[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 23


TTGL

Nia’s old butler is ironing something as we see an absolutely adorable picture of Nia and Simon in happier times. The more sombre tone of this episode’s opening is worrying but that’s expected as we enter the show’s end-game. I mentioned last episode that this episode needs to have a sort of character development respite now that the action has concluded (or at least stopped for the time being). The beginning of this episode does in fact indicate that this is the direction that we will be taking, so I’m obviously looking forward to it. Viral is nominated by Simon as a formal member of the team. He’s a little uncertain about how the rest would feel about working with a former enemy but Kittan reassures he that none of them care about that – as long as he wants to protect the Earth as much as they do, they’re friends till the end. I like the way that it’s done; Viral reminding the others that the Earth isn’t just home to humans does seem to provide a solid foundation for their alliance. I don’t know how to explain this, but the fact that Viral hasn’t come to the team from a position of weakness (having to beg for forgiveness for the understanding the ‘evilness’ of Lordgenome or some weak shit like that) is a huge plus and in many ways makes him a formal member of the team more than the declaration itself.

This is just too adorable

The topic turns to Rossiu, who is missing. We see him leave and Leeron mentions that Rossiu has taken charge of the surface restoration plan. Leeron launches into a long info-dump explaining their current situation  but the team obviously loses focus each time anything gets too science-y so Leeron has to dumb it down a little. I’m quite sure we already knew this but Beastmen are revealed not to be able to breed at all. The humans are focused on finding the Anti-Spiral home-world though Simon wants to find Nia more than the Anti-Spirals, obviously. Rossiu returns to Adai village, where he was born. He reunites with the old priest we met way back in episode 5 or 6 who is happy to see him.

Science, motherfuckers

Back at the base, Kinon is upset because Rossiu is MIA and he has left a goodbye message on the last page of his completed Surface Restoration Plan. Rossiu talks to the priest and hands him a copy of their holy book – he’s held on to it all this while. I think it’s rather touching that he’s kept it as a reminder of his origins but that’s not all – he mentions that the language in the holy book is unintelligible. He’s searched high and low but there’s no language that matches it. It’s a nice comment on the nature of faith as both men laugh that their faith was based on gibberish. I prefer this reaction to the more understandable despair that people might feel upon learning that their gods were false. The priest mentions that the ability of humans to hold something that’s false as precious is one of their greatest strengths but Rossiu mysteriously disagrees. I hope that he isn’t still going to be antagonistic.

The best conmen are the ones who don’t think they’re conning anyone

In any case, his confrontation with Simon seems to be coming – Simon has learned that Rossiu intends to kill himself and is rushing out but doesn’t know where to go. Rossiu goes into the depth of a cavern alone while the priest tells him he did the best he could. I don’t particularly like Rossiu but I will admit that I do think he did what he thought was best and then at some point he got carried away a touch. Suicide seems like a pretty extreme reaction though and I don’t even know why he’s thinking of killing himself. Does he just feel bad that he almost killed Simon?

Boom, friendzoned

Kinon tries to track Rossiu but gets distraught when she can’t find him. She reveals to Simon that Rossiu didn’t overthrow Simon for personal gain, which Simon already knows. I don’t know whether the audience knew it but it always felt like it wasn’t for personal gain – Rossiu can be an ass but he’s not the power-hungry type. I don’t know whether I have this opinion of him now based on his impending suicide (which I am very sure Simon would stop or this show would take a sudden, decidedly dark turn) but I guess it’s one of those things where since everything turned out ok, my retroactive opinion of Rossiu improved as well. It’s not very logical, but there you have it.

He’s learned well

Rossiu continues down into the depths of the village, remembering a time when the village could only support 50 people at a time and a new life meant an old one had to go. He wonders how someone who grew up in that kind of environment almost needlessly sacrificed thousands of lives. While I like this self-reflection, I think he’s being a little harsh on himself. Short of just counting on Simon to out-hype everyone, I do think Rossiu’s plan was the best they could do. Speaking of Simon’s godlike emotional power, Rossiu is about to do the deed and Simon and Kinon’s feelings allow Simon to open a hole in space-time on Earth itself that teleports them into the bottom of Adai village. I know it’s an asspull but it’s a cool asspull so I’m ok with it. In fact, I actually kind of like it – it feels very coherent with the universe created and everything we’ve seen so far. Simon jumps out of Gurren Lagann and literally knocks some sense into Rossiu. He forgives Rossiu and tells him that he admires Rossiu for attempting to do what Simon did not and could not. The two make amends and Kinon basically breaks down over how close she was to losing Rossiu. There’s a nice nostalgic moment when Rossiu is back in the Gurren Lagann cockpit.

Kamina v2.0 detected

Back at the base, Lordgenome is boring everyone with a pseudo-sciencey explanation of how the Anti-Spirals have been evading their scans and even Leeron doesn’t get it. Since we’re still in the TTGL universe, no one cares about the explanations and Rossiu just explains that now that they know how to get to the Anti-Spiral home-world, all that’s left to do is fight. Still, they do set up some contingencies – Simon uses Cathedral Terra to pull the ‘real’ moon out of ‘imaginary space’ so that it’s the lack of Cathedral Terra’s gravity doesn’t affect the Earth (there is so much wrong with that explanation that I don’t even know where to start) and appoints Rossiu to look after Earth in his absence. Nia’s old butler pops up with Team Dai-Gurren’s original flag –the one they had when they took Teppelin and with that, Simon flies off to start what should be the serie’s final fight.

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

So, a few post-episode thoughts:

  • Big fan of this episode in general. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow I came away from this episode thinking that Rossiu wasn’t so bad after all. This, after I spent most of the write-up two episodes ago just ranting about the guy. I guess it was really nice to see Rossiu take responsibility for his actions (by living and trying to change rather than just killing himself) and the shot of him crying after sentencing Simon to death did humanize him a great deal but I guess even after all that, I just can’t bring myself to like him. Given that I probably won’t see much of him from this point on, I don’t think that’s too big a deal but I’ll probably end the series with a neutral opinion of him at best.
  • This episode did provide a lot of character development in the sense that we’ve established that everyone is cool with everyone else and we head into the final battle in a very simplistic them versus us kind of scenario. Now, I know that on one hand, a more nuanced look at how the various conflicts within the team could tear it apart at a critical time might make for more ‘intelligent’ viewing (like how Simon’s emotional conflict led to Kamina’s death) but it would also feel like cheap drama and I hate that. There’s something refreshing and just plain exciting about seeing this line-up go all-out against the enemy without having anything to hold them back.

The episode ends with a sense of them heading bravely into the unknown and I really liked the feeling of how this one final sliver of humanity is going bravely where no humans have gone before…ok, wrong series, but the vibe I got was oddly similar. My hype for the next episode continues!

 

Let there be infinite hype

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