This Review Contains Minor Spoilers for Cross Ange This Review Contains Many Many NSFW Images 520 If I have to give Cross Ange props for anything its certainly interesting. No matter what you have to say about it its not really a show that fades into the background. No matter if it claims fame or infamy a work that stays in the general consciousness is a cut above the rest. With how many shows movies books and games fall off the radar after being published Cross Anges infamy speaks volumes about how engaging it is for viewers as a whole. And in my book no matter my personal views on it thats something to celebrate in its own right. Now that the participation award is out of the way lets get down to the review. Cross Ange is definitely among the most unique mecha Ive watched. While Macross leans heavily into idol romance and drama elements while Evangelion is the mecha anime and is still lauded as being a deconstructionist masterpiece while Turn A Gundam is a much more slow and optimistic mecha anime than most Cross Ange still manages to bring something quite unique to the table. Cross Ange follows Angelise Misurugi the eldest daughter and heir to the throne of the Misurugi Empire. The world of Cross Ange is populated by humans who can utilize a power called mana. Thanks to this power their world knows no strife. However there also exist Norma a group of women who are born without mana and shunned by society as soulless monsters. On the day of her coronation its discovered that Ange herself is a norma. Shes subsequently arrested and sent to Arzenal an island where the norma are sent to train to fight creatures known as DRAGONS theyre literally just dragons. Oh and there is a metric ton of fanservice. With that out the way youre probably wondering about the pictures. You neednt mind those. Im just using them to emulate the fanservice in the show. Consider it an investigation: I believe if you find the pictures distracting you probably wont like the fanservice as employed in Cross Ange. If you dont seem to mind or even take pleasure in these pictures chances are youre fine with the fanservice in Cross Ange. As a general rule of thumb when Im reviewing things I tend to start with the positives. However the fanservice is so ubiquitous with Cross Ange that doing anything other than immediately discussing it will feel like beating around the bush. Given how prevalent the fanservice is it can be what either makes or breaks this show. Unfortunately for me it breaks it. 520 And in case youre unaware let me stress that Im not exaggerating the fanservice can neither be ignored or escaped from. From the unnecessarily revealing flight suits to the camera angles to the penchant for nudity theres no way one is going to simply ignore the fanservice. This is compounded by the fact that there is fanservice of some sort featured in every episode no matter how seemingly illfitting. If youre not a fan of fanservice then you wont like this show. And yes I acknowledge that there are other aspects of this show besides fanservice but the fanservice can be a bit overpowering trumping all other aspects to the detriment of the show. An example of this occurs early on where we see Ange is grossly mistreated at the hands of her superiors at Arzenal. The first episode ends with Jill giving Ange a rough medical examination that causes her to scream hysterically. In the second episode Ange is molested by another one of her superiors Zola. What should be and still is objectively horrifying moments are undercut by the fanservice. While the scene with Jill cuts away its not before the camera gets a chance to ogle Anges curves. While the scene with Zola is admittedly handled better it still just feels exploitive somehow. Id like to make it clear that I dont think theres anything inherently wrong with fanservice but it does have its problems. The fanservice in Cross Anges problem is it snuffs out other aspects of the show. Anges treatment in the first episode is one example of that. Serious moments are made less impactful by the fact that the showrunners feel the need to shove TA in our faces every few minutes. What could be tense mecha battles are robbed of weight when the camera is shoved towards a characters bust. The relief we might feel at seeing a character survive a great fall turns into exasperation as the show uses it as an excuse to show off the garterbelt theyre sporting. At times it doesnt feel like the show respects its characters seeing them as simply things to ogle at. Again maybe this wouldnt be so bad if the show didnt try to be as serious as it is. At times it feels like the show has a particularly nasty identity crisis. It tries to take itself seriously while failing to resist the urge to flash panties or the like. This probably wouldnt be so bad if it wasnt like this every single episode. The fanservice gets quite obligatory there were times I could practically hear the sigh of the showrunners as they inexplicably added fanservice to an episode that didnt need it. Id characterize the fanservice as obtrusive and unnecessary. I should make it clear that I dont harbor an innate hatred for faservice. There were times when I legitimately enjoyed the fanservice even if those moments still felt unwarranted. One of my favorite episodes is episode 8 the obligatory beach episode. The fanservice actually seemed warranted and the episode was a riot to boot. It seemed like the show for once was aware of just how ridiculous it was. Theres Ange being her trademark epic stoic self then donning a ridiculous mascot suit. Theres serious music playing while the cast does mundane tasks. Theres a hostage crisis being underway while Ange and co. are still donning their bathing suits. All the while theres a setup for a serious conflict next episode. This episode feels very selfaware in a way that others dont. It leans fully into its ridiculousness and nothing feels sacrificed by the more silly elements such as fanservice being highlighted. In general while annoying the fanservice can make you hot. The characters are drawn pleasingly enough and one is sure to have a favorite. 520 Continuing with the positives I do enjoy the more tense moments. The show can actually be effective in its serious moments. It can leave you at the edge of your seat and make you feel for the characters. We really get to empathise with Ange due to seeing firsthand how shes treated. We are placed in the shoes of the Norma. Thanks to their experiences we see just how dismal the world of Cross Ange is. Its really telling that I found Hilda nothing but an insufferable bully at first but thanks to showing snippets of her history and inner depths I came to really appreciate her. I was really shocked at how competent this show was at somber moments. In a comment I made in the rewatch thread I said the show might even be dare I say it good? And even after all of the moaning and groaning of my review. I stand by that. Cross Ange contains elements of a good show. There were times when I really enjoyed it. It just seems like the show is afraid to go more than ten minutes without flashing 520 in your face. But dont leave thinking my only gripe is with the fanservice there are other elements of this show that are lacking. For one the characters can be hit or miss. Standouts are definitely the villains who embody the ridiculousness I loved about the beach episode. Julio and later Embryo make no attempt to hide their evilness. Theyre very very onedimensional but this allows the actors to chew the scenery and allow the viewers to just easily enjoy watching them as nothing more than onenote villains. How in the world can you take a villain named Embryo seriously? I will say I enjoy the interpretation of Embryo as a critique of otaku waifu culture. 520 I also enjoyed Anges progression...or at least aspects of it. I could easily track her transformation from a privileged and whiny princess who hated Norma to a stoic grumpy soldier who used a prickly exterior to shield the broken pieces of her former self. She still hated Norma she just acknowledged her hatred would extend to herself. I liked seeing her have to grow out of this. I will say that while I enjoyed understanding why she acts the way she does it doesnt make it any more pleasant to watch. This reaches a head later in the series where she tries to hold a peaceful princess as hostage because...well shes edgy thanks to her trauma. It technically makes sense if you think hard about it but its still annoying. What doesnt make as much sense is Anges development later on. I honestly cannot confidently tell you what I was supposed to make of Anges character at the end. One episode she talks about how much she loves this world despite its shortcomings then the next with no apparent catalyst for a change of heart mind you she basically says fuck this world and the humans that inhabit it. 520 I also didnt like how overpowered Ange could feel. Theres not much reason why shes better than practically every seasoned pilot so early on. Characters like Salia and Chris are extremely annoying because their reason for betraying the heroes seem flimsy at best and absolutely juvenile at worst. It was made more frustrating by the fact that they never get their comeuppance despite their horrible behavior. But I cannot talk about bad characters without delving into the absolute migraineinducing mess that is Tusk. Id like to make it clear that I dont dislike Tusk due to him ruining my yuri show. I dislike Tusk because hes as compelling as eating white bread. Theres really not much about him thats interesting: compared to characters such as Ange and Hilda he doesnt seem to offer much. Some have stated that its fine because he serves as an emotional anchor to Ange and he proves that all men dont need to be badasses. I agree that all men dont need to be badasses and that belief can be damaging but by fuck if youre going that route make your character be at least kind of interesting. Not to mention the argument that hes there to not be a badass falls apart because the writers routinely make him an unflinching badass whenever fighting starts. Tusks introduction is a decent summary of his character. He saves Ange life and when she comes to shes naked. He constantly makes gross passes at her which are supposed to be taken as endearing. Ange is initially cold towards him but of course she warms to him and is this close to kissing him when the powers that be dictate that they must part for the time being. Oh and we cant forget the recurring joke of Tusk or Ange inexplicably finding their face in the others crotch. Comedy gold. Truly. Once the two reveal their mutual affections for one another it feels unearned. They have barely interacted at this point yet the writers want us to believe that theyre wholly devoted to one another. Id be more accepting of this if I had the foggiest notion of what Ange sees in him. Though I must acknowledge that Tusks character shouldnt shoulder all the blame when the writers themselves seem to have trouble writing him competently. I cant tell you how many insipid jokes surround Tusk inexplicably falling towards Anges crotch. Theres another one where he unwillingly has his naked body examined and Ange gets violently jealous with him since he happens to have an erection. The show can have comical moments for sure but I want to bash my head against a wall whenever it tries its hands at making a joke. The Alternate Earth arc would be a low point due to how much it dragged as well as how dumb it got. By the end I really wanted to check back in with the rest of the cast. This desire wasnt helped by the fact that most of AngexTusks inexplicable romance along with the annoying jokes are shown during this arc. I felt the random sports episode felt really out of place. I stated would because this arc was topped by episode twentytwo in terms of my least favorite moment in the series. The previous episode ended with both Tusk and Momaka seemingly dead. And not seemingly dead as in they passed out or appeared to fall off a cliff. No both of them were blown the fuck up. This could serve to give the finale real emotional weight and further drive Ange to take down Embryo. But nope they show up just fine. No adequate explanation is given for their survival. Given that they both survived and show up an episode later I question what was the point in killing them off in the first place. Exploitative shock I suppose? Adding insult to injury this pushes a pretty bad message. Ange was contemplating suicide due to the death of her friends. She isnt given enough time to fully come to grips with her loss but she doesnt need to because they show up just fine anyway. So I guess if ones loved ones dont show up the best option is to splatter their brains? And again this just muddies Anges development. 520 Its a relatively minor thing but coming from the heart wrenching epilogue of Turn A Gundam this ending feels a bit rushed. Its not even stark like the ending of Zeta Gundam which depicts just how unceremoniously a war can end. No this feels like a poor mans epilogue complete with a short slideshow that doesnt satisfactorily answer my questions. Plus the final battle itself was a bit lackluster. I guess the mech design was cool enough. Im a sucker for transforming mecha and the motorcyclelike controls were marvel. If there was a model kit of Vilkiss Id probably buy it. I can anticipate an objection. Im comparing Cross Ange to shows like Zeta Gundam Turn A Gundam Evangelion Macross etc. Those shows take themselves quite seriously and dont feature anything like the fun fanservice that Cross Ange employs. In short they seemingly belong to a different category than Cross Ange. Thats a somewhat fair assessment. But fear not dear reader. In my anime repertoire I have a show that wont suffer from false comparison: meet Kill la Kill If you arent in the know Kill la Kill can be described as a quasimonster of the week ecchi action anime. The show often features a stylized/exaggerated artstyle and breakneck cinematography. The ecchi elements come in the form of the clothing that the protagonists and antagonists fight in. Oh and did forget I mention that the clothing that the main character wears talks? A cursory glance of Kill la Kill would point to it being a show that shouldnt be taken seriously. And it shouldnt at times. With love I say that Kill la Kill is oftentimes completely ridiculous and the creators know this. They invite the viewers to laugh with them at the absolutely outlandishness of the world and situations. The ecchi elements are tied with the show nicely so they dont feel obtrusive. The ecchi elements also are somewhat unique to the show thus allowing for the argument that theres specific subtext to them as they appear in Kill la Kill. And most importantly Kill la Kill knows to step back and let more serious moments breathe. It might be a wonder to some how a show that seems this silly can tug at you but a part of this is striking a balance catching viewers by surprise. When these moments do come the ecchi elements take a backseat. Plus theres question of better characterization but thats a discussion for another day. Cross Anges fanservice/ecchi elements are mostly run of the mill. There isnt much care to them they feel like they were just tossed in and they wouldnt look that out of place in any other ecchi show. Unlike Kill la Kill they absolutely do feel obtrusive and are shoved in during otherwise serious moments robbing these moments of their proper emotional weight. Cross Ange has a painful lack of awareness when it comes to easing off the fanservice. Its less prominent in some episodes but its still there as if the showrunners felt the need to fulfill some quota. And the most damning thing about this comparison is that Cross Ange truly does take itself seriously. You might not notice it if you compare it to say Gundam though you absolutely will if you compare it to Kill la Kill. Cross Ange rarely leans into ridiculousness and nearly everything about it is played straight. It isnt a show that youre invited to laugh with since the plot is so dire despite all the fanservice. This is part of the reason the fanservice feels so intrusive because its gratuitousness feels so outofstep with the rest of the show. Ive heard some say the show is selfaware due to the next episode previews featuring the cast riffing on the show. To me this isnt enough. This is relegated to a part of the show most are liable to skip. Even if you dont Im forced to ask so what? It doesnt affect the rest of the show. The characters riff on the show without the show becoming more enjoyable. This selfawareness feels so isolated that it might as well not exist. I will concede that its been a while since Ive watched Kill la Kill so Ive probably gotten some things incorrect but I think I can recall while I liked Kill la Kill and not Cross Ange despite some similarities. Overall while Ive spent most of this review criticizing Cross Ange Id like to clarify that I dont think its a terrible show. Ive heard some call it a trainwreck but I wouldnt quite go that far. Its more of a mess. Its somewhat splitting hairs but think about it. You wouldnt call a dumpster fire or a trainwreck simply a mess. At the same time a messy room isnt a disaster or train wreck. And I mean that as an insult as much compliment. A mess isnt good its just not completely unsalvageable. I found I couldnt enjoy Cross Ange in a sobaditsgood manner because it really isnt that bad. Its mostly middling or annoying. There are certainly funny moments but these are usually intentional. The unintentional moments of hilarity dont crop up often enough to make a viewing experience out of it. For what its worth Cross Ange is consistent. While things certainly angered me in the second half of the show such as Tusk and Momakas survival and the inexplicable romance between Ange and Tusk nothing surprised me. You know exactly what youre in for a few episodes in. Thats more than I can say for some of the other shows Ive watched. If you like the first few episodes stick around if not this show probably isnt for you. Cross Ange is a mess you either find that delightful or annoying. Due to its myriad of flaws I fall squarely in the latter camp. 5.3/10 F+
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