For one, Xebec does a fantastic job with the animations and visuals. In fact, I won't hesitate to consider Lagrange as the best anime in those categories this season, which is quite a feat, considering the sheer amount of anime I'm watching this season (currently 10). Everything is absolutely stunning from beginning to end, with few lapses in quality (if any), gorgeous enviornments similar to those in Makoto Shinkai movies, and a great opening sequence that matches the beat of the opening theme and its lyrics perfectly. Furthermore, the mecha designs created by automobile manufacturer Nissan, of all places, are sleek and well done.
Then there's also the presentation and pacing, which are superb. A fair amount of anime, especially those with plots similar to Lagrange, tend to fail at one or both of these aspects. Typically resulting in trying to fit too much in a short time span or a one dimensional atmosphere (ex: excessively serious) that limits ways of presenting plot and character development. These failures ultimately lead to an anime becoming mediocre, rather than fulfilling its potential. Avoiding these major pitfalls, it's here that Lagrange really shines through the first two episodes. Rather than starting off by thrusting viewers directly into the conflict that you know will occur, a majority of the first episode focuses on presenting the main character and her interactions with strangers, as well as her friends and family. From this, we manage get a good picture of the person Kyouno Madoka is, how she helps anyone and everyone she can without thinking about the possible consequences. This in turn makes it easy to accept Madoka's initial decision to pilot the Vox, which would otherwise seem to be quite farfetched or unrealistic. Furthermore, knowing her personality allows for the inclusion of random bits of light comedy through the episodes that would normally be out of place, prevents the anime from becoming far too serious for its own good, as well as serving as a foundation for revealing the personalities of those around her. It doesn't hurt that Madoka's character is rather likeable as well, given her energetic, can-do attitude.
To top it all off, the music is well done and the voice acting is quite good, which are both pleasant surprises, considering the music producers (Saeko Suzuki and TOMISIRO) and the main cast are all relative newcomers or have few prior works on their resume. In the end, music has the ability to "make or break" a scene, or even an entire show, and it definitely looks like music won't be breaking anything in this series. They have produced some great themes that fit perfectly with the scenes they're matched with, especially those key Vox combat scenes. Voice acting wise, Kaori Ishihara does an amazing job as Kyouno Madoka, really bringing the character, quirks and all, to life. Notably, Ishihara is also the voice of Kanna Tanigawa from Ano Natsu de Matteru this season and if these roles are any indication, she will be a voice actor to look for in the future.
Overall, Lagrange gives off vibes of being a cliche, but I attribute it mostly to how its premise was worded in the official description, rather than in actuality. Yes, there are portions that are cliche, but considering the sheer amount of anime released every season and the thousands upon thousands of anime already existing, there's bound to be some semblance of cliche floating around. What matters in the end is the anime's overall execution and Lagrange has succeeded in this respect, doing so with a unique flair. It will probably not be the best show of the season, but there's potential greatness from this series. Given the fact that there's two seasons for the show to demonstrate that potential and the positives already mentioned previously, I know I'll be sticking around to watch Lagrange in its entirety, and there's more than enough reasons for even a casual viewer to watch as well.
- OP: "TRY Unite!" by Megumi Nakajima / ED: "Hello!" by Megumi Nakajima
- Megumi Nakajima takes the helm for both the OP and the ED this time around and she doesn't disappoint. The OP is light pop/dance melody that's soft on the ears and quite addicting to listen to after a while. And as I mentioned before, the entire sequence that goes with it and the lyrics are just perfect for each other, ultimately making this OP and its sequence one of my favorites of the season. The ED is one of Megumi's more typical works, a light, cute song with a similarly matching animation sequence paired with it. Not quite as addicting as the OP in my opinion, but still a nice ED nonetheless.
I have been following Megumi Nakajima's works since she debuted in Macross Frontier (2008) as "Ranka Lee" and it's just amazing how obvious her maturation as a singer has been. Another great example of how just being given an opportunity can lead to so much more!
Xebec has also worked, at least in part, on the animation of shows such as Pandora Hearts, Outlaw Star, Shaman King and Soukyuu no Fafner, to name a few.