Madoka Kyono is the sole member of her high school’s “Jersey Club,” which means she is available to help anyone in need, whenever they need it. Always clad in a pink track suit—the actual “jersey” which serves as the Jersey Club’s uniform—Madoka fills in for the Kendo Club when a member is absent, saves a classmate from drowning, and even finds the time to wait tables at her uncle’s cafe. When a strange new student named Lan appears and asks Madoka to pilot a robot, of course she agrees—even if the request sounds crazy. Madoka soon learns that Lan is the princess of a distant planet called Lagarite, and like Madoka, she has the ability to pilot a type of mecha known as the Vox. Madoka names her robot Midori, but she finds little time to train as a pilot before her seaside city of Kamogawa comes under attack by three other robots, piloted by young men who are supposedly enemies of Lagarite.
Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne is a rare female-driven mecha series with a gentle heart. It might not be the most memorable series in recent times, but it is quite sweet. Each character is quirky and cute. Lan is shy and clumsy with an affinity for orca whales, but unlike Madoka, she fears the Vox because of a prophecy that the robots will ultimately destroy the world. Madoka is cheerful and encouraging, characterized by her loyalty. She has the habit of tying her bangs into a band high above her head when she is about to get to work. Later, the two are joined by busty Muginami, who has a history with the enemy.
The action scenes are heavy with CGI, though they are pretty enough to look at. However, the series seems more focused on the interaction between the three girls than its mech battles. This might be the reason Lagrange lags so much, coupled with its failure to answer important questions which are raised during the course of the season. Indications that Madoka encountered the Vox during a childhood drowning incident are included, but never followed up on. This is frustrating because the series begins with Madoka’s cousin Yoko expressing the fear that Madoka will be soon asked to pilot a robot. For some reason, Yoko quickly changes her feelings about this, and we never find out how much she knows about Madoka’s connection to the Vox.
Also in question are the motivations of the individuals and organizations that are posited as “good guys” and “bad guys.” As the series progresses, one begins to wonder if the antagonists are indeed bad, and suspect that the good guys might not be all that good. The aggressors are driven by a fear of the Vox; they want to destroy it before the robots can cause trouble, and they are willing to team up with questionable allies to do so. The audience receives several hints that there is more than meets the eye to Novumundos, the organization that has recruited Madoka to fight, and its intentions are even murkier. I’ve seen better story development in shorter series. Luckily for us, Lagrange is a two-season series, and all of these questions could very well be answered when it picks up once again. It is not likely that everyone will stay on board for the entirety of the first season, but Lagrange should win over some fans.
It should also be noted that Lagrange is rated MA. There is some mild cursing, nudity, and girl-on-girl breast fondling. Though many other anime series contain far worse, these moments are likely contributions to the series’ rating. Some upsetting scenes involving starving children could distrub younger viewers. Most of the violence is mecha-on-mecha, but some blood is spilled later on.
Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne, Set 1: Episodes 1-12
directed by Tatsuo Sato
287 minutes, Number of Discs: 2, Single disc/Blu-ray
Company Age Rating: TV-MA
Related to: Rin-ne no Lagrange: Akatoki no Memoria by Shotaro Suga