Rinne no Lagrange is a colourful energetic show which is a pleasure to watch, as long as you don’t make the mistake of trying to take it too seriously. Set in the paradise that is Japan’s Kamagowa City, with sparkling oceans and white sandy beaches. We follow the story of Kyouno Madoka who mirrors the seemingly idyllic paradise with her colourful antics and happy go lucky nature.
It’s a normal school day for Madoka, a girl who won’t hesitate to leap into the ocean to save a drowning girl. An effort made all the more easier by the fact she was wearing a swimsuit under her school clothes. Why you ask? A good question, one of many random unexplained things in the show you can only hope to presume will be answered in later episodes. Though in this case it’s hinted that Madoka is in fact the president of what seems to be a lifeguards club.
Unfortunately for Madoka a mysterious girl steals her clothes in a ploy to have a reason to approach Madoka. In doing so Madoka befriends the strange girl without so much as wondering where she got her clothes from. The mysterious girl disappears quite literally leaving a befuddled Madoka to wander home alone.
This mysterious girl is called Lan, an alien who has been sent to protect both Madoka and the robot. She’s still not quite accustomed to human social skills or humour, so if any of the characters (besides Madoka) grow through the episodes it’ll probably be Lan as Madoka pulls her out of her shell. Madoka gets home and there we gain a brief glimpse into Madoka’s family life, she’s raised by her Dad and has an older sister called Yoko Nakaizumi whose work doesn’t allow her much time to see her family.
Then follows a particularly strange scene where Yoko needs to stare at Madoka’s ass for no given reason and once again Madoka simply goes with it. That really sums up Madoka as a character, someone who doesn’t really notice the world around them and simply goes with the flow. Madoka doesn’t seem to be able to take absolutely anything seriously and so never pauses to question anything, which only becomes more noticeable as the episode progresses.
The next day we see Madoka in the school showers after excelling at yet another sport. Right outside stands Lan, staring. Whilst I’m sure many people would get a creepy vibe from this, mainly due to Lan’s unflinching stare, Madoka simply shrugs it off and talks to her like she’s her new best friend, well comrade.
Lan asks Madoka if she can pilot a robot. Next thing you know Madoka is on a floating naval base just offshore next to said robot with her family none the wiser. Lan reveals she is in fact an alien though Madoka plays it off as a joke and you aren’t too sure if she really believes her. It turns out Madoka and the robot have a little bit of a past between them, the robot having saved her from drowning years ago now needs Madoka to hold up her end of the bargain and be the pilot. Then a bad guy – well, girl attacks and Madoka jumps into the robot as the base and its escort destroyers engage the alien mecha.
Naturally being the first episode the bad guys aren’t given much back story, but it feels as though a little more effort could have been put into making them seem like something other than simply generic. As far as characterisation goes we don’t get anything other than their names. As far as them being evil goes there is nothing beyond their grimaces and abrasive attitudes to suggest they’re truly evil.
What follows is an excellent naval battle which really showcases the flawless animation and vibrant colours as explosions tear ships asunder as their own laser weaponry is turned against them. The score is also used exceptionally well to elevate the tension, dictate the mood of scenes and punctuate the battle scenes as missiles slam into the relentless alien mecha.
Lan asks Madoka to pilot the robot, Madoka is naturally wary as she doesn’t know how to pilot anything more advanced than a bike. However the robot is to be remote controlled and they would just like Madoka in the pilot’s seat. Once again Madoka simply jumps in without so much as a ‘why?’ and the true battle begins.
The actual pilot of the robot slams it into the alien mecha who barely blocks it with a sub-space shield. Madoka decides despite her previous misgivings that she now wants to drive (even though she has no idea how) and through this act of willpower alone the robot gives her full control and also transforms into a mecha. Using her Kendo she easily defeats the alien mecha in mere seconds and with a large grin declares herself triumphant. Thus byt the end of the episode Madoka still manages to be completely unfazed by everything that has occurred. As if hanging upside down in the cockpit of a strange robot after beating down a bigger robot is simply a normal day for her.
Rinne no Lagrange is one of the stronger contenders of the winter season. Its colourful upbeat attitude makes it hard to dislike, with an energetic, carefree protagonist who is impossible not to love. Whilst the bad guys have so far only been presented as blandly as possible, the series has a lot of room to flesh them out. If you can ignore the few minor flaws and enjoy it for the silly, relaxing fun that it is then you won’t come away disappointed.