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Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Eps 1-27 (complete) October 7, 2007

Posted by ayasawada in Anime.
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Gurren Lagann

ANN

In short: GAR!

Thoughts: There’s only one way to describe Gurren Lagann and that’s simply GAR! It’s enough to make grown men weep with tears. Manly tears, but tears nonetheless. Yep, this is gonna be a rave, so prepare yourself. Who the hell do you think I am?

(Spoiler warning)

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann will go down as one of the classic mecha anime, up there with the likes of Gundam, Mazinger Z and Tetsujin 28. That’s funny because GAINAX anime have been rather hit and miss of recent years and the initial concept, plus the fact that it was scheduled for a Sunday morning kids slot, had more than a few people wary.

Gurren Lagann is the story of mankind, repressed sometime in a bleak future to a life underground. That is, until two men (or one very manly man and a boy) break through and start a ridiculous quest to free mankind from oppression. At least that’s how it starts out, and it’s still the central theme. But the way it pans out — and the pace of the twists and developments — had me catching my breath.

Somehow, the series increased in pace exponentially and constantly managed to outdo itself. Everytime you thought nothing could compare to the previous episode’s orgasmic hero-worship filled fight, they’d do an even bigger one. And I do mean bigger, literally bigger. I hate to use the same term as every other anime blogger, but epic — a word banded around too much these days — is sorely appropriate here. But it was all hinted in that first episode. From a gigantic space battle to the quiet underground and Simon and his tunnels, GAINAX hinted this was going to be one hell of a ride and they weren’t about to wait up for anyone.

Gurren Lagann is a sugar rush peppered with intimate moments that cut to the core, with injections at all the right places to keep you hooked. And it’s nigh on perfect in planning, development, animation, music and characters. Oh GAINAX, how could we ever doubt thee? You gave us Kamina and the otaku community swooned with gar. Then you threw us a curveball. And there was Simon, possibly the ultimate shonen (and otaku) hero. The small boy who became great through a combination of work-ethic and blind confidence. In fact, self-confidence is perhaps the series biggest moral lesson and simple, but surprisingly powerful one that’s worthwhile teaching to the youth (and otaku) of Japan. Indeed, Gurren Lagann has given us a number of new anime catch phrases but I find, “If you can’t believe in yourself, then believe in me who believes in you” particularly touching. That and “Who the hell do you think I am?!,” still gives me goosebumps.

As with most of the best giant-robot series, the robots play more of a supporting role to the characters. Mecha-wise, I’m not normally into my big-combining-robots-with-catchphrase-attacks. I’m more of a mobile suit person. But you have to admire the mecha designs. The idea of ganmen — which, in one kanji reading, could mean ‘face’ — and the variety between the likes of Gurren and the King Kittan, are inspired. And perfect for the Japanese penchant for collectable character goods. It’s just occured to me though that they never really explained why the Lagann was so powerful (and able to combine) though. I guess we have to assume it’s just Simon’s spiral power — but why did it move by itself in episode 11?

And whilst I’m going off on a tangent and discussing the finer points of the series, how about that opening sequence of the first episode? There’s a lot of debate about it and I certainly expected it to make and appearance in the final episode. For me, it’s either a glimpse of the final battle, that’s Simon, and GAINAX just hope we don’t notice the differences. Or — and I’m gonna just throw this theory out there — maybe that’s a younger Lord Genome in the previous spiral war. Cut to centuries later…..

Some in the anime community are asking if it could be even bigger than Eva. I personally don’t think so. Plot- and animation-wise it’s certainly better (Eva was working to a strict budget after all), but Eva‘s restrictions allowed Hideaki Anno to play with cinematic techniques, which gave Eva an artistic quality that a Sunday morning-scheduled show like Gurren Lagann can’t really compete with. Plus it was darker, more depressing, and a lot more contentious. The debate it sparked are a big reason why it’s still alive in the memory after all these years (that and Rei Ayanami). I don’t see too much debate over Gurren Lagann and the majority of people seem to love it. Though Yoko seems likely to have the staying power of Asuka Langly Soryu.

If you’ve seen it, I’m preaching to the converted. If you haven’t, what the hell are you waiting for? Strikingly original, ridiculously exciting, very touching and truly epic, Gurren Lagann is legendary and definitely one of my favourite anime ever.

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1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann the movie: Gurren-hen « Canned Memory - May 9, 2009

[…] night and it’s worth a quick post. Largely, it;s just an edit down of the first half of the TV series, but there are some changes to […]


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