[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 17

TTGLThe last time we saw our heroes, they had just defeated the Spiral King Lordgenome who has left them a fairly ominous warning about the destruction of the world once the population exceeded a million. Now, a million is a fairly low number and I’m actually shocked that there were fewer than a million people left on the planet at the start of the series but then again I suppose living underground doesn’t exactly encourage population growth what with limited resources and all. We actually saw this in action with Rossiu way back when. Still, it seems that time has passed since we last were on Earth – the opening has totally changed! It’s the same song but everyone is bigger and there are babies and there is way too much to absorb so I’m just gonna watch the series and ease into it instead of trying to guess everything at once. So, it’s been seven years since the fall of Teppelin and Kamina City has been erected over its remains. Kamina City seems very modern and rather large, I’m even more surprised that the population is still under a million at this point. Still, it seems the protagonists are no closer to solving the major mysteries of the series – what is the Spiral Power and more importantly how exactly is the rest of the show going to shape up without something to fight?

Excellent question

In any case, we have an answer to a MAJOR mystery – apparently the random old guy how kept bailing Nia out of trouble was her butler, because sure, why not? Glad we sorted that out, though I’m a bit disappointed he was some kind of awesome Beastman in his own right, cos that would have been awesome. We then get our first real look at the grown up kids – Nia is a taller version of herself and Simon…Simon looks manlier now. He’s taller and his character is drawn such that he carries a lot more authority now. I can’t explain it very well, but there’s age in his eyes and it’s drawn pretty well, at least in my amateur opinion. Of course, he’s buried under a stack of paperwork, another sign that he’s all grown up. I wonder if this is going to be one of those stories where they get peace but then realize that they hate the peace and would rather go back to the good old days? I’m not sure how I’d feel about that, mainly because I think it would invalidate Kamina’s sacrifice amongst others’, but let’s see how it goes. Rossiu certainly isn’t dissuading me – the last seven years have turned him into an authoritative looking figure but also more cynical, it feels like. The old Rossiu was always a stickler for the rules and his straight man act contrasted well with the rest of the cast, yet it feels like he should be in charge of the paperwork, not Simon. Nia brings lunch but forgets about Rossiu, but he’s ok with that after he has a flashback of Nia’s cooking. There is a big meeting soon and we see what about: Leeron (I thought he was Leeroy?!) has launched a spaceship to the moon, looking for what Lordgenome had talked about in his dying words. He seems the same – minor changes to character design but nothing major. Unfortunately, Simon’s (who seems like he is firmly in charge) council is filled with people who have no business being there – i.e. the rest of team Dai Gurren Lagann. They don’t seem particularly thrilled to be there either. Kittan is in charge of legal affairs and is bored, Simon is apparently Supreme Commander (which sounds really ominous) and the twins are as useless as ever – they are in charge of the census and have no real idea how many people are on the planet. Great job, guys not like your existence depends on it or anything. Rossiu is annoyed with the incompetence displayed and it’s beginning to look like this society is suffering from what several newly liberated countries did back when the British Rule collapsed – their freedom fighting heroes turned out to be terrible peacetime politicians. Simon diffuses the situation before tensions rise any further but I got to say, I’m firmly on Rossiu’s side in this – no one there (I’d include Simon in this too, for reason’s I’ll get into in a minute) has any business running a country. Simon’s leadership seems capable, but he seems a little too forgiving and I’d rather see him fighting instead of developing a country.

No, no you don’t.

Later, the twins continue whining over lunch about how big, bad Rossiu hurt their feelings (obligatory who-the-fuck-let-these-guys-join (haven’t used that in a while!)) while it’s mentioned that Dayakka is about to become a dad and Kittan an uncle. I didn’t realize that Dayakka and Kittan are related…unless they mean Kittan is an ‘uncle’ as in close friend? In any case, there’s a shot of Kamina City and I have to say, considering these people just emerged from the ground in an essential primitive level of technology, their progress has been astounding. There’s flying cars, for fuck’s sake! As it turns out, Kittan and Dayakka are not related, but Dayakka married one of Kittan’s sisters – I can’t remember her name, but I’m gonna go with Kiyoh. Another sister, the black haired one, is there as well when Nia drops a gigantic bombshell – Simon proposed! This is huge, they grew up so fast, aren’t too young to be married, how old are they anyway? We flashback to the proposal, which is short and really sweet. It  is remarkable how much of a backbone Simon has gotten over the last seven years – he proposes to Nia without hesitation and without any anxiety….only to be brutally rejected with a simple ‘No way!’. The Black sisters are as incredulous as us, especially since the proposal was pretty well done. It turns out that Nia has no idea what marriage is and took Simon’s two people as one dialogue literally. Also, I find it hilarious that she rejected his proposal but took the ring anyway. The sisters explain marriage to her a little and it looks like heartbreak central will be averted, for now at least.

Best monument ever

Simon is reflecting on something and we finally see someone we’ve been missing – Yoko! Simon’s flashback, which seems to have happened a long while ago when Kamina City was still being built, shows that Yoko left as she did not want to be part of the politics and government. Nia calls and returns his feelings and Simon is happy. That is, until Rossiu the walking wet blanket announces that anti-government guerrillas have attacked some place. Apparently, this faction is led by Viral who just can’t seem to understand that his role in things is done (or is it?). Simon wants to join the fight but Rossiu argues against it, saying his duties are in the capital. This is convincing me more and more that Simon might be missing the old days (or rather his role in the old days). The kids Gimmy and Darry have grown up too and are handling themselves against Viral. Simon confronts Viral, reminding them that the war is over but Viral tells Simon that there are many humans that want to live underground and don’t want any part of Simon’s new world. I’m not surprised by this – seven years is far too short a time to turn everyone around. Viral goes on to compare Simon to the Spiral King, saying that the latter forced people underground while the former is forcing them above. It’s not a fair comparison but it hits Simon until Rossiu butts in with a legal justification that just evades the question. It turns out Simon’s surprise is due to Rossiu not filling him in and once again, I’m getting a serious dystopian vibe from this series. It turns out Rossiu was behind forcing people above ground but it was for a reasonable cause – he needed to verify their numbers (maybe if the twins weren’t so useless…) Rossiu has also made his own progress towards uncovering the secrets of the Spiral and the younger generation seems to think he’s the only one keeping the government going, which I thought, at first, was unfair, but then realized that the more I see of Simon, the more he seems a figurehead.

Some things never change

Simon gets news of Kiyoh (I was right!) and Dayakka’s baby (Anne, if it ever becomes relevant) but just then the population turns to a million, and it’s all Anne’s fault! Stupid baby! Something starts destroying Kamina City and Simon rushes off to fight it while Nia seems to get possessed by something and it looks like the marriage might be put on hold for a bit. Gimmy and Darry are no match for the enemy robot, which looks unlike anything we’ve seen before. Simon arrives in Gurren Lagann (after a short speech by Kinon, Kittan’s sister, that all the old Gunmen were replaced by new Grapearls, no less) and is able to defeat the robot, but as it disintegrates, it leaks…shapes (for the lack of a better word) which explode all over the city and Kamina city burns. Rossiu is furious at Simon for rushing in blindly but it’s not like he had any better ideas. Still, it looks like Simon is going to be taking a huge amount of flak for this and I’m not liking how this is turning out. Still, this is an extremely interesting difference from the first part of the series, where Kamina and co would not only do this kind of thing on a very regular basis but it was also seen as a good thing, and he seems to be setting an example by diving in YOLO style. It seems seven years does change a lot. Just as things look like they can’t get worse, Evil Nia appears and proclaims that the anti-Spiral races (?) have determined that humans have reached threat level 2 and the humanity extermination system has been activated. Yup, the marriage plans are definitely on hold.

I guess all in all, I like the newer more serious tone the series has taken. It’s like Gainax realized that they had the real deal in this anime and didn’t want to waste its potential on over-the-top antics which is both good and bad, if you ask me. It’s good that the series’ plot is beginning to play a bigger role but at the same time I don’t know if Gurren Lagann will be the same without the over-the-top bullshit and the dramatic proclamations of greatness. We shall see soon enough though.


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