Just a single word provoked me to write down a more solid defense of a newly-discovered passion, so let’s begin with me quoting an exchange:
Me (after watching the first episode): DAMN, THIS SHOW HITS THE RIGHT SPOTS! Surprisingly fabulous, even if some of the characters are reminiscent of those from a show years ago, except for ebullient Madoka.
Stevie_Nix: Like I said before, Madoka is the anti-Shinji.
Me: Maybe I’m overstating this, but this show is one of the many bottles of morale-boosting tonic that Japan needs in these trying times; makes you feel real good, from start to finish.
Stevie_Nix: I really hope Japan starts making more upbeat, happy series. I am really enjoying the mood, and upbeat, positive Madoka is the best. Even if we might not get cannon Yuri, I am really, really enjoying Lagrange.
From Animesuki Forums
A Crisis of Lowered Morale
Japan, as I understand, is still currently having to live with the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, followed by the failure of the No. 1 Fukushima nuclear power plant, and then later the resignation of the previous Prime Minister.
The end result is a populace forced to scrutinize their farm produce for radioactive contamination, to cut down on electrical consumption and shut down their remaining nuclear plants, to abandon their homes in the danger zone around the damaged plant, to clean up the damage and find the remains of their loved ones; many are traumatized by the living nightmare, some have sunk into depression, and worse, some are obliged to surrender in life with their own hands.
So what is being done to remedy the morass of mass demoralization? To me it appears that the Japanese entertainment industry has an obligation to save their country’s morale by going in and do many works of charity, and of course, perform pop songs to evacuees in crowded school gyms and civic centers.
Anime, it seems to be, isn’t far behind in attempting to invigorate a demoralized nation. Among many that tries to cheer its younger generation (and perhaps even the older generation), one example is the new 2-cour series Rinne no Lagrange.
Angsty Hero Pilots Revisited
By my own understanding (and I apologize should I be wrong), perhaps the precedent of the typical reluctant would-be hero pilot is Amuro Ray.
In this famous sequence since memorialized throughout the years, and beloved as a transformational scene, we see Amuro being confronted by Bright Noa, who was trying to persuade the former to take up arms against the attacking Zeon.
In reaction Amuro objects angrily, refusing to take Bright’s orders. Nonchalantly Bright slaps him twice to turn Amuro around, effectively giving notice that his time has come to make the right choice.
Fast forward to October 4, 1995, when Evangelion came into being.
In here, Shinji Ikari came with the mistaken assumption that he would be just watching the war by the sidelines, only at the very moment he meets his father does he is being asked to pilot Unit-01. He refuses, but then Rei is wheeled in and suddenly debris crashes around them.
And Shinji’s hand finds blood from Rei’s wounds, which impels him to pilot the Purple Angel Eater, and the rest is history.
Madoka Kyono: The Combo Breaker
Now, why do I have to bring out and mention about those young, reluctant men? Because they represent a very long line of reluctant heroes who initially balk at being pressed into warfare, not wanting to leave their comfort zones.
But then came along Madoka Kyono, which I am now referring to as the accidental pilot, or more preferably, the combo breaker.
Madoka represents the anti-thesis of those pilots, for she possesses a cheerful, confident personality with no skeletons in her closet, but she is not necessarily a Mary-Sue, only a girl who has that simple interest of helping out people in need.
Now the funny thing about this is, well, Madoka was not persuaded by force or threats to become a would-be pilot for the enigmatic Novumundus agency. Instead, she innocently thought Lan was needing help, and being the sympathetic girl she is, Madoka is choppered to Pharos Base.
However, once hell breaks loose as the first of the Ovids assault the base, you’ll be surprised that Madoka didn’t cower, or looked scared and trying to find the nearest bomb shelter.
She didn’t. She merely watched those Arleigh Burke destroyers unleash Harpoon missiles at the Ovid, and calmly asked Lan what in the world she was doing right with this strange machine that just almost psychically kicked her ass minutes ago.
All she knew was to ride a bike, but never something this complex. She also knew to play kendo, tennis and baseball, and yet…
Looking back at the Vox that she was imprinted with many years ago, probably saving her from drowning, Madoka felt she has a duty to perform, no matter how difficult it could be, even if confronting Array and his Ovid.
Time to saddle up.
After three episodes, it dawned upon me as to what sort of a message Lagrange wants to bring to the world.
It’s a very positive one, embodied in Madoka’s never-say-die, cheerful personality, even if one of the Ovids struck her Vox twice on the head as she tries to defend her hometown.
Funnily, Madoka also sings even while in combat, trying to reduce as much collateral damage as possible, even going as far as to repay a peanut farmer’s ruined plot with a free dinner.
Now you feel compelled to ask what’s the connection between this and the tsunami/earthquake trauma? As I said earlier, Japan is in dire need of a morale boost, to keep on going despite national hardship.
With a surprisingly positive feel (from the OP/ED, the music, color palette, styling, to the likeable characters, save for the sourpuss anti-heroes), and despite some tiny issues with the plot/story, Lagrange is indeed one of those shiny bottles of morale boosters that literally and figuratively leaves anyone watching the show with a smile afterwards, and also indeed, Madoka Kyono acts like a species of a cheerleader who can be relied on to restore one’s faith in life and outlook.
And in a Japan whose citizens are trying to regain its former strength, the introduction of Lagrange is very timely, and hopefully the show should maintain its capacity throughout 24 episodes, to inspire its audience to keep their heads up high.
Like many of its new fans, I can’t but say this loud: