For those who missed the pre-air edition that came out last week or who simply insist on viewing all their anime in HQ, this past Sunday (Jan 8) was the actual premiere date of Rinne no Lagrange (輪廻のラグランジエ: Flower Declaration of Your Heart), XEBEC’s new offering this season in cooperation with Production I.G. Directed by Sato Tatsuo (Kidou Senkan Nadesico; Shigofumi; seems to have his hands full this season with the potentially-great Mouretsu Uchuu Kaizoku as well), Rinne no Lagrange appears at-a-glance to be yet another tale of an unlikely youth thrust into the fore of conflict in the pilot seat of an all-too-convenient mecha. If that rudimentary description of the show’s basic premise sounds all-too-familiar to you, which I’m sure it does, fear not. The plot has accounted for cliche fatigue and added a little twist: the pilot in this instance happens to be a girl. Variation enough for you? No? Well, don’t give up on this one yet. While the cliches are indeed numerous, what Rinne presents in its opening act is actually done quite well.
CGI effects and frenzied, laser-riddled mecha skirmishes aside, there is still plenty to like even if you aren’t crazy about the subgenre. Fans of Macross Frontier‘s Ranka Lee will surely enjoy the vocals of Nakajima Megumi, who performs both OP and ED themes, “TRY UNITE!” and “Hello!”, respectively. See how lucky you are? I know mutsulini for one definitely approves. As for the acting seiyuu, a mix of veterans and newcomers gives the show a more well-rounded quality that balances experience with fresh appeal. Notably, much of the rookie talent headline in main character roles.
Kamogawa koukousei Kyouno Madoka (rookie Ishihara Kaori) is an all-around natural athlete, skilled in virtually any sport; and while she’s already the president (and sole member) of her own Jersey Club, she’s a much sought-after player in multiple school club activities. Upbeat and always eager to lend a hand with a smile and a genki “maru–!”, she’s also the kind of girl who wears her school mizugi under her seifuku, if that’s an indication of anything. You know, so she can save any hapless, curiously unattended drowning children on the way to school. Of course, this is all in a day’s work for Madoka: good Samaritan; infectious optimist; Jill-of-all-Trades.
Hi. I came to recruit you… Is this a bad time?
One afternoon, she is approached by Lan (Seto Asami), a mysterious girl with the emotive expression of Nagato Yuki (mainly in that she has next to none that are readily apparent) although she seems capable of crude attempts at humor. After becoming fast comrades, Lan wastes no time revealing her identity as an alien, her mission to protect Madoka and the strange, gigantic craft she asks her to pilot. For the average person, that kind of information might be hard to swallow but Madoka casually takes it in stride. I guess for her meeting aliens is an everyday thing.
Not everyone is so keen on the idea, however, as Nakaizumi Youko (Noto Mamiko), whom Madoka calls onee-chan, is one of a professional faction aware of the alien activity and is personally intent on preventing Madoka from becoming a
magical girl pilot at all costs. But of course we can’t have that, because any unwarranted obstruction of the primary protagonist in fulfillment of their role is a cardinal sin. Not only does Madoka sortie with the invading mech but she incapacitates the threat in style with a perfect “maru!” German Suplex.
Ishihara’s performance as Madoka makes for a thoroughly likeable heroine even if the character is essentially a rehashed clone of most every young gun to ever see a “giant robot.” If the basis of her character is less than original, Ishihara brings out Madoka’s earnestness and her easy-going exuberance with an adept touch that more than makes up for it.
Much of the rest of the cast have yet to make their entrance (most notably, the other pilot girl – Kayano Ai as Muginami), though the players who have already assembled only hint at an exposition that has yet to show us exactly where the show intends to go. Thus, it’s kind of early and unfair to attempt to gauge the potential worth of the rest of the series based on this single episode, simply because it has yet to truly differentiate itself from all the others that came before it. Luckily with a name like Production I.G., it makes it easier to have confidence they will keep Rinne not only watchable but great entertainment. So while it might not be a story you haven’t heard before, there are surely a number of worthwhile surprises ahead.