Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 15

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As Tusk and Ange (who were allowed to dress) get carted off with Vivian to somewhere they know not where, this week begins by acknowledging that yes, it was cruel for the dragon girls to interrupt them in flagrante delicto. The episode certainly makes it up to him later (er…sorta?), but Ange’s “There’s no time for that now!”, while both practical and funny, is utterly unsympathetic to male biology.

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Still, there really isn’t time for sexytime. After taking it easy and exploring this strange new world on their own, they now find themselves in the clutches and at the mercy of the dragon girls, who I must say have one exquisitely picturesque capital.

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Fish-out-of-water culture shock ensures, as Ange and Tusk are brought before a council of priestesses who all shout questions at her. Our fiery Ange is having none of it and refuses to cooperate, which is great. Why the hell should she? Because they have swords pointed at her and are threatening execution? Pfft. Been there, done that. “Bring it on, if you can.”

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The dragon girl Ange once fought, a princess in her own right named Salamandinay (which I’ll henceforth shorten to Sala) emerges from behind a curtain. Amused by Ange’s brash impudence, Sala steps in to take responsibility for Ange and Tusk’s lives. She’s immensely proper and polite, showing the two to comfy quarters and offering tea, but when her subordinates deign to make her repeat her orders to leave, you see a tinge of her own hellfire lurking beneath that serene visage.

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With no reason to trust Sala, Ange repays her kindness by breaking what was probably an antique tea bowl and using a shard to initiate a standoff. You have to hand it to Ange, she knows how to handle herself, and has had it with waves of pleasantries obscuring the truth she seeks, whatever the hell it is. She’s also willing to test if Tusk is truly ready to die for her at the drop of a hat.

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Sala defuses the situation and bids that Ange accompany her to the bowels of the ruined Dawn Tower (called Aura Tower here), where Sala proceeds to lay the truth on her: There are two worlds, this one being where humans originally came from. After war, some left to create Ange’s world, while others stayed and fundamentally changed their genetic makeup in order to repair the planet’s damage, and their own.

The most damning truth is the fact that the first dragon, Aura, who is essentially mankind’s savior in this world, is no longer there, but being imprisoned on Ange’s world beneath its Dawn Tower, and is the source of the Light of Mana (thanks to Embryo). The Light isn’t infinite, so the powers that be replenish it by slaughtering the DRAGONS who stray into their world.

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Ange finds all of this fascinating, but it doesn’t change the fact that the world she’s from and the battles she’s faught aren’t “false” to her, and she has to go back. Sala won’t let her, and demonstrates the gap in power between them by choking Ange out. Sleep, fair, spastic princess.

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Ange awakes nude in last week’s hotel room as Tusk brings her coffee, and they have a perfectly casual talk about her dream, and then Tusk morphs into an evil Sala and Ange wakes up again, to find Vivian is back in her human form. The double dream is a nice indication that Ange has just ingested a large about of stuff, and she’s still trying to make sense of what’s real. She also probably wouldn’t have minded if the dragon girls had given her and Tusk just five minutes…

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The rank-and-file dragon girls were not idle as Ange slept: Tusk is the first mature male in human form any of them have ever seen (all the males here are big dragons) which is a pretty big deal. As such, he is stripped down and used as a live, unwilling subject for a sex education lesson, which consists mostly of a bevy of scantily-clad dragon girls poking and prodding him every which way.

Ange bursts in, suddenly Tusk’s knight in shining armor, only to trip on a bottle. In doing so, she learns just how easily one’s face can happen to land right smack-dab in someone’s crotch, and just like that, we’re tuned into to Cross Ange: Fellatio of Angels and Dragons.

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Obviously it’s not shown, but it’s implied that Tusk’s erection goes straight into Ange’s mouth, after which she swallows, dusts herself off like nothing’s amiss, and then asks what the meaning of all of this is. She blames and fumes at Tusk for this predicament, even though she was out cold, he was all alone, vastly outnumbered, and tied down; and all of this with blue balls. So I ask you: what the heck was Tusk supposed to do?

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Knowing the meter is running, the episode promptly tables the smut, and after Ange has calmed down, Vivian is reunited with her dragon mother. Vivi isn’t interested at first, but her nose knows: this is someone she used to know. This underlines the fact that the war between the two worlds isn’t as simple as Us vs. Them; there are children of both sides, and innocents on both sides that must be protected.

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That night, Sala spearheads a pretty lantern-launching shindig to celebrate Vivi’s return, Sala’s subordinates relay her wish that Ange and Tusk enjoy their stay and consider joining her crusade of acceptance, forgiveness, and restoration…and Ange finds it in her heat to forgive Tusk for letting himself get captured and sexually assaulted.

A lot happened this week: some of it intriguing, some of it downright silly; but Ange is still faced with the same basic situation she was in last week: she finds herself in a new, less messed-up world where she could live and forget about the messed up world she came from happily ever after, with Tusk (assuming she can keep the other girls off of him).

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The difference is, now she knows all the details with which to inform her ultimate choice, which Tusk will surely go along with whatever it is, because he’s her knight. Does she stay here? Does she go home and resume the fight against Vivi’s people (not easily done, considering how tough Sala is)?

She can’t really deny her world is a world of theft, greed, destruction and despair. On the other hand, it’s her world. If there’s a way to eliminate those things, as they’ve seemingly been eliminated in the dragon world, she’s going to want to be on point in that effort, because she’s no longer an the idle Princess Angelise with her head in the sand. She’s Ange.

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Stray Observations:

  • Sala is voiced by the ethereal Hocchan (Horie Yui).
  • Sala heard about Ange from Riza Randog, who we know is a dragon lady. That means the dragons have had one of their own in the emperor’s bed for some time. I imagine she was going to betray him eventually.
  • I was able to shorten Salamandinay to Sala because Salia wasn’t in this episode, but it makes me wonder if their names sound similar and they look similar for a reason, as Sala is the chosen magical girl heroine Salia has always fantasized about becoming.
  • No matter how much sympathy for their cause Sala manages to build, there’s a part of me that thinks we still don’t know the complete picture. These dragons may yet be the bad guys. This is Cross Ange we’re talking about.
  • The mind races to fathom which sexual acts will accidentally befall AngexTusk in the weeks to come. Will the show ever let them just have regular, okay sex?
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Sword Art Online II – 17

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Nearly as quick as a fairy archer’s kick to a frost giant’s nose, the Norse Mythology / Excaliber (not “ur”) quest is wrapped up.  King Thrym turns out to be far less of a threat than I thought, and he’s dealt with in the episode’s A-part.

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That’s accomplished due to more teamwork by the party, and in this case, again I find myself forgiving the sheer size of said party, for no other reason then…well, look at the size of the boss! You need a forward team laying down melee attacks while others stay back and offer ranged attacks and support spells. It’s all pretty by-the-numbers…then Freyja has Kirito find Mjolnir and transforms into a He-Man-garbed Thor!

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OMG ASUNA DOES SOMETHING THIS WEEK!

Not does her sudden gender-swap kill Klein’s brief and only love interest to date (not that it really mattered, since she was virtual), but gives the party the edge they need to bring down Thrym, as Thor proves quite the large and effective decoy, keeping Thrym’s hands full as the rest of the party can attack at will.

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SUUUURRRRRRRRRGE!

Klein wins Mjolnir as a reward (though he sucks at hammer-wielding), and the party moves on to the lowest level of Thrymheim where Excaliber rests. It’s at this point that both Kirito and I remember that he summoned the holy sword once before, after his foe failed to do so…

Yeah, I kinda wish the sword had turned into an creepy, annoyingly haughty cartoon character.

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After it’s removed, Thrymheim crumbles and the party starts falling with it, but Tonkii arrives on cue to bear them to safety. It’s at this point that Kirito holds Excaliber uneasily in his hand, and, deeming it still too heavy, throws the thing into the dry lake.

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This seemed like a stupid thing to do, and Sinon, agreeing with me, quickly retrieves it with an arrow enchanted with a retrieval spell. I thought she did this because she wanted it herself, but she just gives it back to Kirito, making him promise to think of her when he uses it. A little out-of-character this week, aren’t we, Sinon? Also, why are you giving it back to him? He’ll just throw it away again!

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Okay, that helmet is kinda cute…

Then Urd appears along with her sisters Verdandi and Skuld to thank the party and officially end the quest, and Klein instantly falls for Skuld and asks for her contact info even though she’s just a virtual NPC and not a real woman and he just met her. This strange and somewhat pathetic move somehow earns Klein Lisbeth’s respect…though maybe she’s being sarcastic?

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We cut to Kazuto showing Shino and Sugu his new “mechatronics” demo which allows his digi-daughter Yui fly around the bar, and is it just me, or is the episode running out of stuff to do??

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Finally, we end with a big New Year’s feast in the real world, with Kirito taking care of the check with funds he presumably earned in the GGO arc. Overall, this episode was a little disappointing and safe. It wrapped up a fairly inconsequential sidequest, but seemed to have difficulty filling the running time. I’m wondering if one or two more lightweight sidequests are all that’s left in store for the last seven episodes, which would be an even greater disappointment.

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Sword Art Online II – 16

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The stakes of the group’s New Years “Just For Fun” Optional Quest for Excalibur are raised significantly when Yui realizes that because ALO uses the same Cardinal architecture for creating random quests drawn from human mythology, literature, and history, the natural conclusion to their present Norse quest is Ragnarok, a “final battle” that will destroy the world, meaning the entire ALO game map, wiping out everyone’s progress.

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That’s like your Playstation packing up without warning. Yes, this has happened to me, and it sucks. So now that this is no longer playing around, this episode get sback to the basics of SAO: RPG-style battles filled with physical and magical attacks and defenses. We also finally get why the party is so big; even the minotaur-like guards on the “easier” of the four floors are tough customers that require sustained onslaughts to bring them down. The only thing missing from the battle are flying numbers showing how much HP and MP is being lost or spent.

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That tough battle is eventually won thanks to contributions from everyone — yes, even Asuna and Silica fight! — and they move down to the next level, but run into an ice cage where a beautiful damsel is imprisoned and, well, Klein can’t help himself, succumbing to his “Bushido” and freeing her, even though everyone (including him) is pretty dang sure It’s A Trap!

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She turns out to be not just any wench, but Freyja, Norse goddess of love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr (sorcery), war, and death. Not a bad addition to the party, in other words…and Hey, none of the other girls seem to have an interest in Klein, but Klein needs love too!

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With Freyja now part of the fray, Kirito goes over the plan with everyone: Nothing fancy, just observe the upcoming boss’ moves, look for patterns and weaknesses, and take the bastard out before the medallion turns completely black and they lose all the hours of progress they’d amassed in the game thus far. This one’s for all the marbles.

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Freyja immediately exhibits a boon of having her in the party, as she casts a spell similar to “Bubble” that no one else wields, which increases everyone’s Max HP by at least 50%. Combined with Asuna’s party buffs, they’re as prepared as they’ll ever be to face King Thrym. My only nitpick would be that they didn’t get a little more intricate and thorough with the support spells, the way one must do in RPGs prior to a big fight.

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Once in the King’s Chambers, the party is flanked by fantastic wealth, obviously meant as a temptation to draw them off their path or even just delay them until Ragnarok arrives. King Thrym himself, being a frost giant, is suitably imposing, haughty, and mocking, dismissing the intruders as nothing more than flies sent by Urd to annoy him with their buzzing.

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Before the battle begins, Thrym notes that Freyja is with him, and that she was sent to his fortress to wed him, an offer he’s kept open, but imprisoned her because he suspected she was trying to steal from him (likely Excalibur). He also loads up three separate health bars, meaning he’s no Yiazmat (by God that guy was a pain in the ass), but he’s no Goomba, either

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