Review-Roundup: Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 10, CROSS ANGE 11
But naturally it’s okay for Shirou to put himself in danger!
This time, I review:
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 10: Shirou and Rin find out who Caster’s Master is and he sadly can do a little bit more than the kind of marionette they had expected. Also, Archer is still being a dick about his beef with Shirou… and I can’t imagine why Shirou is continuously fascinated with Archer regardless… It’s like… they want us to wait for a later point in time to find out about this!
Cross Ange 11: Racism is the fault of demons and the world where demons come from also have some mechas who are controlled by girls. Naturally when the leader of that invading force meets Ange, they immediately launch a cheesy song-off. They both sort-of end up singing the same song, so it’s not a very imaginative song-off but hey… they have an excuse. Apparently they’ve been doing this shit for millenia.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 10 Review
Kuzuki thinks that he doesn’t need to care about strangers because they don’t care about him. Except those strangers aren’t trying to kill him, so I don’t really think that Kuzuki’s analogy actually works.
The way this series treats its exposition is infuriating. It’s never a fundamental problem but rather changes from scene to scene. At one point, it feels like the series should dial it back a notch with all the mumbo-jumbo but then you get scenes where it feels like the series should deliver more. One thing this series is obviously underselling is the relationship between Archer, Rin and Shirou. Mind you, it’s a setup for a later revelation, of course, but rather than not talking about this eventual revelation, the series is constantly hinting at this future development rather than using it to flesh out the present. Whenever the series talks about Archer, it gets lost in this fog of mystery and very on-the-nose guesses. The series never hits the nail on the head with Archer, though, because it can do that only once and that’s the shit that will fuel the finale of this series. But there needs to be more. This story should be able to hit the nail on the head a couple times and not just once.
A topic this series can actually handle is Caster this episode. This second confrontation with Caster is way more exciting than the first one. What this episode does much better than the first time it had dealt with Caster is to not get bogged down by the dialogue. It also really helped that since the first couple 40-minute-episodes, this was one that actually felt somewhat self-contained and so there’s a fast pacing to this episode which includes phases of preparation, action and aftermath, all in one episode.
It starts with Shirou seeing Issei with Kuzuki by chance and overhearing that the latter was also staying at the temple. This leads basically to the uncovering of a lead as to who the Master of Caster might be. Tohsaka also joins them at some point and so it really becomes this scene of the two stumbling over an important clue. The friend of Shirou, Issei, plays an important role here and once again a side-character is basically used as a plot-device. These characters that add something to the story or the plot (or both) but are not really part of the Grail-War have no dynamic presence. They are there to be talked to. The series doesn’t really know what to do with them (except for Sakura but even that only if the series deigns to focus on her), it just uses them as these lifeless things. After all, as soon as the series gets to the serious Grail-War-stuff, the series just forgets them; they’re an afterthought for the series and nothing more. Instead of weaving them into the narrative of the Grail-War and show a perspective of someone who’s just looking in from the outside the series basically just puts them there because it’s useful for the plot or the story. And while it’s nice to have callbacks like when Issei remembers the time Shirou stripped him naked (which was… weird) it doesn’t really detract from how perfunctory his role feels.
But here’s where the episode gets better and that’s when Rin and Shirou immediately form a plan for taking out Kuzuki. This series’ pacing needs to be far brisker since its actual themes and character-arcs are paced so badly. There needs to be constant action in order to distract the viewer from how little this series wants to reveal about its characters and story until the finale begins. Having this episode where it’s basically like “Oh, now that we know this, we should do this and so let’s do this!” is exactly the kind of episode this series needs at this point. It’s just an episode to get on with it – and not much more.
The eventual confrontation was somewhat exciting, even though Shirou’s “Oh, didn’t I mention that I could do this…?”-explanation for why he could create Archer’s two blades wasn’t very smart writing. And the dialogue between Kuzuki and Shirou wasn’t that interesting, either. Kuzuki’s just another guy who has this pragmatic, somewhat evil perspective that “heroic” Shirou doesn’t agree with. Boo-fucking-hoo. We get it, Shirou is an idealist and he’s in the wrong line of attitude-work for this shitty world. It’s obvious at this point that his point of view is somewhat inadequate for that setting so why doesn’t he change his ideals? And it’s the same for how Rin actually has somewhat changed. In the end, the answer Shirou and Rin can come up with is just pure stubbornness. But there should be more to this, there IS more to this. What this series is doing, though, is stalling until the finale begins where the series can throw around the truth of the matter. And that way of approaching the narrative isn’t well-paced.
Cross Ange 11 Review
Only in an anime could a teenager say that with a straight face.
Cross Ange isn’t a series that flourishes when things go according to plan, when things seem conventional, when things seem reasonable – it’s a series that needs to be somewhat crazy. And yet this episode opens with an explanation, some sort of message as if to assure viewers that nobody’s evil for evil’s sake when they’re saying racist shit. No, the ones who we believed to be evil are just victims of the truly evil ones and those are demons, to be precise. That’s right, frigging demons. This series just throws away all of its absurd elements by revealing a rather boring explanation for its world.
Normally, the existence of a somewhat reasonable explanation would be great. After all, making things seem somewhat reasonable is a great way to make the audience relate to the fictional world that is being created. But Cross Ange is trashy, excessive and hamfisted, all its efforts until now had the charm of a bad series trying very hard to be good. Fanservice-jokes so blatant that they are just plain weird, violent deaths, characters that while trying to evoke a hard-ass-attitude simply come off as douchebags, complicated topics presented in the most straightforward, simplistic way imaginable and then there are of course the basic tendencies of being a world-type-shounen-anime. It’s the last part that is the most problematic. While the series was trying very hard to be special, it ended up being special in an ironic way but with more seriousness and a more trope-laden story, the series will regain a measure of structure and purpose that actually will derail its craziness and direct it back to aim for more mediocre results.
I’ve mentioned in the last review how this series with its world-type-ambitions was more about the protagonist unraveling the mystery of her world while also saving it and with this week’s episode it’s clear that this is indeed a world-type-anime. More than that, there’s a strong chance this series will use an apocalyptic event to basically “cure” mankind’s problem with the Normas. What this series strives for is change. The setting of Ange’s world is so absurdly evil because the audience needs to be convinced that drastic measures need to be taken in order to change it. And that brings us back to the very 90s-beloved apocalypse as a solution for a rotten world.
Ange’s personal journey is further undermined by her confrontation with the black-haired girl from the other world. When they both ended up seeing visions of their past incarnations, it became clear that Ange itself doesn’t matter. It’s the destiny of Ange that matters. Her personal baggage is just a distraction for her cosmic task to deal with the whole world. Naturally her personal stuff will be used to create some drama and make this task less straightforward. In the end, this series loses its charm by going for such an obvious direction. There’s nothing ridiculous about Ange being this incarnation of a fated savior/destroyer who gets to choose what the fate of the universe will be (or something like that). For an anime, that’s basically by-the-numbers-storytelling at this point.
More than that, it’s little things that keep this week’s episode from actually being okay despite its rather mediocre ambitions. One moment is when Ange’s little sister finds her brother who gets poisoned by a demon and she ends up screaming for help, more specifically she screams Ange’s name. That change of heart is completely unearned. The story’s racist themes might as well not exist as suddenly Ange just becomes the person who’s solely responsible for beating up the demons. And it’s really a copout to say that racism was only so bad because demons held sway over the public opinion. That is neither very imaginative nor very interesting in an ironic way. The other moment that perfectly encapsulates this series’ rather mediocre ambitions is when the series finally reveals the connection between Jill, Salia and the Vilkiss-mecha. And it’s a typical, sappy little flashback with a rather predictable little character-arc for Salia attached to it. It’s just dull compared to what insane shit this show had pulled before.
I’ve actually kinda liked last week’s episode for how it managed to marry its crazy, overboard style with its more serious story-beats. What this week reveals, though, puts all this stuff in a new light and that new light is neither interesting nor very exciting. The series hasn’t lost any of its bluntness but now it feels more… normal. It lacks the crazy instinct of the previous episodes to go all the way with its simplistic story-beats and because of that it has gotten better but such a bad series becoming better just means it has become mediocre.
Posted on December 15, 2014, in Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Reviews and tagged Anime, CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Fate/Stay Night, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.