After the rather large dose of hype from last week’s episode’s ending, this week’s first episode starts off on a surprisingly sombre note as we see Leeron reflecting on the last few years and talking physics. He’s always struck me as the most intelligent of the good guys (though more in a ‘book-smart’ sense than a ‘street-smart’ one) but apparently he claims he could barely read seven years ago, which doesn’t sound right to me but the point being made here is that Leeron has come a long way too. I wonder if this information will be relevant in the episode. Leeron’s self-reflection comes at a time when the Arc-Gurren is on the verge of destruction and he admits that he’s done all he possibly can. He regains some measure of hope when he sees the Gurren Lagann in all its hype arrive and we get a quick return to the old days when the Gurren Lagann appears and instantly wipes out most of the small Mugann. What I want to know is that since the Gurren Lagann is clearly a symbol of hope whether or not Rossiu and his logical and scientific methods agree, what was the point of the conflict between Rossiu and Simon in the last few episodes? I guess we’ll find out as the season continues unfolding.
The Anti-Spirals (whatever they are, because I still have no idea) aren’t going down without a fight though and a massive laser is fired at Simon and Viral though the Gurren Lagann is pretty much invulnerable when it is in maximum hype mode. Kittan and the rest hold off the Mugann while Simon heads to the moon and the sight of Kittan et al fighting off the Mugann restores the morale of the Arc-Gurren’s passengers. This in turn begins to restore the Arc-Gurren’s Spiral Power and Rossiu finally begins to realize that this isn’t the real world where things have to make sense. We don’t get a full character development moment from Rossiu here but I get the feeling that it’s coming, probably when the action dies down a little and there’s some breathing room. I will say though, that at this point, I think Rossiu owes Simon a massive apology at the very least. Simon, on the other hand, doesn’t have time for Rossiu’s late realizations – he and Viral destroy the first laser, but predictably, the moon is full of them. Still, like I said before, when the Gurren Lagann goes full Hype Mode, it is literally invulnerable and it’s somehow able to reflect the lasers back to the moon.
These Anti-Spirals don’t give up easily though. Just as the lasers are defeated, Lordgenome (or his head, rather) starts freaking out and saying something about going to the moon just as one of the two massive Mugann (which have been the command centre so far) begin targeting the Arc-Gurren. Simon can’t help either – he’s being targeted by the other. Rossiu, yet again, begins to give up (seriously, how has he not grasped the principles of hype?) though Simon tries his best to keep spirits up and, in his words, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. For some reason, I suddenly remembered Simon and what he was like after Kamina’s death and it brings a tear to my eye (ok, not really) to see how far he’s come in 14 episodes. Still, while I joke about the power of hype and all, the sheer emphasis on it gives the whole show a decidedly shounen vibe and while that’s certainly not a bad thing per se, there are already moments in this episode where I’m beginning to get the feeling like I’ve seen this all before. Still, it’s fairly entertaining so far, but I think I’m going to need more character moments from this episode rather than just flashing lights and explosions. I’ll have to wait a while though because Simon has decided to merge Gurren Lagann with the Arc-Gurren and after a long transformation sequence a new…thing…is born. Seriously, I don’t even know what to call it anymore – is it a Gunmen, is it a spaceship, or is it just a thing now? Well, it’s basically a Gunmen for Gunmen, if you think about it; Gurren Lagann is literally piloting a larger Gunmen. I don’t know why I’m even talking about this as though I’m expecting it to make sense…
It’s probably just as well because Simon summons all his hype and literally punches a hole in space-time. Yeah. There is a hole in space-time caused by a robot punching space that hard. Also, there is light coming out of the hole in space-time because at this point, why the fuck not? Oddly enough, I don’t actually have a major issue with all of this; not yet at least. I want to see where it’s going before making a call on whether or not this is a little too ridiculous even by TTGL standards though I will admit that my first reaction was pretty much a confused ‘What the fuck?’ The main reason I’m not judging right away is because I think (or hope) that it could be interesting if the Anti-Spirals were from an opposite dimension or something like that. It wouldn’t be the most original of ideas but as the case with these things, the beauty is in the execution rather than the conception. Anyway, back on Earth, the apocalypse is approaching as the moon comes ever closer and things get tense. I don’t actually feel like there’s too much tension here for the simple reason that this show does not feel like the kind that would kill off roughly 75% of the world though then again, I didn’t think Kamina could die either, so maybe I shouldn’t say too much too soon.
Lordgenome calls the moon his flagship, so there might be hope to save Earth in some way though Simon and Viral are shocked that Lordgenome is still ‘alive’ and Viral finds it reprehensible that he has been resurrected as a biocomputer. Lordgenome is surprisingly chill about the whole affair, even telling Viral to take it easy. Anyway, Lordgenome reveals that the moon is essentially a gigantic Spiral-powered machine and just like that, all their problems are solved. Except not quite; the moon is three minutes away from impact and Rossiu pulls yet another stunt by saying that Arc-Gurren will disengage a minute before impact though in fairness he does say it’s to protect the thousands on board the Arc-Gurren. Meanwhile, Simon is about insert his drill into the moon (…yeah, I know…) but he is blocked by Nia who tells him he will have to kill her in order to activate the moon. Viral has no reservations about this but Lordgenome notes that killing Nia will cause an explosion that will ruin the moon’s control system. Viral is understandably exasperated by this especially since they were so close and Nia says something really interesting. So, we’ve heard before that the Anti-Spirals are basically the anti-hype of this series. They exist apparently only to cause misery and hopelessness yet hopelessness and hope are two sides of the same coin and one can turn into the other very easily. Just as Simon seems to turn defeat into victory at the last moment, Nia, in an oddly poetic contrast, intends to deny humanity hope right when it was inches away (almost literally) from saving the day. The idea behind the Anti-Spirals is being a lot clearer in my head and now I really want to know what they’re about. Simon flips Nia’s words on her and tells her that her attempts at creating despair only made him rise up to the challenge and thus made him stronger. It’s an interesting counter-argument and it’s driven home by the fact that Nia is still wearing her engagement ring. What’s interesting to me is that I was under the impression that Nia was under some kind of mind control or something but if she had the free will to wear her ring, then maybe all of this was a conscious effort by her? Simon thinks so but he reminds her that what she’s trying to destroy is her own handiwork – she helped him restore humanity to the surface and build the civilization that followed. He doesn’t wait for her response and plunges forward to stick his drill in (this anime makes me write the damnedest sentences) and it works! Nia must have moved out of the way because the moon powers up and transforms (because what else would it do, right?) into a gigantic battleship named Cathedral Terra. Nia informs Simon that with this setback, the Anti-Spirals will go into all-out war mode and their fleet will arrive soon. We get a flash of the old Nia when she asks Simon to come get her though she is recalled soon after.
Rossiu, meanwhile, is unhappy for some reason and is bemoaning the fact that he simply can’t compete with Simon’s awesomeness. It’s oddly touching, despite my dislike for the guy, that he tries so hard (in such a rational way too, which makes it harder for me to fault him) to do the best he can, only to lose out to Simon’s ridiculously over-powered positivity. I feel that he’s not past redemption though admitting that makes me feel like I lack conviction since I’ve been condemning him for the last couple of episodes. I would like to see his redemption and return to the fold handled well though. So far, Simon’s been totally cool and it’s like there was never any friction between them at all but I think there needs to be a scene, a short one even, between the two addressing it. This is actually something the show needs as well because while I enjoyed the return to action in this episode and I’m still very much engaged by the plot in general, I don’t think I would like it very much if the show just dived into another series of large scale battles right away next episode. I don’t we need a breather episode like a beach episode or something but a more character-centric episode would not go amiss. It would give us a chance to see what the new power structure is like and see how these latest revelation and trials have changed the dynamics of the group. The Simon-Rossiu thing is a big aspect of that, but it isn’t the only one. Yoko’s back, Nia’s gone and there’s a whole shitload of new machines and tech and all of that needs to be addressed though I very much doubt that we’ll get through all of them.