Monday, 9 January 2012

Rinne no Lagrange - Episode 1

A winter season show with opening and ending themes from Megumi Nakajima?  Sold!  Not that I'd ever pick up a new series based on such shallow facts, of course.  Ahem.  Actually, in all seriousness its trailer looked pretty good too, giving me more than enough reasons to add this to my winter watch list.

With a beautiful golden beach and shining sun, Kamokawa isn't just some kind of miniature paradise, but also the perfect home for Rinne no Lagrange's protagonist, the energetic and sporty Madoka Kyono.  When she isn't saving drowning surfers, Madoka runs her own so called "Sweats club", a one girl organisation that seems to primarily consist of helping out as many of the school's sports clubs at possible, such are Kyono's all-round talents.

When Madoka meets an unusual and stern girl who made off with her school uniform during that aforementioned rescue at sea, she thinks that maybe she's found herself another club member, but "Lan" (as she prefers to be known for simplicity's sake) has something else in mind - she's on a mission from outer space, and she needs Madoka to pilot the giant robot she first made a promise with when it saved her as a child.  Don't you just hate it when a mecha from your forgotten past comes back to bug you?  Of course, Madoka isn't fazed by such things, nor it seems by the sudden attack of a group keen to get their own hands on the robot set aside for her. There's only one thing for it then - defeat the enemy with a mixture of blind luck and skill, while your older sister despairs at failing to save you from this dangerous fate.

If I were to sit on the production committee involved in this series, I would probably have suggested calling it Trope-o-rama as an alternate name, so chock-a-block is this opening episode with concepts and ideas that we've seen plenty of times before in other shows.  This gives Rinne no Lagrange the feel of a series that doesn't know what it wants to be from this episode - at times it seems determined to be a fan service comedy, at others a serious action show, and sometimes it even has alarming delusions that it might be good to be a bit more like Star Driver.  The result is a jack of all trades that is a master of none - it doesn't do anything badly, but it doesn't do anything well either, leaving us with overly gratuitous fan service and badly timed comedy atop a series with some quite nice but ultimately rather generic mecha designed by Nissan.  It might yet prove me wrong, but if this is the blueprint for what Rinne no Lagrange wants to be then it feels rather like someone needs to take away the crayons to stop people scribbling on it, and fast.

But hey, at least the soundtrack is good, and I don't just mean Megumi Nakajima's presence.

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