Anime of Tomorrow
Rinne no Lagrange (review)
Winter 2012 and Summer 2012 (24 episodes + 1 OVA) (English title – Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne)
Madoka may be a boisterously cheerful, overly outgoing and enthusiastic young woman, but at the end of the day she’s just an ordinary high school girl with an odd personality. So when she’s approached by mysterious, uniformed girl named Lafinty and invited to do her part to help the world, it’s understandable that she didn’t expect to become a mecha pilot. Being an athlete of all manner of sports and martial arts, Madoka quickly adjusts to her new responsibility as a guardian of the Earth. But when her older cousin arrives on the scene vehemently against this development, it’s clear that there’s more to the situation than everyone is letting on.
Lagrange is in the vein of such psychological mecha series as Evangelion, RahXephon or Star Driver where the pilot’s skill is less relevant than his or her will to fight. All in all, the story is a pretty standard affair in this sort of subgenre. You know how it goes…there’s a threat to the safety of the world and the only way to save the day is for a team of young people to get in their mecha and send the bad guys back where they came from. And of course, the mecha themselves have some dangerous secret that someone is either trying to exploit or needs to be kept under control lest the machines themselves become a liability. But what separates this anime from the others is its choice to steer clear of darkness in favor of a much more upbeat tone.
That’s why I love this anime. The story is quite respectable, but it’s by no means some amazing, transcendental epic. However, the characters are some truly remarkable people. The heroine trio is the amazing chemistry by which this series goes from ho-hum to just an absolute joy to experience. By virtue of her position as the princess of a galactic empire, Lan is the most dutiful and practical, serving as a pillar of support for her friends. Muginami is more troubled and her past hardships as well as her ties to the opposition serve as a bridge to humanize the enemy and show there’s a heart under their calculating personalities.
But it’s Madoka who really steals the show and is the center of attention, serving as its gung-ho motivating force. Brimming with confidence and energy, once she decides to do something she never relents until the task is completed and that’s a breath of fresh wind compared to Shinji Ikari and Ayato from RahXephon who are complete tools. Madoka isn’t about to let someone put a leash on her and she follows her own moral compass; an inspiration to everyone around her and a shining beacon of hope when all else is lost.
For the most part, Lagrange is a consistently above average series punctuated by some very high, highs and almost no downtime. What it lacks in substance it more than makes up for with energy and passion that are so addictive you can’t help but crack a smile.