Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 11

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This is a Rondo of Angels and Demons, so I’m not surprised to see Julio under the mind control of Riza Randog, thanks to some kind of evil serum she secretes. Sylvia walks in on the two and is appalled before being restrained by RIza’s demon tail, suggesting the drug wears off. I’m guessing both were under Riza’s influence when Ange was around.  In any case, the royal family is in deep doo-doo.

This week gave me just about everything I could ask for in a Cross Ange episode: high stakes, new bad(?) guys; Arzenal camaraderie, more Salia backstory; a significant if incremental elaboration on the world’s mythology; lots of awesome aerial combat, and new friendships being forged in the crucible of imminent death!

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We’ve seen from her hobbies that Salia is still a little girl at heart, and it seems to surprise even her when a group of actual kids salute her and regard her as an idol (she is quite pretty). She can’t believe she’s already a whopping seventeen.

As she and Mei visit the grave of (I’m guessing) Mei’s sister, a fallen pilot, and remembers losing her, as well as having ‘Elektra” (Jill) lose her arm, give Salia a first chance in Vilkiss, but not a second.

If she still lives her life like a kid who needs protecting, Jill is going to treat her like one. WIth only five active pilots, First Troop is downgraded to third.

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But when an enormous cloud of DRAGONs appear directly over Arzenal HQ, the second and third troops are quickly overrun and it becomes necessary to put the half-strength Salia Squad out there anyway. And we’re talking the first couple minutes of combat that the other squads are wasted and the command center is wrecked.

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The DRAGONs are apparently being led (shepherded?) by three Vilkiss-like paramails that emerged from the same portal. The pilot of the lead mail sings a song, and the mail turns gold and unleashes a high-yield beam that destroys half of the damn island. Forget this show being tough on Ange and Hilda; it’s tough on everyone.

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With memories of the past fresh in her mind when the assault occurs, Salia gets it in her head that This Is Her Time to prove herself to Jill, Mei, the rest of her troop, and herself. To that end she disobeys orders and pilots Vilkiss herself.

Momoka frees Ange and Hilda and they race to the hangar bay. It’s kinda cute how pissed both Ange and Hilda that they’re so dirty, stinky, and disheveled from their confinement, but things get grimmer as they traverse the bloody corpse-filled mess hall.

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It would be enough in their rusty states to simply hop aboard their own paramails and fight the biggest battle Arzenal has faced yet, but Ange and Hilda have to reel in Rogue Salia first before she gets herself killed and Vilkiss destroyed.

Rivals they may still be, but Ange and Hilda prove they’re still quite capable of working well together under duress. Hilda even gets a little turned on by Ange being so close, which is understandable considering how much sex Hilda is used to and how long it’s been since she’s felt a woman’s touch.

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Ange also breaks out her daredevil routine, jumping on top of Salia and then tossing her off for Hilda to catch. There’s a lot of trust in these maneuvers, and however much the girls may swipe at each other, it’s clear they all know that they can count on one another.

That’s probably no comfort to Salia, as it’s basically confirmed during her short stint piloting Vilkiss that despite all her hard work and determination, she just doesn’t have what it takes. Vilkiss is sluggish and unresponsive in her hands.

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But Salia’s shortcoming isn’t so much talent as intuition, not to mention blood. When Ange hears the enemy mail singing again, activating its main weapon, she sings her song right back (a little Macross with our Gundam, if you will) which causes an identical golden transformation in Vilkiss, both to Ange’s and the enemy pilot’s surprise.

About that enemy: she’s the Chinese-looking woman at the end of the line of faces in the credits, and her outfit is extremely bizarre yet awesome-looking – essentially a loincloth that descends from bust to groin with a cross strap for her bust. Interestingly, it reveals the opposite parts of skin as the Arzenal flight suits. That would make for some bad-ass cosplay.

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This woman wants to know why Ange knows a song no “unworthy citizen” should know, and Ange just wants to know who the heck she is. Both are then shown flashes of what looks like histories that never occurred involving the both of them, as everything from opponents to classmates to lovers. The still-nameless pilot withdraws after an alarm and five ominous words: “The time comes, it seems.” 

Nearly halfway through the series, we may still be in the dark about what’s really going on here, but this episode made us rest assured the time is indeed coming when light will be shed on that darkness. In the meantime, the Arzenal girls keep on keepin’ on, since all they have are each other.

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Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 05

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Oh god! WHAT?

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What?! No! Stop it Ange!! STOP!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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

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Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 04

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – 03

Poor Miranda! She never had a chance, and more than Coco
Poor Miranda! She never had a chance, any more than Coco did

Cross Ange is a dark, gritty, brutal, sometimes just-plain-wrong mecha series done right. As First Troop battles a battleship-sized DRAGON and its twenty-odd underlings, Miranda is simply told to keep back and stay alive, an order she cannot follow. Just when you thought, “well, maybe they’ll have Miranda resent Ange for Coco’s death later”, she dies too, just as she’s told not to!

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But just so you know, the show isn’t content just with killing off rookie redshirts, as the highly capable, experienced bad-ass Captain Zola also meets her end in the fiasco of a battle where Ange first tries to desert, then freaks out and flies around, then slams into Zola’s Paramail, preventing her from landing the killing blow on the DRAGON. For her trouble, Ange gets to await rescue as the blood from Zola’s empty eye socket drips all over her cockpit. Frankly, I’m surprised more pilots didn’t lose their lives out there: those DRAGONS are exceedingly efficient at tearing people to pieces.

Everyone hates you. You are the worst.
Everyone hates you. You are the worst.

Even if it’s not all due not entirely to Ange, her selfish actions contributed greatly. She’s also gone and made even greater enemies of Zola’s three lovers: Hilda, Roselie and Chris. And Jill even sent her official petitions to several nations: all were rejected, as no one has ever heard of the Misurugi Empire or a Princess Angelise. She hasn’t just been plucked from her world: that world doesn’t even exist anymore.

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Nice touch that Norma get their full names back when they die

Once healed up and out of her Gaultier Leeloo bandages, Jill has her lug the tombstones of the dead to their final resting places – the duty of the person responsible for their deaths. It’s here she learns her cushy mana-filled world is built atop the bones of the Norma, all fighting to protect a civilization that spits on them. When she learns fallen Norma get their names back, she starts to wish for death, to escape the hell and return to a place of peace, even if it is the afterlife – because she’ll at least once again be Angelise Ikaruga Misurugi.

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Villkiss – Ange’s (old) new ride

With her first paramail trashed, Jill bestows Vilkiss on Ange – while awesome-looking, it’s hard to control and has seen better days; the perfect ride for someone with a death wish. But the Vilk is no lemon; and in giving it to Ange Jill seems to be challenging the voracity of her wish.

Salia is the new First Troop Captain…for better or worse, as she’s extremely rigid and by-the-book leader, probably a better lieutenant than captain. When they find the DRAGON and it’s revealed it’s basically acting as a decoy for a sea-to-air attack, Salia kind of just freezes. She’s only saved from the fates of Coco & Co because Ange lures it away — not because she particularly cares about Salia (or anything), but because she’s trying to die.

Vilkiss, Resplendent in Assault Mode
Vilkiss, Resplendent in Assault Mode

That is, until that DRAGON grabs her paramail and stares her down, and she remembers the dying words of her mother: “Live on.” Her ring, which was returned to her, glows, and when blood from her head drips upon it, there’s a reaction that’s both surprising and utterly un-surprising considering Ange’s natural course from now on. She’s not going to die there, because she realizes she doesn’t want to die.

Ange's not ready to die yet after all
Ange’s not ready to die yet after all

To that end, she does what it takes to live on — wasting the dragon in a heated blaze of gun and sword attacks and ending the battle on an exclamation point, bailing out the tactically deficient Salia in the first sortie under her command. By the end, Ange is flushed with excitement, just as Zola said she’d get when she hit her back. Ange is still ashamed to feel this way, but she can’t deny she does.

I have Nothing. I am Nothing. I will live. Kill and live. That is all.
I have Nothing. I am Nothing. I will live. Kill and live. That is all.

She hasn’t been a knowing Norma long, and having not grown up as one doesn’t harbor the same deep scars, but she’s very quickly starting to understand what kind of living Norma must cling to. Even if it involves killing and a whole host of other nasty stuff, they have to take what they can get and find peace and solace however they can.

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So Angelise cuts her long flowing locks and tosses them into the wind, to join her name, her past; everything else she’s ever had or been. She decides she will live on, as Ange, at any cost; not die as quickly or easily as her mother or young comrades. Then she takes the pudding Coco gave her out of the dustbin and dutifully chokes it down. It tastes disgusting, but it will nourish her soul. When in Hell, you savor every compromised comfort you can get your hands on.

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