Review-Roundup: Aldnoah.Zero 22, CROSS ANGE 23
Ange’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:
Great, 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.
Cross Ange 23 Review:
Only 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.
Posted on March 16, 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. 11 Comments.