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I have a couple of very closely related questions regarding composer Hiroyuki Sawano's choices in naming Aldnoah Zero's OST/opening/ending song titles.

I will be referencing the tracklist for Aldnoah Zero's OST (link here), in addition to some opening/closing songs that are co-composed by Hiroyuki Sawano including "aLIEz", "A/Z", and "&Z".

First, most of the song titles include special/non-alphabetical/non-English characters (even if the title is clearly meant an actual word like "robot" or "breathless"). Here are some examples:

  • R零B零T
  • BRE@TH//LESS
  • Ch19ヲFIRE★

Why did Hiroyuki Sawano decide to include all the special characters? Is there any significance in using them? To me, they are unnecessary, but I hesitate to claim that they are indeed unnecessary because they might actually have some meaning that I am not seeing.

My other question is why are some song titles seemingly extra-arbitrarily named? I realize that these are songs, so the composer can name them whatever he likes, but some song titles seem completely out of the blue to me.

I realize that there are explanations for the names of some OST tracks in the wiki that I linked.

For example, the song "AD2014-7.5/7.9-零・A" is named because "2014 07-05 / 07-09 [are] ALDONAH.ZERO's air dates on Tokyo MX and ABC respectively".

The explanation tells me WHAT the song is named after, but it does not tell me WHY is the song named after something as arbitrary as an air date for the show. OST track titles usually relate to what the song actually attempts to convey to the listener, or relates to the scene in the animation, but I cannot see how an air date relates to either.

Finally, I do not understand where the openings/ending names come from. What do the names "aLIEz", "A/Z" and "&Z" mean exactly, and why are they named that way?

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seijitsu's answer does a good job of identifying what's going on with most of your examples, though I'll add that "Ch19ヲFIRE★" is meant to be read "Chikyuu wo Kasei" (1 = "i", 9 = "kyuu", "Fire" = 火 = "ka", ★ = 星 = "sei", "kasei" = 火星 = "Mars", but "kasei" also = 加勢 = "reinforcements"), which is something like "Reinforcements to Earth".

However, this goes a little beyond the recent-ish fad of including arbitrary typographic symbols for stylistic purposes. There's a broader context to this: Hiroyuki Sawano is a madman when it comes to titling his compositions.

I invite you to consult the track listings for some of his other compositions. For example, Kill la Kill, which has incomprehensible monstrosities like "寝LLna聴9" (no, this doesn't make any real sense even if you've seen Kill la Kill and know Japanese). Or Owari no Seraph, with "1hundredknight:Y" being a number of steps removed from "Hyakuya Yuuichirou" (the protagonist's name). He's been doing this since at least 2011 with Ao no Exorcist, and has only gotten more ridiculous over time. My favorite example of this insanity is "凸】♀】♂】←巨人" from Shingeki no Kyojin, which Sawano indicates is supposed to be read "Kyojin Shinkou", meaning "Advance of the Titans" - but this is actually a pictogram of a series of walls, with a giant (巨人) approaching them. My god!

It's leaked over into his non-anime work, too - the soundtrack for Platina Data had gems like "nf壱III". I haven't seen Platina Data yet, and that probably has no bearing whatsoever on my inability to figure out what this is supposed to mean. He wasn't always like this, though - the soundtrack for Iryuu (the show that first brought him real recognition) is quite tame, with track titles like "unnecessary words" and "Blue Dragon".

According to one tweet of his, it's generally true of his soundtracks that the titles don't really have any deep meaning to them. "Don't think too hard about it", he says.

So, yeah - Sawano is bonkers (he appears to get a good bit of lulz out of doing this), and beyond maybe decrypting his hyper-elaborate punny titles into a comprehensible human language, there is probably not much more to be said here.

  • 2
    The link in the question reveals reading for Ch19ヲFIRE★: translated as "Reinforcements to the Earth" (地球を加勢 not 火星). – nhahtdh Aug 27 '15 at 7:13
  • I'm not sure why anyone downvote this answer, since this answer actually attempts to address multiple points in the question. – nhahtdh Aug 27 '15 at 8:03
  • So in other words, he's just doing it to troll around – Phillip D. Aug 27 '15 at 8:06
  • @nhahtdh Jesus, another layer on the pun. I'm not sure if they have a source on that claim, but 加勢 does make more grammatical sense, so I'm going to roll with that. – senshin Aug 27 '15 at 14:44
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    @ToshinouKyouko The conversation has vanished between the last time I looked at this question and now. You should migrate the comments to chat if you want it to actually be continuable. – senshin Aug 29 '15 at 17:47
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Please see this answer to the question "Why do some works [anime, manga, novels] have a trailing dot?" for the information about Japanese decorative use of typographical symbols such as 「@」,「&」,「/」, and 「★」.

「零」(rei) is decorative but also accomplishes a clever play-on-words. Rei means "zero" and the number 0 looks like the English capital letter O, so the Os of the word "ROBOT" have been replaced with "zeros," befitting the series title Aldnoah Zero.

「ヲ」 is the katakana symbol for the syllabogram "wo." Since katakana is the most-often used Japanese writing system used for words/phrases of foreign origin and is the newest of Japan's writing systems, it can be used to give a sense of newness, trendiness, or forward-ness as opposed to a traditional feeling, which suits sci-fi. It is not terribly strange to use katakana here rather than hiragana even though the word "wo" is a native Japanese participle which is usually written in hiragana as 「を」 as it would be if the phrase 「Ch19ヲFIRE★」 had been written in standard Japanese: 「地球を加勢」(chikyuu wo kasei = "reinforcements to the Earth" featuring another play-on-words in which kasei is pronounced the same way as Ka-sei, the Japanese word for "Mars" =「火星」 in which 「星」 [pronounced sei, hoshi, or shou] is a Japanese kanji character that refers to all celestial bodies — such as planets and stars — and can be tacked onto the end of any planetary body’s name as a sort of suffix to indicate that it is a celestial body... and thereby can legitimately be indicated by 「★」, whereas in English the words and concepts for "planet" and "star" contain no overlap. Nevertheless, it is not a perfectly-executed play-on-words since "reinforcements to the Earth" is comprehensible but "Earth wo Mars" makes no obvious grammatical sense in Japanese).

「A/Z」 is simply an abbreviation of Aldnoah Zero. I would interpret that 「aLIEz」 is meant to be read as "LIE (in between) Aldnoah and Zero" but I have no citation for that.

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I believe that the title "Chikyuu wo Kasei", has a minor meaning to the shown "Aldnoah.Zero" because they mention "19 of the 32 Mars Floating Castles are landing." So if "kasei" is to be read as "Mars" or "Reinforcements" as previously mentioned, then the title could be read as "Mars, to the Earth", or maybe "The 19 Reinforcements". These are just rough translations from gathering what others have said. I claim no statements as 100% my own.

As for "aLIEz", that could be maybe how it is telling how the title of the show is meant to be read. "Aldnoah.Zero" can be seen as "AlnoahLIEZero" or "Aldnoah between Zero". Just a stupid opinion I thought I elaborate on more.

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