Review-Roundup: Aldnoah.Zero 22, CROSS ANGE 23

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 23 [480p].mkv - 00004Ange’s being as understanding as always…

Aldnoah.Zero 22: Inaho has become robocop. Slaine and Klancain start their own little Game Of Thrones show. And the princesses get very sentimental. Also, there’s a war going on but who cares about that, right?

Cross Ange 23: Great, Ange is back in form! Just in time for the finale, Ange’s ready to be the biggest asshole in any room she’s standing in! Except when it comes to love… Apparently love is the only topic Ange can take serious without becoming a cynical asshole.

Aldnoah.Zero 22 Review:

[HorribleSubs] Aldnoah Zero - 22 [480p].mkv - 00003Great, so robo-Inaho is more self-aware than his human counterpart. I think robo-Inaho is better at being human than Inaho is actually.

Aldnoah.Zero is a series with a plot – and not much else. There’s a story but except having a character-driven soap-opera the larger story has mostly disappeared into the background. And the characters have barely changed. I’ve said it before: Characters in this show perform roles, they don’t breathe, they don’t seem alive and they don’t develop. They just do their job. I mean, talk about dramatic irony with how Inaho wants to express his love for Asseylum but he ends up just becoming more of a robot than he already has been since the start of the show. This show needs a great plot to work and what did we get in that department in the last few weeks? A lot of pointless maneuvering on both the Martian and the Earthling side and there were confrontations… but of a superficial sort. And while Slaine had a more interesting plot in terms of incidents his story was mostly dependent on him suddenly becoming a huge asshole. As Slaine rose to power, his asshole-level rose with it. Meanwhile, Inaho was… Inaho and he was getting more… Inaho-like. He has become Robocop, is what I’m saying.

It’s episodes like this though that show what the series should be like all the time. This is a show that needs to burn through its plot in huge leaps. And thereby it’s creating an epic journey for the characters to go through whose developments are entirely circumstantial. The characters aren’t defined by deep psychological issues but by incidents. And in some way the series is already at this point anyway. Just look at the opening and how important it seems to be to remind everyone of the semifinale in the OP each week. But it isn’t just about having incident-filled episodes, it’s about having meaningful incidents that have an impact on the story and the characters EACH WEEK. With Slaine the series at least tried to do that but it didn’t go far enough. Inaho’s storyline on the other hand has been fairly dull so far. But this episode is a prime-example of what this second half should’ve been like: There are incidents, there are character-moments and there are surprises.

Klancain, Saazbaum’s real son, has quickly turned out to be one of the most interesting new characters of this second half. That he would arrive this late into the series is just proof to me that Aldnoah.Zero indeed wants to have a second season. If it doesn’t have a second season, this series has wasted a lot of time by not having him around. The dialogue-scene between Slaine and Klancain demonstrates the power-struggle Slaine should’ve been confronted with a LONG time ago.

The dialogue between the two characters is one of the highlights of this episode as it actually confronts Slaine with a genuine Vers-Empire-loyalist. This isn’t some haughty, arrogant duke who’s too ambitious for his own good or some dimwitted duke who’s all too ready to fully support Slaine just to get in on the fighting. This dialogue has the sort of intrigue-laden flavor that has been missing from this show for a long time considering how old-fashioned the social structure of the Vers-Empire is. And it’s quite nice how the dialogue seems very nice and tidy on the surface but there’s already some subtle tension as Klancain is essentially apologizing for how hard it must have been to serve under his father while Slaine is praising Saazbaum. Klancain says something negative and Slaine responds with something positive – which already establishes their enmity in a very subtle way. And that enmity only gets expressed openly once when Klancain wonders if the princess’ wish to invade Earth has also been the Emperor’s wish who’s in a coma. Klancain is challenging Slaine’s authority here to use the princess as an excuse to invade Earth and create a new kingdom.

It’s a bit cheesy that Slaine’s adversary had to be some young dude (animes and their fascination with teenagers… it’s almost as if they can’t stop thinking who’s likely to buy their DVDs/Blurays) and this characters has arrived on the stage far too late but it’s an effective scene. I mean, since the series has avoided any confrontation between Inaho and Slaine for a long time, it would’ve been neat to have a genuine rival present for Slaine to deal with.

And that brings me of course to the scene between the real princess and Inaho… well, robo-Inaho, you know, the part of Inaho that is more expressive and honest. It’s kinda weird how Inaho as a roboter has more personality than him being this almost emotionless ubermensch. I mean, robo-Inaho subtly scoffing at Inaho’s infatuation with the real princess may be a stereotypical “Oh, the robot doesn’t understand love!”-moment but at least he had an opinion to offer. Inaho barely gives any signals as to what he’s feeling or thinking. What I’m saying is: I have nothing against him remaining a Robocop who pines for the love of a princess. That’s what his character should’ve been from the start.

It’s also interesting to note how in one scene the real princess is talking about only caring for the people of the Vers-Empire and that she doesn’t have a “special someone” but then she breaks out in tears upon seeing Inaho and reacts with some sentimental words that reflect the sentimentalism of Inaho.

This is an episode where shit happens. And this shit matters. In a long line of episodes that were neither impactful nor very dramatic this is an episode that at least has done better in both departments. And yet, in terms of timing, I can’t help but feel that we should’ve reached this point a LONG time ago. When I look back on the past couple episodes, I remember some of the shit Slaine had to do in order to get where he’s now but… everything else? That stuff took way too much time to get where it’s now. This series should’ve dealt with the consequences of the semi-final in earnest far sooner.

Episode-Rating: 6.0/10

Cross Ange 23 Review:

[HorribleSubs] Cross Ange - 23 [480p].mkv - 00009Only in Cross Ange would women consider going commando in order to give someone else her pants as a lucky charm.

The finale has begun! The stage is set, the actors prepare to do their things and whatever happens will decide the fate of the world! But does the audience care about any of that? That’s the real question and Cross Ange has lacked a real explanation as to why anyone should care for a long time. I mean, what exactly does this series want to get at with this asshole of a main-character being the good guy? And in an episode like this one where you get this condensed overview of everything the series has put on the table, you start to wonder whether the ending will make much sense beyond having a “the good guys have won, yeah!”-moment.

Sexuality is the first thing that gets a weird portrayal in this series. Male sexuality is very dualistic. You got Tusk, the good dude and you got Embryo, the bad dude. One of them is trying to be a knight who tries to save his virginhood for the woman he loves and the other is a scumbag who rapes, manipulates and has a harem. So you can at least look at these two extremes and go “Yeah, I get it. One’s cool and the other isn’t, easy-peasy.”. When it comes to female sexuality the series’ standards are VERY loose, though. Female sexuality in this series is blunt, verbose and trivial. Two women could fuck each other just as a way of greeting in this series. Also none of the female characters have a problem with nudity or sexual situations. More than that, female characters in this series have an inherent curiosity for their sexuality. While Tusk is chasing all the usual chaste notions of romance, the females’ approach to the same thing is best exemplified by when the women from the Dragon-people literally kidnap Tusk to study his dick. Women in this series have no inhibitions when it comes to their sexuality and the series never misses a beat to turn this into fanservice, of course.

This is important to note because of how the scene between Ange and Hilda develops. Hilda confesses her love and is about to accept that it isn’t requited love but then Ange kisses her suddenly. Now with the general impression of how women express themselves in this series, Ange might as well say “Yeah, I would fuck you because you’re a good friend but I don’t love-love you.”. The line about how there isn’t anything unwholesome about her love for Ange because in the new world it won’t matter is a bit strange but I guess the general point of the scene is that Ange doesn’t turn away from Hilda in her moment of vulnerability.

The rest of the episode is really just the usual finale-business. The world is ending, people are dying and neither the good guys nor the bad guys give a shit. They really don’t! At one point the Dawn-Tower is collapsing thanks to the cryo-cannon of the Aurora and it’s squashing hundreds if not thousands of people and the reaction-shot of the important characters is just a blank “That happened.”. There are so many atmosphere-shots of people scrambling for their lives in this episode and none of the important characters react to that. Those characters seem to live in their own little bubble where it’s all about fighting the good fight and the rest seems irrelevant.

That is of course best shown by the weird scene about Sylvia, Ange’s sister. The series is simply stopping Ange’s fight with Salia in the most abrupt manner imaginable as the former is crashing the party some humans have started with Sylvia as the “special guest”. And Ange (like always) is a total dick to these people. After all, she has no trouble shooting one of them because she doesn’t like his opinions about Normas (thereby proving all prejudices against Normas right yet again). Her behavior towards Sylvia isn’t much better, although all of a sudden Ange knows that Sylvia can walk. I mean, I already wondered about that when the sister and her grudge got introduced but to let Ange say nothing about that until now is the sort of artificial storytelling that reeks of cheap writing. But the scene ends and Ange just leaves without her sister. Ange’s assholishness is back in full force in this episode!

Like most other shounen-shows this series’ finale seems to be a series of various duels that happen at the same time but independent of each other. Eventually Jill joins the fighting and so you have a battle between Salia and Jill, a battle between Chris and Hilda/that other girl and Sala, Tusk and Ange are going after Embryo, I assume. I don’t care about any of these fights so I hope that next week will be the last episode of the series, so that it all gets wrapped up. It’s already very clear what each of the fights are trying to get at dramatically. The only important thing left on the to-do-list is to show what the new world will look like that Ange’s fighting for, because that’s where the series will have to nail down what the point of the story has been.

Episode-Rating: 5.0/10

About M0rg0th

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

Posted on March 16, 2015, in Aldnoah.Zero, Anime, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. This is a little too late but what is it with anime and monarchy, I mean no matter how advance the civilization is they will also have a monarchy. Its kind of annoying how you always see a king, a princess, and a prince.

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    • Well, it’s romantic, isn’t it? Romantic in an idealistic way, I mean. You got the old, wise king, the pretty princess, the dashing prince, the tyrant and so on. There are a ton of familiar tropes you can use in association with having a monarchy in your series. Of course, it’s when a series like Cross Ange argues that people with blue blood are born leaders in comparison to everyone else that things get a bit out of hand as it isn’t just about using certain tropes but you’re actually idealizing stuff to the point of ignorance.

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  2. Again, this is a case of self-fulfilling prophecy. You drill it into a group of people that they’re anti-social monsters and beasts, they might just end up becoming what you drilled into them, or being hostile towards you because of their treatment. Whether or not Ange was right or wrong and how the people of Mana were programmed, these are the same citizens that killed her parents, sent her to Arzenal and tried to kill her back in ep.9-10. Then they got mad when she understandably refused to help and one of them pointed a gun at her. She’s defending the world, but not for them. She used to be on the same shtick, but she’s more than paid her dues for it. So I don’t think she owes them anything personally.

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    • But that makes her selfish at best, doesn’t it? Instead of proving to be better than what she’s accused of, she’s just being a monster to the people who call her a monster. The series certainly can’t make the case at the end that all the people are suddenly forgetting their racism because the Normas have saved the world after how Ange has treated them.

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      • The Norma’ve been pushed down for so long, I don’t think they care that much about being better than the people of Mana. As far as they’re concerned, the people of Mana brought it on themselves by dumping on them in the first place. When you weigh up what Ange did in comparison to what they did, it doesn’t really compare. Besides, it’s really hard to be the better person when you received that level of treatment and then they have the cheek to order you to help while simultaneously discriminating against you and then pointing a gun at you when you don’t go along with them. Ange might’ve been able to disarm him, but she really didn’t care about that guy and it’s pretty hard for me to blame her.

        I’m not sure how everything’ll resolve, I’d imagine there’ll still be tension but it’s better than Embryo destroying everyone/eternally toying with them. Plus the people of Mana don’t have Mana anymore so they should realise by themselves that not having Mana doesn’t make you a monster. Judging by the next ep’s title, I’m not even sure they’ll survive.

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    • “Besides, it’s really hard to be the better person when you received that level of treatment and then they have the cheek to order you to help while simultaneously discriminating against you and then pointing a gun at you when you don’t go along with them.”

      Theoretically this would be an explanation but let’s face it: This series has done a shitty job to make us relate to Ange & Co in that way. I mean, the series basically played the magical “They aren’t racists on purpose!”-card to explain why people acted the way they did and gave those people a chance for redemption. “Embryo made them do it!” has been the message regarding that the last couple episodes but now in this episode Ange’s like “Ergh, fucking pigs, start thinking for yourselves already! Embryo may have manipulated you but it’s still ALL your fault, guys!”. So why did we need the Embryo-bit if it doesn’t matter in the end for Ange anyway?!

      And you need the good guys to be better than that because otherwise you have a situation like this one in this episode where both the villain and the heroine actually agree with each other. Embryo doesn’t give a fuck about those people and Ange doesn’t give a fuck either. They’re literally fighting over who should orchestrate this apocalypse!

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      • The difference is, Ange and her group want to kill Embryo and rescue Aura, hence breaking down the old order of things and “creating a new world” whereas Embryo wants to destroy both Earths and literally create a new world from it. Ange doesn’t care for the people of Mana much, but she does care about her friends and lover dying and being forced to become Embryo’s wife. That’s where the disagreement comes from. The problem is Ange and co. keep saying they want to “destroy the world”, but it’s not to be taken literally. They’re not gonna kill the rest of the Mana people.

        I see where you’re coming from about the manipulation bit, but again, I wouldn’t expect Ange and co. to care, and they’re not the most clean-cut people around either. I don’t think the series even really wants us to think of them as traditionally good people. They’re understandably bitter and angry. In spite of that, for me, their discrimination and the sheer amount of crap they’ve gone through makes them sympathetic. I see it as a bunch of not-so-good people vs the bad guy (Embryo) and the not-so-good people’ll get my backing everytime. But that’s just how I see it.

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    • I guess, what they’re going for here is a dog-eat-dog-story. The point is supposed to be Ange’s survival against the odds – and that’s it. The world is against her and so she pushes back. And the way Embryo has treated Ange has given this fight an equally personal dimension. If this were the only themes at play here, that would be fine. But it’s also a supposedly epic struggle for the fate of the world. And so you have this selfish character who doesn’t care about the bigger picture which includes ideals, morality and such. When Ange talks about a “new better world”, it always sounds like she’s just talking about a world that’s better for her friends and herself. There isn’t any inspirational notion of “I’m going to save humanity.” attached to it. You can sympathize with her character on a personal level – but on a story-level, she’s just the lesser of two evils for the people of this world. Embryo wants to kill all of them, Ange just doesn’t care how many survive the battle. What it comes down to is a matter of self-awareness and presentation because I don’t think the series nails the atmosphere. The series is always indecisive whether you’re supposed to feel slightly horrified by Ange’s assholish behavior or if she’s supposed to be cool. And then there are the moments where Ange’s actually a little bit sentimental. The crassness is never put into perspective in this series but instead gets justified on a superficial level. Which leads to a lack of focus as you’re wondering whether the series really knows what it’s doing here or whether it’s all just there for pure effect.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t necessarily see how caring or not will make the events any more dignified. I mean even the battle has been more like “rocks fell everything goes boom.”

    I think in a meta kind of way this episode has shown Ange pretty much accepting the weird logic of this anime, that men are either good or bad, there aren’t really sexual restraints and if you’re not bold with what you say people are gonna be assholes, [except for the dragon people].

    Also yeah the part with the loli sister goes on, “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!”. Now with that impediment out of the way I could still see something coming from that side.

    I also usually not that keen to pay attention at animation hiccups or bad drawings, but oh man, when Ange was remeeting with Jill it was pretty jarring how basic the detailing was.

    Another silly things, apparently Embryo moves his army like a game of Risk, you can control a flying-boat-submarine with a boat helm. Jill went all Matrix Revolutions and will likely be killed by Salia to just acknowledge her before she dies.

    The sad thing from this episode is that it really just shows how much of a padding sidetour the last 3-4 episodes were. I mean I suppose the only thing accomplished plotwise was rescusing the dragon lady, but if anything it kind of feels like they were made to appeal to the S&M and mind control fetishistic demographic. *Cough* *Cough*

    IMO the most pointless thing is the conflict they have with Chris. That’s actually something in this whole battle I truly don’t care to see how it concludes.

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    • “I also usually not that keen to pay attention at animation hiccups or bad drawings, but oh man, when Ange was remeeting with Jill it was pretty jarring how basic the detailing was.”

      Also the scenes where the mechas are fighting against the drones and destroying ships… I can be wrong but it eerily felt like a copy/paste-job with different lighting from the 12th or so episode.

      “I don’t necessarily see how caring or not will make the events any more dignified. I mean even the battle has been more like “rocks fell everything goes boom.” ”

      Yeah, the episode had no sense of pacing. Things just happened. Why did Jill escape at exactly the point that she did? The scene explaining that is simply missing… but then again with Tusk’s survival we already know what this series’ producer thinks of internal plot-logic. Why could Ange stay for THAT long in that hallway with her mecha in the middle of a fight?! How does destroying a tower create a crater?! And no character (except Ange) responds to the apocalyptic chaos unfolding on the streets. There’s no build-up, tension or anything like that here. It’s just the usual tepid shounen-battle-royale-situation with a very stark context that none of the actors care about actually.

      “I think in a meta kind of way this episode has shown Ange pretty much accepting the weird logic of this anime, that men are either good or bad, there aren’t really sexual restraints and if you’re not bold with what you say people are gonna be assholes, [except for the dragon people]. ”

      Maybe that’s it… Everything that makes Ange a giant asshole is… a good thing according to this series. And the bold bit is important, too, considering how Ange treated Jill after she had learned of why she had behaved so strangely when they had met the last time. I guess, being shameless is another ideal for this series.

      “Another silly things, apparently Embryo moves his army like a game of Risk”

      But how else would you know that a really important battle is going on ^^ ?! Also notice how the Aurora doesn’t need a big distraction to approach the Dawn Tower? The ship just waltzes right through the defenses.

      “The sad thing from this episode is that it really just shows how much of a padding sidetour the last 3-4 episodes were.”

      Well, they tried to tie up loose ends by ending arcs like the romance between Tusk and Ange for example, they explained the motivations for the various characters in this finale, they revealed the bad guy’s plan and they tried to liven it up with some drama which was the whole Salia & co becoming the enemy, Ange getting captured and tortured by Embryo, then her escape and then there was Jill’s little arc. I mean, it’s not like those episodes were filler. Those episodes did have a purpose. But the direction for the episodes was awful and most of the things these episodes did felt perfunctory. Like there’s only this drama here that can be addressed because the series has obviously created this drama for that purpose. You don’t get this organic sense of escalation and build-up you would usually expect to see in preparation for a finale.

      “but if anything it kind of feels like they were made to appeal to the S&M and mind control fetishistic demographic.”

      Don’t forget the yuri-crowd😉 . Especially the dialogue between Ange and Hilda seems like it’s pandering. There’s no reason for Hilda to be so reluctant about her love considering that this girl with orange hair is her sex-buddy despite both of them being in love with other people.

      “IMO the most pointless thing is the conflict they have with Chris. That’s actually something in this whole battle I truly don’t care to see how it concludes.”

      *sigh* Yeah… I only want to see what kind of world Ange ends up creating with her assholish bravado. How about Tusk and Ange being the only survivors so that the series can play the Adam and Eve card ^^ ?

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  4. TheRealWinston

    Eine klein wenig verspätete Antwort (war die Woche weg).

    Was mich bei dieser Folge am meisten auffiel, war:
    …das Jill von Embryo vergewaltigt wurde (für mich sah sie eigentlich schon willig aus und sie bereut es eigentlich nur mit dem falschen ins Bett gestiegen zu sein. Wobei, Embryo kann auch Gedanken manipulieren, irgendwie, von daher)
    …Ange, so mir nichts dir nichts Captain wurde (ja, weil sie auch dafür prädestiniert ist, weil….,so halt, Baum und so)
    …Ange Hilda küsste (Im Grunde hast du eigentlich schon alles gesagt, was es dazu sagen gibt. Aber mein erster Moment war so, Hääää…, ist die jetzt doch Bi?, also eine Umarmung und ein Küschen auf die Wange hätte genügt, aber nicht so innig. Vielleicht will Sunrise einfach ein wenig die Verkäufe ankurbeln)
    …Ange Tusk ihre Unterhose als Glücksbringer gibt (Ich bezweifle, das Frauen das machen, oder?, oder vielleicht schon?, ist irgendwie eine gute Frage)

    Der Rest, ja, wie du schon sagtest, ein normaler Serienfinale anfang und so. Nicht wirklich schlecht, aber auch nicht herausragend.

    Aber weil sich keiner um die Leute/Zivilisten scherrte die dabei umkommen. Ernsthaft ich trauere denen auch nicht nach.
    Und wo Ange auf ihre Schwester und die vier Typen trifft und das Ange sich arschig verhält. Habe die Szene nicht mehr genau im Kopf, aber…
    …mal ganz ihm ernst, Sylvia und die vier Typen sind keinen deut besser. Zunächst einmal bedrängen die vier Typen Sylvia, das sie ihnen doch helfen möge, weil sie die Königin ist und so, dabei war Sylvia gerade selber ziemlich hilflos. Und dass die vier Typen dann Ange um Hilfe anflehen, obwohl sie in Folge 10, Ange noch tod sehen wollten, also, wenn das nicht Arschig ist, irgendwie (Ok, weiß zwar nicht, ob die vier Typen auch bei der Hinrichtung zugange waren, aber du verstehst was ich meine).
    Und von Sylvia, ja, da brauche ich wohl nicht anzufangen, nur, das sie die ganze Zeit gehen konnte. Sylvia verhielt sich aber doch arschiger als Ange.
    Und weil sich Ange arschig verhielt. Sie hatte in der Szene das recht dazu sag ich mal. Und den Typen, den sie erschoss, das geht als Notwehr durch und das sie es ihrer Schwester mal gezeigt hat, war mal richtig so.
    Das ganze was das aber noch besser gemacht hätte, wenn Ange irgendwie gesagt hat, das sie keinen Adeligen Status mehr hat und irgendwie beiläufig erwähnt, das sie halt Hingerichtet werden sollte (im Sinne von “den Adelstitel habe ich verloren” und “wolltet ihr mich nicht vor einem Monat Tod sehen”).
    Und das einzige, was mich dann aber doch stört ist, das Sylvia am Ende doch noch lebt (ich hoffe wenigstens, das sie nicht mehr auftaucht).

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