Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 09

Picture 16

Oh Princess Mecha Sexy Violent Exploitation Adventure: this was not one of your best weeks. You either tried to make everyone betray Ange and Hilda, on every possible level, in order to drive our sympathy for these rain-soaked girls to the maximum level, or you tried to make fun of anime that use such melodramatic ham to control our emotions.

In either case, you were a hopeless failure, sad girls crying in the rain and all.

ange90

The Rundown: Hilda goes home to her mom and finds out her mom has had another daughter who she’s also named Hilda, everyone freaks out, Hilda runs away and gets beaten up by cops while crying in the rain.

Picture 20

Meanwhile, Ange and her maid raid Ange’s high school lacrosse locker room but are discovered by Ahiko, a former team mate. Ahiko betrays Ange, twice, but Ange still manages to fight all the way to the castle, where she is then betrayed by her little sister Sylvia and captured by her evil brother Julio.

ange93hahaha I’m so evil hahaha (snore)

The Good: if you’ve wanted to see people comically freak out over hot girls, then this week’s for you. Hilda’s Mom’s replacement baby, Hilda’s mom obviously calling the cops even though she has no reason to, Ange’s sister stabbing Ange in the arm, it’s all there.

Picture 18

Likewise, if you don’t like Ange much, it was nice to see her tactics fail constantly. However, It was also fun to see Ange kill a decent number of people with no concern at all.

ange91

The Not-So-Good: we got two flashbacks this episode, and one of those flashbacks was so absurdly soon after the event it flashed back to, it felt like a joke. Otherwise, the entire episode was a cheap mess of over-the-top acting, super betrayals and an out of nowhere evil plan by Ange’s big brother.

Really? The whole message to Arzenal was a trap to get Ange to…escape from Arzenal…so they could capture her? Oh shut up!

ange94

The Verdict: This was a stupid episode fueled by cheap emotions and storytelling clichés and what’s even worse is it as much as tells us Tusk will save Ange from her fate next week because He’s The Man, Dog! Yay.

It scores extra points for Hilda’s mom throwing the cherished apple pie at Hilda but it loses as many for not thinking the details through. I mean, I can’t be the only one who wonders where Hilda’s dad is in all of this. EITHER Hilda’s dad, for that matter…

5_ogk

Advertisements

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 08

ange81
Aw, sucks to be the only Norma who has to stay on duty…

I won’t lie…I was kind of dreading this episode. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it wasn’t that bad at all. But why don’t I let Ange herself give us a quick synopsis, speaking as the mascot “Perolina”:

It’s the long-awaited swimsuit episode, pero. But there were only a few slurpy scenes, pero. Running pigs, stinky outfits, and a great escape, pero! Do they really know what a swimsuit episode is, pero? You’re just making me make funny noises, aren’t you? Pero!

I love Ange’s little meta commentaries after the episodes. In addition to being funny, they prove the show has a cheeky sense of awareness that knows when it’s being exploitative and knows when to pull back on the fanservice throttle, for instance, and give us some meat and potatoes.

ange81a

Yes, even in Hell, there’s a day off for hope, fun, and happiness, if only one. I’m not averse to this concept; at some point, all the Norma in Arzenal will snap and go nuts and probably cause a great deal of damage…if not given some kind of release valve. Granted other valves already exist — from the marketplace to spend one’s earnings to tacitly permitting conjugation. But the Festa is a day long deep-scrub of all the crap that’s been built up. I daresay the ladies deserve it.

ange82

Ange mentioned a great escape, though. There are actually two that take place this week, and these events thankfully push the Festa into the background where it’s more than tolerable. The first is borne out of Ange’s totally understandable depression over the plight of her sister Sylvia. Initially she believes there’s nothing she can do, but an opportunity presents itself when Misty Rosenblum, whose family administrates Arzenal and who once played lacrosse with Ange a lifetime ago, arrives on the island to meet Ange.

ange83

Ange isn’t the only one not into the spirit of the Festa. Emma seems to resent giving these filthy barbaric Norma a day of sun and fun, and stays stubbornly in her duty uniform, as this isn’t her festa. I liked this little exchange while she was searching for Ange, because it underlines her disapproval with this whole exercise.

ange84

Ange, meanwhile, has shrewedly hidden herself within the Perolina suit, wanders off to the flight deck, scares off a couple of lovers, and broods in peace. Then she spots the Rosenblum crest on the transport ship and hatches a plan: she’ll take Misty hostage and force her to fly her off the island, so she can find Sylvia.

This is important for Ange not just because it’s her little sister, but because Ange blames herself for paralyzing Sylvia when she fell from a horse during a ride. When she though Sylvia was dead she was content to be Ange, but she’s not, so she has to try to save her.

But Ange wasn’t the first person to come up with this plan: Hilda, who has been just as sullen at the Festa, has been waiting for this day to escape.

ange5

Contrast that with Ersha, who suited up as Pero first and then gets a massage, or Salia, who avails herself of the cinema, pop culture aficionado that she is. And then there’s Chris and Roselie, who deal with Hilda avoiding them after they ‘betrayed’  her, in different ways.

Roselie washes her worries in gambling, but Chris decides to put everything into winning all the sporting events and a fat prize check so she can spend it with Roselie…and Hilda. It’s a great character beat for Chris, who we haven’t seen much of, but who genuinely cares about Hilda.

ange86

Speaking of cash, Ange leaves enough to cover the weapons she’s taking aboard the ship (which are guarded by a dog easily bribed by a tub full of cheeseburgers, the functional equivalent of diverting a pursuing dog with a string of wieners).

Ange and Misty arrive at the ship to find Hilda and Momoka already there, and that’s when Hilda suggests they team up, for a better chance of getting away. Ange grudgingly agrees when Hilda points out the arresting locks need to be unlocked to take off.

ange87

After a nifty, carefully-coordinated operation in which they wait until the noisy fireworks start, they get the transport moving. Now Hilda just needs to catch up with it and jump aboard…something Ange isn’t so sure she wants to allow after all.

ange88
“CURSE YOUR SUDDEN BUT INEVITABLE BETRAYAL!”

When Ange starts goading Momoka to take off without Hilda, something that doesn’t sit right with the still morally pure maid, Hilda forces the issue and makes a desperate leap onto the ramp, and we learn the truth about Hilda: everything she’s done, from becoming Zola’s plaything to befriending Roselie and Chris to planning this escape, she’s done to get back home to her mother. She’s going to get off this rock or die trying. At the last moment, Ange lends her an outstretched arm to prevent her from dying, and their alliance holds. And all this in flip-flops!

ange89

Once they reach land, they ditch Misty and the transport quickly, Hilda unearths her motorcycle, and then heads off on her own to the Enderant Union to find her mom, but not before an exchange of respectful looks and promises not to die. While they were bitter enemies at Arzenal, finally putting aside their differences led to their freedom. But how long will that freedom last?

7_brav

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 07

ange71

From the beginning, Cross Ange has used difficult-to-watch, aggressive exploitation of skin that toes the line of outright adult content to make a point about racism and self-destruction. That skin-fueled message has (almost) always been the point though, and the creepiness has been relentless in forcing us to consider the very meaning of fan service, what it means and why we shouldn’t like it so much.

ange72

Not this week though. This week was just fan service, stretched like lovely skin over an empty plot about team building and waving away all of Ange’s enemies problems.

ange78

To sum up: Ange continues to defeat all the DRAGONs on her own, which means she’s ignoring orders and no one is making money. Team Hilda continue to try and shoot her down but are unsuccessful until Ange catches a cold.

ange77

Then the episode devolves into a cliché-fest where the Salia finally realizes no one has died since Ange came back and that Ange is really good for them, regardless of following orders. Then they go on a mission and immediately get their asses kicked, until sick Ange comes to save the day.

ange74

I would have a whole lot less against episode 7 if it wasn’t full of so much skin. (or ‘steam censorship’ equivalent to skin) There was just no point in having the girls fight in the bath nor have a nude bath party after the ‘we are all friends now’ battle. It was just skin and totally censored skin at that.

ange76

So I’m deeply frustrated at the moment. I’ve enjoyed Ange, and I don’t mind its graphic nature where and when it’s making a point but this makes two episodes that I’ve gotten to review that were utterly cliché, disposable exploitation bits without any value or creative point.

ange75

Sure, we get to know that Tusk is known by the prison’s command team and, during the credits, Ange’s sister some how gets a secret message to Ange that she needs help but so what? The only entertainment was finding out the captain is a cosplayer and Vivi is implied to be her lover…

5_ogk

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 06

ange61

First of all, kudos to this episode for not bringing up anything about Tusk and his island…like, at all. Not that that episode was totally irredeemable, but it was pretty bad, and it was too soon to follow up on its events. This week was Cross Ange’s chance to show it could turn the page and move on, and to its credit, the show did just that.

ange62

With that out of the way…Momoka’s Here! It’s the ep’s title, and it’s what we get: Princess Angelise’s Top Maid. A girl who grew up alongside the princess as she served her. An inconvenient, awkward, painful manifestation of a life Ange thought was dead and buried. A reminder of how weak and dependent and vapid a girl she used to be. But these are also reasons why Momoka works, where Tusk didn’t.

ange63

Bringing Momoka to Arzenal was opening a can of worms, but I like how they use her mere presence and a short talk with Ange to finally feed us crumbs (though not too much) of what happened to the Misurugi empire: In short, after the Angelise fiasco, it fell. Not that it matters to Ange: she’s ordered by Command to take care of Momoka for the duration of her stay, and that’s all. On top of that, Ange resents Momoka for knowing she was a Norma all along and lying to her along with everyone else…and yet even if Momoka was as in the dark as Ange, the fact remains ignorance isn’t innocence.

ange64

Momoka’s presence also gives the Hilda Crew ammunition, which they immediately pounce upon wih relish. They know Momoka’s a sore spot and drive their heels into that spot, reminding Ange that everyone who’s shown her affection has ended up dead. They also imply that Momoka’s life is already forfeit due to her exposure to Arzenal, the DRAGON, and the use of Norma to fight them – all state secrets the powers at be will jealously protect. As cool an exterior as Ange maintains, the barbs are enough to throw off her aim.

ange65

How can they not? Momoka reopened Ange’s old wounds, but she doesn’t hate or blame Momoka half as much as she blames herself, for everything from bringing about the downfall of her family’s empire to getting Coco and Miranda killed. She rejects Momoka’s use of her full name and service and ridiculous room improvements and even roast quail because she feels she doesn’t deserve them. She’d worked so hard to find a groove in her new life of subjugation and death, and then Momoka went and complicated everything.

ange66

This, again, is something Momoka can plausibly do, where it was a bridge way too far last week with Tusk. And hey, we even get a bath scene with a practical purpose that serves the characters, a rare thing. I say practical, because the nudity and proximity reveals Momoka’s scar from a cut she got when she broke one of Angelise’s dolls long ago.

ange67

Rather than get angry about the doll, Angelise tears her dress to stop Momoka’s bleeding. Mana could easily repair a scar most may find ugly, but Momoka kept it. To her, it’s a symbol of Angelise’s kindness and compassion, as well of a mark that represents her service and devotion to the princess until death. Momoka thus shows us a side of Ange we weren’t sure existed until now; or at least a side we couldn’t quite see past her appalling racism in the first episode. Momoka believes her Angelise-sama isn’t dead, but lies just beneath the hard crust of life since her exile.

ange67a

And Momoka would be right. If one would apply that flashback to the present: Ange’s resentment, guilt, and desire to discard her past life, all of it, is the doll: it simply doesn’t matter compared to Momoka. We knew as soon as Emma got off the horn with “the Committee” that Momoka was a security threat that would not be allowed to leave the island alive. We also knew the episode would use our previous knowledge that it isn’t afraid to kill off characters to give the situation some weight. Jill and Emma even create the artifice of a “transport” coming to “take her home”, perhaps to soften the blow.

ange68

When Coco and Miranda were killed, it was because Ange was so green and freaked out of her gourd, there wasn’t much she could have done to save them, even if she hadn’t run. In this case, however, Ange has the means and the savvy over Arzenal’s system to save Momoka, so she makes it happen. She goes into battle, kills ALL the DRAGON, and uses her earnings to Buy Momoka, a transaction Jill permits, partially because even she probably feels bad about having to kill the innocent maid (Emma certainly does), and partially because Ange, the budding ace, finally understands how things work at Arzenal.

8_brav

Maid Observations:

  • I also wanted to mention that I appreciated how Momoka wasn’t some embarrassing, cliched bumbling fool. As a maid to the royal family, she’s naturally a highly competent all-rounder, whether it’s getting to Arzenal in one piece, defending herself with Mana, or spending Ange’s money on extravagances.
  • I must point out, however, that it was a bit silly for Momoka to show up in her Maid’s uniform, as well as continue to wear it throughout the episode. If you need to sneak on to a prison island, dressing down is probably the way to go.
  • It’s also my sincere hope that Momoka not only gets new, more practical clothes, but her role evolves from merely being Ange’s maid. I’m not saying she should jump in a cockpit, but like I said, she’s an all-rounder; surely there are several ways she can contribute moving forward.

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 05

ange5_8

Oh god! WHAT?

ange5_2

What?! No! Stop it Ange!! STOP!

ange5_3

Last week, Hannah gave a convincing argument on how and why Ange waking up naked in a bed next to some guy from the opening credits could work — could shake her out of the routine she was finally able to build — and that she such an event would let her reassess what’s going on in her world.

Instead, Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo episode 5 takes Tusk, a new male character with a mysterious past, and forces his mouth into Ange’s crotch as many times as it can… for laughs!

ange5_9Thank goodness he’s a mechanic that can get her off this island!

In previous weeks, Hannah and I have defended Cross Ange’s use of sexual violence and exploitation as a bold (if not brazen) statement about oppression, racism, and keeping a people down through self hatred.

This week is indefensible.

The constant, absurd put-Tusk’s-mouth-on-or-near-Ange’s-crotch scenes, followed by a MONTAGE depicting how they slowly became friends, is mind-blowing.

ange5_7

The only reason I’m giving this a 2 ( instead of the 1 I gave Vanadis’ boob-sucking episode) is because none of the girls are asserting their relative social status and value as people through comparing breast sizes.

Even then, I’m very tempted to give it a 1 anyway.

Episode 5 is a true, complete failure of story telling and the choice to MONTAGE together random events to show Ange’s growing feelings for Tusk is as cowardly as it is lazy.

ange5_10

We even get to see Ange is a terrible cook in the most cliché, pot-exploding way, which facilitates yet another crotch-mouth for Tusk. Ha’yuk!

The total irony here is that Hannah and I were talking just yesterday about what it would take for Ange to ruin the goodwill it has built and I foolishly said, it’s built enough goodwill that I’ll give it a full review even if it fizzes out over the season.

ange5_4

Who knew the character around the corner was a ‘klutz’ who would fall on Ange’s crotch accidentally more than once, that Ange would be bitten near her crotch by a snake and he’d need to suck out the venom, and that everything would be better and happy with no actual scenes or dialogue spent to actually make it so?

ange5_6

Who thought it wouldn’t be creepy as hell that Tusk can leave the island at any time during this episode’s development?

Who thought it would be okay to have Ange whimper in an orgasmic way as Tusk “eats out” her poison??

What madness led the writers to have Ange fall for Tusk, her captor and possible sexual predator, by the end?

ange5_11

Oh my god WHAAAAAATTTTT?!?!?!?????

2_ogk

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 04

ange41

Jill repeats my assertion at the end of last week’s review: these girls are in Hell. But like anywhere else, Hell has a pecking order and an agree-upon way of doing things. Ange is struggling to fit in and, worse, is not even trying. As far as she’s concerned, she’s already a corpse on borrowed time that’s only going to be spent killing Dragons. No time for possessions or friends or enemies. No time for drama!

ange42

Of course, her enemies and would-be have something to say about that. Just as Salia took up a leadership position that she’s not ready or equipped for as Zola was, this week Hilda takes over as the Zola of the bedroom, the one who fills the void her death left in Rosalie and Chris’ lives. There’s always someone to step forward and assume a vacated role. But like Salia, Hilda is no Zola. We know she couldn’t even satisfy Zola on the eve of her last battle, leading Zola to prey on Ange.

ange43

I’m not saying Zola was a saint — she did try to f-ing rape Ange — but she was a vital, competent authority figure that kept her troops’ clashing personalities in check at HQ, kept them alive out in the field, and tended to their emotional and physical needs in the boudoir. No one can dispute that she owned herself. That woman has been replaced by two girls who are clearly out of their depth, but still try to cultivate the fiction that they aren’t, because at the end of the day, they can’t afford to be. They’re it.

ange45

What’s so great about the new character dynamics is it isn’t the Hilda faction vs. the Salia faction, or Hilda vs. Ange, or Ange vs. Everyone. It’s all of the above. Salia has to protect Ange from hazing because it’s her job as the captain, but there is no “Ange Faction” as long as Ange refuses to accept the help or kindness of others, or refuses to help herself. And while Ange seems to have found her new self, she remains a pretty crap person, as evidenced by her cold treatment of Vivian. Yes, Vivian can be a pain, but I felt bad for her here!

ange44

It’s not just Hilda, Roselie and Chris who are loathing the princess, either, but a large chunk of the nameless general population as well. The way she’s acting right now, Ange deserves some of that scorn. But she doesn’t seem to care either way. In an escalating battle of wills, somethings gotta give, and it does when Hilda goes too far and sabotages Villkiss.

ange46

This leads to another great aerial (and partially naval!) battle in which Ange falls from the sky and sinks, followed by a twist ending where she wakes up nude in bed with a guy (who isn’t nude, just shirtless) on some tropical island. Is this…a bit goofy? Sure, but the set-up of the scene is thankfully quite straightforward: this lad saved Ange, got her out of her wet clothes, and is letting her use his bed. He has her tied up just in case she’s trouble, which we know she is! Any kinkier interpretation is just in Ange’s (or our) own head/s. Yes, a gentleman would sleep on the floor, but maybe he’s not a gentleman!

ange47

It’s par for the course in terms of Ange continually finding herself strange, unexpected, and/or unprecedented situations. It’s also pretty standard in these kinds of stories for the protagonist to at some point end up exiled or isolated and in a situation where there’s time to analyze and re-examine, and emerge changed. I’m looking forward to seeing Ange suddenly outside of the regimented, lethal existence she’s only just gotten used to.

8_brav