Review-Roundup: Aldnoah.Zero 16, CROSS ANGE 16/17
I… I just don’t know what to say anymore. They really want to go all the way with this stupid joke, don’t they? It’s not like they’re even evolving the joke, it’s just the same garbage that gets thrown at you again and again…
This time I review:
Aldnoah.Zero 16: Yuki and Marito do their best to protect Earth but end up relying on Inaho to save the day yet again. Also, Slaine proves to the Vers-Empire that he’s one of the big boys now.
Cross Ange 16/17: The Dragon-people are the certified good people now, I guess. Upon returning Ange has to realize, though, that a few things have changed in the meantime during her absence.
Aldnoah.Zero 16 Review:
This series really misses no chance to show us just how much worse this princess is compared to the idealized one we’ve seen in the first half.
The first half of this show had been a pretty much self-contained arc. Sure, you didn’t have much of a conclusion at the end of it but at least you could look at it as being some sort of ending and finale. Still this isn’t a split-cours-series that insists on viewing its two halves as two separate seasons. The way this series hasn’t added some stupid words to the title or simply put a 2 at the end of it shows how much this series wanted to go for a continuous 2-cours-story-arc. And still, it feels like the series has consistently failed to find its voice since its second half had started. You get all these various elements, some old, some new, thrown at you but none of it ever has come together in a nice way so far. Despite doing things each week and moving the story forward, you can’t help but feel as if the story is meandering.
This week isn’t any different as it finally shows what Yuki, Inaho’s sister, and Marito have been up to. You get these glimpses of what has happened between the two halves but it never amounts to anything. These days Aldnoah.Zero is always like that: Something happens and it has an impact on the story – but you’re still left wondering whether you should actually care about that. This episode introduces Yuki’s now strained relationship with Inaho but… it doesn’t become a dramatic element. I assume, or well, I hope that this is just meant as build-up for later stuff but it’s certainly not very entertaining to watch all these episode that barely do anything but build-up. Also, add to that the fact of how the series obviously didn’t want to delve into the reasons for that situation and you just got these very superficial hints of drama without any real context.
The problem really is that it just doesn’t amount to anything in this episode. Even if it’s supposed to be build-up, you shouldn’t treat it like it’s some sort of infomercial cut short by the main-story intervening. “Hey, did you know that Inaho’s and Yuki’s relationship isn’t so great these days? Yuki didn’t want Inaho to go back into the war and Inaho… did something, I guess. Wait for the rest to be explained later on.” – is what the series seems to be saying as it just throws these seeds of drama at the audience without actually addressing it. Build-up should happen indirectly through integral parts of the drama in an episode. This is a typical “show, don’t tell”-example where really the episode did nothing but tell the audience what the deal is between Yuki and Inaho these days. That it isn’t even the whole story makes it even worse, of course.
What the episode actually focuses on is Marito and fucking hell… That little character-arc was a real dud drama-wise. Marito is supposed to be this traumatized, discredited veteran who became an alcoholic but due to extreme circumstances he managed to overcome his addiction and become the soldier again he once had been. Let me just repeat one particular aspect of the story here: He has been an alcoholic. So why the fuck does his story-arc end with his doctor giving him alcohol to drink?! His alcoholism was a fucking addiction! It doesn’t matter that it was motivated by his traumatic experiences! It’s STILL an addiction. And only because he had been able to work through his psychological issues, his alcohol-addiction shouldn’t have become less of a problem.
And it doesn’t get much better by how this episode treats Marito’s traumatic past. So he gets into this tight spot during a fight and is about to lose consciousness. But that’s when he remembers the traumatic moment of seeing a Martian mecha while dragging the corpse of his best friend out of a tank and that jumpstarts his motivation to kick ass presumably. Later his doctor suggests that maybe his subconscious had been using those memories to keep him fighting, to remind him why he was fighting in this war. Look, it’s horseshit, just the same kind of bullshit-science that is also applied to Inaho’s miraculous abilities. Imagine a boy who got raped by his uncle when he was nine. It was horrible and traumatic – but later on he overcame it. Now he’s some sort of professional car-racer. He enters a very critical state of the race and he’s SO very close to winning the race! His rival is just as close, though. And that’s when he remembers how he was raped when he was nine – which is EXACTLY the kind of motivation-boost he needed. You know, after all, we all look at the worst moments of our life as an inspiration to do better. Also, your subconscious seems to be some other dude you share your brain with who will sometimes bombard you with psychic attacks in order to nudge you into the right direction (I presume). After all, your subconscious always knows what’s right for you!
There’s Slaine as well, of course and he… further cements his position within the Vers-Empire. I would care more if I knew why I actually should do such a thing. It’s clear that this story is all about creating some sort of dramatic confrontation between Inaho and Slaine. Slaine’s ambitions just seem so incidental and unimportant to the bigger story of this series. This new princess talks a big game of taking everything away from her sister but it’s not like she does anything. She’s just talking and dropping obvious hints of her unhealthy jealousy. The rest are all new characters I really don’t care about which isn’t my fault since it feels like the series doesn’t care about those characters either.
I know where this is going. Inaho and Slaine will fight for the affection of that princess AGAIN. The series, though, does nothing to actually make me care more about this confrontation. Since everyone survived the semi-finale this confrontation is an obvious consequence. Let me make this clear, it’s fucking obvious! It’s obvious and the series stalls for time – and delivers little what would explain the reasoning for such an action. The series may try to raise the stakes by giving both Inaho and Slaine more power – but the essential, obvious goal of the whole thing hasn’t changed. This series is so caught up in this central conflict that it does way too little to actually make the audience care about other stuff. In fact, it seems like the series is forgetting the bigger picture here. I’ve already talked about how this series’ new approach is character-driven – despite what is actually going on. The war, the fate of Earth and the Vers-Empire, the side-characters’ ambitions: It all becomes this unimportant mix of various exposition-delivery-systems that seem more distracting than entertaining.
CROSS ANGE 16/17Review:
What’s worse than introducing a prop to a dialogue that ultimately turns out to be meaningless? Introducing a prop that is even without a context not that meaningful to begin with.
The biggest problem with Cross Ange is its writing. It isn’t bad or anything. Overall, it’s actually okay. The real problem is that the writing of this show is sloppy. There’s a scene where Vivian’s mother is trying to encourage her daughter to do what she feels she needs to do – despite her personal feelings. And so she brings out the baby-clothes of Vivian, making a point to show them and describe them as such. The thing is, though: Those baby-clothes are completely meaningless in regards to what the mother is saying. At some point they just fall to the ground as mother and daughter embrace but those baby-clothes might as well not have been there. It’s a small moment but it’s very indicative of the writing in this show that the script-writers were seemingly incapable of establishing a consistent through-line for that dialogue.
Ange’s character is the most obvious example of that sloppiness as she continues to switch between being a typical tsundere and being this VERY cynical, nihilistic person. In one moment Ange thinks Vivian is just pretending to be happy and is actually milking her so-called “mother” for information despite how obviously this is NOT the case but then later on Ange has just suddenly changed her mind. It’s the same with how the 16th episode had been trying to establish the growing friendship between Salako and Ange. In one moment she’s super-cynical by suggesting the Dragon-people just want to win Ange’s trust in order to recruit her for their cause but then she’s suddenly okay with becoming friends and then she goes so far as to support the Dragon-people (or at least doesn’t want to directly fight them anymore). The sloppy writing of this show is just incapable of portraying any sort of character-developments. Instead you just get these sudden moments of flip-switching where a character suddenly starts acting different.
Story-wise these two episodes have done little to move on. The 16th episode was certainly the worse one because of how suddenly both Ange and Salako became friends. By using this competition that ended in a draw they were supposed to get closer which would make sense. You never get this dynamic feeling of the characterizations playing with the subtext here. No, those two characters are simply being nice to each other all of a sudden. There isn’t anything subtle about how this growing friendship is portrayed and it mostly just undermines the characterization of the two as those two lose consistency. Their change in behavior makes sense in terms of the story and plot and it makes sense to us, the audience understanding where the episode wants to go with this – but there’s no sense of individuality present. The story wants the two to become friends and so they become friends. That’s how that 16th episode felt to me. The lack of build-up and time for that process certainly didn’t help but even within the episode the writing was too sloppy. When Salako and Ange had become friends, the way they talked to each other simply changed. Instead of upholding a consistent outward characterization while changing the subtext of their behavior towards each other, the series simply made them friends. It’s just another example of how sloppy this series’ writing is.
The 17th series was all about getting Ange & Co back into the Mana-world. More than that, it was about revealing two things: That the spy of the Dragon-people had been tortured and forced to lure the Dragon-people into an ambush and that Salia has joined Embryo’s side. The former was a bit surprising but hell, those Dragon-people have always sucked at invading other worlds, so that turn of events is hardly surprising. As for the latter… not that much surprising either. I mean, one of Salia’s defining attributes is envy which means she has that whole whiny angst-routine down cold. I can’t wait to be bored by her finding redemption during a fight with Ange.
And let’s not forget that there’s Tusk as well. In the 17th episode he’s happy about Ange recognizing him as her knight and it’s a typical “will they, won’t they”-bit that is as ambiguous as calling water wet. It seems to me they mistake “Will they or won’t they? They will for sure!”-bits for “Will they, won’t they”-bits. You would need actual ambiguity for the latter. It also doesn’t help that Tusk is obviously the only person who can put up with Ange’s bullshit.
On another note… Ange’s still talking about Arzenal as if she had liked the damn place. Sloppy and inconsistent writing: That will be the downfall of this series – and so far it has done a pretty good job of laying this series low.
Posted on February 1, 2015, in Aldnoah.Zero, Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Reviews and tagged Aldnoah Zero, aldnoah.zero, Anime, CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.