Aldnoah.Zero is not a terribly well-regarded show in the English-speaking blogosphere, but I enjoyed it. I even liked the much maligned second season. I think one of the things I liked most about it was how it fired a torpedo at every possible ship, even though nobody important died [OOPS, SPOILERS]. It was not a conventional ending, nor was it an emotionally satisfying one, but somehow it stuck with me.
One particular character I was fond of really seemed to get the short end of the stick, and I’ve been unable to get her off my mind since. That character was Lemrina.
I was tempted to conclude my 12 days of shipping series with a Me x Lemrina post, but since I’m not an anime character (I think?) I doubt it’ll ever work out between us.
So let me tell you about another person I shipped Lemrina with: her sister.
Lemrina is a giant siscon. To be fair, it’s hard not to have a sister complex when your life revolves around impersonating your sister. Everything about Lemrina’s life is shitty. She’s an illegitimate child who knows she’s being used, she is unloved by everyone, and she is constantly compared to the one person she knows she can never be on the same level with.
And so Lemrina’s life is a mess of contradictions. She loves her sister. She hates her sister. She wants to be her sister. She wants to become her own person.
These complicated feelings she has about her sister explain her attraction to Slaine. Lemrina initially wants to “steal” him from Asseylum so that she can replace her sister and assert her individuality at the same time. Yet upon realising what a shitty life Slaine had, she notes that they have “something in common” (どこか似ている) and resolves to become Asseylum in order to make him happy, and in order to make herself happy. But it’s all a lie. Slaine and Lemrina are lying to each other and also to themselves. When Asseylum wakes up from her coma, Lemrina admits to herself that she could never replace Asseylum, and that’s when her relationship with Slaine falls apart.
Lemrina does find closure with Asseylum. They have a dramatic confrontation at gunpoint, but I would say the real confrontation occurs in episode 22, when they discuss their feelings. This is when Lemrina outright rejects her sister’s outlook. Upon realising that Asseylum never had romantic feelings for Slaine, Lemrina demands, “Who do you care for?!” and Asseylum gives some half-baked response about caring for everyone in Vers.
Now, Asseylum cops a lot of flak from viewers for being naive and idealistic. And it is true that Asseylum is both of these things. But this scene reveals a more complicated side to Asseylum’s ideals. She is in love with ideas, not with people. Far from seeming like an untouchable idol, Asseylum’s troubled expression in this scene indicates that she is all too human. This scene foreshadows her eventual decision to enter a political marriage. Even at the very end, Asseylum chooses her ideas over people. This is not a decision that will make her happy, nor will it make those around her happy. But it is necessary for the sake of “peace”.
Soon after this particular exchange, Lemrina utters her memorable line:
I think this is the moment when Asseylum falls off the pedestal in Lemrina’s mind. Lemrina refuses to be saved by Asseylum; even if she suffers, she is not a passive victim. For Lemrina, this is the first step she takes towards becoming her own person, unburdened by the ideals she had about the sister she had never known. But she doesn’t resent her sister any longer. She smiles at her in the end and beckons her to go. As far as I know, this is the last time they ever interact.
It makes sense that Lemrina never ends up with Slaine either. But in their final scene together, I think they also exchanged something important. Not love, but a kind of compassion. Both of them were too far gone to “save” each other, but I think that in another time and place, they could have been friends. Despite all the lies they told each other, I think they understood each other on some level.
We never find out what happened to Lemrina in the end, but she was a complex, fully realised person in every scene she appeared in. Her cynical outlook was a great foil for Asseylum’s idealism. Even if Asseylum was essentially “right” in the way she chose to end the conflict, Lemrina’s character was always there to remind us that even the righteous can cause deep suffering.
At first, I only shipped Lemrina with Slaine, but thinking about it more, I believe Lemrina’s interactions with Asseylum were more interesting. In some ways, Lemrina’s attraction to Slaine was born out of her deep sister complex. So you could say their relationship is like a love triangle, with Asseylum in the middle. Asseylum is the person who brings Lemrina and Slaine together, but she’s also the person who drives them apart.
It’s a sad and isolating relationship, but much of it is left as subtext. The more I think about it, the more my heart aches. Because this relationship ended up moving me so deeply, I call Lemrina x Asseylum my favourite anime pairing of 2015.
Well, looks like we’ve reached the end of the 12 days of shipping! Hope you enjoyed the posts. I had a blast myself. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody!
Hmm…the character designs are very attractive. Might check this out sometimes. The backlash against the title is interesting to me…because I never saw the show haha! Might you have any ideas?
Well, you can give it a try and see what you think! There’s no harm in it.
The NTR in this anime killed me inside and the ending as a whole felt like a massive downer. I would have preferred a main character death.
Ending would have been way better with a hint at inaho x inko
Apparently, the original plan was to have Asseylum marry a guy much older than her. Imagine if that happened!
Just curious, who would you ship Slaine with?? I’d feel bad for him but he did a lot of horrible things…
I shipped him with Lemrina and also with Harklight. While he did do a lot of terrible things, I think he deserves a chance at happiness as well. I think Lemrina and Harklight were the only two people who actually liked him enough to be his friends. I like to think that they all managed to reunite at one point.
You’ve betrayed not me, but yourself. For shame Froggy. For shame.
I’m still amazed how they introduced such an important character halfway through the show. Really feels the writers of this show had not the slightest idea what they’ve been doing. I’m glad I skipped the 2nd cour. Hearing everyone moaning about it was more than enough.
…I liked it…
Love your choice for favourite ship of 2015, even if I really can’t be as critical about Asseylum as you are. To me, she chose ‘responsibility’ rather than ‘idealism’. But it’s Christmas (Merry Christmas!), so let’s not start a debate on that!
And p.s. about Lemrina’s introduction — they’d toyed with the idea of having Saazbaum speak to her onscreen somewhere late in the first cour, but decided against it (though I can’t remember the exact reason off the top of my head)…
Glad you enjoyed the post! I knew right from the start that I would finish with an Aldnoah Zero post, because if you see the word ‘ship’ as shorthand for ‘relationship’, then Aldnoah Zero had the most interesting relationships this year, despite (or maybe because of) the lack of romantic developments.
And oh man, this post probably made me sound much harsher about Asseylum than I intended. I actually really identified with her in that scene where she says she loves Vers. I also don’t think that being an idealist means you can’t be pragmatic at the same time. In the end, Asseylum chose the most pragmatic way to achieve her ideals, knowing that this could not make everybody happy, and I’m glad she made that decision. It’s not really her fault that she didn’t bring a happy resolution to everyone. It’s just worth pointing out that not even the most well-intentioned actions can achieve the best results. At least, I think that’s what Asseylum and Lemrina’s interactions were getting at.
Merry Christmas to you as well! (Although it’s almost over here…) Hope you had a great holiday yourself :)
That’s a good point. One of the main draws of AZ for me was the other sibling relationship in the show–though I’m sure you’d realised that (^^;; But a lot of the other relationships were really interesting, too, especially since a lot of things were left unsaid. Because of that, I actually still don’t fully understand some of the characters (Lemrina being one, which is why I have refrained from saying much about her), so I’ll look forward to rewatching the show once I’m done with my doctorate.
Well, I think it’s also/more that I’ve been really disheartened by the general hatred of Asseylum in the Anglosphere, where ‘idealistic’ has been used almost pejoratively to describe her. That’s why something like “she’s in love with ideas” has pretty negative connotations for me. And I guess I would say that she did love some people as individuals; but the responsibility she felt to her people and to humankind itself was what led her to her final choice. But I do agree that it’s not her fault that she could not make everyone happy: the choices she had were limited by what others had done, and by what the people she trusted in could do at that point.
Btw, since this was your favourite relationship, I was wondering if you’d read extra episode 5, the novel about the first war? It goes into the relationships of their parents’ generation, and might add to how you think about the two princesses.
Hmm… for me, “idealist” doesn’t have such a negative connotation since I’m pretty idealistic myself. I would classify myself as the kind of person who “is in love with ideas”, which was why Asseylum’s scenes resonated with me so much, particularly in the second season. I feel that she embraced her responsibility out of a sense of noblesse oblige. I’m not a princess, but I don’t think I would have acted much differently in her situation. I was frustrated that she spent so much of S2 in a coma, though >:((
I haven’t read extra episode 5, although I’m interested in it. I don’t have the money to import all the BDs (not to mention I don’t even have a Bluray player…), but I might save up for volume 8 just for that novel…
Well, I do understand a bit better what you mean now…it always slips my mind, but I think that the realists around me have gradually been making me more cynical… (-_-;; )
And I agree: one of the issues Asseylum faced as a character was that she spent half of S2 in that coma. That said, I felt that her development in the last few episodes of both seasons was pretty well done. Still, perhaps you might have found AZ more interesting if it had been centered around these two, rather than around the trio of Asseylum and the two boys.
(And thanks for the Christmas wishes! Yeah, a nice relaxing day in the end, with too much eating, of course! Hope your Christmas went well, too!)
…What about Slaine X Inaho? I mean, they finally know each other’s name after 1 and a half season! Can’t you feel the love?