All About Yurikano; Rinne no Lagrange Episode 18

*Natasha’s Note: I’m sorry about not being able to do Jinrui or Rinne this week, it’s been exams week for me!
*Steven’s Note: I’m sorry that I ended up posting this so late!

gallifreyians: The last episode ended with the cliffhanger of Dizelmine trying to have Madoka and Yurikano switch bodies as a way to bring Yurikano back from beyond the Rinne for some unknown purpose. Bringing Yuri back from the Rinne, however, seemed to have prompted the same kind of crystalline growths that appeared during Madoka’s Vox experiment to infest Le Garite’s ship, creating ship-wide system malfunctions and general chaos. Rinne no Lagrange of course interjects some humor into the situation when both Yurikano and Madoka exclaim a perplexed “How?” at seeing their bodies being inhabited by each other. Not only a wonderful continuation of Rinne‘s comedic edge, this situation also goes to further how similar Madoka and Yurikano really are (as if the obvious cosmetic similarities aren’t enough). Muginami, having snuck out of her cell to rescue Madoka, easily dispatches of all of the guards in the room and runs off with Madoka; the only problem being that the Madoka Muginami takes with her is in fact Yurikano. Dizelmine also takes the same route with the Madoka in Yurikano’s body, using the Rinne anomaly as an excuse to send her away in an escape pod.

As if that wasn’t enough, our three intrepid De Metrio defectors — I’m referring to Kirius, Izo, and Array — took it upon themselves to go to Le Garite’s ship to rescue Yurikano, who appears to have been a close friend and teacher of theirs. Le Garite’s ship’s captain then makes the woefully incorrect assumption that they simply must be the cause of the anomaly on the ship (not the shady Rinne experiment going on in a locked cell in the bowels of the ship, no way!) and sends every available Ovid to engage. This is all despite the fact that Le Garite’s ship is in no fighting condition, not being able to provide any support, and in fact needs support in sorting out the Rinne anomaly themselves. Shotaro Suga then decides to take out all the stops and have Villagulio himself go out into the battle accompanied by all of De Metrio’s available squadrons.

Meanwhile, the crystal infestation grows worse and worse on the Le Garite ship, giving Yurikano and chance to escape from Muginami but also coming to threaten each of the girls’ lives. Luckily for them the Voxes  — who, if you remember, automatically launched themselves from Pharos when the Rinne anomaly started. Orca saves Lan, Hupo saves Muginami, and Midori saves Yurikano; in Yurikano’s case, however, Midori (unlike everyone else) recognizes that the ‘Madoka’ it saved is only Madoka’s body, not Madoka’s mind, and thus does not allow Yurikano to pilot it.

It is at this point Yurikano says, “The Vox won’t respond unless body and mind are united as one”; a revelation which undoubtedly and delightfully explains why Madoka could not previously pilot Midori during the timeskip. As I said in my section of SBD’s review of episode thirteen, Madoka was painfully depressed during that time because of the loss of dearest friends — which on a larger scale was also the loss of her identity, prompting a major existential crisis that ultimately formed her depression (but I digress) — and thus became detached from the world around her, her own emotions, and ultimately herself. Really, Madoka suffered from an acute attack of not being able to feel; she couldn’t experience the world around her in any sort of meaningful way, nor could she get in touch with the emotions she “should’ve” been feeling and the emotions she ultimately was feeling. That has to be (no, is) a disconnect between the mind and body, exactly what Yurikano says cannot be present in order for a Vox to be successfully piloted. For that kind of deep explanation to be handed out to the audience as such a subtle non-event is really beautiful to me; it not only makes me think that this idea is going to be extremely important later in the series, but also reveals the profound understanding about people that Yurikano has.

Also, at this subtle character point for Yurikano, episode eighteen goes from being all about overly-complex plot points and giant robot battles in space to being all about Yurikano. After Midori leaves her, she sees an empty Ovid, and in a very Madoka-esque fashion, Yurikano just jumps in and decides to join the raging mecha battle outside. The very first thing she does is save Kirius’s ass from a Le Garite Ovid that had him at point-blank range, reprimanding him for forgetting some of the basic battle tactics she taught him. Insisting that she is Yurikano, Izo is the only one left in disbelief, which is easily remedied by some of Rinne‘s non-degrading fanservice. I specifically point this out because this scene illustrates a really good point about Yurikano’s character; she is a kick-ass mecha fighter-pilot, but she’s also afraid of mice. Yurikano’s a warrior to the bone, but she’s a girl to her core as well1. Nowhere else on this show, and nowhere else in a lot of anime, do you ever see that “““conflict””” of identity so readily reconciled.

And in the following scene Yurikano really proves it when she wipes out nearly all of Le Garite’s Ovids. Array tries to help her with that, and only gets in the way, but is luckily saved by the timely2 arrival of Villagulio and De Metrio’s Ovids. Yurikano gets straight down to business when she realizes who has come to back her and the boys up and easily convinces Villgulio that she is his younger sister.

Here Rinne cuts back to Madoka, who is still in Yurikano’s body, floating around in the escape pod bound for nowhere. Madoka complains about the meager amount of food she has been provided with while musing over what is up with Yurikano. Madoka unknowingly hits the escape pod’s broadcast button, which reaches the battleground between Le Garite and De Metrio just as Muginami and Lan have arrived to try to stop the fighting. Everyone, Villagulio and Dizelmine included, hears Madoka think through the problem Yurikano has with Dizelmine and Villagulio. The sometimes dense, idiotic Madoka realizes that Yurikano is in love with Dizelmine, and is surprisingly right! Needless to say, all of the characters are just as surprised as I was as Madoka discourses about how Yurikano could not stand to see her brother and her lover fight, making sacrificing herself to hopefully stop the fighting all the easier.

With her food rations gone, Madoka strangely thinks that she is going to die out in deep space, never seeing her friends, her home, or even the Earth again — but Midori comes to rescue her, alleviating all of those fears. However, since Madoka is not in her correct body, she has great difficulty piloting her Vox and ends up crash landing on Le Garite’s ship, in Dizelmine’s ‘secret garden’. When Dizelmine helps Madoka up, however, her and Yurikano take rightful places in their respective bodies, leading Dizelmine to have a very intimate conversation with the woman he loves. Dizelmine reveals that he and Yurikano were engaged at a very young age, but that their engagement was broken off as their planets grew apart. Even so, he says, his love for her has not faded. “To this day, I still love Yurikano,” he admits, unknowingly, to Yurikano. The dramatic irony, while a little sloppy with the random body-hopping, is fantastically Shakespearean. Dizelmine goes on and on how he feels for Yurikano, but how the war is necessary for the Polyhedron. Dizelmine wants to know how Yurikano feels, and wants Yurikano to understand how he feels.

Madoka and company arrive in the garden and she tells him to ask Yurikano how she feels himself. Yurikano realizes the jig is up, then breaks her silence. “Liar. I think you’re absolutely despicable,” she exclaims happily, “I could never love a man like him. So go right ahead and hate me.” While her words are initially confusing, they make perfect sense. “If that means that this world won’t be buried in greif… If that’s what it takes… Then I… I’ll have to let you go.” Down to her core, Yurkano is just like Madoka; she cannot bear to witness the pain of others, and is willing to do anything to heal that pain. Yurikano is willing to forsake her own feelings for Dizelmine and bear the burden of the entire galaxy alone if it means she can see him and her brother be happy. Kunihiko Ikuhara’s Mawaru Penguindrum speaks a lot about sacrifice, and Yurikano’s is that rare kind of self-less sacrifice that Mawaru Penguindrum exalts because it comes from a place of pure love. Even though it hurts her more than anything, Yurikano is willing to sacrifice herself for the people she loves. Having finally admitted her feelings, Yurikano begins to glow red, and her brother runs into the garden just in time to see her disappear and stop the Rinne crystals from completely destroying the ship.

I really came to like Yurikano during the course of this episode, especially because of the remarkable inner strength she possesses. I really do think that it is a shame that she was only on the show for two (more like one) episodes, but as Madoka said right before the credits, “All right, […] It’s time for some answers!”

  1. Ten points for Gryffindor if you got the thinly-veiled Avatar: The Last Airbender reference.
  2. They sure took their goddamned time.

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