Moid’s Sexy Chest; Rinne no Lagrange Episodes 19-20

gallifreyians: Episode eighteen of Rinne no Lagrange had a certain atmosphere and delivery to it that suggested the show was coming to a close. However, with six episodes left after it, that was clearly not the case. Episode nineteen came directly off of episode eighteen, and while it did technically directly continue the plot, that certainly did not feel the case. The plot of this second season was tied together by the ongoing hostilities between Le Garite and De Metrio and later by the character of Yurikano — yet that entire plot arc ended abruptly in episode eighteen, ergo episode nineteen reads as a sort of epilogue for it. An epilogue with five episodes following it.

Even with the build of an epilogue in place, that last three or so minutes of episode nineteen prove that we are not past the plot of the show. Asteria, after seeing the new stone tablet that Yoko has discovered, has a flashback to the disaster twenty-thousand years ago and informs Yoko that she is the reincarnation of Queen Maycun — the person responsible for the near destruction of the Earth and the subsequent diaspora. This kind of revelation means that the writers of Rinne no Lagrange are starting up a new story arc; however, with both episodes twenty and twenty-one being filler, I have serious doubts about the quality of the ending’s construction and execution.

If I am going to completely level with y’all, I have doubts about Rinne‘s construction and execution in general. And by “doubts” I mean that the show really already suffers from poor construction and execution. The entire concept behind a two-season split, the switch from the “Rinne” plotline in the first season to the De Metrio v Le Garite/Yurikano plotline in the second season, the idea that Xebec could merge slice-of-life with mecha; I could go on and on about the core, plot-based issues that Rinne no Lagrange has. Episode twenty is a prime example of these issues.

The primarily issue with episode twenty is that it is a filler placed at the tail-end of the series with a plot more appropriate for an OVA; furthermore it delays the development of the ending Rinne arc, giving Xebec even less time to develop the plot. From there I have to say that the decision to construct a special ending arc itself is ridiculous; science fiction is best when it is constructed with a continuous plot in mind — that is not to say that there are not examples of successful sci-fi that utilize arcs, but — especially when you scale science fiction down to the size of Rinne, arcs simply do not work. Science fiction — more so than any drama, comedy, or whathaveyou — relies heavily on exposition because it needs to not only immerse the audience into its characters and plot, but also introduce the universe of the story and the mechanisms by which it operates. Realistic fiction, by virtue of its setting in “the real world”, typically does not have to do this because the audience is already familiar with how “the real world” works; this allows them to spend less time on basic expository storytelling and more time moving the actual plot along. If a comedy, drama, or whathaveyou decides to pursue an arc based plot instead of a episodic one, then the only hurdle for each arc to get over is the bare bones of exposition: who are the new characters, what is the basic conflict, etc. A science-fiction arc — which I must differentiate from a drama arc in a science-fiction setting (IE, every arc of Battlestar Galactica vs every arc of Doctor Who) — requires nearly fully-fledged exposition for each and every arc in addition to an adequate middlegame for the audience to become acquainted with the new mechanisms and concepts. While the Rinne arc obviously builds off of some of the concepts already introduced in the first season of Rinne, they were not developed concepts at all when the show dropped them.

We know the basics of what Memoria is: it is a symbol granted by a Vox onto its pilot that allows the Vox to be piloted. But outside of that basic definition, we know nothing; we know what Memoria is, but we don’t know how Memoria works. We sort of know what Memoria is, we sort of know what happened 20,000 years ago, we sort of know what the Voxes are; but “sort of” doesn’t cut it. Not only that, but episodes nineteen and twenty completely undercut everything we thought we knew in relation to the Rinne arc with their respective surprises of Asteria causing the disaster 20,000 years ago with one Vox (not three like the legend states) and of Moid also being from 20,000 years ago and having at least eleven identical Memoria. Taking those into consideration, the Rinne arc doesn’t even have the previous concepts, no matter how nebulous they were to begin with, to lean on. Considering the amount of time we have left for Rinne to start this arc and end the show, I only see everything ending disastrously.

Kurt Vonnegut was a famous American writer specializing in satirical science-fiction short stories and novels; he was a leftist critical thinker who, like Orwell and Hemingway before him, continually offered insight into the art of constructing a story. Two of his pieces of advice regarding novels come to mind when I think about Rinne no Lagrange and it’s problems: “Start as close to the end as possible” and “Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such a complete understanding of what is going on and why that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages”. Shotaru Suga and Tatsuo Sato should’ve really looked to the science fiction pros when creating and adapting Rinne. I am a firm believer that while there are distinct differences in the plot construction of novels, video games, and television (anime included), that the core of a story remains the same, and so any sort of writing advice can be applied liberally to any fictional narrative. It’s sad to say, but the narrative and plot mistakes that have been made are all too common, and at this point all I think I can hope for is an ending that is not a complete wreck.

illegenes: It’s hard to really understand the sort of format Rinne no Lagrange is following after these past two episodes. I did have concern back in Episode 18 when Dizelmine and Villagulio had settled their differences and decided to join forces together, because that was the main conflict of the entire series. That’s not to say that in some way, I was relieved – if I have a pet peeve about anime in general, it’s rushed endings – but at the same time, I was more or less confused by the route the show had taken. After all, we had a good 5 episodes left. What were they going to do with the show now?

It seems my question has been answered, but strangely. I am glad that we have moved from the “Villagulio/Dizelmine conflict” arc to the “Rinne” arc as I still have a lot of questions about the Rinne, but I’m not sure what to feel about the new ‘episodic’ format Rinne has taken. Episode 19 was great as it created a solid conclusion to the first sort of arc, and ties back to the finale of Season 1 when Lan and Madoka had parted ways. Our trio promise to use the Vox never again for battle and add a new lock to the fence, resolving any loose ends around their relationship. In a similar fashion, both Dizelmine and Villagulio set their sights on finding a solution to prevent galactic disaster for both of their nations, together. It’s a well done episode that adds to the atmosphere and themes of friendship in the show, but it also makes Episode 20 seem weak and dismal in comparison.

For the most part Episode 20 is nothing but a filler, which I was sorely tempted to just skim on through – while I do like the idea that Rinne is a slice of life show in some aspects, devoting one of your last episodes to focus on the Jersey Club life is not a good way to emphasize those aspects. Perhaps a season ago I wouldn’t have minded so much, or not at all, but with 4 episodes left, I thought the show would use its time better. Inconsistency has always been a root problem for Rinne, but at least there was a sense of coherency and linearity devoted to the pointless twists and turns of the story. Instead of navigating through the feelings of our characters – established in the previous episode – Episode 20 decides to make its own little path and follow a different route. It’s not that the show technically ‘suffers’ from this direction, as we still get some relevant plot information at the end of the episode, but it still comes across as inane. I would even go as far as to say that Episode 20 felt for the most part, like an OVA release.

There is at least some continuity however, as Moid’s true intentions behind that awfully Gin-like smile of his come to light. I won’t say  I didn’t see it coming, but Moid’s role as a villain was still sort of shocking to me. That, combined with the fact that Asteria also used to be a pilot for a Vox (which would explain her high concern for Madoka and the others) sets up what’s most likely going to be the final climax of the show. Of course, this does bring up the question: which Three Voxes brought the end of the world? We have the three Voxes of Madoka, Lan and Muginami, but now we also have Yurikano, Moid and Asteria’s Voxes. The insignia of each Memoria is different for every person, but if I remember correctly, the stone tablet had our three heroes’ Memorias inscribed on it. It’s also interesting to note that Moid is the only male who has been branded with a Memoria, and thus the only male pilot of a Vox. Does this make him a more formidable opponent?

A soul gem? Did Moid make a contract to become a magical girl?

It’s hard to say what Rinne is planning, but there’s plenty of time for conclusions to be drawn and climaxes to be made. I’d rather have a slow ending than a rushed one; I’ve seen far too many of the latter and I personally would like a decent finish for Rinne, which despite being inconsistent, still deserves a good ending. Time can only tell – it seems that next week will be yet another sort of “filler” episode, so I guess we’ll have to patient and sit it out.

Enjoyment Level: 7/10

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