Rinne no Lagrange First Impressions – Swimsuits, Robots and a German Suplex
January 11, 2012 4 Comments
I never got around to watching the pre-airing of Prodcution I.G. and Xebec’s new original series Rinne no Lagange, and stayed away from it after I heard the quality was awful. It was however worth the wait, and I think this series will be one of my favourites of the season, assuming it continues the way it started. From the very interesting opening sequence to the blend of mecha action and comedy that works well and produces a show that is both entertaining without being entirely serious.
The story follows Kyouna Madoka, an eternally energetic high school girl and the only member of the ‘Jersey Club’. And as far as I can tell is a classic example of unwitting high schooler is recruited to pilot a big mecha and fight hordes of evil demons intent on destroying the earth. In this case the evil demons come in the form of 3 bishounen, a big space ship, and one funky looking robot; not the greatest threat mankind has ever faced, unless they plan to conquer through handsome looks, which could work.
The main draw of the series for me is definitely Madoka’s incessant need to help anyone and everyone. Her schedule is so packed that it looks as if she is running her own company; helping most of the sports clubs in her all-girls Kamojo high school and even the film club since she just seems incapable of saying no. Even when Lan, the mysterious alien/transfer student asks her to pilot a robot, she was clearly surprised and yet still went along with it, further emphasising her willingness to do even the most outrageous requests. The show also starts off with Madoka stripping down to save someone drowning, handily having her swimsuit on underneath, and then apparently walking to school like that since her uniform was ‘stolen’ by Lan. She also, always has her tracksuit (Jersey) with her, this is potentially something important, or it could be inconsequential and simply part of her slightly crazy character.
An interesting plot point is hat Madoka’s cousin Nakaizumi Youko – who she calls Onee-chan – appears set against her piloting the ‘Vox’ robots for n as yet unspecified reason. Although I have a feeling that it has something to do with the promise made between the robot and Madoka that Lan alludes to, and quite probably to do with Madoka’s mother who appears to have died. There is a short flashback that suggests the Vox Aura rescued Madoka when she was drowning, which has potentially led to Madoka’s incessant need to help anyone and everyone. We have yet to see the enemies’ power, or the introduction of the other heroine who is presumably an alien as well, but that will come with later episodes.
There appear to be clear nods toward well-known mecha franchises, such as Macross and Evangelion. There are nods to Eva with the different colour heroines and their matching robots – red, blue and green – along with a agency that seems to have been formed to fight off this ‘mysterious’ evil. However, the mecha to me look like a combination of the mecha from Eureka Seven when in ground mode and the planes from Yukikaze when in flight mode. Lan also seems far similar to Eureka than to Rei, although this may change depending on who is watching. These seem to be clear nods to other franchises, but I don’t think that Lagrange has taken wholesale, or attempting to be another Evangelion, Eureka Seven or Macross. And I feel, rather than detract from the series simply makes it more enjoyable for me to see little apparent references to other shows.
There is plenty of fanservice, but it didn’t detract anything from the episode. I’m intrigued to see where this takes us, especially since we have yet to really meet the enemy, and even find out what is going on. I have my suspicions – which involve rival aliens fighting over the salad, or more accurately the best view on Earth – and there seems to be a sub-plot about Earth dying at some point in the past, as alluded to by evil Bishounen no1 Kirisu. But overall I really enjoyed the episode, it kept everything light and we never lost the comedy element that got me interested in the first place. I was wary at first after I had learned that the robot designs were by Nissan strangely enough, but the robots look pretty nice actually. And more importantly, any robot show that has the main protagonist beating the enemy robot by performing a German Suplex automatically wins my vote for best original finishing move in a mecha anime.