Monday, October 27, 2014

Cross Ange Episode 4

Episode 4 of Cross Ange begins with Jill going over Ange's kill ratio for her first three missions and she's rather impressed, especially since Ange has been racking up the kills in the Vilkiss, which no other Norma could use without things going horribly wrong.

We then cut to Ange kicking ass and everyone else (especially Hilda) being still pissed off over how Ange's earlier actions got several people (Zola and Miranda especially) killed, and they refuse to work with Ange in taking down DRAGONS, but Ange has gotten to the point she doesn't give three shits what they think. We then cut back to Salia wanting to pilot the Vilkiss instead to prove she's more effective than the hated yet gifted newbie, but Jill tells her to drop the subject and Salia complies. Once the room just has Jill and Jasmine (the only woman on base who looks reasonably old and sensibly dressed) in it, Jasmine immediately calls Jill out on her manipulative tendencies and Jill owns up to it, admitting ultimately she's as screwed over as every other Norma, and while basically gives a shit about her fellow Norma somewhat, ultimately, she's just as concerned about keeping her own ass out of the fire as anyone else.

Before I go on, I have to admit that now that the plot seems to have found it's pacing and struck a decent balance between cheesecake and drama, this is good writing and really shows how cynical the series is, and is consistent with what we've seen earlier.

Anyway, after the intro plays, we cut to the base commissions office, where all the kills by various pilots are tallied up and they are paid a bounty based performance, kill ratio, and equipment expended, which strikes me as both thematically appropriate, and fits the penal battalion idea rather well, as IRL penal battalions throughout history (such as the Soviet Union's take on the idea) have used similar methods of evaluating performance. Ange winds up making the most out of everyone, to the jealous annoyance of Hilda and two other girls who used to be Zola's bed buddies, while Ersha and Vivian (two of nicer members of the cast) are merely appreciative of her skill.

Scene change later, Ange goes to change her uniform, and find her uniform has been shredded up by Hilda and her toadies as a "haze the bitch we hate" ritual, and even though Salia calls them out, they play all smugly innocent. Ange then shocks them by not giving a shit and changes into the shredded uniform without a visible reaction, basically trying to show she's immune to being trolled, then as the goon squad gets pissed Ange ain't mad, Ange lunges forward with her combat knife and returns the favor on one of them (Rosalie), calls her a bitch, then leaves without another word, leaving Vivian impressed at how badass Ange was.

Before we go on, this both better and worse writing. Better in the sense Ange is no longer the Spoiled Brat whiny asshole and has grown the hell up, and worse in the sense it is Cliche #2 from lesbian prison porno: "If I'm the toughest bitch around, no one will will want to fuck with me", which is a good idea for the most part, but Ange sure as hell doesn't seem to care about the corollary to that: "Make a bunch of friends just in case being a tough bitch doesn't work so I don't get shanked in the shower".

We cut to the mess hall where Emma is calling home to her father, telling him she's gotten used to her job, being around Norma doesn't bother her as much, and that she seems to be getting a good handle on keeping order.

Cue Ange walking by in her stripper like uniform and epic spit take by Emma, which I have to admit was rather funny.

Anyway, a now flustered Emma is dressing down Ange, who basically is tuning it out for the most part, and then when Emma tries to pull rank, Ange gives her a sarcastic salute and walks off, still in "toughest bitch in the prison", which is only further infuriating all of the enemies Ange racked up earlier.

Afterwards, we get a sequence of events where Hilda's goons keep trying to troll Ange and it keeps backfiring, such as trying to start a food fight and hitting the wrong girl (and the screen pans out while the sounds of a well deserving ass kicking play in the background as Rosalie gets the crap beaten out of her). Later, as Ange is in one of the combat simulators, they switch her water bottle for one with a laxative in it. She gets out, takes a sip, realizes what's it is, then she grabs the now smug Rosalie and kisses her (forcing all the laxative down her would be trolls throat), then disengages as Rosalie's stomach starts tying in knots and she has to visit the porcelain throne for awhile.

Later, as Ange is showering, Rosalie and crew are still trying screw over Ange, discovers her slutty looking underwear, and make rather loud plans to haze her by hanging them out where everyone can see them to humiliate her. Turns out they were Ersha's, who steps out of the shower rather pissed off, and Rosalie and co are dragged off screen as Ersha proceeds to make pretzels out of them wrestling style. As the ass beating proceeds in the background, Ange finally decides to get herself a new uniform.

Scene change later, we cut to the base commissary, where Jasmine and Vivian are working out a business deal to outfit Vivian's Paramail with a new weapon when Ange walks in, ignores the two of them making remarks about the stripper look and tosses Jasmine a wad of bills to buy her a new uniform, and since money talks, Jasmine tosses her a factory condition outfit while mentioning how she carries practically everything in her "mall".

After Ange changes, they advise her to outfit her Paramail with some new weapons (and this section doubles as a shoutout to a lot of other mecha series, especially as they pan over what looks like Voltes V's Tenkuuken, during which Jasmine explains one of the few freedoms Norma have is to pimp their rides out with all sorts of bling, weapons, frills, and whatever else with any money they earn, which strikes me as rather dark humor on the part of those who have held the Norma captive, not to mention as a transparent excuse for the animators to throw in ton of mecha anime shoutouts (I recognized kit from various Gundam shows in the pan shots of this sequence, especially SEED, Zeta Gundam, the original, and others).

Ange doesn't give a shit, but Jasmine continues explaining Ange could use all that money she has to buy herself some friends if she spends it wisely (as in, use it to win herself to allies to prevent getting shanked in the shower), but Ange is still in "tough loner prison bitch" mode and promptly ignores this, lasping back briefly into her former 'fuck Norma" attitude despite being one, and her loner facade is revealed to basically be her way of coping with the reality she has to face, though in truth a tiny part of her is still trying to deny the obvious fact she's still no better than anyone else, which is rather realistic IMO.

We cut to Salia (who is senior NCO under Jill, for those who forgot) getting a little annoyed with Rosalie's BS, telling her she was willing to overlook some of the trolling as bog standard hazing, but it's starting to get tiresome as hell, and Rosalie whines she hates Ange because she still hasn't gotten over how three people are dead because of her (Zola especially). Ersha and Vivian are present as well, and Ersha reveals Ange was kind enough to buy all of their graves in advance (a rather morbid yet humanizing act on Ange's part) and adds Ange is no longer crying like a bitch about having to fight or die, basically telling Rosalie to drop the grudge already.

Hilda walks in, throws petrol on the fire, and basically admits she never intends to let the matter drop, basically feeling Ange got off light and decides to troll Salia by implying Salia is getting a thing for Ange and has already......ahemed her.

(Remember, Salia was one of the very first people willing to put a cap in Ange's face for attempting to desert and Hilda knows this)

This ticks Salia off, and she pulls rank as well as whips out her combat knife, just barely restraining the urge to shank Hilda on the spot, to which Hilda whips out her pistol and they have a Mexican standoff, as Salia is attempting to follow orders despite her own feelings by telling Hilda to leave Ange be (as Jill instructed), and Hilda eventually pretends to back down as Salia stands her ground and leaves with her groupies.

Later, back in the now late Zola's lesbian rape dungeon (that love hotel looking room she tried to have her way with Ange in around Episode 2), Hilda basically tells her groupies (and now her bed buddies) to leave everything to her along with a little lesbian prison porno flavored foreplay.

We cut to Salia and Vivian's room, where Vivian is nerding out over what looks like doodles of the main cannon of the Sazabi from Char's Counterattack, while Salia is at her desk, reading a training manual and trying to tune out Vivan's geekout.

Salia is still privately pissed she didn't get the Vilkiss, and Vivian decides to interrupts her reverie (in which it's implied Salia is rather close to Jill......in the willingly intimate sense) by revealing Salia likes reading some somewhat trashy literature in her dresser (which has lines out of a bad romance novel apparently), which pisses Salia off to the point she promises to shank Vivian if she goes through her stuff like that again.

Vivian then heads off to the mess hall, where Ange is eating along until Vivian joins her, we learn Ersha is an excellent curry chef, and Vivian is trying to get Ange to be friends with her, and Ange is still deep in "loner prison bitch" mode and tells Vivian to piss off and leaves,

We then cut back to where Hilda and her groupies have obviously been.........do I have spell this out for anyone.....anyway, Hilda is now angsting over Zola (she has her cybernetic eye as a keepsake) while the camera is providing us a lot of fanservice shots of her naked ass, then she tosses the eye out the window, finally accepting she's gone, basically ending the scene with the implication she's going to take up the now late Zola's role.

Later, as Mei and the other Paramail mechanics leave the squad bay, Hilda sneaks in, and in what I consider the first genuine act of total monsterdom in the show, proceeds to deliberately sabotage the Vilkiss.

I'll pause here for a moment to add there is a reason this is first act of actual unforgivable evil in the show: The first rape scene was pretty graphic, but it was revealed at the close of Episode Three to be part of a gambit by Jill to break Ange's arrogance and make her face her reality, so it was very twisted version of Cruel To Be Kind tough love in hindsight. Zola trying to rape Ange was also pretty bad, but Zola wound up dead by next episode, so she already paid for that, and since it was allowed to happen by Jill, it was also part of Jill's gambit to bitch slap Ange into reality. In the case of both, Jill was very much trying to make Ange either wake up to her reality or die from her refusal, and Zola never set out to deliberately kill Ange, so Hilda is the very first person in the show to actually cross the moral event horizon by deliberately trying to murder someone out of pure spite.

Next morning is another combat sortie, and just before Ange takes off, she sits on a tack, which she takes as just another shitty trolling attempt, and as she basically just wants to take off and forget it ever happened, the camera pans to where Hilda jammed the Vilkiss' throttles, just in case anyone didn't realize what she did the previous night.

As the combat sortie begins, Ange goes all lone wolf despite Salia telling her not too, and that's when Hilda's sabotage kicks in and shorts out her engines. Hilda chooses this moment to rub in the fact Ange is losing control, and even though Ange is telling her to fuck off, she's also realizing Hilda was responsible for her engine crapping out.

As a Scuna class dragon pulls the Vilkiss into the ocean with it, Ange starts to drown, and as the credits start, the scene cuts to Ange waking up in a bed with her hands bound to a bed, she's naked, and she freaks out as she looks over at the show's resident Kira Yamato expy (who is presumably naked in the bed with her).

The next episode preview show scenes of her getting better acquainted with the Kira Yamato ripoff (named Tusk, BTW), and some more scenes with the rest of the Arzenal crew, as well as some DRAGON attacks.


All in all, the writing is much better than the first two episodes yet still reeked of lesbian prison porno cliches, though it did have some funny moments and a nice ending twist.

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