So, Yoko is back but apart from that things aren’t looking too good for Team Gurren as a whole. Simon is still in prison as the moon closes in and though Nia backs off once Yoko makes her appearance, the overall situation is still rather grim. Just a thought though – when Rossiu flies off into space, did he really essentially abandon Simon, Yoko and the rest to die on the surface? I mean, I know that I had previously suspected that he might have falsely arrested Simon just to appease the public but leaving him to die on the surface when Rossiu knows that Simon hasn’t done anything wrong is a little much. I’ve been wavering on this point before but I think everything that’s happened since the final battle with Lordgenome has put me firmly in the anti-Rossiu camp. It’s not that he’s a totally bad guy but it’s just that he’s a little too cold and logical for my taste and more importantly I don’t think he fits the TTGL universe very well. Anyway, speaking of Rossiu, he’s not doing too well either – he was only able to bring less than half the number of people he had planned and as Nia promised, he escapes into space only to find more enemies and realize he has walked into the enemy’s trap.
Flashback time! A year earlier, we catch up with Yoko who is going by the name Yomako and has become an elementary school teacher! She is teaching the first generation of children to be born above ground and has not lost her sharpshooting skills as her wards soon discover. There’s something touching about Yoko’s choice to become a school teacher especially when she could very easily have become a high ranking government official (and probably have done a better job than some of the current lot). Maybe touching is the wrong word, but the emotion there is a mix between touching and admirable and especially so considering she didn’t seem like the nurturing type before. Anyway, one of her students reminds her of Simon, partially because he’s timid and because he doesn’t have a Kamina backing him up, he is easily bullied. Her idyllic life comes to an end when she hears Nia’s announcement regarding the planet’s destruction. As they prepare to evacuate, one of her students has run away and is then held hostage by two randomly appearing Gunmen. Ok, so up until this point I was quite digging this flashback where Yoko just lives out her chilled out life in this backwater little island, but the appearance of these random Gunmen just feels so weird. I mean, I know that there are rebel elements fighting against Simon/Rossiu’s New Government but it’s just retarded that they would appear out of nowhere and take a little child hostage in exchange for some food. Anyway, I’ll just take it as a sign of how badly society is collapsing as the planet’s end draws near and think nothing more of it. From a story-telling perspective though, it gives Yoko the perfect opportunity to remind us all of just how badass she is as she grabs her sniper rifle (conveniently, if a little dangerously, located behind the blackboard) and tears the Gunmen several new ones.
As she resumes the evacuation, she receives an urgent message from Rossiu inviting her aboard the Arc-Gurren since the surface is going to be destroyed. She is decidedly unhappy with this, though it’s not clear why. I don’t know whether to be glad that Rossiu at least remembered she exists or be extremely annoyed by his phrasing (“You are someone who ought to survive”) and the implications of that phrasing on the lives of everyone else. I suspect this is the same reason Yoko is pissed. Back in the present, Yoko arrives as Kittan is fighting off the Mugann (he is comically less than thrilled to see Yoko steal his Simon rescue thunder). I guess I should mention that Rossiu knew that Kittan was rescuing Simon and therefore he probably wasn’t going to die but I don’t know if I should be crediting Rossiu with that much benefit of the doubt. Yoko busts Simon out of jail and Simon in turn grabs Viral as they reunite with the rest of Team Gurren Lagann, sans Rossiu. Viral is going to be Simon’s new co-pilot in the Gurren Lagann as they end off to destroy the moon (where’s Piccolo when you really need him?)
Rossiu in the meanwhile, continues having a horrible time. The Mugann are really laying into the Arc-Gurren and the Arc-Gurren powered as it is on the hopes and dreams of its passengers begins losing power as the attacks continue. Rossiu, being the weak bitch that he is, is losing hope but Simon (who’s apparently a much more chilled out and forgiving dude than I am) tells him to fight on as Viral lives up to the title of co-pilot of the Gurren Lagann by bringing the hype. I won’t lie hearing Viral and Simon shout ‘Who the hell do you think I am’ actually brought a tear to my eye. I won’t say that Viral has replaced Kamina obviously but there is definitely a certain connection between Kamina and Viral and I think Viral brings the same kind of emotional support to Simon that Kamina would, though in a slightly different way. The next episode promises to be all kinds of badass, though.
A few post episode thoughts: I still don’t really know where this season is going. There are six episodes left and there’s definitely some plot progression but there isn’t a Big Bad in sight and I don’t think I would like it if Nia were the primary antagonist of the season. The series’ scale is also expanding – it began with an underground fight between humans and Beastmen and expanded to a war for the right to live on the surface and now it’s going beyond that to space. In other series, I would begin to suspect power creep is at play but in TTGL it feels oddly appropriate – their drills are continuously piercing the heavens, so to speak. I think the next couple of episodes will shed some light on the overall story.