CROSS ANGE – 07-09 Review
You know, stuff like… gravity, the color of the sky, RACISM, the passage of time and so on.
I would love to have been there at the meetings when they wrote this series. It must have been somewhat like this:
Dude 01: “So, there are these Normas and everybody hates them because they… uh…”
Dude 02: “Oh, they can’t use magic! They’re like anti-magic or something…”
Dude 03: “But doesn’t that make them the usual underdogs in a story…?”
Dude 04: “Not when the world is full of racists who hate these people!”
Dude 03: “But why would there be racists…”
Dude 04: “Guys, this shit writes itself practically!”
Dude 03: “And aren’t they still just some typical underdogs…?”
Dude 04: “But racism, man! Everybody hates them… FOR NO REASON!”
Dude 03: “But isn’t racism the reason? And why is there racism in the first place?”
Dude 04: “A bunch of girls against the rest of the world – which is racist! This is fucking great!”
Dude 02: “Yeah, racism, then… Uhm, so in this episode the girls on the island just sort-of learn the value of teamwork… so how do we bring the racism into play there…?”
Dude 01: “How about making the island look a little bit shabbier and make them hunt for resources or…”
Dude 04: “We don’t. No complications. They just fight a monster, a big one, a REALLY big one.”
Dude 03: “But wouldn’t it be more important to have as a theme…”
Dude 04: “No theme, no subtext either, just frigging TEXT, guys! The stuff that shocks the pants off of our viewers! It has to be edgy! Subtext means thinking and making people think isn’t edgy! When something’s racist, everybody has to go ‘Whaa, that’s so racist, man!’.”
In a world where everybody has a magic staff up their ass and therefore is able to just “magic away” all sorts of problems, only one problem remains: People who are different from everyone else. Those people are Norma, little girls whose sole ability is to shit on everyone’s magical dictatorship-parade. And nobody likes people who shit on parades.
But those Normas have one purpose: To defend the world that absolutely hates them. The enemy: DRAGONs (which is an acronym for someone’s stupid idea to turn “dragon” into an acronym). Day after day these girls fly into battle using weirdly designed uniforms and have to sit uncomfortably within a mecha while fighting for their lives.
All this is about to change as Ange, the former princess of some racist empire or whatever, joins the Norma in their endless war against DRAGONs. After getting a lot of people killed, she vows to become a better pilot and asshole than before. Naturally as the hero of the story she succeeds on both counts.
Nobody likes Ange but then again… she doesn’t like anyone either. But she has a maid… and she’s the best pilot of all which means she’s also the richest. Guess, being a part of royalty matters no matter where you go. Ultimately she has to learn about working together with the rest of her squad because sometimes she needs directions about how to save her squad’s asses once again.
One day, though, specifically the day when every girl on the island has to run around in bikinis for some reason, Ange gets a message from Sylvia, her younger sister, calling her for help. Ange wants to help naturally. Turns out that Ange was somewhat responsible for why her little sister has to use a wheelchair.
And so Ange escapes from the island with the help of Hilda who wants to see her mother again. Ange goes off to save her sister, Hilda goes off to meet her mother again.
Turns out everyone’s a racist. Ange and Hilda get captured.
To be continued…
That isn’t even racist, that’s just the obvious truth. A not very surprising one, of course, because if anything, Ange’s an expert in ruining other people’s lives.
It’s hard to criticize a series for all its misdeeds when they’re all committed with such a blatant lack of self-awareness. Cross Ange is series with a one-track-mind and it never misses a beat in its steady stream-of-bullshit-like storytelling. This series never wonders why anything is happening and instead just lets things play out no matter how ridiculous and nonsensical this makes things.
At its core the series doesn’t shy away from building its foundations with a lot of well-known tropes and a lot of the drama in the first eight episodes has been fairly predictable. And the seventh episode just continues this trend with its tale of how the team is slowly coming together as a unit. There’s all the usual anime-bullshit present: colds that come sudden and with malaria-like symptoms, a proud character with an embarrassing secret and an obvious plot-device that forces the team to work together, etc., etc. It’s all the typical crap but Cross Ange is a lot of things but typical isn’t really what this show is going after.
I’ve already talked about how sexuality is considered a form of dominance in this series and you can see the same thing again when in the 8th episode a lot of the contests of the festival have a sexual undertone. The style of the series is fanservice-heavy in general as well. The series uses every opportunity when a scene allows fanservice-laden shots and the visual design of the mechas (meaning the position the characters are in while piloting) and the uniforms just reinforce that idea. But one of the first curious signs of how this series lacks self-awareness is that all the Norma-girls are… well, girls. Especially if you pay attention to the girls in the background and what they do at the store of the island and what they’re doing at the festival, then you get a stereotypical image of what girls would supposedly do. They’re interested in romance-movies, checking out clothes and eating sweet things. The atmosphere on this island is one of normalcy that isn’t heavily changed by the duties those Normas have.
What this series is doing with “money” is equally weird actually. We’re led to believe that this is a world where the economy usually works without money. And yet, this tiny island has a money-based economy for some reason. More than that, all the characters act as if this is the most natural thing. Why bills of paper-money? Who determines the prices? Are there really enough DRAGON appearing to allow everyone to earn at least minimum wage? It’s also weird how Ange, the former princess, ends up being the richest, therefore becoming once again this wealthy, special individual. And actually… her not spending a lot of all that money she earns could lead to a small economy-crisis. Indeed when Ange’s teammates complain about soon not having enough money anymore to pay for food, that’s actually a sign of how simplistic and unbalanced that system is. But the more important point is: Why have a money-economy at all? This series introduces stuff like this, dedicates time and attention to it but then never really thinks about its role and meaning within the story. The story just accepts the fact and never questions it.
She can…? Do they even want those Normas to work together? Why do they allow the concept of “being rich” to matter so much in a militaristic institution?
Another thing about the atmosphere of this series is that until the eighth episode it hadn’t only limited its scope but also its awareness. The island was seemingly cut off from the rest of the world – and everybody was fine with it. Nobody showed signs of claustrophobia or other indications of when you’re forced to live together with the same group of people in the same area for a very long time. The series was satisfied with half-heartedly exploring the dynamic of the main-cast and as half-heartedly develop it also. And with Ange being an asshole most of the time, it was hard to actually care about the rather aimless storytelling in those seven episodes.
The eighth episode still delivered a bland “school-festival”-episode with egregious decisions like that all the girls had to wear swimsuits. But it also brought Ange’s past as princess back into focus with Sylvia, her younger sister, calling for help. The problem is, of course, that this issue had been long overdue and the previous seven episodes have done a bad job of showing that Ange even gave a shit about what happened in her former mother country. And the series didn’t even bother to tell the audience what was going on.
There’s a reason why one can usually describe stories in arcs, no, fuck that, let’s make it even simpler: A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Of course they have, you might say! But here’s the thing: It isn’t a fucking part-time-job. You don’t just start telling a story and then go off on some trivial chase ignoring whatever story you had cooked up at the beginning. A story is something you build continuously and what you earn is the investment of the audience so that they actually give a shit about what’s happening. What Cross Ange had done, though, was to abandon its story for like six episodes. For six episodes the series followed a story that was only a tiny bit better than what you would usually call filler. They introduced the cast, they concentrated on characterizing them and then there was a little bit of broad worldbuilding. But why should anyone give a shit…? Because… boobs… or something, I guess, is what the series was trying to say.
But here I have to come back to my initial description of how much of a one-track-mind this series has. The things this series has done are in no way complex, deep or intelligent and yet it avoids any attempts at multitasking. There are no nuances in this series’ storytelling. Everything is told with 100% commitment and 0% self-awareness. Ange panics in the middle of combat? Well, now she has gotten a couple of people killed. Ange has become a bitter person? Well, now she’s a total asshole 24/7. Hilda and her two goons don’t like her? Well, they will get their revenge by essentially trying to murder her. This series is always overbearing and very direct with its storytelling. The story-beats of this series feel like someone is continuously pummeling you in the hope that you would just give in and be affected by this blatant noisemaking that happens without rhyme or reason.
But even more than lacking subtlety, there’s also this weird sense of narrow-mindedness. Each week’s episode might as well open with the script-writers holding up a sign that says stuff like “Now we’re doing this.”, “This week’s episode will be about that topic.” or “This week we will focus on this character.”. And it’s always just that! Most of the episodes until now barely even had a B-plot. Each episode has been just rushing to the conclusion of its A-plot.
And the only way the eighth episode had been mixing things up was by giving its B-plot a little more screentime than usual. The A-plot of that episode was important in two ways. First of all: The series FINALLY decided to address the consequences of Ange having been outed as a Norma sort-of. Ange gets an emergency-message from her little sister. Here’s the second important thing: It actually led to some story-development. Ange FINALLY decides to leave the island in order to rescue her little sister. Naturally, as I’ve mentioned, this has come far too late to make me still give a shit at this point, but whatever. With the end of the 8th episode the series actually had a bit of a story and a more interesting plot as well.
So, it wasn’t really surprising that the 9th episode had been the best episode of the series so far. By having Hilda meet her mother and Ange try to rescue her little sister, this was the first episode that actually managed to divide its attention between a solid A- and B-plot. The 9th episode is a solid episode that does its job.
But here’s where things get a more complicated because this is still Cross Ange. And I have to say this again: This series has a one-track-mind. Hilda’s and Ange’s stories may have a slightly different tone, different characters, different plot-style – but they’re about the SAME THING. The first time this series managed to divide its attention between two plotlines in one episode and it lets both plotlines tell the same fucking story: That the world is full of racists and that nobody likes Normas.
My god, this series’ depiction of racism is terrible! At one point in the 9th episode Hilda’s mother says to her “You know, there are some things in this world that just can’t be helped.” Yeah, you know, like racism for example. Hey, it’s not her fault that her daughter is one of those evil Normas, right? There was SO MUCH potential here to show why racism exists, why it’s a bad thing and how maybe even good people will buy into this mindset. But naturally all Cross Ange has to say about it is that everyone in the world but the victims of the racism are racists. And they’re saying that all Normas are violent, evil and whatnot. Well, guess how this series’ Norma-main-character behaves…? Yep, of course she’s a total asshole! Good thing, this series is doing its best to prove its own racist opinions about its cast to be totally true. And naturally the series is never self-aware enough to address this in a sensible manner. Instead of that, you just get shots of Normas being shocked by how racist everyone is.
Ange trying to rescue her little sister takes the cake, though. Before the revelation at the end, a flashback showed the audience that it had been Ange who had put her little sister in a wheelchair. And so she felt indebted her… Funny thing to say considering that she had only started thinking of her after she had cried for help. But the reveal of how the little sister was actually luring Ange into a trap to get some sort of revenge was just hilariously over-the-top. That girl in a wheelchair tried to murder Ange with knife, a fucking KNIFE! There were guards standing next to her with guns and she’s attacking Ange with a KNIFE?! But those are the sorts of ridiculous moments I want to see from this show. This theatrical, over-the-top bullshit is exactly what makes this show so entertaining to watch.
Episodes-Rating: 7th Episode: 4.5/10 8th Episode: 4.5/10 9th Episode: 5.5/10
- Tusk has been working for that little Norma-Illuminati all along? Again, he better not be the only Norma-dude in the whole world…
- Also, talk about cheap writing that he would rescue and meet Ange.
- That dialogue between Hilda and her mother was a wasted opportunity in showing some nuances when it comes to the racism in this show.
- I’ve seen the previews for the next episode and apparently the little sister will be whipping a mostly naked Ange because… of course she would.
- Maybe this series will end with the Normas working together with the DRAGONs to bring about the apocalypse.
Posted on December 2, 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. 8 Comments.