And we’re back once again. But there’s just something wrong with the story now. It just feels… ordinary? And y’know, Cross Ange should be ridiculous, because that’s all that it has going for it. You’re not watching it for the deep characters. You’re not watching it for the smart and incisive look at discrimination. You’re watching it so that you can say to your friends, “Whoa, did you see what happened in the latest Cross Ange?!” But before I continue any further on this point, let me just first get the barebone plot of the latest episode out of the way. So as you may recall, Julio rides a fleet of battleships to Arzenal, claiming that he and his people are going to rescue the Normas. Obviously, this is a lie. Obviously, he just wants to get his hands on Ange and the Villkiss. Obviously, Arzenal tries to resist, so fighting breaks out. Jill plans to escape and put Operation Libertas or whatever into motion. She says that the other girls can choose to go with her or surrender to the Mana users, but it’s not like the rest of the Normas have a choice. This is especially true of Ange, who Salia was supposed safely to Jill. But y’know how it is. Ange is a firecracker, so she escapes from Salia, sees the extent of Julio’s destruction — girls being burned to death, burned to death some more, and oh yeah… more burning — and decides to go after her brother.
Essentially, Ange doesn’t want to be co-opted into Jill’s ideals. Rather, she has grown to really love Arzenal or something, so she’s going to get her revenge on Julio for destroying her new home. Right before she can kill her asshole brother, however, Embryo shows up, and says some flowery shit about Ange. He claims he admires her ability to rise up “against injustice and absurdity.” Yeah, really. He then says that he can’t allow her to dirty her hands with murder, and that’s why he’s going to kill Julio for her. Of course, Ange had repeatedly shot some faceless soldier in cold blood just minutes ago, but you shouldn’t dirty your hands by killing your own family member. That’s the key right there. And because Embryo didn’t approve of Julio’s arsonist ambitions, he also revives… some of the prince’s victims? Like this girl in Ersha’s arms. Are the rest still burnt to a crisp? Probably. To be honest, I don’t really care. Tusk then tells Ange to stay away from Embryo, which pisses Mr. Egg Yolk off. He then tries to kill Tusk, but Ange gets in the way… and… uh, we’ll have to wait until next week’s episode to see what happens to them.
As I was watching the entire episode, I couldn’t help but feel vaguely disinterested. You might blame this on the post-holiday miasma, but I really think that the story just hasn’t, in some sense, kept up. Let’s put it this way: the anime has a lot of unsavory elements, but I was initially willing to overlook them in order to see where the plot would go. If it had stayed crazy and ludicrous in execution, then I would remain interested in Cross Ange. But that’s the thing: the story actually feels safer now. It feels somewhat ordinary. I don’t want to say predictable, because I certainly don’t know what’s going to happen next. But my point is, what does end up happening next isn’t going to mindfuck me. Take this week’s episode, for instance. I didn’t know Embryo would kill Julio himself. I didn’t know Embryo would revive people, and be impressed with Ange. Nevertheless, I’m not being mindfucked, and a show like Cross Ange really needs to mindfuck me to keep me interested. Otherwise, I can’t get past the unsavory elements. And no, showing me a room full of dead, burned children is not a mindfuck. Actually, it’s pretty whatever. Didn’t even register a pang in my heart.
And don’t get me wrong: the fanservice is not one of the unsavory elements. In fact, the show started off rather offensive, but it has tone it down greatly since the first two episodes. We saw Jill abuse Ange, Zola abuse Ange, so on and so forth. These days, however, it’s just a bunch of topless girls lounging around in a hot tub or whatever, so even the show’s in-your-face offensiveness has gone away, replaced by run-of-the-mill Sunrise-branded fanservice. It’s the sort of fanservice that I’ve seen a billion times in anime before, so I just can’t help but yawn at it now. Yeah, I’m essentially desensitized to glossy anime cleavage. That sort of shit just doesn’t raise an eyebrow anymore. You won’t find an uptick in my heart rate anymore. Rather, the primary unsavory element is that I just plain do not like any of these characters. I don’t like Ange, I don’t like Jill, I don’t like, Salia, I don’t like Tusk, etc. They all fucking suck, and it was only entertaining when the ridiculous plot put the unlikeable Ange in ridiculous situations. If we’re going to go down this road that we’re currently on, however, I’m going to need to relate to the character… but I don’t see that happening.
What does Ange even want to do anyway? Shortly after she was returned to Arzenal — y’know, after she got whipped in public by her own imouto — she and Hilda claimed that they wanted to burn this disgusting world down. I thought that had promise. This is a disgusting and worthless world, so we may as well be nihilistic about it, and just destroy this stupid, anime-as-fuck universe and its ridiculous portrayal of discrimination. But Ange wasn’t telling the truth. In actuality, she likes at least one thing about this world, and it’s Arzenal. I can’t really understand it, though; Arzenal sucks balls. I also thought she was disgusted by the fact that they had to kill DRAGONs, a.k.a. people if you burn… them? Okay, sure, that’s the part she doesn’t like. But she likes all the other stuff! Like the camaraderie between her and the girls that took weeks and weeks to build, and was destroyed simply because she deserted them! Like the shitty living conditions. Like how Salia continually tries to take the Villkiss from her. Like Jill and Emma’s condescending attitudes. Like the girls’ penchants to form cliques or quickly hate you (see: Chris and Rosalie).
Sad thing is, Ange is the main character, so she gets all the development. The other characters are, fittingly, paper-thin in their characterization. Salia is just annoyingly one-note now: “A-bloo-bloo, you took my role away when you showed up!!!” Like holy fuck, give it a rest. It’s like the third or fourth episode now that she’s whined about this shit. It’s just not interesting, and it was never interesting. Jill? Meh. What can I say about her? Nothing, really. Same with Tusk. They’re just not interesting characters with interesting personalities. They don’t have interesting flaws worth exploring. They’re just there to fulfill a purpose within the story. Jill spearheads one of the many factions within the story. That’s it. Other than that, her character is threadbare. Tusk fulfills the function of conveniently showing up whenever the story needs something to be done. Rescue Ange? You got it. Rescue Vivian from her captors this week? Alright! But other than that, he conveniently disappears from the story. Not like his character is worth exploring, though. The one episode that was about him, all the dude did was repeatedly molest Ange. So the truth is that these characters all suck, and if the story is going to get serious, their suckitude will only be amplified from here on out.
When the tone of the story was ridiculous and nihilistic, the weak characters didn’t bother me. They’re dispensable, and we can kill them off as we see fit. We don’t to come up with some ridiculous asspulls to keep them alive. But a mission is taking shape. Ange is probably going to save the world or something. Our protagonists are going to band together and achieve something that they believe to be super meaningful in their hearts of hearts. Who knows? Maybe by the end of the story, peace will be restored, Embryo will be taken down, and everyone can live happily ever after. The point is, when a narrative takes this direction, it suddenly becomes very safe. The characters are suddenly no longer dispensable, but god, I wish they still were. Sadly, even someone like Chris got brought back to life, which just confirms the fact that we’ve decided to play it safe. Worst of all, the characters are no longer being put in ridiculous situations. I was vaguely bored as I watched this episode, and that’s because despite all the action onscreen, nothing crazy really happened. And without the craziness, I just don’t care enough about the characters or the universe that they’re in.
Anyway, there’s a new OP, but the song is slow and boring. And there’s this.