Cross Ange – Series Review

Cross Ange - a cafe

Welcome to the first Maid Cafe show of the spring!

winter15-fosh Hey everybody what’s up! Cross Ange is finally over mwahahahaha so I was gonna… oh hey Highway, what are you doi mfff wait! wha no stofffff… ~click~

 

winter15-highw There! Now. *Ahem* Hi everyone, and welcome to the Series Review post for Cross Ange – Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo, or Rondo of Dragon and Angel. I’ve loved watching Cross Ange for the last season and a half (It feels like it took me half a season to get into it, although I seem to have liked it from the first episode), and wanted to write a post besides Fosh’s normal Mechanorn post just focusing on it. So lets break down some areas that I thought were key in the show. *bangbangbang* Keep it down in there, willya?

Story, or How Did We End Up Here?

Cross Ange - Salako and Ange

Ange and Salako, back to back

I’ve been trying to recommend Cross Ange to everyone I know (as all of you readers know and are probably tired of), and the thing a lot of people want to know is ‘well, what is it about?’ And I find that that’s a really hard summary to come up with. Partly because there are huge developments in the first episode that start the story off but I don’t want to spoil, because they’re interesting plot points, and partly because the story goes all over the place. Princess is exposed as a fraud, sent to women’s prison, tries to escape, becomes best mecha pilot at the prison where they have to fly convertible mechs against dragons, buys a maid, goes MIA, meets a guy on a remote island whose face ends up in her naked crotch apparently unintentionally, is rescued, makes another escape attempt, is rescued off the gallows by the face-to-crotch guy (who does it again), survives a raid on the prison, goes to another dimension where the people are dragons, comes back, fights against main bad guy who wants to make her his bride, and eventually frees the world from the main bad guy with the help of others from the prison. And that’s leaving a lot of stuff out.

Cross Ange - Finally making up

Rosalie and Chris find a way to make up, after a save from Hilda

People would be all “WTF?” Just like people watching it were all “WTF?” But to me, the story did the job it was asked to in this show. Usually I like shows that really pile on the story, whether it be stuff from PA Works, or things like Shin Sekai Yori, or Suisei no Gargantia, or Robotics;Notes. And usually when the story is just there for loosely getting the characters from A to B, it’s not going to be satisfying. But I found in Cross Ange it was, much like I felt Girls und Panzer used its off-the-wall story to link everything together enough. Ange’s story had, for me, just the right amount of craziness, without pushing too far, and enough depth to give you something to at least latch on to. Comparing it to other Sunrise mecha shows in recent memory, it didn’t go nearly as far as Valvrave, which was a good choice since one of Valvrave‘s biggest problems for me was that they pushed the “You didn’t disbelieve this, so how about this? Or this? Or even this?” But it also didn’t get so stodgy like Buddy Complex did, where too much of the show was spent with the main character just not accepting what was going on. And a lot of the reason it worked was the…

Cross Ange - gotcha

Setting this up with the prior shot made this work much better

Characters

Cross Ange - Team Cross Ange

Go Team Ange!

I liked them all, because I thought they all brought just a little bit more to the plate than you usually get. I won’t deny that some of the characters were fairly one-dimensional, and some were just thrown in as death fodder, like Coco and Marika (each of whom lasted one episode before getting zorched). But when you get to the main characters, particularly Ange, there was something that I just connected with. I found many of the lead characters, not just Ange but also Hilda, Jill, Salia, Ersha, Salako, and even Embryo, to be tremendously authentic. That doesn’t mean that they were based on anyone real, it means that they reacted to things in a way that fit the way the character had been built up to that point. Ange goes through so many phases – Marie Antoinette-style princess, haughty fallen princess, sullen broken teenager, rebel against the worlds who isn’t going to be used by anyone anymore, and finally someone who discovered a purpose and a love in her life – and each one of them felt like a natural progression from the last one, and changed her reactions accordingly. But even with all of that, she didn’t flip-flop or feel aimless. When her outlook changed, it did so with conviction, not with wishy-washiness.

Cross Ange - Jill and Embryo

“Do you want to give it one more try? I still love you!”

I really loved the way the story worked to bring her around, too, using the other characters. I particularly liked the way Hilda was used, and the way Hilda herself developed. Going back to look at the first few episodes, it is obvious that Hilda didn’t love Zola, and maybe didn’t even like being with her, but she did have an attachment to her. And she disliked Ange more, and Ange’s complicity in Zola’s death just made something that seemed like an unbridgeable rift. At the beginning of the show I thought that Salia and Ange would become friends, and that Hilda would always be the ‘nemesis’ of Ange. But from a shared animosity to realizing a shared goal, and then a shared fate, the story brought Hilda and Ange together in a perfect way. And on top of that, to allow Ange to be broad-minded enough to accept Hilda’s love as it was offered was a beautiful choice by the story. Yes, she loves Tusk, but she also had grown to love Hilda as well. I’m a big believer in the idea that love isn’t split, love is something that multiplies.

Cross Ange - Another color scheme for Villkiss

Vilkiss was a character as well, and changed outfits more than most of the others

The rest of the characters were all their own people as well. Momoka the maid who gives up everything because she loves to be with Ange, Salia, so desperate for approval that she latches onto one authority figure after another, finally realizing that she needs to be strong for herself. Rosalie and Chris, fighting out the grudge that Chris had held for so long so that they could once again be friends. And going through all of this, it really shows that the main theme of the show is love. Loving yourself, loving other people, being loved. It was the downfall of Alektra and almost of Salia, their desperate search for love pushing them towards the contemptuous attentions of a fickle Embryo. And it was what led Ersha to also throw in with Embryo, only to push her away when it was finally hammered into her that he didn’t care for the things she loved at all. And it was what brought them all to a place where they could fight for the things and people they loved, even if it was their own self. And that kind of story is one I just eat up.

Cross Ange - Vivian meets her dad

Finally meeting Dad!

They Didn’t Just Do THAT, did they?

Cross Ange - Standing around

I don’t need to actually ride IN my Ragna-mail

This is the wild card category for me. For whatever reason, Cross Ange just had the moments that came out of nowhere, at least in the beginning, and stamped this series with an individuality, even if the things themselves weren’t necessarily original. Like I said earlier, I don’t think they ever went too far (not even the forcible prison search), and the things always felt authentic for the show. Mouthy princess-claimant gets exiled to a women’s prison / military unit, she’s gonna be in for that kind of treatment. Learning that the DRAGONs are people? Daaaaang, and the reaction by Ange was perfect, her horror at what she’d done while watching Jasmine shovel them into a mass grave for burning. After a while, the moments turned from surprise to just me saying “YESSSS!” when things happened like Ange boosting Salia off the Vilkiss, or Ange figuring out that all she needed to do to get Vilkiss in front of her was just ask it to appear. Those moments kept me on the edge of my seat watching, and this show just gave me a giddy feeling pretty much the whole time.

Cross Ange - Had to get this in one more time

For old times sake?

Of course, I have to talk about one moment that happened again and again, and how I think it actually fits into the show. That’s Tusk’s face ending up in Ange’s naked crotch. Not once, not twice, but I think it was 5 or 6 times throughout the series, including in the pivotal battle. Personally, I think that this move was pretty funny, and obviously played for laughs. Not going for cheap boob grabs or even trying to portray Tusk as particularly clumsy, like a certain Rito Yuuki. Just going right for the maximum embarrassment, and with repetition it became a great running joke. It even became that to Ange and Tusk as Ange got closer to him, and even fell in love with him. And when Ange’s reaction the last time was to weep with happiness at being rescued, Hilda even took over the chastising from afar, pointing and yelling at Tusk, banging on her Ragna Mail, and giving him a thumbs down… until Ange looks at her and then she gives a fakey wave and smile. I really felt like the whole thing throughout the series was half a laugh at deconstruction of the ecchi trope and half seeing how many times they could pull it off so that it seemed at least plausibly natural. For myself, I just laughed at the absurdity of it each time.

Cross Ange - help is on the way

There’s one other of the big things that stayed with me through the show, and that is Ange ‘buying’ Momoka. To me, this may have been the biggest turning point of the show, where Ange finally that she has the ability to help other people, and that she finally wants to help some other people. Up to that point, it had all been about her, her wants, her desires. Momoka, the person so devoted to Ange that she’d come to a prison with a smile on her face to stay with her, is definitely something like a pet that one feels obligated to take care of. But after trying to reject Momoka as part of the past life she had tried to cast off, Ange realizes that protecting the life of this person is more important. I also like the mechanism of ‘buying’ Momoka. As Jill says, anything can be bought with enough money. And it’s pretty clear that everyone involved knows what Ange is buying, even Momoka. She’s not buying a person, she’s not buying a maid. She’s buying a life, not for herself, but for Momoka.

Extra Ange, Maybe NSFW

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header-winter15-highw

When I look back at the comments I left for Mechanorn on Cross Ange, I liked the show from the beginning. I don’t know if I loved it, but I liked the way it started out, and even though it may not have been my favorite at the time, it didn’t take long for it to become one of my favorite shows of the season. And I think the main reason is because they did so much with so many of the characters. Even the supporting characters didn’t get ‘an episode’, they got fairly constant development throughout. Salia, Hilda, Jill, Vivian, Salako, Rosalie, Chris, and even Tusk had significant character movement, and the relationships that formed between all these different people just felt natural. I liked that the show wasn’t about life in the world of The Light of Mana, but about the people who are exiled from it. The inversion of society, with ‘human’ meaning something different from what we would believe, the ultimately artificial nature of it. To me, the worst character was Embryo, and that was mostly because he was such a sleazebucket. But even then, he wasn’t the really awful kind of villain that we see in shows like Sword Art Online, just a stack of awful traits who are written to be as “Bad Guy” as possible. And not because he had charm, but because even he was authentic, I thought. As authentic as a guy who’s lived for 1000 years waiting for someone who is anything different can be, I guess.

And when I looked back on the episodes to write this post, I found myself again drawn into them. Ange and Salia fighting with brooms in the bath as Vivian and Ersha turn a blind eye. Hilda and Ange’s insults of respect after they both were returned to Arzenal, forging a bond that would become something much more solid as the show continued. Salia’s struggle to prove herself to Jill, Embryo, and to herself, and finally realizing that the best you can do is be yourself. Tusk’s change from being the Knight of Villkiss to Ange’s Knight. Sure, some of the show is cheesy and unoriginal. It’s a Sunrise mecha show, that’s what you’re going to get. But it never went too over the top. It never killed off a main character just to prove it could. And I don’t think it ever did something just to shock, although I’m sure some will disagree. In a season of shows that was so good, it would be almost impossible to top Shirobako. But Cross Ange, for me, really gave it a run for its money, from a completely different angle. Two shows, entirely different, but both ones that I’ll evangelize for for a long time.

About

Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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22 Responses to “Cross Ange – Series Review”

  1. Highway says:

    Extra thing I just found out about:

    Ange’s outfit singing karaoke is the same as Nana Mizuki’s on the Kindan no Resistance (OP 1) cover

    • belatkuro says:

      And Sala’s outfit was also something that Horie Yui wore(dunno where though).
      Pic for both Nana and Hocchan.

      • d-LaN says:

        Oh wow, that some pretty meta stuff right there. Also I believe that karaoke scene is also a reference to the 4koma manga.

    • zztop says:

      Mizuki Nana did voice Ange. Not too surprised they’d put in that little bonus.

      • BlackBriar says:

        It would’ve been odd if it wasn’t made to be noticeable.

  2. Di Gi Kazune says:

    Started with raep and ended with raep.

    For a villian that had been planning for a millenia, in the end he didn’t have a plan B. Underdeveloped and underused. Obviously not a graduate from an Ivy League School of Supervilliany. Either that or a millenia has caused him to develop dementia. He was such a promising villian when he first came out but then… development just stagnanted.

    And let’s not get into Penis Tusk. Apparently his primary role is Hentai Pervert.

    Since I can’t really continue writing this without essentially really laying into a scathing rant, I’ll end it with:

    Typical Sunrise ending. Other Sunrise shows have better endings though. The Mai-series comes to mind. Zegapain actually was coherent. For cheesy series and decent endings, recommend the Aquarion EVOL. The first series was better though.

    The End. (or at least until the burning comments for the OTHER mecha series.)

    • Highway says:

      For me, that’s ok, because the series wasn’t about Embryo. And nope, not a supervillain, just the bad guy. All the qualifications he had were the dimensional powers. You say he was “planning” but I don’t think he was. His brains weren’t in the villain mode, they were in scientist mode. He didn’t go into science to be a villain. He was just a villain by default, given the opportunity. Plus, he was a lot more shaken by Ange than any of them were by Embryo. Basically, he was a gigolo who fell in love with the girl who didn’t want him.

      • skylion says:

        It sounds like you’re claiming he didn’t so much carry the Villain ball, as he was the Ball…Science was doing all the carrying…

        • Di Gi Kazune says:

          Cannot think… coherently… almost awake 18 hours… installing new PC… [email protected]

          If this were gundam, I would have said: Minovsky/GN particles solve everything. Unforunately, this is not Macross and singing will not solve anything here.

          The good and bad points about cross ange is that it started mediocre, went mediocre, and ended mediocre. Unlike some other show that started out as WTF, improved and ended with an even bigger WTF.

        • Highway says:

          Oh, he was the creepy guy slotted into the villain role alright. What I mean is that he wasn’t a villain because he wanted to be a villain. He was the villain in this story because he was the guy who was in charge, and because he was a creepy scientist dude who had no idea how to deal with women. Science put him in the position of being the villain, which he just wasn’t very good at. So he resorted to just being skeevy.

          • skylion says:

            If you say “no idea” as he had an idea, and was very very very wrong, then I’ll go with that….

            • Di Gi Kazune says:

              I have no idea what idea he might or might not have or whether it is very very very wrong or whatnot, but if he was a scientist, he must have been a crappy one. As a scientist, he is a horrible planner. He had a thousand years to polish things up. He didn’t, went overconfident, made stupid mistakes and then paid the price.

              Basically, he is just a villian for a villian’s sake and that is a poor excuse.

              Now this is a better villian.

  3. skylion says:

    I think my enduring memory of this show is how pitched the bombasticism was. At times, it sung like a choir of angels. Other times, it screeched like a band of leprous harpies..More so angels than harpies to be sure.

    Behind that is how well they closed down on the science fiction ideas. I’ve probably seen better alternate world/quantum layer worlds. But this one did it with far more personality than them. My only real complaint was the glossing over of the Human societies. Never really got a good look at how they ticked. But the show wasn’t so much about them, until they had to take them down in the end.

    Overall, I’ll give it a 7 out of ten.

    • Highway says:

      Given that the show ticked along at a pretty high clip, I think that it left a lot on the table as far as what the worlds were doing, but to me that’s more of a ‘details you find in the novelization’ kind of thing. But I don’t think that a lack of detailed world-building ended up harming the story. I think there were enough details to keep us going. And that there are other stories in a ficton that one would like to see is a sign to me that they didn’t play the whole setting out.

  4. Foshizzel says:

    2/10 worst series i’ve ever seen.

    Jokes aside Cross Ange started out being really interesting with the world building elements and faction v faction with Mana users, Norma and DRAGON! Also I wanted something to wipe my memory clean of Buddy Complex!

    I Also liked the idea of having mechs vs dragons which I’ve never seen done almost like it mixed fantasy and scifi elements together was really cool, but when things shifted to Tusk appearing and the whole romance element it started to become the next SAO for me! Sure Ange would kick Asuna’s ass any day of the week; however I wanted more mech less draaamaaaa.

    After wrapping it up in the end I completely understand that they wanted to start off with making Ange a spoiled princess, break her down until she had nothing left, give her some hope through meeting Tusk, become friends with the pilots and team up with the DRAGONS to save the world.

    I am curious to see what non Gundam series Sunrise tackles even though I think the next one might be a non mecha.

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      Thank you Fosh for putting kinder words into what I think about this series. \^o^/

    • Highway says:

      If it had been more about the mech-fight-of-the-week, it certainly would have been a different series, and would have risked not having much in the way of a story, much like KanColle this past season, where their efforts to shoehorn ‘action’ in every week stunted the growth of the story, made the action ordinary and somewhat boring, and not really have much in the way of a direction to go.

      • BlackBriar says:

        I imagine that had it gone in that direction, with the overall series, you wouldn’t have regarded Cross Ange as fondly as you do now. It was the more the character interactions and drama build-up that caught your eye as opposed to all the mecha action. Am I right or wrong in making these assumptions?

        • Highway says:

          Well, of course it was the characters that really drew me into the show. And if was more action, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t like it. I guess it could be called ‘drama’, but I think it’s important to point out that I think the situations the characters got in evolved fairly naturally from the story and setting, and weren’t pushed that way by the plot, much like skylion criticized the Rolling Girls finale as having been ‘written’. That’s a lot of what I felt was authentic about the show. No, they weren’t ordinary occurrences, but they weren’t completely created out of whole cloth just for the sake of plot.

          But it’s certainly no secret that the top of my anime rankings is dominated by shows that are character driven, and none of them have a strong villain. The only one that might be considered to be more action than characters is Girls und Panzer, and for me, that show was at least as much about the characters. I had no problem with the huge cast and the differences between the tank crews and even the individuals within them. That show pulled me in with the comedy in the second episode as much as the action.

  5. Namaewoinai says:

    Well…I Could say, I Do Enjoyed it, Even though there is flaws on this one! (Like Yeah, When Ange Meet Tusk in a Lewd way UGH!…Yeah, Blame the Director, but enough of that). but i was kind of thinking. Why they choose Mizuki Nana? over…um…i could say…Takagaki Ayahi!…(OOPS! -gulp- LOL!!) OK! I Kinda bit spoiling around here lately!…

  6. BlackBriar says:

    For a very controversial series, Cross Ange did rather well for itself. Controversy coming from aspects like what happened to Ange at the end of the first episode and so forth were pretty cringe worthy even if you didn’t actually see it. The thought at all was more than enough.

    The best part comes her picking herself back up steadily after falling quite a depth from her previous status. Rough around the edges but Ange soon came around to being a better person. I did feel sorry for Tusk receiving any and all kinds of abuse, warranted or otherwise but you don’t find that kind of every day, though.

    As for the story, disjointed in the beginning but everything began to weave together one at a time. My biggest concern for the plot was where the DRAGON aspect came in and how it would play when it seemed completely separate from the human and Norma segregation.

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