Right off the bat, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo shows us that it can do mid-air transformable mecha battles pretty well. The fight reminds me of some of my favorite scrolling shooters, actually. The Mecha is very Ray Storm/Crisis (PS1) and the space-time crossing dragons are very R-Type.
And these are good things! (If your gonna snatch someone else’s originality, you better take it from the best!)
More interestingly, Cross Ange plays its hand close and gives us no context for this fight. Instead, we quickly jump into a magic/mecha lacrosse game between our heroin “Ange” and some unimportant girls in pink.
While neither of these sequences seem that important to our protagonist Princess Angelize, they certainly caught my attention. Aping games I loved and a sport barely heard of outside of my home city? Color me intrigued!
However, not all is lacrosse matches in packed stadiums and life or death dog fights for our strong princess. There’s crushing racism and/or genocide afoot and she see’s nothing wrong with it.
And why not? The “Norma” are considered mutants for their inability to use “Mana of the Light,” which appears to be the underlying source of society’s technology and social stability. Sure, it’s tragic, but that’s the price to pay for Utopia!
Angelize’s viewpoint is kinda understandable but it’s immediately obvious that we’re seeing this world from a misguided viewpoint. Ange’s mother’s response to a well meant but still tirade-y “If only they were wiped out we would have even better peace” speech is all the confirmation we need.
Good intentions make the best grave and ash for royal families, after all.
Unsurprising to everyone but Ange, Ange is revealed to be a Norma herself. Unfortunately, the reveal is during her very public baptism and all hell breaks loose. Her mother is killed, her brother snatches the throne, her younger sister (a cripple?) faints and Ange is captured and sent off to Norma prison.
Not the best birthday ever but I think we can all agree, it could have been worse.
Ange’s birthday takes a decidedly worse turn later that night. Outcast to a rainy dark All Women’s prison, Ange is informed that her life will now be spent as a soldier, her possessions will be confiscated and… well it’s hard to tell but she’s either anally searched or also raped. (it’s difficult to tell if Ange’s blood or her mother’s blood is pooled down her dress)
Either way, ick?
Cross Ange pulled a fantastic fake out with its mecha opening in that I made no connection that it was time-forward and the following lacrosse game was flash backward. While Ange was certainly more gruff in the dog fight, I just assumed it was part of what princess do and I didn’t expect the full twist that came at the end.
I would like to note that, for all its aggression and in your face trauma, this show has fully chosen to pull its punches. Even the opening, which is full of nudity, is… ‘tastefully’ devoid of nipples and genitalia. Like pumping a ton of ‘beeps’ into a song, I found the censorship more distracting than what it was censoring. (especially the still not introduced male character, who has a ken doll’s lack of junk between his legs)
Another odd note is that much of the dialog comes from the left channel and much of the music comes from the right. This was extra weird for me, since I wear a single-right channel headphone while reviewing (so people can get my attention in the office) and I thought part of the opening dog fight comms chatter was actually being translated from the battle song.
That would have been pretty awesome!
Cross Ange has good design, a simple but not too simple plot structure, many many many characters we haven’t been introduced to yet, and cool dog fights to come. It may also have a yuri element, if the end sequence has meaning, and the soft-ball censorship is a little weird.
Still, I’ll take that over the black-out treatment Terra Formars has received, which makes it difficult to even understand what’s going on on-screen.