Well that was unexpected. I went in expecting 23 minutes of mechs duking it out with dragons. What I got however was one of the hardest hitting anime series in years, throwing me completely for a loop with its no holds barred tale that isn’t afraid to challenge its audience.
Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons comes from the minds behind Valvrave the Liberator and Gundam SEED, both great anime series in their own very different ways. Cross Ange definitely has the right pedigree behind it and this first episode wears it like a medal of honor.
The episode opens with a flash forward to an epic clash with dragonic invaders, only to immediately flash back to the story of a young princess by the name of Angelise. Set within a world that mixes futuristic technology with a magical fantasy setting, the series has a very unique backdrop for its story.
In this world there are two types of people, Mana Users and Normas. Normas are outcasts of society due to their inherent ability to cancel out Mana powers. Obviously this doesn’t sit too well with Mana Users and has had Normas labeled a threat to society that must be quarantined. What exactly is this quarantining? I’ll get to that in just a bit.
After witnessing a baby be charged of being a Norma and forcibly taken from her mother’s arms, Angelise steps in and assures the mother that this is the right course of action. Oh how blinded she is. Not long after during her coronation (or something of the like) Angelise is exposed as a Norma herself in a pretty major plot twist when her own brother turns on her in a power grab move which results in the death of their mother and imprisonment on their father, leaving brother Julio heir apparent.
Angelise is shipped off to a dark island where the kingdom sends thoses charged of being a Norma. It is here where the ‘quarantines’ occur and unfortunately Angelise, now renamed Ange, finds herself on the wrong end of one. The quarantine scenario is brutal to say the least and plays out in horrific fashion as Ange is broken and violated by another woman who reveals herself to be a Norma just like Ange. She sexually assaults Ange, leaving her lying emotionally shattered in a pool of blood. It is incredibly tough to watch, and gut-wrenching to say the least.
As it turns out the Normas are sent to this island, broken and then made into warriors to defend the world from the dragons that invade. Ange looks to become one of these warriors judging by the flash forward that opened the episode and the circumstances by which she gets to this point is tragic in every regard. Ange has been stripped of her dignity and identity as both a human being and as a woman. Now she has nothing left to lose and I sense that it will make her a dangerous force in Cross Ange as the series progresses. I wonder where this story will go with her? The standard revenge route or a quest for redemption in a world so cruel? Either way, I’m strapped in for wherever Cross Ange takes me.
This is about as hard hitting as anime gets. Cross Ange took my by surprise and left me utterly shattered by episodes end. This anime is shaping up to be something truly special which a highly thought-provoking concept and some real ballsy story-telling that will no doubt set this series apart from the rest of the pack. Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons challenges viewers to feel and succeeds in resounding fashion. If there is any anime you must watch this year it is Cross Ange, you don’t want to miss out on the most ballsiest anime series of the decade. Hard hitting, no holds barred, Cross Ange is incredible.
You can check out Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons on AnimeLab here.