These days, I feel like Aldnoah Zero is remembered in very mixed terms – not hated and not forgotten, certainly, but rarely with any kind of love. At best, perhaps a mild intruige of possibilities offered but never fully realised.
But in one aspect at the very least, I feel it excelled – Sawano Hiroyuki’s stellar soundtrack – in many ways marking a transition from his ‘gateway’ trademark anime soundtracks for Kill La Kill and Attack on Titan, to when his focus started to become increasingly ‘song’ centric as opposed to purely soundtrack-based. Arriving at similar junctures, the bulk of works from both Aldnoah Zero and Seraph of the End both ended up filling out his ‘O’ album – and of them all, &Z – the 2nd OP from Aldnoah Zero – is by far my favourite.
I always envisioned the song very much within the context of the show itself – this soaring, quasi militaristic anthem-like paen to humanity at its best and worst. Full as it is with its references to keeping your chin up, the pointlessness of war, and the simple question: will it ever end? Building to this chanted, almost gospel-like majesty toward the end, &Z is the apotheosis of Sawano in full-on anthem mode. These sweeping odes to celestial future-topias would return in his OP for the retweaked Gundam Unicorn, and for my money, while his bombast is perhaps better seen in material like Kabaneri and Thunderbolt fantasy, it’s the hope and optimism here that holds some of his greatest charm for me as a composer.