Minds in a New State of Bloom: Lagrange ~Flower of Rin-ne~

On an individual basis, mechas, moe and interplanetary warfare are facets that have helped to make many anime great. Question is what do you get when you toss them all into a blender. While I can’t promise you great (or at least decent) results every time, I CAN tell you about one of the better ones. That being said, Lagrange ~Flower of Rin-ne~ stands out a bit as a series that takes all of it defining parts and makes good on them with enough balance and care.

Set primarily on Earth, the story follows the journey of Madoka Kyono, who lives the typical school girl life, that is, until she is inadvertently swept up in a war of worlds. With her hometown’s safety in mind, she takes up a mysterious offer to pilot an advanced alien mech known as a Vox and assists the organization Novumundus in protecting mankind. She is shortly joined afterwards by fellow pilots and future BFF’s Lan and Muginami who come with their own motivations.

The Kamogawa Jersey Club ready for duty whether that means cleaning a pool or saving the planet.

With the first season, the focus seemed to firmly be on establishing the main three heroines and their relationships with one another in the present. Because of this, a number of plot points are alluded to but never fully revealed. While the tone tends to be lighter and more comedic, it nicely highlights the importance of the bonds the girls share. Sure, the “power of friendship” has been used million times before as a plot driver but this is a case in which it doesn’t feel forced.

Season 2 proved more intriguing as it bumped up the tension and answered lots of questions. We finally learn the truths behind the tutelary “Flower of Rin-ne” and discover some members of the supporting cast have bigger roles than expected. Suffice to say, this is where you’ll get your welcome brunt of twists and turns. Furthermore, pinning the true “villain” doesn’t turn out to be as easy as both lead antagonists display shades of gray. Grant it neither are as complex as say Psycho-Pass‘s Makishima but the subtle moral ambiguity is appreciated nonetheless.

Madoka engaging in some girl talk with the distorted, ethereal form of….

After learning of the Powerpuff Girls temporary return, a pleasant sense of familiarity between the two series struck me. It may take some abstract thinking, but the “sugar, spice and everything nice” angle works as well with Madoka, Muginami, and Lan as it did with Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup — just on more mature level. Just like Cartoon Network‘s super-powered sisters, the “Jersey Club” get into their own heated debates with a tasty chunk of drama layering the in-fights. The resulting friction is great often bearing endearing moments and solid character development.

Muginmi and Lan trying to reach an understanding. Unfortunately neither are great with diplomacy.

As mentioned, the show definitely has a playfully humorous side too it. The writers recognized some of the characters within the story are technically “aliens”, and as such, wouldn’t be accustomed to Earth’s ways. From Lan’s adorably misguided way of greeting to Kirius’s dramatized reaction after tasting an energy drink, there’s enough to induce an occasional chuckle. Showing these silly scenes with both the primary and secondary cast members helps to humanize, evolve and make them likable in the end.

Visually, Lagrange sports some pretty impressive animation on a consistent basis. Characters bodies move with natural fluidity when going from one frame to another. This also extends to the Vox’s as well as the other machines used, making their rumbles something to get amped about; CG notwithstanding. Additionally everyone is designed well with the only complaint being staged against the robots they pilot. Not to say the renders look bad, but rather plain when compared to those seen in the likes of Gundam or Valvrave: the Liberator.

The animation wasn’t the only part of presentation clearly handled with high effort as Production I.G/Xebec did quite well with the music too. Composed by Saeko Suzuki, the OST’s majorly feature a distinct mix of ambient, charged, and euphoric tracks all befitting Lagrange’s extraordinary mythos and pivotal events. Even the weakest melody carries a level of beauty and/or whimsy that goes hardly paralleled. Both openings and two endings are performed by idol Megumi Nakajima while “Jersey Club Spirit!” is energetically sung by Kaori Ishihara, Asami Seto and Ai Kayano respectively. The talent behind these artists/seiyuu’s is amazing and what they brought to the anime was invaluable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNQ5x3m18DU&feature=share&list=PLwhToZGmnYrD8QBRq4yNrPsvnpn06-zHn&index=15

Final Fun Fact: While Array (left), Izo (center) and Kirius (right) serve as enemies/allies/male counterparts to the Jersey Club in this series, they were actually the leading protagonists of its prequel manga, Dawn of Memoria.

If you want to check this show out, you can find it in its entirety on Hulu. Push through the slow start and you’ll discover a narrative that brightly blossoms and blooms. A sentiment that can be backed up with enjoyable characters, smooth action and stellar music no less. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next review which will feature a more recently ended anime.