The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Lagrange – The Flower of Rin-ne

Title: Lagrange – The Flower of Rin-ne aka Rinne no Lagrange
Genre: Action/Comedy
Company: Xebec
Format: 12 episodes
Date: 8 Jan 2012 – 25 Mar 2012

Synopsis: Kyouno Madoka is a spunky and optimistic girl from Kamogawa Girls High School, and also the lone member of the Jersey Club, a school club that strives to help people by running errands or doing any kind of favors. One day, a girl showed up at her school by the name of Fin E Ld Si Laffinty — or Lan for short — who Madoka befriends. Lan asks a favor from Madoka, who quickly accepts but gets a huge surprise when it involves her piloting a robot known as Vox Aura. Little did she know that she would become an integral figure in a battle against an evil force in order to save Earth and mankind.

The Highlights
Premise: Imbalance between comedy and drama; tension overwhelmed by comedic moments.
Production values: High; fluid and vivid visuals comparable to a Production I.G series.
Cast: Likable except for Madoka, but mostly forgettable.
Story: Pedestrian; nothing particularly different from other mecha shows.
Xebec: Needs to learn to prioritize plot development and characterization over aesthetics.

Lagrange reminds me so much of Xebec‘s previous production, Break Blade. That’s because, for one, the production values are incredible: from the artistic and euphoric OP sequence to the crisp mecha battle sequences, the audience can easily see just how much budget was pumped into producing the series. It’s not a stretch to say that a handful of people would watch it just for the visuals, including myself as well. But it also displays some familiar weaknesses, similar to those from Break Blade, including a lack of characterization and some ambiance issues. So what results is a mecha series with decent comedic bits, but a rather disappointing one when it comes to serious action involving an earth invasion plot.

As mentioned above, Lagrange is amazing in terms of aesthetics. Visually vivid and vibrant, the series looked as if it was produced by Production I.G instead and it makes its Real Drive-like aquatic landscape come to life. The combination of high production values and surreal setting immerses viewers into the richness and fluidness of the art and animation, especially during the mecha fights. The contribution of talented songbird Nakajima Megumi also adds points to the aesthetics. Her song for the OP sequence “TRY UNITE!” is refreshing and futuristic, while the ED sequence’s “Hello!” has an all-familiar tune that resembles her previous works in Macross Frontier.

The aesthetics are well above-average, but the same cannot really be said for the other aspects of Lagrange. The characters are anything but memorable or even unique: their random antics can be light-hearted and amusing to watch — especially Lan’s failed attempts at trying to act like an ordinary human being — but most of them are of archetypes anyone would normally see in any mecha series. What’s more, the villains somewhat lack edge and motivation, and their random hijinks make them look more like good guys rather than bad ones. And then there’s protagonist Kyouno Madoka, whose incessant catchphrase and gross naïveté renders her rather unlikable. This is a girl who, rather than worrying about herself while fighting an enemy in a robot, is fretting over ruining her neighbor’s lawn and damaging public property instead and for that it’s quite hard to take her seriously when a certain scene requires it.

But perhaps the bigger issue with Lagrange is the balance between the drama and the comedy. It’s understandable that most shows inevitably feature both tense and light-hearted moments, but what the show should’ve done is draw a boundary between the two so they don’t interfere. Every time a serious moment is in focus, the tense ambiance gets disrupted by some moment of folly, from a revelation of a interstellar war at hand in the principal’s office to an antagonist’s declaration to destroy certain artefacts while playing a Kinect game. There’s hardly a scene that can be taken completely seriously, and this results in an underwhelming tone whereby the series fares well as a light-hearted comedy but not as a serious thriller, even when there’s the clichéd doomsday device subplot at hand.

In brief, Lagrange is yet another run-of-the-mill mecha series. Sure, it may have great production values and decent music but the classic good-versus-evil storyline is pretty simplistic, the characters are forgettable and the premise is somewhat mismanaged. It fares all right as something to watch to kill time, but it seems to be yet another passable series by Xebec, a studio that isn’t particularly known for making quality productions. I have to wonder if the studio has learnt from Break Blade, that a well-written storyline and good character development are what makes a series great. Hopefully, it learns its lesson well and get the basics right first before working on the second season.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: AC

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