I don’t normally follow anime as it airs, Gundam and, lately, Precure excepted. (I’m looking forward to Smiley’s Precure. Apparently the Cure colours will be grey, brown, and grey-brown.) Following a few seasons behind and gleaning up titles recommended by trusted minds more or less guarantees a steady stream of things I enjoy, while trying to catch things as they air would doom me to running into something I dislike. Oh, and, Gundam again excepted, robots seem rare at the moment. However, January brought a bunch of things I’d like to keep up with, and two of them even have robots!
First, there’s Aquarion Evol. I’ve known of Aquarion for a good while, and a few years ago I dipped a foot into the original series before deciding that while the CG mecha were technically impressive, they were also annoying. Evol‘s CG mecha are even more technically impressive, but still annoying: juddering, weightless and disgustingly pristine. I haven’t got a great eye for this stuff, so I’ve little sense for how much of that is my taste and how much, if any, really is a fault it’s worth banging the table over. But it does rub the wrong way, especially when titles like Unicorn and that Votoms Finder one-shot—and yes, I understand that they’re not on television schedules and budgets—have convinced me that I like well-integrated CG mecha work. Hell, even the oddity that was Soukou no Strain got away with fairly bad CG by putting it in a weightless and pristine environment.
And the combination-as-sex thing doesn’t amuse me for (although this is not Evol‘s fault) I just finished watching Godannar. Actually, let me talk about Godannar for a paragraph. Godannar seemed to me to be built along the lines of jp’s description of Giant Robo: an attempt at ‘how we’d like to remember giant robot anime’. But instead of amazing production values Godannar has a soap opera-ish story about a young married couple, and lots and lots and lots of fanservice. Maybe it was just made with half an eye to people who did watch robot shows as kids, and were old enough by the early 2000s to want a soap operaish story about a young married couple mixed with lots and lots and lots of fanservice. I don’t know. I do know that Godannar made me laugh a lot and I recommend trying it if you haven’t yet and you like giant robots and ludicrousness.
Anyway, back to Evol. Evol is saved by its stupid finishers.
Second, there’s Rinne no Lagrange. I’m a bit surprised more noise hasn’t been made about Lagrange‘s sense of place. The brief reported remark about tourism here sent my mind in this direction, but really this stuff drips from the episode titles, from Madoka’s dedication to Kamogawa and from her suspiciously encyclopaedic fighting knowledge of the town’s layout and inhabitants. I’m hoping, but not expecting, that Lagrange will amuse me by exhibiting some small vein of conservatism similar to that which, I am reliably informed, ran through Hanasaku Iroha.
There’s a hint at this rootedness tying back into the plot sometime in Madoka’s defiant claim that Kamogawans’ love for their town is just as strong as the Demetrians’ love for their planet. I think I’ve come across a version of this issue in re: the problem of pain, the question being about whether these things are cumulative: can you add each individual’s love of their home into one big mass which you can then feed into your felicific calculus? Or is the love one person can feel for their home the maximum relevant amount? And all that sort of thing.
More importantly, robots! The ancillary stuff, that deployable runway, the useless lasers, &c—that’s some convincingly sharp mecha paraphernalia. Plus the robots’ own shape, their transformations, the workings of their blades and shields feel coherent, part of one thought-through effort. So far the fighting itself is very easy on the eyes and, importantly, has fun ideas. Madoka’s been pulling out the sort of attacks that belong in a slightly different breed of robot action, with mixed but consistently amusing results. I initially judged that Lagrange was not a mecha fan’s mecha show, and I suppose it isn’t, really, but at present it is, on a few measures, rather putting Evol to shame.
By loudly disliking Lagrange on Twitter Ghostlightning has prompted a defence; I’m not sure decades of mecha piloting can be quite so breezily reviewed, and I don’t think Madoka’s get-up-and-go can be so easily pinned to some kind of post-Fukushima need for pep, and even if it can, there’s no necessary connection between that and Lagrange being, like, good… but I do like this post. There are snippets in there which capture enjoyment rather well. Meanwhile, on GL’s blog but courtesy of DKJ, we have a post which captures the opposite of enjoyment. I’m not sure it really mounts much of argument for Lagrange being bad, but then I’m not sure I’ve mounted much of an argument for it being good.
What is interesting is that final paragraph; from what little I know I’d say there’re certainly connections in pacing and profit model between basal mecha shows and basal magical girl shows. In some respects they’re closer to each other than to their extrapolated forms—but Lagrange is not basal. However, at this point I’m probably just BSing. More than usual.