Review-Roundup: CROSS ANGE 19, Rolling Girls 06

[C12] The Rolling Girls - 06.mp4 - 00000Foreshadowing! Also, way to go, Rolling Girls, using foreshadowing as a way to let a character say “I will do this at some point.” and then let said character do said thing. ‘Jumping the shark’ didn’t become a thing because the audience is too dumb to get what foreshadowing is.

This time I review:

Cross Ange 19: Ange gets captured by Salia and her two traitorous companions. Turns out this doesn’t result in a prisonbreak-sequence. Instead, Ange’s (sort-of) confronting Salia & Co and ends up meeting Embryo to… do stuff. She fails to kill him (of course… after all, the finale hasn’t started yet). And so we simply get a showcase of how Embryo enslaves girls.

Rolling Girls 06: Two sides hate each other. Their leaders want peace. They make peace. The End.

Cross Ange 19 Review:

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 19 [480p].mkv - 00004Exposition should NEVER be that redundant…!

You would think that after 19 episodes a series would’ve finally found its voice but inconsistency just keeps Cross Ange from developing a compelling identity. Sometimes it’s a generic well-meaning mecha-show and in other moments you get Ange voicing cynical, self-aware opinions about what’s going on (and during the early stages of the show that attitude had even seemed sensible considering the kind of worldbuilding this series was doing at that point). The series personality just gets lost in this indecisive attitude which the show presents once again in this episode.

Ange being kidnapped leads to another preposterous set of events that barely makes any sense dramatically. She isn’t imprisoned but got robbed of her weapons and her first thought is “I should escape… to confront Embryo.”. Usually the hero needs to be dragged into these scenes where the villain and hero meet but here Ange basically just runs headlong into Embryo’s arms (and literally ends up there as well). This could work except it’s never quite clear what Ange actually plans to do except to kill Embryo (and her assassination-attempt is just pitiful).

Just in general it isn’t quite clear what Ange wants right now. I’ve already mentioned the inconsistencies of this series and here you have Ange declaring how she wants to destroy the world while last episode she rebuked Jill for the same thought adding that she wants to lead a normal life with Tusk eventually. The last few episodes tried to sell the idea that Ange has warmed up to the idea of leaving a normal life with Tusk but she doesn’t mention this in any way in this episode. Overall, she has never stated what the alternative to “destroying the world” is supposed to be. She had disagreed with Jill but except proposing an alliance with the Dragon-people she doesn’t have much of a plan.

It’s no surprise then that the confrontation between Embryo and Ange ended up being rather anticlimactic. There’s no tension present in those moments as the situation itself doesn’t seem dangerous or threatening. And since Embryo seems quite relaxed you never get a sense of this even being a confrontation. Ange just meekly follows Embryo’s invitation to the room where Aura, the super-dragon, is and… for fuck’s sake! This stupid series actually is wasting time by repeating a ton of exposition we already knew about at this point without adding anything new. You’re just sitting there listening to this exposition going “I know, I know…”. And does Ange ask important questions? No, of course not! She even acts as if this is sort-of the first time she had heard of this. Then she just shoots him a bunch of times without doing any damage. That’s when the episode does indeed reveal new information. Embryo is… the tuner of worlds! … Yeah, it’s as stupid and uninteresting as it sounds. One of the Dragon-world-episodes had already revealed this power of his and once more this episode presents old news as if it’s the best shit you’ve smelled all week. The exposition is so broadly written in that scene that your reaction to the whole thing is basically just “So what?” – and the series doesn’t have an answer to that.

Then there’s of course the mind-control-situation with Salia & Co. This episode tries to explain why Salia, Chris and that other one have changed sides. Turns out it’s all because Embryo can give them what they want. Salia wants a loving master, Chris wants a good friend and the third one wants a patron that can keep her little kindergarten safe. But it’s all dependency and you get the feeling that this is all a “sell your soul for a wish”-kinda-deal. For most of the episode, though, it’s not clear that some form of mind-control is at play here and so you have Ange running around meeting these three former friends finding out about why they have switched sides. And Ange’s just there listening to this stuff without a smart or deep responst – except in Salia’s case where Ange had some cynical comments to make which, though, didn’t lead to an actually interesting conversation since Salia’s explanations only repeat storybeats from before. I mean, nothing in this episode actually adds to the characterization of the three traitors. The series is basically just using the already-known character-beats to create reasons for why they would sell their soul to Embryo.

But at the end of the episode we find out that some form of mind-control is involved. Not that the episode actually lost anything by doing that. Normally I would say that such an explanation would take away from the psychological dimension at play here but… like I’ve said, the episode didn’t do anything really with the whole traitor-thingy. But it does add a nasty dimension to the whole thing as Embryo has basically forced those three traitors into servitude and he tries to do the same thing with Ange. And Cross Ange’s extreme mindset is rearing its head again as Embryo’s first command to the enslaved Ange is to undress – which she does. And then he kisses her. That’s when she remembers Tusk and it’s that reminder that breaks the spell. It’s a creepy scene because of how blunt the direction is in that scene. The weak writing doesn’t help either.

And apparently the series wants to delve into the relationship between Jill and Embryo even more. Once again the series will deal with facts it had already established in previous episodes and if this episode is any indication the series will once again waste time explaining the whole thing AGAIN without adding anything meaningful to the whole thing. This series just can’t decide what it wants to say. And since it can’t do that you’re left with this meandering, dull drama whose plot isn’t exciting AT ALL.

Episode-Rating: 4.0/10

Rolling Girls 06 Review:

[C12] The Rolling Girls - 06.mp4 - 00001A moment before the screen was framed by glitter as the dude looked at her face but once he had looked at her flat chest… And the series actually does hint at a romance between the two. So I have to hand it to the director: Way to go, mishandling this scene like this!

Just like that ends the second arc (the prologue not counting) on a weaker note than the first one. And the biggest problem is this arc’s sentimentality that overemphasizes emotions without the story laying the dramatic groundwork for these emotional moments. It comes down to how this series treats its characters. Of course it’s easy to just go for all those conventional story-beats that a story presents but it leads to a painful lack of self-awareness that fails to sell the idea of a coming-of-age-story.

The characterizations in this arc are broad and you can see that in how the story used its characters. Just take our four main-characters for example: In the first half of the arc they barely did anything and even in the second half they weren’t much more than bystanders. The story tries to give them something to do but the truth is that their presence feels insignificant. They don’t add much of anything to the story. Instead they act as agents of the plot by initiating events while not exactly influencing them. In two episodes where each of the four main-characters had gotten screen-time, it’s only when Yukina’s found an important item by chance that one of those main-characters felt important. Other than that their role in those two episodes had been pretty much forgettable.

But we’re talking about the main-characters here! It’s those characters that are the connecting tissue between all the episodic arcs and yet this series has done a piss-poor job in this arc to further deepen our understanding of those main-characters. Ultimately the story of this series is the story of these main-characters. On the macro-level the story-arc is focused on the development of the four main-characters as they have these little adventures. But what was the point of this arc in this regard? That first arc at least talked a bit about those Moonstones but this arc had nothing new to offer in that regard.

The real main-characters of this arc (that being the girl and dude with a moonstone each, the barkeeper and the grandfather of the girl) actually suffer from how this arc constantly switched back to the Nozomi & Co without delivering any meaningful scenes. Nozomi & Co are a distraction basically. And what the series has to say about the real main-characters of this arc is just this conventional setup for drama/conflict leading to redemption/salvation. But it’s noticeable how this arc never takes the time to explore these characters. It feels forced how problems arise and how easily they then are solved. A Scene, like the grandpa slapping his daughter but then (with the help of Nozomi &Co) finding the two figures the girl had worked on which leads to him being honest about what he really wants, clearly shows this sentimental perspective of how the emotional, conventional beats of the story supersede any notion of individuality. Why can these characters not be more open about their feelings? The answer may be there in a stereotypical, implied sense but that leads to a harsher truth: That the characterization is enabling the plot to play out in a dramatic fashion. And with that the question of “Why?” becomes irrelevant as the emotions itself are the only things that seem to count. There’s no introspection or self-awareness present that would add depth to this emotional perspective as the arc is just going through the motions powered by these obvious emotional undercurrents.

It also doesn’t help that the story fails to focus on the interesting stuff. Things like how the leader of the restaurant-people used to be a legendary racer himself or how the girl and dude who have a moonstone are childhood-friends (which easily could’ve become a romantic sub-plot) are simply buried by the blunter emotional necessities of this arc’s roadmap. There isn’t a single moment in this arc that seems unpredictable or unconventional. This arc really has been more or less just filler.

Episode-Rating: 5.5/10

About M0rg0th

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

Posted on February 15, 2015, in Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Reviews, The Rolling Girls and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Ange said she wanted to destroy the world last episode, she didn’t want to do it Jill’s way because she didn’t want to sacrifice the DRAGONs and ruin the alliance she made between them.

    The issue’s more to do with the previous episodes like ep.17 where she wanted to settle down and not fight. Her reasoning, while understandable (she didn’t know who to trust), was silly. There was no way she was going to be able to settle down while DRAGONs were being killed and the Villkiss was being hunted down. Events forced her to fight anyway.

    My issues with this episode are:

    1) They made Embryo too much of a sleazebag. I liked Embryo as a villain because he was somebody who was doing awful things for what he thought was for the greater good. Him playing on the girl’s vulnerabilities? That was good IMO. Don’t think hypnotising Ange and then stripping her down was necessary, though it created the desire effect.

    2) Like you said, lack of conversation between Ange and the rest of her former comrades but I suppose they wanted to move things along and go for action. And a lack of conversation between her and Embryo. Though shooting him wasn’t a bad idea at all, just a shame he’s seemingly unkillable. We’ll get information about him next episode.

    3) The scene of Sylvia whipping Riza. Just not needed lol.

    My problem with the writing’s more that it’s missing gaps and you’re forced to fill in the gaps with what’s happening in the show. Also, at times, the writing picks weird reasons for the characters’ motives while there are other reasons that’d make more sense that have already been established within the show. Also, it presents information and backstories on a slow drip.

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    • “Ange said she wanted to destroy the world last episode, she didn’t want to do it Jill’s way because she didn’t want to sacrifice the DRAGONs and ruin the alliance she made between them.”

      Yeah, I guess… but that was such a perfect example where the series just didn’t communicate what Ange’s goal is here. I mean, sure, she doesn’t want to sacrifice her new Dragon-friends… but it’s not like she had come up with a better strategy. And Jill had quickly turned the strategy-meeting into a circus anyway with the way she had presented her crazy ideas.

      “The issue’s more to do with the previous episodes like ep.17 where she wanted to settle down and not fight. Her reasoning, while understandable (she didn’t know who to trust), was silly. There was no way she was going to be able to settle down while DRAGONs were being killed and the Villkiss was being hunted down. Events forced her to fight anyway.”

      Those episodes made it seem like she was fighting for a normal life now and you can hardly have that if you try to destroy the world around you. And yet here we are again seeing Ange talk about destroying the world in her dialogue with Embryo. It’s very unclear what the endgame is supposed to be except to kick Embryo’s ass.

      “Him playing on the girl’s vulnerabilities? That was good IMO.”

      It portrayed personal happiness as a form of servitude, though, which made the situation very sleazy even before the whole undressing-thing. It felt like the series was just trying to tease the audience with the possibility of those three Normas actually wanting to fight for Embryo now. But then it didn’t commit to that and just lamely exclaimed “Nah, just mind-control, guys! They don’t REALLY want to fight for Embryo!”

      “I liked Embryo as a villain because he was somebody who was doing awful things for what he thought was for the greater good.”

      I think it’s less the writing doing a good job here and more Toshihiko Seki being a good voice-actor for a villain-role such as this one.

      “The scene of Sylvia whipping Riza. Just not needed lol.”

      My god, you’re right! I completely forgot to mention that! That scene was so utterly pointless… and awkward as well! That little sister is whipping the Dragon-lady and Ange just stands there stupefied being like “Little sister… oh and hey, Riza…” – and that’s it! It also didn’t make sense how Embryo then made a quip about Ange making too much noise and disturbing his reading. That whipping alone is already more than noisy enough to disturb the quiet of a library, I would say.

      “Also, it presents information and backstories on a slow drip.”

      Well, it also needlessly repeats stuff at times. The whole exposition-bit about Aura and that this super-dragon is responsible for Mana had already been established in previous episodes.

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      • (apologies for the wall of words lol)

        This is where it’s a case of weird wording I think. I’ve always assumed that when the characters say they want to destroy the world, what they really mean is just destroying what it runs on, Mana and essentially collapsing it. Ange’s plan was simply the same as Sala’s (that she kept refusing): ally up and take down Embryo, so yeah, taking down Embryo’s the endgame. Jill’s plan…actually wasn’t that bad IMO, just incredibly ruthless. She didn’t want to engage Embryo’s pilots and planned to make things easier by using the DRAGONs as decoys and then blow them and the pilots up in one full swoop.

        IMO, Jill’s sympathetic, and this is coming from someone who hated her for a good long time lol. Her failures broke her and made her cold and ruthless. She projects herself onto Ange because they have similar backgrounds. She wants to complete Libertus through Ange. It was shown that she was beginning to go off the deep end after Ange left through Hilda’s flashback. Then she just exploded because she was desperate and tired of Ange being disobedient, especially when she’s so close to her goals.

        As for the personal happiness, something I feel should be addressed more within the series itself: Ange did have a privileged life. Though she was sent to Arzenal and has been through a ton of shit since then, she was living the best life possible, with all the opportunities one could have and was loved and adored. That’s why for the most part, she has a lot of confidence and can resist what she’s told. Salia (and the rest) didn’t have that and has been raised to believe in her status as a Norma.

        Salia’s also been raised as a soldier and taught to be obedient, but she’s still a kid with emotional needs. So Ange saying she’s not empty enough to be content with what Embryo’s offering, while cool, feels like a bit of a backhanded comment, like it implies the people Embryo manipulated and groomed are weak, rather than vulnerable. But I’m gonna go back and check the episode later to see if I caught her comment right. Obviously, Salia and co. are still in the wrong for going along with Embryo’s goals and fighting their former comrades. I can’t really determine whether or not Embryo hypnotised them. I don’t think he even needed to do that. He just had to peer into their minds and discover what they wanted.

        Toshihiko Seki is actually my favourite male JPN voice actor, yeah, he’s good stuff. IMO, the concept of Embryo and his actions are interesting. He’s a guy who wanted to stop war but screwed it up. So he goes to make a new world and creates a perpetual system that screws over countless people in order to support it. The way he enforced it through discrimination and Arzenal is sickenly efficient. Which is surprising, considering the show Cross Ange aims to be. And yeah, they repeat information when it isn’t needed.

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  2. Off topic but why an this technologically advance society people still have a monarchy, its always a pet peeve of mine an anime no matter how advance the society is it always has a monarchy.

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    • I’ve mentioned this in another comment-section but exactly that is one of the more insidious ideas of this series. It doesn’t try to shove it down your throat, it simply accepts the premise that any form of royalty has natural leadership-skilly considering how Jill, Ange and Salamanko are all princesses. And the evil dude isn’t royalty. Even if you’re shitty like Ange’s little sister and brother, you’re still a leader of mankind since you’re royalty.

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