Cross Ange: Where First Impressions Don’t Determine It All

Whether one should watch Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo (“Cross Ange”) or not is a particularly difficult question to answer. It is a series that crosses too many boundaries of tolerance for the average anime viewer with its exploration of themes that cannot be stomached by many anime watchers, especially those who take a strict pro-feminist stance or have zero tolerance for blatant fanservice. Consumption of the series should also come with a massive warning label as its content features a smattering of trigger-warning content and controversial themes like yuri-rape, sexual glorification, misogyny, large servings of fanservice and certain atrocious acts of violence, just to name a few.

Now, who immediately closed this window, thinking that this is definitely not their cup of tea? At the very least, I urge those who stay to continue reading to understand why the ability to enjoy Cross Ange is not confined to fanservice lovers or yuri fans, and can actually be enjoyed by the rest of us, including females, who are looking for a good story, relatable characters, or just a nerve-wracking, entertaining ride in general.

The Controversy, Which Unravels

Before.

After.

 

Truth be told, any self-respecting person with a reasonable sense of right and wrong would be turned off right from the first episode. Our protagonist, Angelise, Mary-Sue Royal Princess loved and absolutely adored by all she rules upon, is pulled down from her high pedestal quickly as the truth of her royal birthright regarding her non-ability to use mana is revealed. In a society where the line of demarcation between such ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, which is revealed to be a product of unfortunate birth, her entire society, brainwashed with believing that such beings, termed ‘Normas’, pronounced with unconcealed disgust by all, turns against her. Like a avalanche, the previous life that she has ever known falls apart, with the death of her beloved mother, the betrayal of friends and her family, and being whisked off to prison confined to a life of impending death fighting powerful DRAGONS from a life of riches. Compounding this is the controversial ending of episode one where she is manhandled by female prison commanders where she screams in pain, anger, and terror at being raped by her female superiors.

This said scene is almost deliberately so graphic that it sickens most viewers to the point of tears, myself included. Even by Kakumeiki Valrave standards of ludicrity, things literally turn in the span of time from good to bad, bad to worse, and worse to abominable, all in the span of one episode, giving both viewers and Angelise no time to react at all. With a method that is definitely meant to maximize the ‘shock’ factor for its viewers, there is a pervasive sense of tastelessness and pointlessness in this overly explicit and uninhibited sexual aggression.

Yet those who press on, despite this seemingly terrible start, would soon realize that all this serves a purpose. While Angelise was still in self-denial and proudly and pitifully wearing the badge of her former identity, she is literally delivered a smack from hell that plunges her into darkness. In portraying the extreme fall from grace of a proud, naive princess into the literal depths of human hell, this serves as the ultimate proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, resulting in the ‘death’ of Angelise-sama, her previous self, to be reborn as daredevil, cynical and hardlined Ange.

Ange, Best Girl

One of the most interesting points of this series is how Ange is as a character and the nature of the very struggle she faces throughout the series. After the first ‘transformation’ where her Mary Sue former self undergoes a complete 180 degree change, she becomes equally as unlikable. Bitter, angry and snapping at anybody and everybody that tries to show any form of kindness to her, she is simply a fuming ball of resentment that does not garner any form of sympathy even from viewers at first, given her poor track record. However, as her uncooperative nature attracts resentment from her fellow Normas, her ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude results in her one-upping the ones who try to bully her make her, at the very least, completely different from any form of female protagonist that appear in anime thus far. Perhaps in some form of detached sympathy with her plight, she is able to elicit cheers from us viewers when she uses force back on those who try to physically harm her in any way.

The entire course of the series then oscillates between a very fundamental struggle within Ange of hope and despair, trust and cynicism as she finds her place, role and identity in an entirely new world. As Ange gets to know her comrades in prison and meets new people, her sharp edges are noticeably softened as she finds her place amongst them as a soldier. As she meets new people and those from her past, she finds more reasons to spearhead her own tale of Revenge Against the Empire, armed with the motivation of the present, her vulnerability for the people she cares for, and the hopes of a better future.

Ange is not a likable character from the start. She is, in fact, a heroine that is only made because her experiences of the past made her who she is today. Though still selfish, a little tsundere in personality, and hard-headed, Ange has both the brawn and brains to battle and fight for what she believes is necessary for change. As a heroine born out of tumultuous circumstances, her resolution and motivations that transpire later on in this tale of revenge are only believable and relatable, precisely through how harshly she was treated and how this was simply presented to viewers at the start, with no holds barred.

Sex scenes & Fanservice

The sex scenes in here are also not entirely pointless, even though its more-than-exaggerated doses of fanservice do a fairly bad job at concealing the studio’s undisguised desire to commercialize on the series as much as possible. Even with copious amounts of the flagrant unleashing of carnal desires in the form of yuri threesomes, such unbridled indulgence in the pleasures of the flesh reflect a desperate need of being able to ‘live in the moment’, as they are faced with real possibilities of being obliterated by the physically superior and highly destructive DRAGONS. Teetering on the edge of despair of a inescapable destiny that is forced onto them unfairly, sex and shopping become their only forms of temporary escape. In fact, these scenes are used to explain how bitter these girls are at their own fate, and how their fears of death, their exile from families and former society all harden into shells that conceal their most basic desires. Thus, in actuality, apart from the all too familiar compromising piloting positions and ‘requisite’ panty shots, as well as typical harem protagonist showings of a romantic interest who always ‘coincidentally’ finds himself in an awkward sexual tangle with Ange, the amount of fanservice is not higher than average, tolerable standards. It can hardly be seen as an obstruction to enjoyment of the story.

SASUGA SUNRISE

Moreover, Cross Ange quickly develops into a heavy plot, and an extraordinarily developed world. Few could have predicted the type of progression that the story takes in this series, which has its differences of typical revenge plots, in a way which in hindsight elicits a ‘Sasuga Sunrise, the creator of Valvrave and Code Geass!’. At the same time, it also makes one shake his or head at what an asshole the creators are in tricking every single one of its viewers, even those familiar with its over-the-top, messy and trainwreck-like style, into what could be termed as a hell-of-an-entertaining ride. To give a comparison without spoiling much, one could draw certain similarities between the type of plot twists between Cross Ange and Charlotte.

Also, elements typical of Sunrise’s trademarks add as bonus points to the series. There is no lack of nicely animated and fluid mecha fights, beautiful mecha designs, even if perhaps at the expense of certain noticeable flaws in the animation of its other scenes. Even so, the use of a brightly coloured palette and beautifully designed characters makes everything very easy on the eyes.

Recommended? Or not?

Such a controversial series is definitely not for everybody, as mentioned above. The first parameter against which one can test their tolerance is the end of the first episode. Even though the level of atrocity actually peaks in the first episode, the question of whether the brutalized scenes engender an impression so bad that no amount of salvation could be done thereafter to change one’s subjective opinion on the story, is something that should be considered.

The second parameter is when one is making their way through the first six or seven episodes of the story, where there is no hint of a real plot. While most viewers would be able to promise pleasant surprises thereafter, the slowness there and then may deter some. At the same time, this part of the series is where the yuri fanservice peaks, which makes the series seem unflattering as a fanservice focused story. From now on, the decision to continue or not is more of a personal preference. Personally, I found myself clinging onto Sunrise’s pedigree, and the uniqueness of watching a fresh, mean female protagonist, even if I was exposed to unprecedented degrees of yuri hentai scenes which served to, at least, mildly amuse me.

Conclusion

For those that actually get through the two parameters, you are undoubtedly, in for a captivating and engaging ride. If there is anything Cross Ange is not, it is its ability to keep one’s attention focused on the story because there is no telling what Sunrise is about to throw at you next. For those who like or don’t mind yuri, and like epic mecha battles, this is definitely a series for one to try. For those who liked Code Geass and Valvrave precisely because of the high level of entertainment, and those who think they have exhausted anime’s creative boundaries, and crave ingenuity and novel plot progressions with a very different female protagonist, such a tale would be right down your alley in ways that may very well be previously unimaginable.

As usual, thank you for reading to the end, and feel free to like, discuss or comment below on anything 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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56 thoughts on “Cross Ange: Where First Impressions Don’t Determine It All

  1. I particularly enjoyed the episode previews, with the cast breaking the 4th wall.

    Ange: Well I’m leaving then
    Tusk: Wait, come back A-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-G-G-G-G-G-E-E-E-E-E. Or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I dropped this show after the first episode, but checked beck on it when it was a little further along. This show is an interesting ride for sure. I’m glad I came back to see if it had become something, as I ended up enjoying this well hated series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I went into the series after it aired, and also after reading certain warnings about how it was going to be. I was about to give up at the first few episodes because it felt like the series was going nowhere, but now I am glad that I pulled through to the later, more interesting bits. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this series thanks to the Code Geass like political story and badass mech action. The early episodes are tough to watch, but serve their purpose in showing how Ange transformed from a pampered princess into an ace pilot. If she hadn’t suffered those hardships audiences might not have felt sympathy for the character, given that she was such a spoiled cow in episode one.

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    • I am always a sucker for anything Code Geass-like, to be honest. My interest in this show first began when you recommended it, so thanks for that xD Exactly, that is why I think things had to be handled so roughly at the start. And in any case, Sunrise has always been known to be rather dramatic so I wasn’t surprised that they had gone … yet another level higher with this.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. First off, I like you, although I might disagree with some of your perspectives. I don’t watch nearly as much anime as you do, mostly because I find it hard to find a good series worth my while.

    The Otaku Judge recommended this one on his blog. I loved this series. I think it works on a lot of levels. To those who cannot take the drama or objective concepts, they should go back to watching cartoons.

    The reason I like anime is that it may explores themes I have not seen elsewhere. I hate Hollywood and all their political correctness and like-think. I do not have as many series to compare CA against I will admit. Maybe if I saw all of those you compare CA to, I might think differently.

    Those who do not like this series for everything that it is, they should stick to those meaningless Marvel and DC comic superhero movies where nothing happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think part of what makes the anime medium unique lies in the relative freedom of its creators to inject, combine, mish-mash all sorts of controversial content. My reasons for liking and continuing to watch anime are pretty much the same as well – I find most other Hollywood-produced films or mainstream media generally too limited to feed my imagination. (Though I don’t actually watch that much of other mainstream media, just enough to get me to stop.)

      I believe the Otaku Judge also compared CA to Code Geass as well (which I also mentioned above.) That is another series you may wish to consider if you are looking, as I gather, for something that is more mind-blowing, out-of-the-box, in a style that is distinctly similar to CA. But you are right in that CA is very unique – too extreme to the point that even most anime fans, arguably the most open-minded of the bunch, wouldn’t be able to like it. I personally think it takes a certain mindset to be able to enjoy CA for what it is, and unfortunately that is not a prevalent one.

      Do you mind sharing what you disagree on? Thanks for the comment here, I appreciate it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The “fall from grace” theme is a huge turn-on for me. It especially helps when it’s delivered in an impactful and impressionable way like Cross Ange apparently does. After going through the works (touching the Underworld floor and resurfacing to tell the tale), these subjects don’t seem to faze me like they did before. Perhaps I’ve been tainted. Anyway, I’ve been lacking in the mecha anime recently, so I’ll put Cross Ange on the list. It sounds cool, and I also want to see Ange rise to the top on my favorite female characters list! Very convincing review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes ‘impactful’ and ‘impressionable’ are definitely Cross Ange’s strongest traits (and I daresay beats most of the recent anime.) Haha, then I think you are right in the mindset for Cross Ange, especially since I completely agree that there’s been a sore lack of good mecha anime in recent seasons. I hope to hear any form of news in the near future that you have started on the show! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Based on this first impression, I am not watch it. I guess the plot may somewhat be entertaining by some but based on what you described it, I may not enjoy it. Especially the rape part you described >_<.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, it really does. It relishes and takes pride in that fact, even. All I can say is that its a pity that it can’t reach a wide audience because its mecha designs are really stunning and the character art appeals to many people.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ooh yes Gurren Lagann is one of the best, but to me its not so much a ‘mecha’ series than how its really a very inspirational story :’)
        Oh yes, I heard that Eureka Seven is good, but I have yet to get into it because I thought the protagonist was young and behaved a little bratty xD You mean Rinne no Lagrange? I have heard of that one too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gurren Lagann was awesome. It inspired me to be a better man haha. Drill through the Heavens!X). I heard Eureka Seven was good but like you, I still haven’t watched it. That’s what I meant, Rinne no Lagrange. It’s one of those animes I need to check out. I saw the first episode and I thought it was good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha I know, I still remember some of the quotes from there. “Believe in the me who believes in you!!” was one of my favourites. I still marvel at how something so simple can get its message across so easily.
        Ah, I see. I probably won’t watch Rinne no Lagrange though cos its a full female cast if I am not wrong xD Unless I run out of mecha to watch of course hehe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is my favorite line from anime! That is the one thing I remember from Kamina XD. I am hoping to watch Rinne no Lagrange eventually. Yeah you are correct, the anime is mostly girls. I hear that Gundam is a popular mecha series but there are so many out there. XD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha yes, Kamina was really an inspiration to us all – and to Simon as well 🙂 Ah I see!
        You’re right, Gundam’s quite popular, and I personally love the universe a lot ^^ I have only watched a few, and some of them are standalone while some others are in a series 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • As much as I like Kamina, I like Simon. Sometimes I feel like Simon because I always get discouraged. Simon becomes epic later on the series.
        I only seen Gundam SD in Toonami years ago. I never actually seen any other Gundam series. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think we can all relate to Simon more easily because we know how its like to feel weak, small and insignificant。 Though of course I haven’t grown as much as he did, I hope I do some day 🙂
        Gundam SD was what got me into the Gundam series. I was just browsing along titles one day and decided to try that. Did you finish watching it? How did you find it? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I agree with you. We are like Simon but there are times we stand up against the odds. I believe you will get strong. Just like Kamina said: “Don’t believe yourself. Believe in me. Believe in the Kamina that believes in you!”
        I saw Gundam SD when I was in Elementary school. I saw it in Toonami after school. I remember the portions of the show and the last episode. I like the show but I would like to watch from beginning to end 100%.

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      • Haha yes. I believe and hope so too 🙂 one day. 🙂
        I see, I think Gundam SD can’t actually be enjoyed without watching it from the start to end. Because watching merely portions enables people to see only the mecha action, when the series is so much more than that. You should give it a try some time! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • You will, trust me. You are actually stronger than you appear!
        As a kid, I really like the action in it. I was that kid that loves action and explosions. I got lost in the story. XD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha I hope that day comes soon one day :3
        Ohh yes I think as kids we all like colorful and exploding stuff xD that would have been the first thing I notice anyway. I don’t think I would have even thought of the existence of a story in the action :p

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah that’s true. When you are a kid, you enjoy the action of good vs evil. That’s how the story was told. If our kid self were to watch anime or show that didn’t have any action in it, we would leave XD.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep I think as a kid, we need things to be pretty clear cut. I remember watching the live actions of stuff like Power Rangers and Ultra-man. I always cheered when the bad guys get beaten in all the actions. xD But now I definitely want much much more complicated stories, with grey lines of morality & all that stuff :p

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think I did that Power Rangers. I cheered for the good guys as they beat up the monsters. Especially with Pokemon. When I see Team Rocket up to no good, I was happy to see them get shocked by Pikachu lol. But now that we got older, we can understand the reason or purpose of the shows. There is more to good and evil. =D

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha yeah my childhood memories consist of me and my cousins watching Power Rangers together during mealtimes & everybody cheering when the good guys won lol! I was the only girl amongst them though xD
        Ohh yes and when Team Rocket always gets blasted away becoming a shiny star in the sky it was really quite funny as well at that time xD Yeah! Exactly! Now we see more layers to these shows and we think more 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I always like the Blue Ranger in Power Rangers. My sister love the Pink Ranger. I just love the intro music and the Megazord transformation. Team Rocket is always funny in Pokemon. I think I can quote their motto or lines perfectly with their voices in their heads.

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      • I don’t have a favorite ranger to be honest. I think I just like how it’s episodic and how the good guys always win. It’s funny how as a kid I like the fact that the ending is always predictable, but when we grow up I just want something newer xD I was never good with the lines though :p

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      • I noticed that too. I like how every episode, the good guys always win. It was amazing to see the fights. I kinda just forgot about the main story haha. Now that I am old, I still like the good guys are always winning. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha yeah! I don’t remember much about the main story at all either xD Ooh, that’s actually really great. It means you don’t get sick of predictability fast :p I have this problem, unfortunately nowadays 😡

        Liked by 1 person

      • All I know is that the good guys fight evil haha. I don’t mind predictability buy I also enjoy a little surprise or plot twist. Don’t feel bad, I am sure there are other people out there who has it too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • At least the good thing about it is that you will fell comfortable knowing that something will happen and you sorta know what will happen XD.
        Now that we watch anime, anything can happen. It’s get harder to predict what will happen lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha yeah especially when sometimes we know we are in the mood for something and we want that to happen when we watch something xD But that’s what I like about anime! I know where to go to if I want something more predictable (because people write about it so I can generally tell) but I know there’s always this possibility of it really surprising me :p

        Liked by 1 person

      • Anime is a tricky of entertainment I always thought XD. Yeah I think there are shows where anything go crazy but yet it gets resolved. There is a always a solution when the characters get stuck in a pickle. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I think so too! I like how it’s somewhat unpredictable but yet predictable in the ways we want it to be 🙂 even though sometimes the ‘solution’ can be strange it’s good that it’s so entertaining 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I agree. Maybe that’s why we always stick around the next episode. We start from the beginning to end. Speaking of Power Rangers, I hear that they are planning a live action movie.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well I just found out recently but it appears that they are planning to remake the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The film will be done in 2017. Sorry, it doesn’t look like a Japanese live action film XD.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ohhhh I see. So its back to American live remakes huh? I don’t really mind when it comes to Power Rangers though xD I can’t wait to see all the upgraded stuff in a high tech version. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am intrigued by the news. I am hoping they keep the same feel like the classics when we were children. I just hope it doesn’t get changed to much in a different tone like other childhood shows into movies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes, that’s quite a possibility as well. Though I think my memories can be sort of vague about the exact feel xD I hope I won’t be very disappointed by how it ultimately becomes. Or maybe I’ll appreciate the any adult-ish/more mature elements as well? I really don’t know as of now. xD

        Liked by 1 person

      • I also vaguely remember the original Power Rangers. I haven’t seen them since gradeschool haha. Hopefully it stays loyal for the fans. I would image the movie being a little bit dark compared to the TV show haha.
        Before I forget, speaking of Cross Ange from the title, I heard that there is going to be English Dub and it will be released in June.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha in any case, I think it would be pretty interesting to see either a version that sticks with the core stuff from the TV series, or one that plunges it into the darker side xD

        Oh is it? That’s pretty cool. I wonder how they are going to voice the main character because there’s a fair bit of singing going on throughout the show xD

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s going be interesting and I am hoping on which direction they would take. Personally, as long they make the fight scenes epic and explosive and the Megazord, I am okay XD. I am sucker for things like that lol.
        The main character sings in the show? Now I am curious on how will they do it. I guess the voice actress will have to practice their singing voice haha. It must be hard to do both.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha I think epic and dramatic fight scenes are a core feature of it, they can’t take those away! 😀 I don’t mind those at times because they can be fun to watch, just not at expense at other details xD
        Yep, the main character and a few other characters sing. Yeah! I would think it should be easier for voice actresses to train their singing voices, but I sometimes forget its not always the case :p I just hope they don’t change the songs into English or something, I think it would sound weird xD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah that is true. There has to be a reason to fight but the drama or whatever reasons makes it look impressive. In Power Rangers terms, they fight against the humans in martial arts style. XD
        Yeah I thought it would be somewhat easy to do both but I guess not. If the English Dub actress doesn’t sing, they might just use the Japanese version. But who knows? I think the anime One Piece does some English Dub singing in the intro songs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah yes its the martial arts that I was always glued to as a child. The fact that they wear costumes and fight it out interally physically is what makes it cool. Drama adds more layer to plot so it should be welcomed I think 😀
        Yep, I think it could go both ways as well. It depends on the production budget really. For One Piece, its such a popular anime that its no surprise there’s more ‘dub’ in that sense, possibly 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • I never noticed that until now you mentioned it. I think it would be tough to fight in the costumes but it looks easy for them XD.
        Yeah One Piece is quite popular andI agree. It would have some English singing. I actually don’t the songs sung in English or Japanese. They are both awesome XD.

        Liked by 1 person

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