CROSS ANGE – 20 Review

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 20 [480p].mkv - 00006Let’s set aside how this is another obvious joke aimed at Tusk and the tiresome running-gag associated with his character… Who actually told Hilda about this? Who the hell would say about a person “Oh, yeah, that dude is like mole – except he’s digging and flipping through a vagina instead of earth. Get it, digging and mole…?! That dude doesn’t even know what daylight looks like, that’s how often he’s down there between her legs!”

Cross Ange had been trash from the very beginning but it wasn’t very consistent in terms of trashiness. The series has a lot of crazy moments but it doesn’t have a lot of moments that seem absolutely crazy. Mostly it’s the fault of the series actually because you simply get used to whatever crazy shit the series usually does and since it does crazy shit all the time you end up feeling disappointed when the series misses a chance to up the ante. And this series has missed plenty of such chances. At times it even felt like the series took itself serious (but sadly not in an overblown, stupid way)! This series has a lot of crazy stuff but certainly not enough to be entertaining.

Review:

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 20 [480p].mkv - 00004Hmm… let me think… yeah, the whole thing does indeed sound like total bullshit. It’s a fucking cheap J-Pop-ballad and it does shit because the series said so. There’s no way you can explain that shit with actual physics.

What is it with this series and exposition? Every time this series tries to explain things, I feel like I’m watching Groundhog Day. This series just can’t shut up about its mythology. But you’ve all heard it before! It’s like you’re in a relationship with someone who has won a fistfight with a bear and now you get to hear about this event every day for the rest of your life (or at least that’s how it feels like). The way this series delivers exposition, you’d either think that the series is bragging or that it’s simply senile. This is a great example of showing you exactly why depth is a great thing. If the mythology of this series would’ve had any depth it wouldn’t need to repeat itself like a broken record. We’re right at the doorstep of the finale and I feel like I haven’t learned anything new or noteworthy about the world since episode 12 or so.

But there are the characters and this episode is actually quite good in how it handles its cast. For once, the series actually makes use of its huge cast and has three different plot-lines going on at the same time. Forget depth if you can drown the audience in inane plot-shenanigans. In this episode the series seems lively for once and you actually get all the drama this series needs.

What this episode does REALLY well is to be a genuine soap-opera within the confines of its setting. The way characters interact with each other in this episode is exaggerated to a great degree while still being very superficial in nature. Characters don’t question their position in the world or that of other people. Instead the series has these obvious dramatic cues for what a character wants and then another character reacts to that in an equally obvious way without actually making a point.

Take Jill’s character for example. Her character’s zealous nature and tragic background make her an obvious choice to be an enemy of Embryo and her being a princess as well leads to a showcase of how she compares to Ange, the main-character. The similarities between Ange and Jill make the latter a good choice for a dark reflection of Ange or a mentor-character for example. There’s a story you can tell with Jill that will add something to Ange’s storyline. And yet, that isn’t exactly what the series has been going for these last few episodes. What this series clearly wanted was the drama (and it’s the cheap kind of drama).

First of all, you have Hilda who has learned about Jill’s secret personal relationship with Embryo by accident but does it lead to a confrontation? No, it doesn’t. Instead it turns into this lengthy plot-line that spans an entire episode that only works because the series suddenly decides that Jill has turned into a crazy person. She has been obsessed with bringing Embryo down for years but it’s NOW that she cracks under the pressure all of a sudden…? But of course, the series doesn’t give a shit about introspection here. Instead you get the drama-version of a childish snowball-fight with the participants stupidly acting as if whatever shit they throw around means something. The whole Jill-storyline leads to a dramatic confrontation and then a dramatic dialogue between her and the rest of Operation Libertus– and all I could hear was “bla bla bla bla…”. Good drama isn’t just about creating confrontations, it’s about creating interesting consequences for these confrontations. What Cross Ange is doing here, though, is just this bland portrayal of a problem that gets resolved in a bland fashion (by this series’ standards, mind you).

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 20 [480p].mkv - 00000Salia is really nothing more than a plaything for Embryo at this point, it seems. And Salia’s only problem seems to be that she’s still jealous of Ange as Embryo actually wants to marry her.

And this is where we have to talk about the portrayal of dudes and girls again, don’t we? The way Embryo treats his “little harem” at least gets described as “playthings” which is a fitting description. That this series would go so far as to actually prove that description right puts this series into trash-territory again.

What this episode heavily implies, though, is that it wants to be trashy in a sexual way. And if the series actually wants to go for that, then it should. Turn the whole thing into a softcore-hentai for all I care, but I hate it when trashiness like in this episode feels half-assed because the creators clearly held back. If a series like this one wants to go for some mind-control-hentai-fetish then it should go for it. This series is already very fanservice-heavy and pervy but I certainly have more respect for a series that makes it clear what it really wants to say instead of having these half-assed perverted scenes like Ange lying on the floor while dealing with her immense pain getting turned into pleasure. Let’s face it: Embryo is basically raping Ange in this episode. He wants to marry her, she doesn’t want to – and then he tortures her in ways that don’t only involve pain. The notion of forcing Ange to feel pleasure is already a very sketchy one that should be reserved for hentai-stuff anyway.

More than that, there’s also a very curious scene involving Tusk in this episode. Hilda offers to have sex with him to gain his support but he explains that he’s basically some sort of monk until his mission is over. Okay, on one level, you do see the attempt here to subvert gender-stereotypes by how female characters are the more sexually active gender while men in this series seemingly try to stay away from sexual actions (and Embryo’s half-assed “raping” makes him out to be the evil guy while Tusk’s celibacy marks him as the good guy). On another level, though, it certainly isn’t okay how this sexual activity of the female characters gets turned into a dependency to find someone “to fuck” basically. EVERY female character in this series depends on someone else to give that characters whatever she needs. Male characters like Tusk and Embryo can follow ideals while the female characters see the world as a map of people they need, like and hate. Ultimately, Ange won’t save the day because she has a great plan or is strong. What this series focuses on is her sentimental side of being enamored with Tusk and how she likes the people at Arzenal (for some reason). And the series uses this to clearly add a gender-based message to the proceedings.

Overall I liked this episode for how soapy and trashy all the drama in it had been, but at the same time, I don’t think this series is fun to watch anymore. This series goes into absurd directions, especially when it comes to sexual stuff, but it doesn’t feel like it commits to the path it’s walking. There’s always this little hint of the series holding back and by not seeming exaggerated enough, the audience gains a chance to question the ridiculousness of this series. Naturally you’ll just end up looking at this series therefore and say “This is stupid.”

Just imagine how extreme the drama in this series could’ve been if Embryo had actually raped Ange but then she would’ve escaped with a very understandable motivation to murder the bastards. And it would’ve made any future romantic scenes with Tusk all the more effective. The point of exaggerated trash is that you don’t hold back. And I mean, if you actually want to go for genuinely good drama you need FAR better writing of course.

This series just isn’t ridiculous enough. What this series needs is disguise compelling enough to distract from its more problematic elements but that disguise is boring in this case. It’s boring because it feels like the series is taking a big dump but stops midway through for some reason. You know, that the urge is there to continue the… procedure but the series just stops shitting and whatever shit it has produced isn’t good enough to be noteworthy. So for its finale, I hope this series will have to offer more shit and less ass-clenching. Yep, it’s that kind of series.

Episode-Rating: 5.0/10

Random Thoughts:

  • I certainly didn’t like how Salia overhearing the conservation between Embryo and Ange didn’t lead to her waking up as to what kind of person Embryo is. She helped Ange escape but still spouted nonsense needing Embryo because she has no friends and whatnot. Of course Ange wasn’t allowed to add a sensible rebuttal to that whiny little speech.
  • So, the Dragon-people CAN open portals directly above the dawn-tower. Maybe it would’ve been wiser to do that from the very beginning considering where their beloved dragon is.
  • The series doesn’t seem to care about the reincarnation-stuff anymore that was shown when Salamanko and Ange had fought. Maybe they bring it up again when it’s time for the finale but if they do… talk about bad build-up, right?
  • It’s also a testament of how bad the series’ writing is that Ange had nothing to say about Embryo’s plan to just create a new sort of humanity together with her. Normally this would be the point where you talk about the themes of the series but in this case, the series just falls back on portraying Ange as this brutish individual who just doesn’t give a shit.
  • It’s great how Embryo’s Norma-squad actually has members that lack a voice and a name. That’s just SUCH cheap writing that it baffles me how no producer, showrunner or director corrected that obvious mistake. Goon-characters are fine but there shouldn’t be so few that I can count them with one hand. They just stand out too much and make you wonder why no one bothered to give them a voice and a name.
  • Ange’s little sister is a useless character
  • Embryo’s either using some form of time-travel to save his ass or he can shit between dimensional frequencies so that he can put himself into a dimension where he wasn’t at the place where he had been when someone had killed him.

About M0rg0th

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

Posted on February 22, 2015, in Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Well if someone really wanted to see how this episode may have gone if it was a hentai, I think they should check the “Dawn of the Silver Dragon”.

    Anyway I don’t know what to say. Yeah this anime is bad, still it’s that kind of bad that you can’t intentionally make. Kinda like the room, on parts it seems Cross Ange wants to make a point, however it then cuts to guy tripping in between a girl’s legs. On one episode there’s cheap drama of discrimination/the environment/the humanity (you get the drill). But it then wants to play it funny? With racing, tennis and twister? I don’t know, I just find that “entertaining”, while some anime get stuck in the drama, the love triangles or the angst, this one kinda wants to throw everything episode by episode. So yeah, I haven’t found it boring.

    I know Junketsu Maria or Jojo will likely have better payoffs, once significant stuff actually happens. Still M0rg0th, this s**t is wrapping up. I mean, how worse, could the next 5 episode be?

    Like

    • “Yeah this anime is bad, still it’s that kind of bad that you can’t intentionally make.”

      You’re absolutely right about that. An intentionally bad anime would either seem lazy (like Isuca this season for example) or you get a mediocre adaptation that simply rehashes the stuff from the source-material without any flair or elegance. Series like Cross Ange are the kind of bad, though, where someone must have thought that this would be a great series.

      “I don’t know, I just find that “entertaining”, while some anime get stuck in the drama, the love triangles or the angst, this one kinda wants to throw everything episode by episode.”

      Yeah, this series certainly doesn’t like to focus its attention on anything. Stuff like Ange’s snarky side simply gets thrown out without any consideration or self-awareness.

      “I mean, how worse, could the next 5 episode be?”

      Are you sure it’s 5? Well, as for how much worse it can get… I can certainly imagine some form of flashback-episode that explains the mythology of the series AGAIN. And the Vilkiss will deliver a deus-ex-machina to save the day. Also, nobody except Embryo dies and anyone who had died previously gets resurrected in the aftermath of the finale. Then there’s the cheesy romance-scene between Ange and Tusk we will have to look forward to, I imagine.

      Oh, this series has plenty of opportunities to make things worse ^^ .

      Like

      • Also just a nitpick but on hindsight I think freeing the whipped dragon lady was the reason they could open a portal just there. I mean I could be wrong but I thought that was implied with that scene.

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    • “Also just a nitpick but on hindsight I think freeing the whipped dragon lady was the reason they could open a portal just there. I mean I could be wrong but I thought that was implied with that scene.”

      No, that sounds like a good explanation for what happened. The causality of that chain of events is a bit wonky, though. I mean, Momoka couldn’t have known that the dragon-lady’s capable of doing that, right? But Momoka freeing her at least explains the why of Sala’s appearance at the end. How exactly Riza had been able to open that portal and send the Dragon-people a message is a bit of a mystery, though. But I assume the episode didn’t offer a lot of information there because it wanted to surprise the audience with that plottwist. So maybe the next episode will make it clearer what the dragon-lady has done and why she still has the means of doing all this stuff even after her cover had been blown.

      Like

  2. I give the chars and the writing a bit of slack because of the situations they’re in and their lot in life (Ange and the other Norma due to their environment, Riza because she’s just trying to save her people and Sylvia vents out her rage at acceptable targets). Doesn’t change the fact that a lot of the female characters aren’t depicted in a positive light, and the writing doesn’t explore their issues much, making them less sympathetic to viewers.

    Neither does it help that the show tends to punish them for their actions (like Riza and Zola, although apparently, according to a recent Q&A with the producers and cast, Zola was killed off because her voice actress had other commitments; they were going to kill her off later on with her telling Hilda to live on) and characters with more “socially acceptable” feminine qualities are treated better (like Sala).

    The other Normas in Embryo’s squad do have names though, got called out in eps 13 and 17 (Tanya and Ilma).

    Like

    • “Doesn’t change the fact that a lot of the female characters aren’t depicted in a positive light, and the writing doesn’t explore their issues much, making them less sympathetic to viewers. ”

      You can add a fair bit of objectification to that list as well considering just how often girls have to run around nearly or completely naked in this show. The thing with most of the characters’ issues in this series is that they’re generally perceived as weaknesses. Unless you’re a snarky asshole like Ange, you’re supposedly too weak to make up your mind and move forward. And even if characters try to move forward, it mostly ends with them doing something stupid or crazy.

      It’s like whenever Ange arrives to tell the other characters that they suck, the series actually seems to agree with her. Of course, Operation Libertus can’t manage to do anything without following Ange’s lead! And what’s the solution to their current predicament? Of course, it’s to get Ange back! This series perceives Ange’s rebellious and assholish attitude as a desirable trait, it seems, that only Ange seems to have.

      “like Riza and Zola, although apparently, according to a recent Q&A with the producers and cast, Zola was killed off because her voice actress had other commitments; they were going to kill her off later on with her telling Hilda to live on”

      Oh, interesting, thanks for that explanation. Guess we all know now why the series didn’t try to replicate the goriness of its opening-act. The whole thing had been more or less just an “accident”.

      “and characters with more “socially acceptable” feminine qualities are treated better (like Sala)”

      Yeah, Sala is treated like a virtuous warrior-princess, isn’t she? Of course she still respects Ange since she’s a total asshole and a princess.

      Like

    • Don’t forget, Riza had poisoned Sylvia earlier, so it was a case of payback. (Even if Sylvia went overkill there.)

      Like

  3. Hello there ^^

    I like your blog, so…. I nominated it for the Liebster Award.

    If you like to be considered then please read about it in this link:

    http://myotakureviews.com/2015/02/23/my-otaku-reviews-liebster-award-nomination/

    Like

  4. Yeah, them running around half-naked a lot of the time, that was under the non-positive portrayal comment. Though I have to laugh at some of the fanservice in the series and how the series sometimes makes it humourous (Momoka dressing up Ange in episode 7 for example). Outside of the rapes/sexual assaults, I have to admire the gall of some of the fanservice. I actually like Cross Ange, I just feel the series is simply lost potential, and deliberately self sabotages at times. The creators don’t seem to take the series that seriously and it looks like they’re trying to see how much they can get away with during a late midnight slot. But hey, at this point, it is what it is lol. What can I say really?

    As for why the DRAGONs didn’t place a portal the first time around, Sala said it was because they were testing their mechs’ power on Arzenal before they decided to attack. I think Embryo would’ve slapped their shit if they attacked Misurugi earlier on anyway.

    Like

    • “I actually like Cross Ange, I just feel the series is simply lost potential, and deliberately self sabotages at times.”

      It feels like the series has this weird mix of ignorance AND self-awareness as the basis for its creative process: The series doesn’t really understand how far it’s going with its ideas but at the same time it’s very aware of when it’s going TOO far. So, you get a ton of “That’s ridiculous!”-moments but then you get moments like “Whoa, hold on a se… oh, I guess the series is not committing to this storydevelopment after all.”.

      “But hey, at this point, it is what it is lol. What can I say really?”

      And that actually is kinda a good thing, right? The series has indeed established its identity with whatever ridiculous shit it’s doing each week. This is a bad series – but it’s one that has style. You know what this series delivers and you get it each week. If you look closely, of course, there are ups and downs even by this series’ standards but overall, it fulfils this basic need for comfort. This series doesn’t surprise you. Sure, it’s really weird to watch Embryo torture/”rape” Ange but then again, this is a series that has turned a guy putting his head between a girl’s legs into a running gag. You know what you get when you watch this series. And as a viewer you can find some comfort in that.

      “The creators don’t seem to take the series that seriously and it looks like they’re trying to see how much they can get away with during a late midnight slot.”

      I wonder how that will change in Japan when we get to the stage where basically every TV-series becomes a VOD on a streaming-service that gets released at a specific time (of course, there are MANY reasons why that isn’t a sensible release-model right now). I mean, these days the anime-industry still tries to address any ethical concerns by putting these series into late-hour-timeslots when it’s necessary. I’ve talked about Madoka Magica that created quite the furore when it had a sudden shit of tone when Mami got killed brutally (one has to remember that this series was advertised as a generic, happy mahou-shoujo-show). And the defense of the show’s creators was basically “Well, it airs late. What else are we supposed to do…?”. And that was it! And since the anime-industry is still one of the biggest ones in Japan, nothing more happened of course. It was a marketing scheme that worked splendidly. But you can understand the parents who might even have been okay with their child staying up late to watch this series because they thought that it’s just another mahou-shoujo-show and then shit hits the fan in that series.

      Personally, I’m all for transparency in that regard and the freedom and restrictions that come with it. You want to create a mature anime? Just do it and don’t hold back – but you have to label it as such. There’s stuff out there like this already, like the Noitamina programming block but let’s face it… that thing doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. Noitamina aired series like Guilty Crown or Black Rock Shooter. Of course, there are good examples, too, but the whole point of this programming block is that you wouldn’t see stuff like Guilty Crown or Black Rock Shooter.

      Well, then again, nobody has a lot of money these days in the anime-industry. I bet if you would look at most animation-studios in Japan you would find out that A) you’ve never heard of them and B) they got hired to do bits of animation for a lot of animes you watch right now or will watch in the next season. Just look at this season’s Rolling Girls and how the famous BONES-studio is playing second fiddle there (and Wits Studio got all that sweet Attack Of The Titans money).

      “As for why the DRAGONs didn’t place a portal the first time around, Sala said it was because they were testing their mechs’ power on Arzenal before they decided to attack.”

      Ugh, did she really say that…? That’s stupid. Seriously it sounds like the WWI-strategy of how to resolve a stalemate. The series established that those Dragons had been people basically and the strategy was “Let’s just hope we’ll get lucky… until then let’s throw people at the problem until we do.”. It’s really weird how the series didn’t criticize the Dragons for their strategy that much because it’s just irresponsible how the Dragons treated their soldiers here.

      “I think Embryo would’ve slapped their shit if they attacked Misurugi earlier on anyway.”

      Maybe… but that’s the point of scouting, right? You find out what the enemy’s strength is. Then you try out one tactic and it it doesn’t work… and if you still have enough soldiers… maybe try another! What this show did, though, was showing the Dragons doing the same fucking thing again and again without success.

      Like

      • Yeah, the DRAGON’s strategy simply wasn’t effective. I think the main cause is that they didn’t know where Aura was at the start and weren’t in control of the portals so they just kept getting wasted. Then Riza was able to get access to the portal points through Julio becoming Emperor, but they didn’t find out where Aura was, until later on. Then they started to get their stuff together.

        Other than that, the DRAGONs’ previous attack stategy might have a dual purpose: they’ll take their chances in trying to get Aura back and assuming Aura dies when he/she’s fully drained of power, they’ll end up sacrificing themselves to feed and keep him/her alive if they fail. Waiting to see if this gets confirmed though.

        Speaking of weaknesses, can Embryo even be beaten? I think you’re right that he’s using dimensional/time powers to keep himself from dying and replacing himself when he gets killed. They seem to be hinting at the song activated weapon being the key to killing him due to its time/dimensional power. Guess we’ll see what happens next time…..

        Like

    • “I think the main cause is that they didn’t know where Aura was at the start and weren’t in control of the portals so they just kept getting wasted. Then Riza was able to get access to the portal points through Julio becoming Emperor, but they didn’t find out where Aura was, until later on.”

      Riza seems like a character they added after establishing how the Dragons just threw themselves at the Norma-soldiers to get killed. If the Dragonpeople’s objective had been to find their super-dragon, then why were they THAT aggressive?! On paper, their actions may make it sound like some sort of clever distraction while Riza is doing her thing but that’s evil shit. You can’t just throw people at a problem for the greater good like that.

      And without Riza things would be even worse! That’s why I think, the series added that so that the Dragon-people don’t look like completely sociopathic idiots.

      “Other than that, the DRAGONs’ previous attack stategy might have a dual purpose: they’ll take their chances in trying to get Aura back and assuming Aura dies when he/she’s fully drained of power, they’ll end up sacrificing themselves to feed and keep him/her alive if they fail. Waiting to see if this gets confirmed though.”

      Well, this strategy does make the Dragon-people sound suicidal, right? That strategy implies that the all the Dragon-people combined are worth less than this one super-dragon. Of course you could sell that idea with good writing – which this series doesn’t have. I mean, those Dragon-people didn’t seem that desperate (mostly because of the lackluster worldbuilding of course).

      “Speaking of weaknesses, can Embryo even be beaten?”

      Well, my assumption is that his power is based on the existence of multiple dimensions. So if Ange either reduces the number of dimensions available to the guy or just simply controls time and space just as Embryo does with the help of Vlikiss, then she can kill him, I would say.

      Like

    • Embryo and the world leaders had found them out anyways after the attack on Arzenal. All that attack did was cause collateral damage towards people (the Norma) who were forced to fight them, expendable style.

      Like

  5. Just found out the Q&A and the Zola thing was fake.😦 And I’m pinning most of the blame on the high priestess for all their sacrifices. She’s pretty desperate to get Aura back, to the point where she didn’t even want Sala to help civilians because she needed her mech.

    Like

    • “She’s pretty desperate to get Aura back, to the point where she didn’t even want Sala to help civilians because she needed her mech.”

      Yeah, that scene didn’t really work because it didn’t establish what the alternative had been. I mean, Ange and Sala were right there – and nobody else was. Also, Ange came up with a plan that ended up working. Usually you would try to create tension and show the authority-figure trying to come up with an effective solution while the hero’s already right there ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of saving lives. If Cross Ange would be like ’24’, the dialogue would be like:
      High Priestess: “A Dragon-squad will be there in five minutes saving the people. Just don’t do…”
      Sala: “I can’t wait that long! Those people CAN’T wait that long! i’m going in!”
      High Priestess: “To do what?! You can’t do that! You’re our most important fighter!”
      Sala (grinding her teeth): …
      Ange: “What’s going on? These people need our help!”
      Sala: “I can’t risk my life. My life’s too valuable for my nation.”
      Ange: “What, so you’re just gonna sit there on your ass?!
      Sala: “The honoured high-priestess has ordered me to stand down. I can’t do anything.”
      Ange: “Fuck her… and fuck you! I’m gonna help these people!”
      Sala: “But you have nothing to do with us! You don’t have to help us!”
      Ange: “Who cares! I can help them, so I will. That’s all there is to that! Nobody’s telling me what I should or shouldn’t do!”
      Sala: “… Argh! Somebody ever tell you, Ange, that you don’t sound like a princess?”
      Ange: “Somebody ever tell you that you talk like you have a stick up your ass? Just shut up and help me…”
      Sala: “But what we’re gon…”
      Ange: “Shut up and listen. I have a plan…”

      But then again, the Dragon-people are the good guys. I mean, the Dragon-people are led by a high-priestess and Ange’s world is led by a sleazy scumbug who happens to be all-powerful.

      Like

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