Series Review: Rinne no Lagrange (8/10)

Instant summary: An excessively-helpful Mary Sue finds herself piloting an alien mech and making alien friends who looks just like humans.

What appears to be a generic mech anime with a over-enthusiastic Mary Sue (a reference to a girl that excels at everything) turns out to be way more entertaining than it first suggests. The name Xebec doesn't generate a lot of confidence, and I guess I didn't see what was coming when they put Satou Tatsuo at the helm. I can't say the same for the other anime in the same season he's in charge of, though.

Well, first off, the concept and storyline isn't going to impress anyone. Near-perfect protagonists with a sad past seems to be a standard for half of all anime you find, and of course she stumbles across a mech that she learns to pilot right away. She then took on the responsibility to protect the whole world (or something) but still gets to attend school anyway. Pfft. Is there anything new in this genre anymore?

So what makes this great? The characters. All of them. I think the key here is that while there's definitely a play on the moé traits, it is used with a lot of moderation, something that is really rare nowadays. Take Lan for example, she's both a klutz and a kuudere (google that), but the series doesn't focus too deliberately on the awkward silence, or spend half a minute panning the scene where she moans painfully in a seductive position after tripping over. I guess after a decade of excessive moéfication, less is more, no?

And the main 3 girls had a lot more than their moé traits combined. Madoka and Lan are both voice by 19-year old Ishihara Kaori and Seto Asami respectively. There's nothing I hate more than to hear an old lady trying her best kawaii children's voice, so I really appreciate it when they put a young voice in a young role. Madoka's spirited and gung-ho attitude drives the story well without feeling too loud or boisterous, unlike similar characters in other series. I guess it partly due to her voice that makes her feels a bit tame, but that combined with her humble nature makes our lead character very likable. Muginami, who seemed like your usual moé traits mash-up with her huge tits and childish behavior, turns out to be a lot more interesting when she revealed a darker personality, a meaningful back-story which influences her decisions and bonds with the other girls.

Vilaguilio is also one of the highlights of the cast, because he's just not your usual antagonist. While it's clear that he would go all out to destroy the mechs, you can't help but wonder why he would give the three male pilots a choice to decide in the matter, or why he would not hesitate to disregard his long-time bond with Muginami. There's a lot of questions left to be answered about him in the next season, but that's also what makes him an interesting character.

And... other than the characters, the story style is also something I would like to call "unique". It has the delicacy that prevent scenes from being over-dramatic, and it compensates with witty dialogue and blunt jokes with quick follow-ups, something I didn't know exists in anime. It feels "natural", and completely different from a scripted monologue that everything else now sounds like. It's hard to put into words how exactly "unique" this is, but the dialogue and execution in Rinne no Lagrange just feels special.

The production values is also a surprise, seeing that it's Xebec. While to some extent the Vox's abilities seems like a good excuse for them to spam various CG effects, you gotta admit that it all looks pretty neat. The action scenes ain't bad either, and outside the battles the graphics still look pretty solid. I enjoyed both the ED and OP too.

The first season leaves us at a cliffhanger and I really want the rest of the story to have a value on the current score... but for now, I'm really happy with what I've seen. I sincerely look forward to the next season.

Plot/Concept: Fair
Story Style: Fantastic!
Audio/Visual: Great!
Value: 8