Religious Motifs in Rinne no Lagrange

Rinne no Lagrange

The number, 3, is a unique number. It is the smallest balanced number, a rigid number from which one can begin to form an enclosed shape, most notably a triangle. This triple concept is very useful for structuring storytelling (beginning, middle, end) and enhancing the story making it inherently more satisfying or effective. Interestingly enough, you will also see many myths, legends, or religions in our world that involves trinity as opposed to a simpler, yet complex dual system, such as yin and yang.

The legend retold in Rinne no Lagrange about the Voxes, giant robotic aircrafts, revolves around this trichotomous concept as well. The legend goes:

An old tale, from ancient times.

The giant green demon will rip the heavens…

The giant blue demon will devour the stars…

The giant orange demon will spew out darkness…

Through countless sacrifices, they will rule the land.

Feeding off a tainted heart, they awaken from within the mind.

The demons shall then rise.

This legend has prompted fears or fostered intrigue amongst the forces in Rinne no Lagrange, especially when a strange reaction happened with Madoka’s Vox, Midori, in the form of a rain of green, ethereal flowers. As a result, Madoka was blocked from piloting her Vox, affecting her comrades’ performance dramatically in battles. Youko, Madoka’s mentor, speculates on the legend’s origin as perhaps being different than previously thought, and she goes on to give her theory that the Voxes may have a different purpose than intended.

One is not enough to sustain.

One is not enough to sustain.

Two would split apart.

Two would split apart.

With three, you finally have balance.

With three, you finally have balance.

Youko suggests that the faction of people who left Earth a long time ago, feared the Voxes as demons and passed down this legend through generations. As for the faction who stayed on Earth, there were no records or remnants that even remotely suggests that the Voxes were demons. Youko believes that the Voxes did not go out of control at that time, but there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, unless Madoka proves it. In real world terms, correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that this would be likened to a schism, a promotion of a new sect or body formed by a division in religion. An example of schism is the division of Hinduism into several denominations such as Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism.

Rinne no Lagrange ep7 eyecatch

As for the Voxes themselves, described as demons, they are a prime example of triple deities, a very common archetype throughout the history of religion. Also taking into account the word, rinne (輪廻) from the series title, it can be translated into samsara in English. Samsara is a concept found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and other religions that describes the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. We could assume that the Voxes makes up one entity as a whole with three aspects, and that those three aspects are life, death, and rebirth. However, what constitute or symbolizes these aspects in this series thus far, I do not know but I think I can guess as to what these might be…

Rinne no Lagrange ep9 eyecatch

It’s certainly interesting seeing all these religious nuances in this series, and although I may not be the right person to turn to for questions about religion, I have to admit that I’m enjoying this series very much for its amazing quality oceanic scenery, likeable characters, subtle yuri tones, and its story thus far.

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8 Comments

Filed under Anime, Editorials, Rinne no Lagrange

8 responses to “Religious Motifs in Rinne no Lagrange

  1. good work and quite interesting! Number three is the smallest number that can represent a family, since two people make only a couple. It also denotes strong unity; I’ve read somewhere that in tango the couple dances either as one or as three: partner 1- partner 2 – their joined bodies.

    I don’t watch Lagranne so I can’t comment on this.

    • I agree that it can represent a family and strong unity as well, and there’s actually quite a lot of philosophy involving three, such as Plato’s tripartite soul, Aquinas’s trichotomies, to list a few. A bond between two tango dancers, that’s interesting! I’d like to try tango dancing someday. ^_^

      You can try giving Rinne no Lagrange a chance, ahaha.

  2. Great post! I had no idea you were watching Rinne no Lagrange! I would love to see your thoughts on the series after it ends…well that means it ends in a few hours ahahaha xDD

    Anyway great stuff with this post and the overall legend of the vox machines is a great thing to play off of, but I think Yoko might be onto something about how she sees the legend…the way I understood it was Madoka has a “pure” heart void of any “darkness” and thus her machine may not blow up the world? Then again I was a bit confused on the whole thing! Even reviewing the series there are a few moments that I got lost on.

    • Well, I just finished Rinne no Lagrange, and there’s still mysteries all abound!

      Without going into spoilers, I can definitely say for sure that samsara is important here and has something to do with the legend and the Voxes, but I suppose we won’t know until the OVA and second season comes out. I enjoyed this series, and I can’t wait to see more! ^_^

  3. Great post. Like how you tied in the idea of Samsara, since that is exactly what Rinne translates into. However, since I have sort of a close connection with the Hindu aspect (I do not practice it, but went to temple a few times at the request of a friend and as well as my humanities class) their few nuances to the trinity rule:

    While Brahma the creator, Shiva the destroyer, and Vinshu the preserver are the common Mahādeva (Greater Lords) they are viewed as a singular parts of a whole rather than three individuals as it was explained to me. For example, Brahma the creator, in the story of the Bhagavad Gita, came to the hero Arjuna in multiple avatars as he explained each yoga or discipline. One of which, was one the gods and his partner or consort. In most eastern (as well as African) societies it is a common misconception that westerners made that the ideas and religious aspects had to be viewed as whole and not separate; otherwise it would take on another incorrect meaning. The Consorts of the Greater Lords are especially true of this, since they are worshiped in three forms, but viewed as nine. I am not completely sure why that is, but it has something to do with rituals.

    The consorts play an important role to, since without them and their fulfillment, the other gods would not have any power. For example, Brahma needs Saraswati as Lakshmi needs Vinshu and Shiva to usher destruction he needs Durga, but also for love and mercy needs her non-demonic side Parvati. In this case, the idea is still the same as the trinity, but works differently. Likewise, for the other two gods to exist, Brahma himself must exist to represent them or create them. It is confusing and sounds like a contradiction with this, but indeed, very interesting.

    In the western aspect, the trinity idea is more of a common idea; commonly within things like Christianity, the understand of mathmateics and shapes (triangles in particular), design, and popular sayings (like third time is the charm, takes two to tango, but three is a crowd, etc).

    Again, great post though. A very condensed and essential version if I wrote this having need to explain all the minor things XD (sorry the long winded explanation).

    • Oh no, don’t worry about the long reply! It’s very fascinating to learn more about this. ^^

      It’s very interesting to see how the Eastern and the Western view trinity differently. The trinity in Hinduism (which is called Trimurti) is different from the trinity in Christianity in that the Hindu gods are separate deities in a group and for Christianity, there is only one God in three divine persons as a whole, is that not correct?

      Either way, thanks for the explanation!

  4. Pingback: Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Aniblogger Faith, the Number Three in Rinne no Lagrange, and Unmasking Lelouche «

  5. Pingback: Top Blog Posts About Anime and Religion in 2012: #1-10 «

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