Cross Ange is trash. It's not even enjoyable trash like Valvrave the Liberator, the previous entry from Sunrise. It was quite clearly greenlit by some executive rubbing his hands together and chortling "Think of the CONTROVERSY! We'll make millions!" Therefore, the best way to deal with this series is not to give it any of the attention it so desperately craves. Life's too short to waste on this garbage.
I've got nothing against anime that thrive on mature themes and shock value. Madoka Magica, for example, is one of my favorite anime of all time. But there's a difference between skillfully using mature content and shock value and simple ugliness.
Cross Ange is ugly. Very ugly. I'm not talking about ugly on a visual level, I'm talking about ugly on the level of basic conception. It's also cruel, sleazy, relentlessly cynical, and hideously misogynist.
By now you've probably heard about THAT scene in the end of the first episode. Many things have already been written about it, by better writers than I. So I'll just say that it takes quite some doing to make a rape scene even more unpleasant than most hentai anime can manage. And yes, it is rape. Argue that it's a "cavity search" and you're only kidding yourself. Arguing that it's "justified by the story" is no better: not that I'd assign the production team any level of taste or atristic integrity at this point, but if it were really dramatically neccessary to rape the story's heroine, if it was really supposed to be played for drama and not titillation, then the gratuitous shots of Ange's wiggling butt would have been excised, as would the hideous shot seconds later of her lying broken on the floor with blood pouring from between her legs.
As hard as it may be to believe, the series only gets worse from there. I stomached four episodes before I quit, and in that time I saw sexual assault implied and carried out (complete with a hamhanded attempt at censorship, the better to sell those uncensored BluRays, right?), vile racism, blatant incest and pedophelia overtones, a gratuitous shot of Ange peeing herself, and two twelve-year-old children being brutally torn apart on-screen... the second of which is followed seconds later by a wiggling ass.
I don't have any idea why talented voice actresses like Nana Mizuki, Yukari Tamura, Megumi Hayashibara, and Eri Kitamura needed to participate in this. I wonder if they're as sickened by the content as I am... but hey, you've gotta eat, right?
Back to Valvrave for a moment: Valvrave, of course, also tried to draw in viewers with cheap shock value. Perhaps the most distateful thing about it, aside from the thinly-veiled revisionist World War II allegories, was that it did its rape scene and then promptly forgot all about it. It was included for shock and titillation, nothing more. After the first episode of the second season, it was never mentioned again.
By contrast, Cross Ange won't let the viewer forget. There's no humor, unintentional or otherwise, to be found here... especially not in the episode previews, which by refusing to take the dark content seriously are somehow more vile than the rest of the show put together. The ugliness and misogyny are constantly shoved in the viewer's face, sometimes literally, and after four episodes of sinking deeper and deeper it was quite enough for me.
Anime has a bad enough reputation without series like Cross Ange. You don't need to watch this shit. You don't need to give it any attention. Avoid it like the plague, and hopefully it will go away and be forgotten.
So apparently some of you are Cross Ange apologists. Apparently, some of you also can't read.
Here it is again, for those of you in the cheap seats: I enjoy anime with mature and controversial themes, so long as those themes are implemented with the respect that they deserve.
If your main character suffers being brutally raped and your series is not intended to be porn, then you'd better damn well take the subject seriously. Taking it seriously does not mean including exploitative shots of the heroine's ass waving back and forth, nor does it mean treating the rape as one big joke in the episode previews. Ange wasn't raped because the story needed to establish its mood... it had done that already by showing the sickening racism against the Normas. Ange was raped to titillate the audience and to make money. It was masturbation fodder for people too squeamish to look up actual porn, and it was done to create controversy and drive up ratings, which is the most cynical and mercenary reason to include scenes of that nature.
That's sickening enough, but what's even worse is making light of it immediately after it happens. Ange breaking the fourth wall and giggling about how "I sure went through some rough stuff in this episode, hee hee!" should offend anyone with a functioning conscience... which excludes a lot of you who have been leaving comments, I'm guessing.
I was willing to give the rest of the series a shot after that. Despite my disgust over the use of shock value as a cheap money-making gimmick, I was willing to see if the story justified itself. Instead, what I saw was more of the same: shock for the sake of profit. Did the audience need to see a 12 year old being torn apart and eaten, with one of her severed limbs sent flying for good measure? Did we need to see Ange peeing herself in fear? Did we need one of the other Norma pilots molesting Ange and attempting to rape her again in order to "put her in her place"? No. None of those things were remotely necessary for the story. They were all included for shock value and ratings.
A series that includes graphic violence, racism, and sexual assault isn't bad by default. Look at Game of Thrones, for example. There's purpose there behind all of the grimness and darkness. Madoka Magica is incredibly violent in parts, not to mention depressing and horrifying, but there's purpose to it.
In the hands of the Cross Ange writers, I'm confident that Madoka's famous scene of Mami being decapitated and eaten by a Witch would go something like this: there would be no cutaway or long-shots of the Witch devouring her, the full extent of the gore would be shown to the audience. Nothing would be left to the imagination. This would then be followed by a shot of Madoka's panties from below, followed by her cringing in fear and peeing herself. Homura's rescue moments later would be accompanied by lingering shots of her ass and more upskirts, and when the Witch exploded, the audience would see Mami's mangled body in as clear detail as the censors would allow, probably with her chest intact and strategically torn to display cleavage or nipples. In the preview for the next episode, Madoka's voice over would be making puns about "losing your heads" or "heads will roll".
That's Cross Ange. That's what it does.
Those of you complaining that I didn't finish the series before reviewing it... in other circumstances, you might have a point. If it had something worth saying, if the violence and sex served a purpose, if it had enough dignity and intelligence to set up such an awful world and then treat it with the seriousness it deserved, then I would have stuck it out. Instead, in four episodes I saw no evidence whatsoever that there was any plan behind the series except to pander to the most disturbing parts of the otaku subculture. Cross Ange made me angry, angrier than I've been at a series in a long time, not just for how low it sunk into filth but how it pretended it was above the filth, like there was some shred of artistic integrity behind it all. I didn't need to watch the rest. It had made itself perfectly clear by the time I quit.
Panty and Stocking knew it was filth, and reveled in it by pushing it as far as it could go. That was the joke.
Kill La Kill made its audience look at its sexual content and violence in a very different way by the ending.
La Blue Girl and other hentai anime knew exactly what they were and what they wanted to accomplish, and made no secret of it.
Cross Ange doesn't want to say or accomplish anything. It was made only to sucker you in with sex and violence and then take your money. It's violent porn pretending to be art. If you think otherwise, well, you're entitled to your opinion... but I think you're only fooling yourself.
If you like Cross Ange, and I mean, really like it, not just "like" it ironically, good for you. More power to you. That tells me way more about you than I want to know.
I've said my piece, and that's all I'll say.
So after finishing this anime I enjoyed it for the most part in how everything ended, but of course this is really not for everyone. For anyone interest be warned that this anime is not pretty especially in the beginning but the fact is it will make you feel certain emotions. This anime can't be judge on only first several episode and truly can only be understood if you watch the entireity of it but doing so may be difficult for some.
It shows the ugliness of people and the worst in people but as time progresses these characters grow wonderfully. If you wanted to take something from this its that you can grow stronger if you persevere in your endeavors no matter the shit that might happen in your life. Personally thats what I think.
Anyways as far as anime goes this one takes a bit of grit to get through and like the anime you might find yourself a bit more enlightened after getting through those tough to watch begining episodes. If not then take what you will from it.
I was reluctant to review this anime. I am only doing this so that mature viewers don't get put off by the childish reviews that are already floating around here. Read the review by Baeron for it is the only one worth reading if you're looking for basics about this show and a good point of view on the mature themes - I will try not to copy that here. Credit needs to go where it's due.
Now off to my usual biased oppinions.
- You enjoy characters with depth and genuine human feelings
- You can stand mecha and a female lead
- You liked Berserk
- You're over 18 and are not satisfied with characters showing up with a huge band-aid after being shot point blank in the head with a rocket launcher
- You can deal with mature themes (death, torture, abuse, martyrdom, human cruelty)
Don't watch if:
- You're 12
- You hate mecha anime and think Gundam is for children
- Female leads make you uncomfortable
- You need anime to be an 80's cartoon
- You believe plot to be an unnecessary distraction from 10-episode long fight scenes with skill names being shouted out in Spanish
This review is based off of 12 episodes aired to date and may contain spoilers.
I am not going to quote the premise. If you got this far you already read it. What you want to know is - "should I bother with something that looks like a spin-off from a Nintendo game?" The answer is yes!
This day and age I really didn't expect to say this, and so I will start off with it - the worst part about this show is the animation and drawing. Even though the mecha are done well, the character animation is subpar. Some scenes if you pause it you'll notice the characters are drawn worse than background noise in some other shows - like someone was in a hurry.
Sound is also nothing to write home about. Some might enjoy the lead char's song, but overall it's generic.
What makes this anime worth it then? The story and most importantly the maturity of the content. And I don't mean boobs flying around or some adolescent fantasies made anime. There are things here that Game of Thrones showed is a viable source of adult entertainment - abuse of power, "herd" mentality of humans, real insights into society and much, much more.
Also feels like the VA's liked it - some of those voices I've heard many times before, but rarely "trying" this hard. It's like the actors thought "finally some real emotions I can relate to!" and did just that.
I thought about spoiling the plot for you, but I won't. So far 12eps aired and I figured out most of what remained unsaid. I expected a bit more but was far from disappointed. It's paced well, doesn't reveal all the cards at once and keeps you entertained.
Overall I believe if you're old enough to understand this show you will enjoy it.
If you're not I will probably get hate mail or a flaming bag of dog-poop on my doormat.
Cross Ange. (Review after watching up to ep 10)
This one is a quite a head scratcher. For those of you looking for mindless entertainment, I suggest you turn away. Your mind will become engaged by the content within, and for many, the content is not something they actively want to think about.
Rape abuse and torment are the themes of this show, to make that point clear. Within a “Utopian” world where all crimes can be solved by the use of magic the “Norma” are prejudiced against because they are IMMUNE to all forms of magic. As they cannot use them, and cannot be imprisoned or transported by magical barriers like the rest of the population can, they are prejudiced against as animals. This concept is that magic is the core of Humanity’s essence, and being unable to use it is somehow an active act of rejection to the "order and peace" maintained by the system. Such a thing is double sided. Is it a power that weakens you, or is it a weakness that strengthens you?
What do I mean by this? There is nudity abound in this show, but it comes at the cost of being attached to the tormented. If you watch it, you shouldn’t be able to enjoy the nudity because it is tainted. It forces you to look on in a bit more objective manner than normal, as well as pay MORE attention to it. While it does follow the traditional exploitive themes and patterns found in other anime, it could be seen as a negative form of satire against such displays. Even as the show progresses, the main character loses all interest in whether or not she is clothed, because she is dead to the world.
The displays themselves become obvious as a part of the only outlets for stress these characters could encounter, and the camera wants you to be brutally aware of this. When forced to live daily in a meat grinder, you either do what you can to enjoy yourself, or you expose yourself to lesser horrors to remove the reminders of the greater ones, even if it is just a miniscule instant. The people are soldiers, being used and abused as their country demands, with no ability or say in the matter, in an eternal war that really has no explanation other than the mainland wants to use it to kill them all off.
Of those who enjoy the “displays”, they can either continue enjoying it oblivious to what they are really doing, or to realize that the authors are calling them out on moral depravity.
As for the plot? So far at episode 10, it is taking an interesting turn, and the concepts within seem to mirror some problematic shadows held within Japan itself. It is a decent story of how the world destroys a group of people, and who they are, yet they aren’t at a dead end. The world is not going to help them out of this, as many other “despair but not defeated” anime do, so they are forced to forge their own opportunities.
The dragons are a bit of a mystery. Aside from enhancing the point of their prison of exile, there seems to be no real purpose to them, at least not yet.
Overall, it's not an amazing story, but it is clearly for those with a bit more "viewing experience" than a "casual" would feel comfortable with.
One thing I would like to bring to attention, is that this show holds an almost satanic parallel to the "Magical Girl" genre. The main character undergoes a "transformation" and then "recieves a power that had been there all along" etc.
The story still has space for completion, and this is just a placeholder review, as it is clearly on a knife's edge right now. It could have an excellent ending, or it could fall into utter jibberish. It all depends on what happens next.
In 2006 Sunrise gave up on trying to make serious mechas, after seeing how something actually good like Zegapain doesn’t sell shit, while something as absurd as Code Geass makes enough to buy your own small country. So ever since it tries to top itself again and again, by making progressively more absurd and heavy on fan service shows. Starting with crazy Code Geass, it moved to super crazy Valvrave, and eventually to super duper crazy Cross Ange. The only way to enjoy these types of anime, is to shut off your brain to logic and accept everything they throw at you. This way the complete randomness will translate to fun, because you have no idea what the hell is going to happen next.
On a very superficial level, the show manages to never become stale, by constantly introducing characters and throwing plot twists in almost every episode. The story is nonsensical and the characters are straight out of an eroge, but hey, it keeps you watching, and, supposed, entertains you. I could waste a few paragraphs trying to mention what it going on in the story but by the time I finish you will only remember something about discriminated lesbian witches in mechas, fighting dragon chicks from an alternative dimension, while a rapist god is torturing naked girls into submission. Who cares about the story? Oh, and they included Gundam SEED mechas and characters as Easter eggs, because why not. It’s fun… apparently.
The first thing most people will notice about Cross Ange though, is not the random storytelling, as is the extreme amounts of sexuality. For a non-hentai show, it is very heavy on fan service. Aside from the occasional sex jokes, you get constant nudity, lesbians, sadistic torture, and male rapists. Very cringe-worthy stuff if you are not into that sort of deviance.
It becomes twice as unbearable if you listen to how people who like that shit try to defend them as meaningful and deep. No sir, it is not deviant fan service, it is means to show the character development of the main heroine, it is about female empowerment as she fends off her assailants and grows stronger, and it is about finding the will to stand on your own feet instead of letting yourself being controlled by men. Now stand still as I chain you naked on a table and shove a stick up your ass to make sure you are not hiding anything in there. I mean, that is how cavity search is done in real prisons, right?
I have lost count of how many tasteless casuals kept telling me how the sexuality is not too much, and is even very realistic, since such stuff happens all the time in real life. Torture and rape is an every day event in many parts of the world, so this anime is in fact far more real than all the other anime which DON’T show such things. I mean come on, look around you, you will find naked lesbians being tortured into submission in every street. So real…
It’s not like these topics are not addressed; it’s just that you can’t possibly take seriously the way they are presented. They make sure to switch from dramatic to comical as soon as they can, so you will never think about something for more than one minute. Nothing lasts long enough to matter and the little bits which do, are ridiculed by done to death ecchi slapstick. This is why the show is pretentious, and those who defend its deviance, are pretentious overthinkers.
Then we have the other side of the spectrum, where other people defend it by dubbing it self-aware. Like, if something happens all the time and in such volumes, it ceases to be ridiculous or sexy and becomes its own thing. Ok, that is true, meta-commentary works for shows that revel in their style and clichés. It’s like shows animated by SHAFT; they are heavy on self-indulgence. But does that make them deep or serious? No, it makes them a circlejerk of people having fun with something so bad, that it becomes good. There is no gravity or theme exploration, since nothing lasts more than a few minutes before it gets replaced by something completely different.
Not even the production values are that good, since the CGI robots and dragons are meh, and the character designs are bland. The only thing that stands out, are the Gundam SEED Easter eggs and the very revealing Norma uniforms. That’s stuff you use in bondage sex. But don’t worry, it’s not like they wear them all the time. Because half the time they are completely naked. I guess the themes of racism and female empowerment do not look real enough if women are dressed.
Despite all this bullshit though, there is something that Cross Ange did right, and that is starting off very low, and gradually building upwards. This is a major contrast to what most other shows are doing; they try to hook the viewer with an amazing first arc, only to fail at delivering in whatever follows it. Cross Ange’s first episodes are meant to make the viewer believe the show is nothing but sleazy fan service and deviant torturing of women. It made most of the audience to drop it right away.
After that though, it begins adding more layers to the characters and to the setting, making it more complex and flamboyant as it goes on. Meaning, it deliberately makes you have very bad first impressions of it, and gradually makes you like it more as you keep watching. Just like Steins;Gate and Shinsekai Yori, it aims to get popularity and prestige as it goes on. It’s a risky move to not to aim for the approval of the majority right away, but it pays off much better in the longrun, if it works out. The few people who follow it to the end, will tell the rest how better it becomes later on, making many to watch it after it’s over. When you marathon a show with the reassurance that it gets better, your opinion of it improves considerably. Having most of the new revelations in the plot affecting the personality of the main heroine, is making it even easier to like it.
Of course the heroine going through lots of changes does not equal amazing character development (as many believe it is) if the script is trash. And it is trash; you can never take it seriously, you are just laughing at it harder and harder, as it gets dumber and dumber. It is still very weak in theme exploration and to the most part it remains fap material with very bland characters and low brow dramedy. This is why it is nowhere as smart or as deep as many of you make it seem to be. Of course, if you still disagree, you are free to think otherwise; it’s not like I am going to stick something in your ass and force you into submission by labeling it realistic cavity search. But it is going to be deep.