Review-Roundup: Aldnoah.Zero 13, CROSS ANGE 14

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 14 [480p].mkv - 00001So, I guess, that means Ange’s mecha will have to take over deus-ex-machina-duties for the finale of this series.

This time I review:

Aldnoah.Zero 13: Aldnoah.Zero is back! And that means we finally find out what happened after the tense semi-finale of the 12th episode. And it’s always a good start for the second half to lower that built-up tension from that semi-finale. After all, god forbids this series would have to deal with really serious consequences…

Cross Ange 14: Tusk and Ange are alone in the ruins of civilization. They nearly get to fuck. Also Vivian says a lot of words with her DRAGON-tongue that nobody understands. Good thing we, the audience, do because of course it’s always great to hear characters say stuff nobody on-screen can react to!

Aldnoah.Zero 13 Review:

[C12] Aldnoah Zero - 13.mp4 - 00000She’s one of the two new characters introduced in this episode and she’s the more interesting one of the two. It’s not exactly clear yet what her deal is and how she will fit into the story but hopefully it’s a bit more than her just being jealous of the real princess for some reason.

The finale of Aldnoah.Zero’s first half was shocking in how deliberately brutal it was. Rather than ending on a happy note, the ending one found in the 12th episode was bleak and hopeless. It certainly had been the strongest moment of the show so far. Starting with the revelation of why Count Saazbaum had engineered the conflict between Vers-Empire and Earth and why he wanted to assassinate the princess, the tone of the series became more nihilistic and the ending only heightened that feeling.

At the end of the 12th episode Count Saazbaum, the princess and Inaho were all as good as dead. Naturally I had my suspicions about whether they would all stay dead. The episode never clearly demonstrated that all those characters had died. So I assumed that maybe at least Inaho would survive. Turns out, I was wrong: Everybody survived. The first half of this series tried to end with a bang and succeeded. In contrast, this first episode of the second half does feel a bit like the series is backpedaling quite a bit here.

In resetting the stage and presenting a new status-quo the series doesn’t really have anything to offer in terms of a greater story. It’s a bit strange to look at the story of Aldnoah.Zero that it’s a rather thin one. Empire was manipulated to start a war with another planet, it was uncovered and now everyone just tries to figure out what to do next. Mind you, this 13th episode doesn’t revolutionize the setting or the situation. There’s more of a “back to square one”-feeling to how the war has evolved after the ending of the first half. The Vers-Empire still wants to conquer Earth and whatever forces remain to Earth tries to put up a fight.

Again, it’s the lack of scope that’s threatening this series. This series doesn’t have an eye for the bigger picture. The struggle between the Vers-Empire and Earth is mostly one that happens off-camera and it’s hard to follow what is even going on. Sure, the episode has thrown in some little exposition about how far the Vers-Empire has come but what does that even mean? It’s still very unclear what life is like on Earth while the Empire is waging war and how the Vers-Empire is faring with this war going on. The series just offhandedly tells the audience about it but never indulges in showing the events on an epic scale.

Especially the survival of ALL the characters that might have died in the final moments of the 12th episode indicates that this show is taking a very different road than what should be suitable for its story. The series almost becomes a dramatic stageplay in how it’s all about various characters interacting with each other. Everything else this series has to offer disappears into the background as what the story really wants to tackle are the grudges, goals and efforts of individual characters. The fate of Earth and the Vers-Empire is almost incidental in this regard. It’s very telling that despite starting its second half this episode has barely any new characters in it. Instead the episode has mostly just reintroduced characters we already knew. So, I guess, it really depends on whether you gave a shit about whoever did what in the first season. If you didn’t like the characters in the first season, it doesn’t seem like the second half can offer much to make up for that.

Slaine is probably the most interesting character at this point. It’s interesting to see how the villain of the first half Saazbaum is following now Slaine’s vision. He’s now the villain of the show and it’s interesting to see a villain who didn’t start out as such in a series. As long as he doesn’t get too angsty and whiny about having to keep the comatose princess away from Inaho, then this could be entertaining. His villainy should be founded on self-confidence and not secret fears – unless the series wants to turn him into a psychopath.

And then there’s Inaho, of course. Naturally he’s as cyborg-y as usual which means he kicks some ass in a battle. I really hope that this second half does a little more with his genius. Being a great tactician and strategist shouldn’t just mean that he can win EVERY battle. There should be stuff like choosing your battles wisely and so on, you know, stuff that makes him look smart rather than just invincible.

Let’s see where this second season is going. Maybe the next episode will introduce more new characters or whether it will keep this stagedrama-like atmosphere. Personally I feel like the characters are fine which is why I’m fine with this character-situation but none of them are actually noteworthy outside the series. Oh, and it should be mentioned that Gen Urobuchi is sitting this one out. The series still got Ei Aoki as director and Katsuhio Takayama for the series composition so there won’t be too many changes, I assume. It’s still weird how Gen Urobuchi seems to attach his name to certain projects without actually overseeing those the whole way through. Well, anyway, I will certainly review this second half of Aldnoah.Zero.

Episode-Rating: 7.0/10

Cross Ange 14 Review:

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 14 [480p].mkv - 00003Ange, being an asshole like always, says that about Tusk’s theories while actually not offering any of her own. Also, she had JUST seen empirical evidence that would suggest Tusk is at least partially right.

Once more Tusk and Ange spend an episode alone – if you exclude the presence of one DRAGON. Only in this case the DRAGON in question is Vivian. It’s basically the same as last time: They struggle, they argues, then they make up and come very close to having sex. At least the episode also does some worldbuilding and wasn’t as obliviously stupid as the first time this series put Tusk and Ange together.

Even after this episode the romance between Tusk and Ange seems shallow and forced. It’s like they love each other for not being total dicks to each other all the time. And Ange is worse of course. Tusk is just a little bit too stoic and manly sometimes. Meanwhile, Ange… well, she can be a real asshole. There’s no real chemistry here: They yell at each other long enough to avoid each other and then feel sorry for each other which immediately translates into romantic feelings for some reason.

I mean, the episode tries, doesn’t it? Tusk felt himself inspired by Ange for being so brave. What the hell?! She slaughtered that DRAGON on that island like a frigging psychopath and constantly complained about him, then ran away and managed to get bitten by a snake. What’s supposed to be inspiring about that?! Ange on the other hand declares to like Tusk because he’s “pure”. And that means she likes Tusk for being the complete opposite of her in that regard. She had been ready to kill her brother. Their romantic chemistry should result out of a resolved argument but instead their romantic chemistry is what resolves each of their arguments. That isn’t a very organic way to create a romance.

It also kept the episode from really going anywhere. For a moment there Ange voiced some valid criticisms cynical as they might have been. The episode treats it as another tantrum from Ange, though, and it then leads to her regretting her words and making up with Tusk because… he’s, well, Tusk. This series really needs to decide what to do with Ange’s asshole-tendencies. As extreme as Ange’s tantrums are and the way she behaves certainly doesn’t make it look like a simple emotional outburst. When Ange has that little speech about Tusk just doing the whole thing for a garbage-operation, the whole thing doesn’t come off as someone just venting her frustrations. It’s a bit more than that, I feel like. And yet the series treats it more like an on/off-switch where at one point Ange could be the most nihilistic bastard imaginable but in the next scene she could be just this generic heroine. The series doesn’t really know how to bring those two sides of Ange together to form a cohesive whole. What this series tries to sell as character-development is just that Ange’s asshole-switch gets turned on less and less. Just like with the romance between Tusk and Ange the whole thing just lacks finesse.

The actual story-portions of the episode actually reiterate what has already been revealed about the origin of the magic-world. In the 12th episode it was mentioned how humanity managed to make life a living hell for everyone involved and so the whole new project of creating new humans with magic powers was put into place. Turned out, though, that the new humans didn’t like the old ones anymore and that’s where the racism started. Naturally there’s a big baddy behind it all called Embryo. Actually it’s a bit strange to see then this episode says LESS than what has already been revealed up to this point. Well, I guess, the actual revelation was where Ange and Tusk had landed – which neither of them had figured out until the end. I mean to believe the 12th episode had covered that part as well, that one being that there are two Earths or something like that.

And the whole thing ends with the arrival of the DRAGON-faction. This next episode and the one after that probably introduce all the girls that are the DRAGONs as well as whatever mecha-pilots they have. It isn’t really that interesting. The series still hasn’t regained any of its excessiveness it had at the beginning. It’s all just generic stuff what’s happening now. Well, except the bedroom-scene between Ange and Tusk. Normally shounen-series don’t go THAT far in portraying that stuff. But the Cross Ange of episode 01 probably would’ve gone a full-on sex scene. I mean, Jill anally raped Ange in that first episode! Nothing this series has been doing these days comes even close to that…

Episode-Rating: 4.5/10

 

About M0rg0th

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

Posted on January 11, 2015, in Aldnoah.Zero, Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I agree that it was strange to see everyone come back in Aldnoah Zero. Especially coming from Urobuchi’s common act of killing off his characters. It was enough to keep me intrigued, but, I am just as lost in the grand scheme of things as well as feeling like we haven’t really progressed at all anymore.

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    • Well, apparently Gen Urobuchi has never been that involved to begin with. He wrote the script for the first three episodes of the first half and other than that he’s just credited as the “Original creator”. Maybe he’s a sort-of showrunner…? Who knows…

      As for the stakes… It’s hard to see actual stakes at play here outside the character-related ones. Both the Vers-Empire and the Earth-Resistance are just kinda these amorphous masses that are simply following the lead of the more important characters. Like I’ve said, it feels like a stageplay in how specific characters and their interactions are what the limelight is shone upon.

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  2. Woher wissen wir denn, das Ange nicht auch Vaginal in der ersten Folge vergewaltigt wurde? aber egal…
    Und Tusk ist “rein”, in der letzten Folge hat der mal ohne Probleme fünf Typen gekillt (die beste Szene mit Tusk übrigens, er braucht mehr solche Szenen finde ich, dann wäre er nicht so eine Witzfigur).
    Und weil Tusks und Anges Beziehung darin aussieht, das sie zunächst streiten, dann sich aus dem weg gehen und dann beide sich mies fühlen was sie getan haben… funktionieren nicht so Beziehungen, irgendwo. Aber ganz im Ernst, ich habe eigentlich keinen Plan was nun eine gute Liebesgeschichte ist und was nicht, liegt zum einen daran, dass ich noch nie in einer Beziehung war, und zum anderen ist mein Y-Chromosom wohl doch ziemlich stark…
    Und was mich auch wundert, in Folge 5 war noch Tusk eher der treibende Faktor, und nun ist es Ange, naja (oder wollte Tusk nur Händchen halten, man ich kann mich an Folge 5 kaum mehr erinnern, aber er wollte schon mehr in Folge 5, oder nicht)
    Und weil sich Ange von einem Moment wie ein Arsch und zum anderen wie ein generischer Held verhält, vielleicht wollte Sunrise/Fukuda einen Badass Antihero erschaffen, haben aber vergessen, dass die Grenze zwischen Badass und Douchebag, doch ziemlich schmal und klein ist.
    Aber ein wenig hat sich Ange schon verbessert irgendwie (leider hat sie aber noch einen langen Weg vor sich und es sind nur noch 11 Folgen übrig, wieso werde ich das Gefühl nicht los das noch eine 2. Staffel kommt, ok von mir aus ein Magical Girl Spin-off, aber keine zweite Staffel…)
    Und sie haben Vivian nicht verstanden während der ganzen Episode, ich dachte Ange und Tusk verstehen sie…
    Und Villkiss kann immer das, was momentan am wichtigsten gebraucht wird, oder wie, er hat also nicht nur was von Weltall, sondern auch vom Monado…

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