Over the summer, anime publisher Sentai Filmworks released the mecha and fantasy series, “Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon” on DVD and Blu-ray, and we had the opportunity to check out the first collection of this series that blends action and fan service to impressive levels.
The story of “Cross Ange,” follows Angelise Ikaruga Misurugi, the princess of the powerful Misurugi Empire, where magic users make up the populace, and those unable to wield “Mana,” called “Norma,” are arrested and exterminated. Believed to be more violent than their magic wielding counterparts, the Norma are viewed by the people as monsters, and as such, they are feared by many, and their capture is often cheered, even by Angelise. That is however, until a royal ceremony, where it is revealed that Angelise is a Norma herself, and as her parents attempt to save her, they face grave consequences, while Angelise’s brother seizes power.
Refusing to accept that she is a Norma, Angelise learns the truth about the fate that awaits those who don’t wield Mana. They aren’t killed, instead they are imprisoned at a base, where they are given the task of protecting the world from invading beasts, dragons. As she looks for a way to return to her home, Angelise takes the name Ange, and begins training alongside a squad of mecha pilots, using a powerful but temperamental suit, that only she seems to be able to unlock the true potential of.
The first collection of “Cross Ange” spends most of its time setting up for the twists at the end of the last two episodes, while also introducing Ange and the rest of the pilots; who have a rocky relationship with the princess. This is mainly due to her actions in her first battle resulting in the death of a superior, and two rookies. This moment also helps serve as an awakening of sorts for Ange, as she finds her true feelings, a desire to live at all costs.
Early on, Ange isn’t a likeable character, like most anime protagonists, she comes off as arrogant and only concerned with herself. There is more to her than meets the eye though, and gradually she opens up to her companions, although many appear to have their own agenda and the princess looks to play a major role. This friction, as well as the political intrigue, made the show a little easier to watch.
One thing that was surprising about the series, is that it is brutal. Fighting dragons comes with its own expected level of brutality of course, but Ange’s treatment at the hands of some of the superior officers, and even how easily some characters could be killed early on, was a shocker. One thing that wasn’t shocking though, was the amount of fan service. From skimpy outfits, to handsy team leaders, and of course a few mishaps that lead to a crotch in the face, “Cross Ange” delivered plenty of what you would expect, including a beach episode.
“Cross Ange” is produced by the animation studio Sunrise, known for their work on the “Mobile Suit Gundam” franchise, so it is no surprise that they know what they’re doing with mecha designs and overall animation. Visually the series has smooth animation, and the battles look impressive. The characters are all designed well, though you would think a little more material on their suits might be needed when piloting a giant robot that switches between a suit and a flying bike, though their personalities and expressions go well with their looks.
With the audio, I’ll be honest, I have no real preference when it comes to subs or dubs. I will often watch half and half. In this case, as it came with both options, I watched the series with the English audio a bit longer than the Japanese version. I found that both voice casts did well, and each version was enjoyable, so either option was good. As for the subtitles, they read well, and I didn’t notice anything that seemed off, while they also had a good overall flow.
The series comes packaged in a standard Blu-ray case, with slots on both sides to hold each disc safely. The cover art for the case is one of my favorites from Sentai Filmworks, and features Ange and a damaged version of her mecha in the foreground, and one larger and angry looking dragon looming, along with a swarm of smaller dragons, and a few more robots, in the background.
The on-disc features are about what one would expect, there are Japanese commercials and the clean opening and closing for the series, as well as trailers for other Sentai Filmworks series. Also included is an interview with Sumire Uesaka, the voice actress for Ange’s loyal maid, Momoka. In the interview, Sumire interviews director Yoshiharu Ashino, creative producer Mitsuo Fukuda, and project producer Naotake Furusato, as they offer more insight into the anime.
When I started “Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon,” I was expecting a series with lots of fan service and combat. It delivered on that, without question, but the story also hit a lot harder than I might have anticipated, especially early on. It started off with a darker tone, and although things got lighter as the series progressed, by the end of the first collection, it had once again taken a turn for the darker side of things. I wanted to avoid any major spoilers, so I tried not to go into too much detail with the story.
With a hard-headed and sometimes difficult heroine, it was enjoyable to see Ange grow as a character, even if her journey did seem harder than it probably should have. Her relationships with her pilots, Hilda especially, also made the show worth watching, as those who started off as rivals, soon became friends, and some who were friendlier, shifted to rivals. The role of the dragons in the world, as well as the Mana users’ treatment of Norma, also made for an engaging story, and I am curious to see where things will go in the second collection.
Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Runtime: 300 minutes
Format: Blu-ray (Also available on DVD)
Number of Episodes: 12
Languages: English and Japanese audio, English subtitles
Age Rating: TV-MA
Release Date: June 21, 2016
(A review copy of Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon collection one on Blu-ray was provided by Sentai Filmworks.)