Review-Roundup: Aldnoah.Zero 23, Cross Ange 24
He does…? He has sex with the woman he loves and one of his biggest concerns seems to be to count the number of moles on her inner thigh? And why is this turning into a contest between Embryo and Tusk in the first place? Also, I believe, the audience has seen Ange naked WAY before either of them did – multiple times! And technically Ange’s “first time” has been the unpleasant experience of getting raped by Jill… but nobody in the show talks about that anymore, of course.
Aldnoah.Zero 23: Inaho’s robo-self is killing him because brains and stuff. And Slaine is doubling down on his attempt to ruin Earth because that’s what big boys would do in his situation, he believes. And after listening to the emperor’s final confession, Asseylum is ready to take charge! And so she’s about to marry some dude… again
Cross Ange 24: Tusk talks about sex. Alektra takes revenge on her ex. Chris accepts that she’s simply too whiny to be considered a good person. Sala takes an eternity to finish singing. And the world has ended – as expected. One episode left: You gotta wonder whether they’ll really manage to find a sensible ending for this show with only one episode left.
Aldnoah.Zero 23 Review:
… which is something a recovering alcoholic would NEVER say.
At one point in this episode Asseylum has a speech that is supposed a powerful moment where she takes control of the situation. She uses the speech to demand peace with Earth and announces a marriage with Klancaid. Why should there be peace? Because Earth is some sort of paradise of natural harmony that needs to be preserved. Why the marriage with Klancaid? Because marriage-announcements are apparently the only power-move a princess has – even if she had just become the new empress. If we think of the marriage-thingy as a plot-mechanism, some incidental thing that is the product of previous events, then it’s the peace-thing that really stands out as the motivation for the good guys. War is bad/unnecessary, the nature of Earth needs to be preserved and actually the Earthlings have done a fine job of rebuilding Earth’s glorious nature. But here’s thing: That’s the EXACT SAME THING Asseylum had as a motivation at the start of the series!
There’s a difference between coherence and stasis. With coherence you have some red thread that connects all the dots and all the little things along the way contribute to the illumination and expansion of that red thread. Stasis connects incidental dots as well but thematically it never moves on or expands its view. The story of this series is VERY static in this regard. It isn’t just the Vers-Empire hellbent on taking Earth for themselves that is stuck but the good guys are equally unable to change or evolve their point-of-view. Both sides just keep on fighting without even thinking about what the effects of the war are. Each side wants to win on their terms or die trying. Compromises aren’t even an option in this series’ universe.
Furthermore this stasis has led to a considerable lack of momentum throughout this second half. Except Slaine, EVERYONE in this show has been treading water since their introduction. Inaho’s eye-thingy might as well just be a MacGuffin, so Inaho’s plotline has some meat to chew on (because god knows you can’t do anything else dramatic with this lifeless character called Inaho). And Slaine’s plotline in the second half revolved around him becoming a bit of a villain but then you get this scene with Eddelrittuo, Asseylum’s maid, where she insists that Slaine is still the same person deep-down. It’s a very bizarre moment for how Slaine’s actions are seen as something detached from his personality. He has changed his MO but somehow neither Asseylum nor her maid considers this to be the sign of a changed person. And to some degree, they’re right, aren’t they? That’s the reason why Slaine despite being the villain of the story never seems like one. He’s just this petty douchebag who pines for the love of Asseylum while raging at the Earth-forces in a fit of jealousy.
And if the villain just seems petty, then what about the good guys, one may wonder. This is the point where I come back to how Asseylum mentioned her love for Earth again in this episode. And it’s this love which has been the undercurrent for why the good guys do what they do in a broader sense. What the series mostly focused on, though, were battles that Inaho and the Deucalion-crew needed to win and Inaho’s desire to save Asseylum from Slaine. But there’s something very passive about how the Deucalion and Inaho acted in this second half. There isn’t much momentum created by their actions because said actions quite often seem like meandering. That “bad military-supervisors”-sub-plot with the Deucalion is as pointless as it’s tiresome. And above all, all this stuff doesn’t contribute anything to the notion Asseylum is preaching whenever she gets a chance: That the Earth is precious. Asseylum just has this few throwaway-lines of Japan’s traditional views on animism but the series does nothing to cement that notion. It’s like someone saying that racism or slavery is bad. I mean, duh, of course it is. If you phrase your moral argument so bluntly, there’s no room for discussion. And yet aside from the soap-opera that is the love-triangle between Slaine, Inaho and Asseylum, the whole Earth-thingy is the only other card this series has to play in terms of themes. And the series is barely doing any worldbuilding, it’s taking for granted that everyone in the audience gives a shit about its obvious point-of-view regarding Earth.
This series… It isn’t bad so much as it’s just lazy. Whatever this series has been doing is NOT enough. And it doesn’t help that the series seemingly has no confidence in its own storytelling as well. You could do a drinking-game in this episode where you would always take a drink when someone would make an on-the-nose meta-fictional reference. The words “final” and “showdown” get thrown around quite a lot in this episode. Then there’s stuff like when Inaho says to his sister “Hey, that’s a Death-Flag, you know.”. The simple amount of variations of the “Come back alive, you hear me.”-phrase you hear in this episode is high enough to make this episode a very corny affair.
And what is even the finale supposed to be at this point? It better not be the semi-finale 2.0, a lot of action leading to a lot of blood and death. You can play that card only once, especially because of how the aftermath of the semifinale had been such a huge letdown. I still expect for this series to end with an announcement for a second season. Considering how lazy this series’ storytelling has been, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the reason for that was simply that they wanted to save some stuff for the next season. And right now? Right now I’m not even sure that I want to watch this theoretical second season. I mean, what for? This series’ good points are measured in moments among a sea of pointless meandering and lengthy battle-scenes.
Cross Ange 24 Review:
So the asshole who doesn’t pay attention to you and just sort-of stays around you all the time is your real friend? This scene’s definition of friendship seems to be any person who’s ready to put up with your bullshit.
The 24th episode of Cross Ange brings all the insanity the series had cultivated over the course of its run together into one episode and the result is the genuine question whether anyone who worked on this series’ story and writing even knew what they were doing. And yet, this episode is Cross Ange at its “best”. Everything in this episode is so baffling and wrongheaded that it’s hard to believe that one person or even a group of people could’ve decided that anything of this might’ve been a good decision. I don’t think it’s the series that lacks some needed self-awareness here, it’s the creators of the series that do. This series is the sort of insane shit you would mock in a MST3k-fashion because of how utterly clueless the creators seem by showing off this series as something they intended to make.
There are a couple moments of pure insanity in this episode but the best one by far is the confrontation between Embryo and Tusk. I want to know what went through the writer’s head when he (and it IS a he definitely) wrote that scene. People are fighting and dying, explosions, the world is ending and here you have the most bromantic version of a dramatic battle. In a weird way those two dudes go through what most female characters with love-interests have to go through: Being unable to talk about anything but the person they’re in love with. The ONLY two male characters present in this finale and they can’t shut up talking about Ange. I don’t think this is exactly what the Bechdel-Test is getting at. But this isn’t even the most insane thing about that scene! What’s more insane is that the scene has NO subtext, the characters just bluntly shout out their claims to Ange. Embryo does the whole “Ange’s my wife! And I will tame her!”-thing which isn’t based on reality since… yeah, they never married. I guess, Embryo is supposed to express some old-fashioned patriarchal values here but it just comes off as deeply bizarre and crazy. But Tusk’s “I have fucked her… multiple times!”-rebuttal takes the cake, of course. It’s also great how he tries to express his deep knowledge of what characterizes Ange’s behavior but what he comes up with is so generic that he might as well have describe just some random teenager. This is another one of these instances that is just so crass as to be utterly unbelievable. Tusk has been portrayed as this virtuous and loyal knight-figure who has won Ange’s heart but confronted with Embryo’s vile claim to “own” Ange, he doesn’t respond with chaste shit like honor and whatnot. He just bluntly declares that he has already “taken” Ange by having slept with her. I guess, playing it fast and loose with your sexuality is considered a thing we should all aspire to as a society. And maybe it would’ve been an interesting point if the series hadn’t been so ready to turn their brains off whenever they expressed that notion.
There’s the fight between Hilda, the orange-haired girl and Chris that ends in this episode. It’s as predictable as one might expect. Although it’s fairly amusing how Chris accepting the other girl’s love results in her listing this series of ridiculous, egoistic demands like her finally accepting the girls’ friendship and love means she’s owed some special treatment. The fight surrounding the Aurora is equally uninteresting as it’s fueled by a ton of technobabble and the sudden arrival of Dragons for an equally technobabble-fueled reason.
Alektra’s dramatic arc in this episode is another highlight of clueless and insane writing. Naturally Alektra freely declares Embryo to be her ex-lover in the fight with Salia to throw her off-balance. This series talks about sexuality other people would talk about special offers at a supermarket, “It’s cheaper than you think so you must get a piece of that!”. But the best moment of Alektra’s arc is her confronting Embryo and revealing that she still kinda likes him. And a VERY short flashback reveals how they started their relationship: Alektra had been in love with a dude who had a relationship with another woman – and Embryo was there to give her the love she craved. Yeah, Embryo’s at it again to be the creepiest dude in the room. I guess, all of Embryo’s list of romantic exploits is just this long list of no-nos when it comes to relationships. But beyond that, you need to be a really fucking stupid writer to reveal such an important detail so close to the end. Even a mediocre series would’ve had a lengthy flashback prepared that showed off Alektra’s and Embryo’s past relationship when it became relevant to the plot. But as far as I remember Alektra never even HINTS at why she had a relationship with Embryo. Revealing the reason now is the stupidest time to reveal that, because I don’t care, of course. This show ENDS next week and NOW they reveal an important piece of information about Alektra?!
You really should listen to the voice-overs during the previews of each episode in this series. Considering what is said this week and how Tusk’s reason for survival got covered in a preview, I feel like these previews actually are a way for the creators of the show to try explaining the trainwreck that is this series. Like this week, one character wonders if the series will really manage to tie up all the loose ends in the final episode. Seriously, that is a VERY good point to make: This series is cutting it VERY close when it comes to its various storylines. Next week episode needs to end Salia’s storyline, the main-storyline and then you got the aftermath which needs to address the fate of A LOT OF CHARACTERS. I guess, we should all be prepared for a messy, rushed ending so that there’s enough room for an epilogue. Another point the preview covered was the reason the series is named “Cross Ange”. I mean, fuck, this is SO stupid… I have to admit that I hadn’t even thought of that. It’s called “Cross Ange” because Ange, the main-chara, is cross. Yeah, that’s it. Makes the whole thing sound more like a sitcom, doesn’t it? Maybe they should’ve added a laughtrack to this show whenever Ange’s being cynical or… cross. I… Fuck it, this is a comedy, isn’t it? You can’t be this crass and this stupid and still expect that anyone would take this series serious, right? If the creators of this show sincerely believed that they’ve produced a show that you can take serious… It’s impossible, it’s simply impossible! No sane person would do something like that!
Posted on March 22, 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. 12 Comments.