able to move so well within a few days. Even if she's been suspended in that healing tank rather than lying on a bed, she hasn't used those muscles in 19 months, so she'd have to retrain them!

However, the most 'WTF?' development remains Inaho's recovery from his head injury. If Yuki accurately described it (and the bandages they applied really didn't seem to match what she said!), then he really should not have woken a few days later and been able to move and speak so well. (Reference: the functions of the temporal lobe.) I'll wait to see if Guidebook 2 (or one of the various S2 interviews) clarifies the injury, or if they're just going to leave it at what was said in the show...

For further reference, there's a short chapter on comas in The Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture.