Review-Roundup: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks 01, CROSS ANGE 02

[HorribleSubs][Nusaf] Cross Ange - 02 720p TV CRF26.mkv - 00007Sure, rape as a tool of ensuring dominance, that’s just what animes needed…

This time around, I review:

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks 01: Emiya is a goody two-shoes with a special ability – which is mostly useless. He had always dreamt of being a hero of justice but all his mundane do-gooding wasn’t good enough for him apparently – and so he finally gets his shot at doing supernatural do-gooding as a girl appears in his garage. She calls him her Master – he’s just sure he’s in for a lot of trouble.

Cross Ange 02: Ange is still a stuck-up princess – but she shows an incredible talent for mecha-action. She still tries to find a way back “home”, though and very physical rape-threats haven’t improved her opinion on that matter.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks 01 Review:

[C12] Fate Stay Night - Unlimited Blade Works - 01.mp4 - 00000These sorts of moments, rare as they are, always seem kind-of out of place in this new very serious Fate/Stay Night.

Emiya is still the main-character after all. After the prologue I’ve wished for Rin to take his place as the main-character, so that the series would endure rehashing the same plot we’ve already seen a couple times as far as the first act is concerned. I’ve said that and I still feel like sticking with Rin would’ve been the better choice, but I have to say… This has been a good episode.

First of all, it really helped this episode to have 40 minutes for its plot and characters to develop. A 40-minutes-episode has a really different pacing than the usual 20-minutes-one and using that, this episode does a very good job of making Emiya no look like a total douche.

The biggest flaw of Fate/Stay Night is Emiya, I feel like. He may not be the worst character of Fate/Stay Night but it’s SO easy to oversimplify his character due to a lack of time. The Visual Novel handled it quite well, I think, but naturally it had the space for that sort of thing. Meanwhile, the first Fate/Stay Night series definitely did NOT handle his character well. In fact, he ended up being rather annoying. With the time this episode has on its hands there’s more than enough space within the plot this time around, though. This time, Emiya actually has gotten a proper introduction.
And one big way that makes this episode work much better is that it takes itself really serious. There’s an almost mythical quality to Emiya’s obsession with justice and virtue and whenever the episode broaches the subject of the events involving the struggle for the Grail, the tone gets really dark. Also, Emiya’s arguments with Shinya are exaggerated to a point where it really would only work within the overly dramatic atmosphere of this mythical battle of the mages and their respective Servants. This introduction isn’t only very serious and sometimes a bit theatrical but it also has a lot more self-confidence than the first Fate/Stay-Night-Series.

With that being said, I really have to say that any remotely funny (or that’s what they tried to be) scenes seemed simply out of place. It’s one thing to create little charming moments for the moments that aren’t all about drama, darkness, emotions and whatnot but a series that’s so serious like this one and is also that confident about showing it shouldn’t have scenes with some goofy teacher. Sakura’s housewife-act while also shyly (and loudly) announcing her love for Emiya (who didn’t get it, of course) is an equally unnecessary part. Their characters may have a place within the story but what they do in this first episode is nothing but a waste of time. They don’t add much of value to the events in this episode. Especially the teacher’s antics, few as there are, seem simply dissonant within the general atmosphere of this episode.

Another thing that I greatly appreciate is that we only get a bare-bones-approach to exposition in this episode. The series rightly linked most of the essential exposition to the completely new Rin-prologue from last week. So, this episode didn’t really have to address Emiya’s confusion immediately since the audience already knew better than him what was going on.

And in regards to Saber, this episode did a much better job of introducing her. In the original series, it really seemed like a tiresome “Random nice guy finds nice-looking lady in his garage who calls him her master – then magic-battle-stuff!”-setup. Even the original series naturally revealed some of the depth that’s present in this story but it certainly wasn’t the best adaptation imaginable of that light novel. This episode does a much better job, though, of course. Using the extra time it has, Emiya gets a much more sympathetic portrayal and the build-up to the appearance of Saber is much more subtle than I would’ve expected.

Episode-Rating: 7.5/10

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo 02 Review:

[HorribleSubs][Nusaf] Cross Ange - 02 720p TV CRF26.mkv - 00000Dragon, get it? They’re called that because they look, you know, like dragons! What an inspired choice for an antagonist or whatever the hell they’re supposed to be in this story for…

This series is simply merciless. That or only crazy people have worked on this. There’s an all-girls-cast that isn’t concerned about its sexuality at all and now you have this stuck-up princess-protagonist who’s supposed to survive within such a group-dynamic.

This series would be one dull pile of shit – except it’s frigging crazy as well. What the hell are the creators only thinking…?! You may see boobs and tight clothes on these women but this isn’t even fanservice anymore. The first thing one has to acknowledge that what this series is doing is on a softporn-level. Alone the fact how dominant female sexuality is in this series doesn’t make it fanservice anymore. This isn’t some little moment the series sneaks into the plot, the whole series is all about sexualizing its female cast.

The other way this series distances itself from fanservice is the way how it portrays this sexuality. That stuff never happens by accident in this series and is instead an expression of the social structure of the Normas. Their near-nakedness is an expression of their lowly status compared to all the other people out there and sexual prowess is apparently what determines the hierarchical, primitive social structure of the Norma-pilots. And in that situation rape simply becomes another tool to assert dominance within this structure. It’s barbaric and primitive but it’s an interesting way to deal with sexuality. After all, sexuality isn’t something romantic and pleasure is something you submit to instead of being elevated by it. In this series sexuality becomes something deeply unpleasant.

I’m not saying this series actually is good. The problem with their approach is that the characters are still boilerplate-stereotypes. These two episodes didn’t make me care for any of these characters and while it’s clear that this series wants to be gritty in a very special way, it really seems to forget that there still should be a story to tell.

It tries, sure. So, let’s look at this poor attempt of a story: First, the princess. She’s a fucking douchebag. She’s royalty, but can’t shit gold if her life depended on it, so now we’re supposed to give a shit that she has to earn her gold the old-fashioned way: by doing shit. On one hand it feels right for Ange to still complain, moan and bitch about everything like she’s still a princess. Then again, just move on already. I really don’t care about this whole princess-shtick – especially since it’s clear that she’s the hero of the story which means she will come to her senses sooner or later anyway. They already had one weirdly sudden montage of her getting really good test-results in the training-sessions, so why can’t we speed up the process of her becoming a pilot? I mean, I guess, that’s what’s happening now but those scenes are filled with unnecessary drama.

I say unnecessary because at this point it’s still not clear who the antagonist is. It would’ve been better if Ange had sworn revenge already or something. After all, those interdimensional dragons couldn’t be more boring. They are pretty much plot-devices. The dragons don’t talk, interact and so on. They simply have no personality except that they do bad stuff and need to be stopped. At this point the series clearly wants to focus on the characters instead of those dragons but yet that seems to be the essential struggle here. The Norma are mecha-pilots who deal with those dragons. The series, though, has done little to make these battles seem significant. Instead the series is more interested in showing off a pretty primitive social dynamic within a group of girls that is joined by a new girl… and so she nearly gets raped. Cross Ange is a bizarre series. It’s interesting to see an anime take such a direct, brutal approach with sexuality but then all the interesting aspects of this are rendered moot by how the series lacks any sense of subtlety and depth.

Episode-Rating: 4.5/10

About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on October 12, 2014, in Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I believe many of those scenes, especially with Sakura were written for the Fate/Zero audience who has a sense of what really is going on with Sakura, in all those scenes. And as for Taiga, I think if they axed too much of her scenes, it’ll alienate alot of VN fans, so it’s probably intentional – they don’t want to lose those VN audience sales.

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    • Hmm, you’re right about that. On one hand they only could aim for such a serious tone because they now have the self-confidence of a franchise with multiple entries. On the other hand, though, you can really see that a character like Taiga wasn’t written in the spirit of such self-confidence. She really is a comic relief character thrown in there to not make the seriousness overbearing – although that’s exactly what this series should be aiming for right from the get-go, I feel like. Also, I agree with you there on the VN-crowd-thing. They probably don’t want to see any element of that beloved VN radically change.

      As for Sakura… it’s less her presence for me because she does have a history and a role to play in the upcoming events, but it’s more that her character doesn’t have much to offer in terms of personality in those scenes with a lighter mood.

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