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CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon
Episode 5

by Theron Martin,

So what is it with mecha series and stranding their protagonists on islands?

That happens to Ange here, as she wakes up with her wrists bound, naked, and with a strange man – who later identifies himself as Tusk - beside her in bed. This time nothing seedy is actually going on, as Tusk indicates no ill intentions, though he also shows a propensity to accidentally faceplant in embarrassing fashion. Like in any harem series, he gets appropriately abused by Ange for it; whatever else might be said about Ange, her days of just taking abuse without some payback are apparently over. Tusk also saves her life a second time when she becomes snakebitten (in an awkward place, naturally) and seems to know a bit about fixing Para-Mails, which proves handy since Vilkiss has also washed ashore. As Ange gradually grows to appreciate him and wonder if she has anyplace to return to, she discovers that the real danger on the island is not him but a stray smaller dragon. Meanwhile, at least some of Ange's fellow pilots are intent on looking for her and/or the Vilkiss, much to Hilda's displeasure.

In other words, this is the “loosen Ange up a bit” episode, presumably at least in part because this is the farthest that the production team thought that they could press having her still be an unlikable character. That would be one of the more cynical interpretations for why Ange does, indeed, become less cold and grumpy over the course of the episode; a more narrative-based one would be that her removal from an environment which was the cause of most of her grief and suffering allowed her to spread her metaphorical wings a bit, and having someone clearly friendly, non-judgmental, and even caring around helped put her at ease for the first time since her Norma status came out. Either way (or perhaps both are true and the latter is merely the narrative justification for the former?), Ange certainly changes her attitude but without entirely losing her edge, as the late scene involving fighting off the dragon demonstrates. She doesn't give Tusk any leeway, either, and shows that she is quite capable of manhandling him when necessary. Given that at least three days apparently elapse while she is on the island, the time frame is sufficient for the change to be credible, though the writing definitely could have handled it more smoothly.

The episode also brings up a couple of minor revelations and a new round of questions. It establishes that Jill was the former pilot of the Vilkiss and that Tusk met her at some point years ago in the midst of a fight. That Tusk is a soldier of some type who seems too well-equipped to be a random castaway, and may also be a Norma, too (despite us being told previously that Norma are always female), is also suspicious, and coupled with a couple of other scenes suggest that there is a much bigger picture to this story than we have been clued into so far. Ange's status as a Norma and how Norma were treated may not have been the only things that she was not clued into in her former life.

In a fan service regard, this is easily the least seedy episode to date, with nearly all of the content falling into familiar harem or action-adventure stand-bys. (It even, in a slight twist, has Ange coming across Tusk while bathing instead of the other way around.) Tusk never shows any aggressive attitude or intentions – in fact, he comes off more like your typical “decent guy” harem lead – so nothing comes of the unseemly scene at the end of last episode. In a different fan service sense, a shot of Ange finishing off the dragon with a knife makes a strong visual impression, and the episode certainly has no lack of graphic violence.

Overall, the writing quality is only mediocre here, and that is the main thing holding the series back from being better. But at least we are starting to see more of the characters featured in the opener and closer show up, and Ange's former maid looks to be next. (I am very curious to see how they explain that and how she will fit into the environment on Arzenal.) And there are definitely stronger indications of a more expansive story to come.

Rating: C+

CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angel and Dragon is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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