We're checking out all the newest pilots this season! Read our write-ups on other Fall 2014 offerings like...
- TERRA FORMARS *** TRIBE COOL CREW *** KAREN SENKI *** WORLD TRIGGER
- PSYCHO-PASS 2 *** WHEN SUPERNATURAL BATTLES BECOME COMMONPLACE
- YOU LIE IN APRIL *** PARASYTE *** MYSTERIOUS JOKER *** FATE/STAY NIGHT
- WOLF GIRL & BLACK PRINCE *** CHAIKA -- THE COFFIN PRINCESS
- GUGURE! KOKKURI-SAN *** CELESTIAL METHOD
Are you really gonna make me write out the whole title? I don’t care if it’s just for the first time! Sigh... fine.
CROSS ANGE RONDO OF ANGEL AND DRAGON (*eyeroll*) made me laugh harder in its first five minutes than most sitcoms do over a whole season. Inserting boob shots, butt shots and crotch shots between an epic mecha versus dragon dogfight felt decidedly tongue-in-cheek. I mean, how could anyone take this stuff seriously when you see every other body part of the protagonist before you see her face, more than two full minutes into the show?
But then I saw the collection of color-coded, bikini-clad femme fatales sauntering menacingly toward the camera, AND the ludicrous inclusion of “nudity without naughty bits” and realized: this show expects you to take it seriously. Not just any sort of seriously either, but super, super cereal you guys seriously.
The world of CROSS ANGE is actually pretty complex and intriguing. Ange is the heir to the throne of an empire where every single person has access to the magic power of Mana. And if you can’t use Mana, well, you’re not a person. You’re declared a “Norma” and summarily stripped of all rights, then exiled or executed. This all spells doom for Ange when her younger brother exposes that their parents have been hiding the fact that she’s always been a Norma – hiding it even from Ange herself.
Ange is immediately shipped to a prison island to train to fight invading DRAGONs (an acronym that I really can’t be bothered to look up the name for, especially since it describes what the damn things are without needing to stand for other words), which up to that point had never even been mentioned. From then on Ange is the fish out of water, vainly struggling to escape from her harsh new life.
But that’s all just pretense for the actual setting of the show: underdressed girls being in prison together. And by girls, I mean girls exclusively. Men apparently can’t become Norma, so there are none in the prison. Heck, the whole cast seems to have a grand total of four male characters, half of which are in Ange’s immediate family.
While the plot is of questionable importance, the production values are sky high. For once, the CG used to animate the mecha is fluid, which really enhances the battle scenes. Even when they cheat and switch between CG and 2D for the DRAGONs, the fluidity kind of makes it hard to tell (I mean, I still noticed, but it took me a second there). From a design perspective, everything about this show pops and feels distinctive.
Even with all that budget poured into the production, nothing masks the fact that this is a straight-up T&A show. Everything serves to set up the characters pose in outfits of varying degrees of skimpy, up to and including the cavity search performed on Ange when she enters the prison. Yes, it is realistic that this sort of procedure would be performed on a new inmate, but the show presents it in such a way that it’s supposed to be titillating.
Compared to, say, OUTBREAK COMPANY, CROSS ANGE is pretty dishonest. It attempts to hide what it really is behind its high production value. While that’s not enough to salvage it, it does make a solid effort to make you forget what it actually is every now and again.
But then it reminds you exactly what it is when Ange’s nymphomaniac squad captain sexually assaults her. So, yeah: have the right set of expectations going into CROSS ANGE and it might be possible to enjoy it, but don’t try fooling anyone by saying it’s got some lofty statements about classism and war.
About the Author
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.