Aldnoah Zero shows its inspirations from across a number of science-fiction animé, but perhaps most clearly Turn-A Gundam in its invading empire from space bringing advanced technology against a more primitive Earth. While Turn-A took this to an extreme, with technology more advanced than many of the pure science-fiction Gundam series set against early 20th century weapons, Aldnoah has a “standard” military sci-fi setting, with its own war robots and advanced versions of existing weapons, set against a high-powered invading force with more fantastical equipment. Having greater technological parity in this way puts the focus more easily on conflict from the start; although very quickly in Turn-A the Earthrace finding and learning to use advanced weapons becomes the defining plot point, it makes it very clear from the start that without this, the Earthrace cannot even destroy a single Moonrace machine.
The previous article in this series focused on how Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure explored the idea of responsibility in use of super-powers in its first arc, culminating in the final showdown to apparently defeat Dio and lay to rest the destructive rivalry that had erupted into a much grander plot. By establishing its protagonist as someone for whom the “right thing” was the avenging of past wrongs and for whom super-powers were a means to fight a supernaturally-enhanced rival on even terms, it effectively ruled out the idea that one could abuse the Ripple; it was the positive energy to Dio’s negative energy and its use restored balance.
As mentioned in the previous article in this series, Kill la Kill draws in some ways on the aesthetic and ethos of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, a long-running manga series that recently received an animé adaptation. What defines Jojo within a crowded martial-arts genre is its combination of incredibly potent superheroes and villains and somewhat restrained fights; there is a theatricality to the action which eschews widespread, apocalyptic carnage in favour of a much more strategic and methodical choreography. From the earliest episodes, in which the first hero to bear the name “Jojo” learns his powers from the mysterious Zeppeli in order to fight childhood bully turned vampire lord Dio, there is a refreshing focus on responsibility in the use of power that remains important throughout.
The 2013 animé Kill la Kill has invited a wide range of comparisons to past series as a result of how widespread its references to other fiction are. Its story – and indeed its aesthetic – are very strongly reminiscent at first of Revolutionary Girl Utena – a black-clothed girl defies tradition and enters a surreal school to fight its white-clothed elite one-on-one both to protect a close friend and reveal some greater mystery. Yet Kill la Kill has taken this idea in a different direction; Utena explored matters of sexuality and love via exaggerated versions of the sorts of dramas seen in shoujo animé and school stories, with characters like Nanami and her friends fitting exactly the archetypes also illustrated in a series like Dear Brother.