「またいつの日か、鴨川で」 (Mata Itsu no Hi ka, Kamogawa de)
“Until We Meet Again, In Kamogawa”
A haunting episode full of partings. I’m finding myself unable to quite put into words my feelings about this final offering, which isn’t an ideal situation for a writer to be in. Still, I’ll give it a shot. The final episode of Rinne no Lagrange season one, and some thoughts about the series over all. Let’s do this thing.
First of all, the order of the episode was jarring. I expected it to launch right back into the action, but instead we started off with an epic yuri confession…that turned out to be an epic yuri troll. Xebec, why you do this to me!! That moment aside, I found the flip-flopped order we saw the events off-putting, as it took away the uncertainty and replaced it with only curiosity about how the events transpired. It was also confusing, and sort of frustrating to be seeing the aftermath when I wanted to know why Muginami was gone and Lan had to leave.
…not that all of that is necessarily a bad thing. I know I’m prone to forgive a lot where Rinne no Lagrange is concerned, but hear me out. This episode was haunting and mournful, with a sense of loss permeating the entire atmosphere. And it wasn’t the angry loss of a loved one – we got that last episode with Youko-nee’s apparent death. Rather, it was separation that filled the screen, and separation is jarring, off-putting, and frustrating…all feelings that the episode was designed to evoke. Whether this was a good idea is up for debate, but how well these feelings were instilled in the watcher is a much harder point to argue against, at least in my eyes. We were made to feel what Madoka was feeling when she said goodbye to Lan so many times. That scene wasn’t enough to move me to tears, but I certainly felt for Madoka, and was saddened by it.
But there’s still this whole deal with the Blossoming of Rin-Ne. Whatever the blossoming is hasn’t really been revealed yet. I can’t say that I disagree with Villagulio’s assumption that it’s something bad though, or rather, I can understand his concern. Moid was certainly enjoying the whole spectacle, and I don’t trust that guy as far as I can throw him (with several hundred kilos of lead weights strapped to him, and the use of only one of my arms). Still, I realize that this is what the writers want us to think (specifically in regards to Moid), and that it’s quite possible that no one truly knows what the Blossoming really does, or could do if it was controlled by the right hands.
Which brings me to the scene with Yurikano. My original comparison of this scene to the beach scene at the end of End of Evangelion turned out to be only about 20% correct. Rather, it was the dream sequences between Shinji and Rei in that same movie – and any number of other stories, if you don’t like this example – that provided a more apt comparison. But compared to other cryptic dream teachers, I really liked Yurikano’s straight-forward attitude. She told Madoka everything that she knew openly and honestly, and reminded her that though she may have been “chosen,” whether or not she would succeed has not been preordained – that was all up to her. Now there’s a theme that I can get behind! Sure, our protagonist here may be a bit special, but that doesn’t mean she automatically gets to win. She has to earn it. And if this episode tells us anything, it’s that she still has a lot of earning left to do.
I’m not going to get into how Madoka knew to fly around in a circle and spawn that giant flower, because I honestly have no idea. I would remind anyone who has a tendency to get bent up over such things (I’m one of them! Or at least I used to be) that Madoka is strapped into a mysterious ancient relic machine that has plenty of secrets yet to tell, so there are plenty of potential reasons. But returning to my earlier point about Villagulio, I don’t blame him for assuming that, even if they have the power to set right what went wrong, the Voces are dangerous. What I liked here is that we got a final and unequivocal revelation of Villagulio’s motivations. No matter what deeper reasons some of us have attributed to him, he has always been after the one thing that a Prince should be after – to protect his people. He feels that the Voces are dangerous, and that the people of De Metrio will be safer if Madoka is eliminated, so that’s what he goes after. I still feel like there’s something missing here, because some of his actions don’t quite add up if he always wanted the Voces to end up as scrap metal, but I suppose it’s best to assume only the most simple of motivations until proven otherwise. So a good prince of De Metrio he is, until further notice! Even if it nearly cost him his life.
Which brings us to Mugniami’s departure. That Muginami went back to Villagulio’s side after all he did may have been surprising to some, but it wasn’t to me. By episode 11, Villagulio and Muginami’s relationship had dissolved into the equivalent of a pretty nasty interpersonal fight, which is to say, the kind that all of us have with almost everyone we’re close to at one point or another. It was a particularly bad one, sure, but it was nothing that wouldn’t have involved them sniping at each other for a few weeks before making up in a more boring setting. The bottom line is that Villagulio’s transgressions didn’t expunge the years of love Muginami had for him, so when it was either she act or he dies, she acted, and saved him. Makes sense to me.
And so Muginami is gone, and Lan leaves too, vowing to bring her back so the three of them can be comrades in Kamogawa once again. That final scene on the Hill of Vows! Madoka, Lan, that aborted maru! T__T Of the three, now only one remains, and she’s back doing what she always did: helping out everyone, but getting close to no one. It feels like things are temporarily back to normal…but not really. That feeling of loneliness, of separation, of loss isn’t likely to leave Madoka. I wanted her to go along with Lan, to end this first season on a high note. I suppose we’ll have to wait a few months to see that (maybe?).
I feel like this post has meandered in an unintuitive, jarring, and off-putting manner, which is perhaps appropriate for this episode. Still, one more thing before we get to my final impressions: Asteria. She says that she’s “the witch who pulled this universe into an eternal loop of peace and calamity,” and promises to disappear once Madoka severs the Rin-Ne. I don’t think it will be as easy as Madoka taking her to a specialist to get that tattoo zapped off, so I have a crazy, off-the-wall theory for you. First of all, it sounds to me like the one that Yurikano met when she first got to the beach was none other than Asteria. If that’s the case, it stands to reason that the Voces (or whatever Yurikano used to trigger the Tragedy of Militia Zodia, if it wasn’t a Vox) have something to do with getting to this beach. When was the only other time we know of that the Voces were used? And doesn’t that symbol on Asteria’s chest look like the memoria that the three Vox pilots have? Here’s my crazy theory: Asteria piloted one of the Voces (probably Aura) 20,000 years ago.
…or not! As I mentioned, that’s just a crazy, off-the-wall theory I came up with seconds ago. Let’s take it to the comments, and have you guys tell me what you think about the events of this episode. For now, let’s get onto those final thoughts, before I meander any longer.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Haunting loneliness; blossoming flowers; a crying Madoka: #RinneNoLagrange heads into a 3mo break. Is it summer yet?
- When the OP played as an insert, with its slower speed, different instrumentation, and Nakajima Megumi really showing what she could do, it was extremely effective. It just fit the scene perfectly, and built upon the uneasy atmosphere the episode had been going for by taking something that was once so uplifting and making it haunting, and sad. Too bad the Zero no Tsukaima team never learned this lesson.
- Looks like our three favorite ovid pilots are going to be sticking around. It looks like everything won’t even superficially be the same as it once was. Good!
- So Muginami sent a paper letter from space. How’s that work again? It’s probably best not to think about it. Moving on, nothing to see here…
ED & Epilogue
When this season started, Rinne no Lagrange was nowhere on my radar. The first time I remember hearing about it was one of the first times I talked to Divine, when he was teaching me everything I needed to know to make a post. I remember him talking about the pre-air of episode one, and how it was light-hearted, with good mecha action, and some other stuff I’ve since forgotten. Let it never be said that Divine has bad taste in anime, because nine episodes later when he needed the rest of us to pick some shows up, I jumped at the chance to cover this one. Episode after episode, Lagrange has shown a deft hand for every facet of storytelling which has brought what seemed like a stereotypical premise to vivid life on the screen. Did I say I jumped at the chance to cover this? Let me change that to lunged. It’s more accurate.
Characters, details, feelings, and fun: those are the four things that this series did so well. Taking each in turn:
- The foundation of a good story is always in its Characters, and Lagrange’s cast is full of memorable ones, with each character displaying their unique and interesting characteristics within seconds of their introduction, and becoming unforgettable shortly thereafter.
- Details are the little things, the tiny touches of a meaningful pause, a stern look, or a blush from Youko-nee’s assistant that say more than words ever could, and bring those great characters truly to life.
- Feelings are what drag us further into the story, because as much as many of us like to think we’re ruled by logic and intelligence, we’re not. Lagrange was masterful at manipulating the atmosphere to get at our emotions, thanks undoubtedly in part to its original series roots.
- Finally, there is Fun. Never forget that, though the plot is interesting and will keep us guessing until season two comes to a close, it will probably be clumsy Lan, Madoka getting groped by Asteria, or Array getting used to maid clothes that will stick in our minds. There’s nothing wrong with a little “filler,” so long as the plot has enough time and we’re all having fun!
The thing about Rinne no Lagrange is that it continually exceeded expectations. That’s a hard feat to accomplish! Exceeding expectations at the beginning of this season when it was a big fat unknown was easy, but each and every episode it kept doing things right over and over again, and every time the bar was raised, it just flew higher. With a main character that is relatable while still being heroic, a setting that is vibrant and alive, and a plot whose scope is of interstellar proportions, Rinne no Lagrange brought a ton to the table. It wasn’t perfect – nothing ever is – but even its dips were nothing next to its heights. We’ve got a three-month break until this baby comes back for its second half, so until then, let’s all keep a little “maru” in ours heart, ne? Bye bye!