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Cross Ange Rondo of Angels and Dragons Collection 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Cross Ange Collection 2 Blu-ray PackagingIt’s the end of the worlds as we know them…

What They Say:
The foundation of Ange’s world has been ripped to shreds over and over again, since the moment her throne was stolen and she was stripped of her humanity. But the destruction of Arzenal and the stunning revelation about the true nature of the DRAGONS were only the start of a devastating new series of shocks and discoveries.

Transported to an alternate and devastated world with Tusk and Vivian, Ange will finally learn the history of her world and the true nature of her own reality. She will discover who her ultimate enemy really is and how her para-mail, Villkiss, may be the only key to salvation.

The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance, but unless Ange can conquer her own fear and rage, the battle will be lost before it’s even begun. The final war between man, DRAGON, and machine is about to begin in the climatic conclusion of Cross Ange Rondo of Angel and Dragon!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the newly created English language dub. The show has a pretty good action-oriented design for its mix and the result is one that definitely plays well as the Paramail action with the dragons stands out well as does some of the more close quarters combat that we get. The show has a healthy balance between action and dialogue, allowing both to be served properly, which keeps it moving and engaging throughout. There are a lot of good bits and uses with the action design to give it more impact and help set the stage for it when combined with the music. The dialogue side is pretty solid all around though it doesn’t have to stretch itself nearly as much. We get some good moments from the cast as they work through things and it resonates well, sometimes with good placement and some directionality at times amid the action. Both mixes are solid and come through clean and problem free with no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes here are spread across two discs in a nine/four format where the second disc has about thirty minutes of extras. Animated at Sunrise, the series has a solid visual design behind it with a lot of fluidity and detail to the movement of both character and ships and the transfer brings it to life really well. The series may not be quite as detailed as some other ultra high quality works when it comes to backgrounds and the like, but as a whole the show has a very appealing look as the color design really sells it and there’s a sense of fun about the visuals that makes it engaging because of it. The colors are very solid and have some great pop to them without going overboard in being too vivid and the show for the most part avoids being all dark and murky, so it’s an engaging looking design overall that comes across very well here.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover works with one of the first pieces of key visual artwork that was as the show went into its back half that works to reinforce the bonds of the alliances that come into focus here all while making sure Ange is at the center of it all. With the sunlight coming through the clouds combined with the steel-like framing with gold and black lining, it has a serious and intense look about it that works right and even plays down the fanservice elements of it all, which is in its favor at this stage. The back cover provides a little more fanservice in some slight ways without going overboard through shots that are on the left and right while we get a cute sexy image of Ange along the right. The premise is kept simple and clear done with white text on a black segment in the middle that makes it easy to read, though the extras listing below it is a bit more muted. The disc and episode count is clearly listed and we get a solid breakdown of the production credits and an accurate technical grid that lays out how the disc is formatted. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release are pretty much things that feel like randomly chosen screenshots from the show that are cropped and largely unappealing, mostly feeling like they don’t sell the show or any of the characters in a good or engaging way. With a simple navigation strip along the right side with some very mildly thematic elements to tie it into the technology and aesthetic of the show, the main draw is the static visual for it but it just falls apart there. Considering how the first set went for fanservice that at least looked like well picked images, this one just doesn’t work. Everything works smoothly and problem free in terms of navigation, making it an easy to work with layout.

Extras:
The extras for this release are definitely a big positive, albeit with a caveat similar to the first set. While we get the always welcome clean opening and closing sequences here, we also get a twenty-two minute interview session extra from the original Japanese release. This is a stage event with the actresses and they do talk about themes of the show and their character arcs so you could find that there are spoilers in there depending on what you consider a spoiler. This set also gives us a small but good selection of commercials for the show as well as seventeen minutes of anime music videos used to promote the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Cross Ange delivered a lot of things that I liked as it tried to go big and crazy in its own way, reminding me of aspects of Code Geass in some ways. When the Sunrise crew step outside of certain standard things they do with Gundam shows or some of the more oddball pieces of the last few years, I tend to find myself really interested in them even if they falter, simply because they do try to do something interesting with their original works. Cross Ange is the kind of show where it needed more time to really dig into the characters but would have likely suffered from being longer than it is since the main story elements are largely kept from us until the final episodes, which is unfortunately far too common in shows like this. That ends up causing folks to lose interest along the way as the prime motivator outside of character survival just isn’t there.

The back half of Cross Ange covers a lot of ground and handles it well because it did take time in the first half to establish the characters and aspects of their world so that we can leave them behind for a bit to focus smaller and introduce more characters. With the singularity in effect, having Ange and Tusk thrown to a parallel world with Vivian, who recently revealed she’s actually a dragon, raised my interest significantly. It’s in this place that we learn how humanity mostly met its end some 538 years ago through heightened war that went far beyond what anyone intended. The pair has a hard time really grasping this and Ange looks for something more reasonable – like they’re in the future of their own world – but in the end the truth is there and just seeing the overgrown world and all that it entails works well.

Of course, they’re not truly alone here as there are survivors that have built their own society. Those being the dragons that have been coming through the singularity, which we discover involves them looking for their powerful origin point of a dragon named Aura. Aura becomes the real driving force of the larger narrative, though it’s given a very thin story subplot, as it turns out that Embryo is going to use her in order to merge both worlds in order to destroy everything and start again. Naturally, those on this other world want Aura back to power their own world and you can see how later on they’ll strike the right alliance with Ange and the other survives of Arzenal since none of them can utilize mana, making them all normals in a sense. There are a lot of neat things that can be explored here with this other society and its people, but they’re mostly just like the women from Arzenal (and yes, only women). Normally, I’d be frustrated by the “filler” episode we get here that involves Ange winning over their leader, but it was a fun way to force in a ton of fanservice by having the two compete in restored games from a lost era wherein they get to dress up in all the clothes of the time period. Baseball to golf and seemingly everything in between.

With the size of the cast it’s little surprise that as it works toward the big battle that there are a lot of smaller subplots dealt with. Ange and her sister get a little time, Alektra has her moment, and even Chris gets to be brought back around to work through some things that have been tormenting her for years. Ange and Tusk’s return to their own world reveals just how far Embryo has gone in cementing his position ahead of his big plan as he’s drawn in many of the survivors – or near survivors – of the attack on the island to be his own special forces and minions. Some of this simply comes through his ability to rewrite other people to his own whims. Hell, he has one scene where he changes Ange’s pain receptors into pleasure ones just to show her how much he can do to alter who she is. And just to give the viewers some very sexual fanservice. So for Ange and those that weren’t taken by Embryo, they have some real conflicts in dealing with former friends and comrades that have been twisted or turned, sometimes without their knowledge.

Most of these subplots get dealt with fairly well and with enough time, all things considered, but the real focus is on Embryo’s desire for Ange. With him stating that he’s waited a millennia for her to arrive as the perfect combination of intelligence, character, and beauty in order to work with him on building a new world, it’s easy to see why his fixation works as it does. A lot of time is given to the back and forth fight between them that plays over several episodes and with different changes to the power imbalance between them, and it’s blended with so many other fights that unfold. It works well to reveal more about Embryo and to reinforce the changes in Ange since we first met her as she’s been put through the wringer to a significant degree from day one and continues to push forward. We get some weakness near the end with some losses that aren’t losses, negating the impact too much for my taste, but for the most part she’s proven to be a survivor but not one that was impossible to shake and rattle at times in significant ways.

Cross Ange Episode 23

In Summary:
Cross Ange is something of a guilty pleasure, though I dislike that phrase because I find no guilt in enjoying a show that embraces its fanservice side while delivering a fun and interesting storyline that has characters growing and changing across it. The series has some big ideas that could sustain twice the episode count – albeit with less Japanese writing style and more Western serialized writing style – but instead works a more condensed and on point storyline. The downside is that some character arc material is shorter than it should be and some of the big picture aspects of the other world, Embryo, and the whole mana aspect doesn’t get as much attention as it should. But it is a really well animated show for the most part with great action sequences, fun characters with great designs, and an embrace of fanservice and sexuality that most series never even acknowledge as existing in the world. This is a show I can easily revisit every few years to engage with again and again.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Cross Ange Talk Show, Music Video, Clean Opening and Closing Animations

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 23rd, 2016
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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