CROSS ANGE – 04 Review
I assume that’s this series’ witty commentary of a meet-cute turned into a creepy almost-date-rape-scenario. Like, boy meets girl, girl is unconscious and so the guy undresses her, binds her to a bed and sleeps naked next to her. Yep, what a great idea for a cliffhanger!
This series is actually preposterous enough to be kinda interesting. It’s not like M3 which has been just shitty and writing about it was a pain in the ass, so I dropped it. At least, Cross Ange does stuff not many or even no other series would do. Other than that, though, yeah… it’s a real shitshow. No way in hell will I ever give a crap about what happens to Ange or what she’s doing after the way she has behaved in those four episodes until now. And the rest of the cast doesn’t fare much better even if it isn’t as egregious.
Ange hates everyone. Spurned by her failure everyone returns the hatred in kind, at least. So things seem pretty peachy, you would think. But turns out some hold a bit more of a grudge than others and so a ridiculous few take it upon themselves to… bully Ange. Yep, she indirectly killed their comrades and they bully her like the sort of petty children you would meet in a school-hallway. Granted they’re all supposed to be young teenagers to begin with – but when was the last time these kinds of series even cared about being real coming-of-age-stories…?
Anyway, things escalate in less than hilarious ways (read ‘dull and badly directed ways’) and ultimately Hilda makes a decision. She decides to take over the rest of Zola’s harem (as well as her belongings which Hilda just… bought, I guess) and sabotages Ange’s mecha like the petty prankster that she… well, has never been before, to be honest.
All that leads to Ange, while being a dick during battle yet again, falling into an ocean… AND waking up naked to a naked dude who had bound her to the bed! Yep, because the potential of rape is a cliffhanger as good as any, of course!
Once again Ange shows off how to be a real charmer!
If you look at those bright visuals of this series’ setting and the overabundance of fanservice, grim would be the last word you would expect to use to describe this, but strangely enough so far Cross Ange delivers a REALLY grim storyline. The point of grimness isn’t so much pessimism as to show how everything is simply a choice between various evils. And the protagonists are usually the lesser evil. Take Jormungand or Black Bullet for example (although both are way better at making its grimness more palatable) where the characters are expected to do evil stuff but the only reason you can cheer for them is because they do evil stuff against even more evil people. In fantasy-fiction you have stuff like Joe Abercrombie’s First-Law-Trilogy or Glen Cook’s Black-Company-series for example that are also fairly gritty in addition to being grim. The point is that the way to do grimness well is all about making even somewhat abhorrent character relatable. As long as you can at least somewhat understand why these characters act in a certain way and if it fits within the story, then you don’t need a hero to cheer for who has to save the day. Turning that into a good story takes a bit more than that of course, but this is the essential aspect of making grimness work.
Things become more complicated as Ange’s simply horrible. She’s a horrible person. And she’s surrounded by mostly horrible people as well. What would make those characters relatable would be a purpose but this series still sorely lacks any such thing. The dragons are just cannon-fodder for those Norma-mechas and nobody seems to give a shit about why they actually appear constantly. And the evil machinations of that traitorous brother of Ange aren’t shown either. This episode once again just concentrates mostly on how Ange and some other girls are horrible to each other.
And that’s the most intriguing part of this series, don’t get me wrong. There’s something weirdly compelling about just how dedicated this series is in making Ange look like a douchebag in reaction to other douchebags who try to bully her in this episode for example. Normally you would expect this bullying-sequence to be a montage of lame, little jokes but these moments aren’t only mean – but Ange is just as mean to them in return. I mean, Ange STILL walks around with this “Fuck all of you!”-attitude that is SO stupid and overbearing that you kinda want to see what dumb insults she will spout next. And Ange’s SO resolute about this whole thing! Even the most good-natured gesture just evokes an angry “Oh, fuck off!” from her! No rational person could be THAT thick-headed.
At times it feels like the direction is at odds with what the script is trying to do and vice-versa as well. On the whole actually, the series never truly comes off as concise or focused. It seldom feels like the series is even aware of how ridiculous Ange’s behavior is or whether it wants to be taken completely serious rather than swinging for the fences in terms of cheesiness.
And there’s subtle stuff as well like that the soundtrack didn’t really punctuate the sequences of bullying in this episode. In fact, the sound-direction in this episode was just horrible! When Ange for example finds her clothes ripped apart and the two bullies are present to ridicule her even further, there’s actually an ominous, atmospheric track playing in the background very silently. More than that, the tune of that track fails utterly to underscore the actions on-screen. It just continues playing lazily in the background as Ange jumps forward and exposes one of the bullies’ boobs with that. Really, one of the reasons why none of bullying-sequences, which could’ve been just another lame joke-sequence in another anime, never even seemed funny was because the soundtrack was either playing ominous tunes or because it actually wasn’t present AT ALL! Just take the moment when that glasses-overseer-woman notices Ange’s ripped-apart uniform that she’s sort-of wearing. She tries to lecture her but Ange retorts with a really contemptuous metaphor. All these moments have NO background-music to underscore the scene! In terms of cinematography you could say it does the basic job, although it’s nothing spectacular. But the absolutely poor handling of the soundtrack in this series continuously makes moments that aren’t great to begin with seem even worse.
Another big subject of this series is sexuality, I feel like. It’s not really directly talking about it, of course, but the way it portrays it is interesting. The first thing that’s really weird in this series is nakedness. The way the girls in this series treat nakedness is exemplary of how they treat sexuality as a tool of dominance in general. Everyone is mostly naked, of course, thanks to those fanservice-inspired uniforms but for some reason everyone is still afraid of being completely naked – unless you’re an alpha. It’s really a rather primitive system of dominance and subservience that explains why Ange and Hilda don’t actually give a shit about being naked in front of others while everyone else will react flustered or embarrassed. Also, thinking back to how that boss-lady Jill and Zola have treated Ange, it becomes apparent that sexuality in general really is a tool of dominance in this Normas-base. When Hilda has sex with those two other former underlings of Zola, it’s just a way to assert her dominance. There’s nothing romantical or sentimental about it.
A harem as a tool of sexual power! Only evil lesbians could come up with such an idea! A dude would never abuse his girl-harem like that!
The more troubling aspect of this presentation shows itself, though, when a guy enters the picture. He even could turn out to be a romantic partner for Ange (or at least that’s how the OP makes it seem). At that point, the series better should have a lesbian romance ready as well. After all, wouldn’t it be weird if the series portrayed any sort of lesbian sex as this primitive tool of sexual dominance while the one heterosexual relationship this series has is romantic in nature?
Also, Jasmine’s market for weapons, uniforms and other military-stuff was definitely out-of-place in a series like this one. That’s the kind of shit you would put into a videogame! But you would do that as a storytelling-excuse for gameplay-elements (and that’s a pretty good excuse in that situation). Aside from that, though, it doesn’t make any sense to have something like this in Cross Ange’s setting. Or how many stories have you seen or read about present-day soldiers buying better weapons at their base…? If the Normas are the only military-force of the world, they should at least work like an actual military-organization! You might argue that this isn’t realistic to begin with but that’s exactly the challenge of such fantastic or sci-fi elements! It’s all about actually making it believable. If the series just throws one unbelievable turd after another at the audience, it’s no wonder that the whole fantasy/sci-fi-shtick will fall apart.
But the episode was about bullying, of course, bullying, that succeeds, that is. And the problem with it succeeding is how petty the whole thing had seemed from the beginning. The motivation of avenging Zola’s death was understandable but nothing about this revenge seemed mature or emotional. It was all just childish imprudence right down to Hilda sabotaging Ange’s mecha. Sure, I can understand if you want to create funny moments with that sort of thing but drama…? You kinda need to take things a little bit more seriously for that. Seriously, for the kind of emotional motivation those bullies had this episode certainly lacked any sort of good drama. Thanks to Ange’s absolutely horrible behavior it would’ve been tough to set up a compelling confrontation but avoiding it, like this episode has done, isn’t a solution either.
In the end, Ange falls with her mecha into the ocean, though – and wakes up naked next to an equally naked young dude. Ah, yeah, also she’s bound to the bed. First of all, the cut from Ange being in the water fighting with that DRAGON (you know, the Dragon-like monster that sort-of IS a dragon but isn’t called exactly that for some reason) to her waking up on that island in that bed is way too sudden! Even if you have a shot of the island she got stranded on or something, it’s still way too sudden. After all, since the second episode this series only showed this big island where the Normas lived as a setting and then there was the ocean with no land in sight for the fight-scenes. So you naturally start to wonder… Where did that island come from?! And you have NO idea how much distance there is between the Normas-Island and this one or how Ange got there in the first place.
Essentially, that last shot is supposed to serve as a cliffhanger, but as a cliffhanger of what exactly? Well, funny thing is: Remember what I’ve said about nakedness being a sign of either dominance or subservience? Turns out the first appearance of a male figure in a long time shows him clearly being the dominant one in this naked Mexican stand-off as Ange is bound to the bed and there’s most certainly an undertone of him possibly having raped her here. Seriously, if a woman wakes up bound to a bed, with no idea where she is or how she got there, sleeping naked to an equally naked guy the first thing that comes to her mind isn’t exactly to thank this guy for taking care of her.
Also, I have no idea, how this situation shown at the end of this episode could ever lead to a romantic relationship.
- Apparently there’s a little Illuminati-group within the Norma-Base who plans to use Ange for some high-minded goal. And… well, I don’t give a shit. It’s WAY too vague to be interesting. Sometimes it’s actually better to sort-of spoil the future and say stuff like that they plan for Ange to lead a a Norma-coup-de-tat. Later on they can still subvert those expectations built up like that. But just watching a bunch of characters saying vague shit hardly is a scene (even if it makes sense in retrospect).
- As resolute as Ange is in her hatred, I truly don’t get how anyone could even believe for a second how approaching her would be a good idea. Really, Vivian was cheerful to the point of seeming completely ignorant when she actually approached Ange with her optimistic plan of her, Ange and Salia working together. Also… shitty way to hint at future developments.
- So, Salia likes to read romance-novels… of hetero-sexual couples. I REALLY hope this series will have a lesbian romance at some point. You can’t just portray lesbian sexuality and make it out to be some diabolical mechanism of manipulation.
- Also, that dude Ange (sort-of) meets better not be the one male Norma of planet Earth.
Posted on October 27, 2014, in Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Reviews and tagged Anime, CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.