Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon is an OVA mecha anime series produced by Sunrise. Well, generally speaking it is a “mecha” series, but truthfully it stretches the genre to incorporate a lot of unexpected elements from other genres. Mainly it relies heavily on fantasy, yuri, ecchi, and what I call mild fan service (because while there is a lot of skin, there is no full-on nudity), to tell the story of its female protagonist Angelise Ikaruga Misurugi, First Princess of the Misurugi Empire.
The story is set in a world where humanity has overcome all of its problems like crime, poverty, sickness, and war through the development of a genetic information transfer technology called “Mana”, which seems almost magical. Mana allows people to produce whatever they want when they need it, communicate with one another telepathically and move objects using a sort of telekinesis. This hasn’t come without a price. Those humans born without the ability to use Mana are harshly discriminated against as a threat to the order of society and looked down upon as dangerous, criminal beings that must be removed from society. Princess Angelise was one of the people who subscribed ardently to this racist view until the day of her 16th birthday when she was to be baptized and her brother Julio exposed her before the world and even to herself as a “Norma,” the derogatory term for people who cannot use Mana. Instantly, people turned against the once beloved Princess, who was arrested and carted off to Arzenal where she was forced to serve as a soldier in a secret army of Norma women who fly robotic machines and do battle against mysterious dragon beasts that threaten the world. No one knows the extent to which these Norma actually contribute to stability and prosperity that the Mana users are allowed to enjoy. Now Ange, still bitter at the world she has had torn away from her, must fight to survive and somehow begin to adjust to her fellow Norma soldiers, a rag-tag group girls that either hate her or just want to be her friend.
Cross Ange is a strange series for sure, but getting past the odd mixture of anime archetypes and what seems like some oddly placed Sapphic eroticism, the story is actually a compelling one that has a lot to say about our own stubbornly discriminatory society. Sure “Ange,” as she comes to be called, takes a long time to grow in this first collection of 12 episodes, but that is actually not that surprising. This is after all about a girl who was raised as a princess to believe that a certain group of people is just inherently violent and inferior. If we use this as a mirror on ourselves, we can certainly see the parallels clearly.
And outside of the sociopolitical statements, Cross Ange is a damn good action series with beautiful character designs and outrageously fantastic action sequences. The action is killer and, unlike many mecha series, is avoids becoming monotonous to the point that your eyes start to glaze over.
Cross Ange’s digital animation looks about as good as it gets in this AVC 1080p encodement on Blu-ray. Color banding is very limited, and crispness, contrast, and saturation are all superb.
This may be stereo only with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mixes for both the original Japanese and English dub, but the mixes are fantastic, with excellent dynamic range and stereo imaging. That said, please stay with the Japanese cast, because the English cast just does not capture the nuance of this series at all.
The half-hour-long Japanese interview is worth watching, despite its very silly, but fun, atmosphere.
- Special Interview by Momoka! (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:30:17) – Voice actress Uesaka Sumire, Japanese voice of Momoka, interviews the creators of Cross Ange in this very strange half-hour interview.
- Japanese Commercials (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:49)
- Clean Opening Animation
- Clean Closing Animation
- Sentai Filmworks Trailers
The Final Assessment
What may seem like a an odd mecha series is in the end a very fulfilling one when you stay to the end of this first collection of Cross Ange, although for those who do not like certain elements such as yuri or fan service, it could be a bit off-putting.
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