CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon
by Theron Martin,
The title for episode 21 is “The One Left Behind,” and as things turn out, it is a fitting one for multiple reasons. One character featured here was left behind in the far past, one in the recent past, and two in the present.
The character left behind in the far past was Tusk. In this episode he claims to be the last survivor of Ancient Man, thus reinforcing a supposition that he was living on the island because he was his people's last remnant of the failed Libertus from 10 years earlier. The one left behind more recently is Chris, who reveals here something that has been vaguely suggested by early episodes: that she has always felt like she was getting the short end of the relationship from Hilda and Rosalie. Combine that with the inability of Hilda and Rosalie to come back for her during the Arzenal escape and how Embryo managed to worm his way into her heart is easy to see. (This also reinforces a point brought up earlier about the contrast between Salia and Ange: that Embryo has a very devilish talent for preying on a person's vulnerabilities, and the only way to resist that is to have a firm psychological support. Ange did have that, while Salia and Chris didn't feel that they did.) One of the two characters left behind this episode is Ersha, who once again gets to see her kindergarten slaughtered, only this time from stray fire as part of the very battle that she was fighting on Embryo's behalf rather than as some implacable aggressor's actions. The consequences of this next episode, and whether or not that affects her loyalty to Embryo, should be interesting to see. A case could also maybe be argued for Sylvia, too, who also seems desperately alone and isolated as even her new toy departs.
Mostly importantly, though, Ange is left behind, too, and not because she fails to escape; she does, but it comes at a great price. Tusk surviving to the end always seemed unlikely, so him going out with a bang (literally!) fighting Embryo is not a big surprise. Much more of a surprise is that Momoka is also apparently killed off in the same scene. Double-whammys against a character definitely are not unheard-of in anime episodes, but piling two major deaths that close together is a questionably bold move, as the audience does not get time to fully digest the first one before the second one happens. The blow is assuaged a bit by Momoka not going out passively – in fact, she shines when not being mentally controlled by Embryo – but losing the two people closest to her in her defense is sure to have a devastating impact on Ange. At least she still has Salamandinay and Hilda for support.
Aside from all of the mecha and hand-to-hand battles, the episode also displays more of Embryo's capabilities. He can apparently directly and remotely mind-control anyone who has the Light of Mana power (and large numbers of them at the same time, too) in a manner reminiscent of Solty Rei and possibly other series, and that he refers to the Light of Mana-wielding humans as “humunculi” is rather interesting, too. Certain scenes suggest that the Mana-neutralizing characteristic of Normas makes them able to disrupt that control, though, and they would likely be immune to it themselves, which would give a more practical explanation than “it's fun” for why Embryo seduces them instead. Those could be important to his ultimate defeat. Tusk referring to him as the “demon of Heiselberg” (probably actually supposed to be “Heisenberg”) and a “resident of a nondeterministic world,” combined with Embryo's habit of shooting himself in the head to relocate himself (a la Kurumi from Date A Live), suggests that writers are trying to indicate that Embryo is manipulating the principle of quantum suicide to survive his various apparent deaths, which would be in line with my speculation last episode about TOE. Or that could just be giving the show too much credit and it is just trying to be cool.
Whichever the case, the episode certainly gives the series a big and graphic shake-up heading into its end run. Strong use of musical score helps compensate for the sometimes-graceless scripting, which is the main reason that I am not rating this episode higher.
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