Article: Why I stopped watching Cross Ange

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Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo is probably one of the most controversial anime series of recent seasons & one that more than a few readers have called on me to comment upon (mainly asking why I haven’t condemned it like I did Kenzen Robo Daimidaler).

The 1st few episodes of the series is all about extreme dehumanisation through violence, degradation, sexual assault & humiliation & turning a joy-filled girl into a terrified non-entity & eventually an effective killing machine.

This is all done through the worst forms of visual denigration seen outside of BDSM hentai media. In that basically the titular heroine, Ange, is beaten, stripped, abused, molested, pseudo-raped, near (lesbian raped), degraded, deprived & humiliated until all that remains of the once happy is mistrustful sociopath who is only looking to survive & get revenge on all those who destroyed who she once was.

The reason that I didn’t condemn this series like I previously (& briefly) did with the aforementioned Kenzen Robo Daimidaler) is that all the degradation has a narrative context. It exists for a purpose outside of the titillation of the (majority male) audience. That does not mean that I liked or approved of it but I understood why such acts were within the story. I did not forgive or tolerate Cross Ange for that, more like I endured it. I put up with all the nasty Fan Service & brutality because it seemed to be leading to a point of character & narrative development & had shown that dehumanisation within context shows how terribly people can be transformed &/or destroyed.

And then the series committed the Cardinal Sin of entertainment: it bored me.

At some point, all the development suddenly stopped & Ange was stuck as this angry, untrustful, violent creature who constantly had Tusk (the male love interest) constantly falling into her crotch for comic effect or otherwise getting sexually entangled with her. The Fan Service (in the form of revealing clothes, hinted nudity & lesbianism) dragged on & got worse & the plot just got itself tangled up after they began to (finally) reveal what’s going on within the narrative universe.

This is actually the least extreme example of Fan Service that I could find
This is actually the least extreme example of Fan Service that I could find

The basic conceit of the series is that humans live in a Utopia where “The Light of Mana” fuels everything & grants people magical abilities. There is no war or poverty but it all comes at a price. For within society there are women who can’t use The Light of Mana, called Norma (taken from the word ‘normal’) & there very touch actively destroys any magical field. They are scapegoated by the rest of society, degraded & hated as being violent creatures who wish to destroy the world. So as soon as they are found, they are taken from their families & removed from the world. Naturally, Ange (formerly Angelise), being the ruling princess hates them, so is in denial when it’s revealed that she’s secretly a Norma & her parents have been keeping that fact a secret from not only the kingdom but from Ange herself.

After her father is deposed for hiding the secret & her mother is killed trying to protect her, Ange is taken to the Norma prison, where she is molested, sexually assaulted & humiliated by the commanding officer of the Normas & told that she must fight the DRAGONS or die.

All the Normas are put into transforming mecha units to fight dragon-like creatures, for which they get a bounty for each confirmed killed to use on whatever they want to buy within the prison. Having never committed an act of violence before, Ange is terrified of being thrown into such a situation & her cowardice costs her team several lives. Being humiliated & isolated by the other Norma girls, Ange rebuilds herself as a vicious killer in order to humiliate those who humiliated her & eventually gain her revenge.

This character arc changes after a few episodes, when Ange begins to accept that she’s a Norma & that Normas aren’t as she was taught growing up. Being a Norma is a self-fulfilling prophecy, in that they can only become violent & anti-social because that’s what society turns them into. They are the weapons in a war that the rest of humanity is completely unaware of & one that means they can keep using their precious Mana-imbued powers.

Once they start revealing the nature of the Norma, the history of the world & the truth behind the DRAGON attacks, things start to get muddled & vexing in a form.

You’re presented with all this info as to why you’re meant to see how the dehumanisation of the Norma occurred but Ange remains a basically unlikeable & selfish character that you find it hard to support her when all of her actions are contradicting others & she keeps denying information presented to her even when the facts are to her benefit.

That becomes the problem when dealing with a narrative around dehumanisation.

It’s exceptionally easy to break a person down but it’s next to impossible to rebuild them again from that point.

I feel that’s the major problem with Ange as a character and with the series as a whole.

After spending the 1st half dozen episodes ripping Ange apart -mentally & physically- they don’t really try to rebuild her as anything other than angry & mistrustful.

I didn’t want her to return to normal, not being any mental, emotional or physical scars -because trauma is inescapable- but I did want to see her develop into someone who takes their pain, their scars & their hatred & channels into into a positive force for others.

Maybe it does go that way, I won’t know because I lost any & all engagement with it around episode 16, when they crossed over into the ‘real’ world & the truth of the DRAGONS was revealed.

From this point on, I could bang on & on about the extremeness of the hypersexualisation within the series or how the Fan Service was so blatant that it became numbing but that would be pointless. That dead horse has been flogged so long it’s not a bloody pulp beneath my mighty boots (guessing no one will get those references).

I might come back to this when they release the blu-ray version but unlike considering the back catalogue I still have to watch (over 2 terabytes on computer & dozens of DVDs/BDs).

So, lessons to take from this: dehumanisation is OK if it has narrative context & purpose & isn’t glorified in any way, shape or form; don’t bore the audience or they won’t go with you to the conclusion.

Oh, & don’t bother messaging me with your butthurt over how I didn’t like this series when I did or how you feel that it’s nothing like I depicted with the dehumanisation & so forth because I will ignore you. If you try to defend your masturbation material in the series like others have with other series I dislike, I will insult you until I get bored.

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8 thoughts on “Article: Why I stopped watching Cross Ange

  1. Jusuchin (Military Otaku) 10/02/2015 / 2:54 PM

    Here I was ignoring the series because it seemed boring to me. I may give it a watch just to see how well the first half is, but if it’s how you said it…

    Hell, I think Call of Duty Ghosts might be a little better in the whole ‘rebuild you’ concept with their main antagonist.

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    • andthegeekshall 10/02/2015 / 2:57 PM

      It might end up being an overall great series with a brilliant conclusion, but it ended up boring me too much. Which is unfortunate in a way (for me).
      you might have a better time with it but I’d wait for the BD version because it’s sure to look better.

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      • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) 10/02/2015 / 3:01 PM

        I honestly am not too fond of it when I saw the preview. I mean I can stand Strike Witches and what have you, but that seems too much.

        Then again I started rewatching Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and a lot of anime nowadays pales in comparison to a OVA/movie series that premiered 2 months after I was born.

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        • andthegeekshall 10/02/2015 / 3:19 PM

          Best not to bother with it then.
          If you hate fan service, it’s not the series for you.

          LoGH is one of those series I’ve been meaning to watch for ages now.
          Was hoping for a BD remaster but that probably won’t happen, so might just upload some episodes to my tablet & check it out because have heard nothing but positive things about it.

          If you haven’t seen it yet, you might also like Crest of Stars, which is similar to LoGH but with aliens & such (similar military-political background stuff)

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          • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) 12/02/2015 / 7:51 PM

            Oh, CotS and BotS is what got me back into anime. Back in the long gone days of Tech TV, alongside Silent Mobius.

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            • andthegeekshall 12/02/2015 / 8:32 PM

              I got into anime with far older series, because i am old. Captain Harlock & Captain Future to name but two.
              Need to finish CotS, was enjoying it but got distracted.

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              • Jusuchin (Military Otaku) 12/02/2015 / 8:55 PM

                My irst was actually My Neighbor Totoro, Voltes V, and Harmoy Gold’s little bastardization.

                Basically whatever was on Philippine TV at the time.

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                • andthegeekshall 12/02/2015 / 9:03 PM

                  Yeah, i grew up on Harmony Gold’s reworkings of 70’s anime. So good, many awful.
                  Just wish that they’d let go of the rights to Macross & Robotech so we can get Macross Frontier in the west.

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