[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 24


TTGL

Simon and the gang set out into space, travelling through the 10th and 11th dimensions (don’t ask me, I didn’t make it up) guided by Simon’s feelings for Nia. They make the jump and as soon as they do so, they find a giant, naked Nia. Apparently, it’s just a projection of the real Nia but the various blank spots on her represent that the Anti-Spiral retrieving her data. Luckily for the show, the Anti-Spiral was nice enough to start reading the data on the naughty bits first…wait, a minute. Anyway, it isn’t the real Nia in the sense that the giant projection they are seeing isn’t the physical version of her but apart from that, she’s no longer the mean version that attacked Earth and tried to wipe them all out – she’s back to being her normal, sweet self. She warns them that the Anti-Spiral are more powerful than they think but Simon won’t hear it; he’s here to rescue Nia and that’s that. Meanwhile, Lordgenome wonders why exactly the Anti-Spiral needs to analyse Nia’s data. What more do they need to learn about humanity and mankind that they don’t already know? It’s an interesting angle and my first guess is going to be that it’s something personal about Simon. Think about it – he’s essentially their only hope and Nia was very close to him so if anyone knows his weaknesses, it’s going to be Nia. Simon has some weaknesses but since the whole Kamina incident, he’s been fairly on point with his emotional maturity and development. Let’s see how this pans out.

And so the end begins

They jump again but return to either the same place or to an identical setting (it’s not made very clear). Lordgenome suggests that the ‘fake’ Nia is interfering with the jumps by ‘scrambling’ the connection that Nia and Simon share. They are about to try again when the Anti-Spiral contacts them. Things take an interesting turn when Leeron points out the communication is coming from all around them – the entire ‘space’ that they are in is controlled entirely by the Anti-Spiral. They are in the absolute heart of the enemy’s territory and seem extremely screwed. At this point, considering that there these dimensions are ‘emotional’ in nature (seeing as how the co-ordinates depend on Simon’s feelings) I think it almost makes sense that the Anti-Spiral, beings (or just a single being?) that thrives off of unhappiness and hopelessness, can control a dimension like this. Is this a commentary on how powerful the forces of hopelessness and depression are in real life and about how hard it is to overcome them?

There’s something vaguely Christain-y going on here but since NGE, I’ve decided not to be so easily baited by Studio Gainax.

The team is racing against the clock – if Nia dies not only will Simon be crushed emotionally (which is obviously a big deal when their entire offensive power is dependent largely on his self-belief) but they will also have no other means of tracking the Anti-Spiral homeworld. The Anti-Spirals launch their offensive, a series of gigantic rocks composed of statues of faces. The Super Dai Gurren Lagann (or whatever it’s called, I lose track) tries taking the structures down but to no avail – their shields are too strong. Simon and Viral head out in the Arc Gurren and we find out that the Super Galaxy Dai-Gurren’s production capability has allowed for the production of Arc-Gurren sized version of the rest of the team’s Gurrens. Kittan rallies his troops though he is shocked to hear that Yoko has ‘kids’ (she’s referring to her students). I kind of like this budding relationship between the two of them. I’ve had my issues with Kittan but at the end of it all, he seems like a pretty solid dude all around and Yoko deserves a good guy after having Kamina so cruelly taken away from her. Kittan’s a poor substitute, but who isn’t?

Yeah, but no pressure

The enemy structures have launched Arc-Gurren level fighters of their own, shaped like hands and feet. It’s a weird stylistic choice and I’m trying to think if there’s any reason for picking that kind of design for the enemy fighters. The hands and feet do have faces on their palms and soles respectively but it’s still pretty weird looking. The team and the human fleet hold off the hordes of enemy fighters while Simon and Viral try to drill their way through the enemy’s super shielding but the Arc Gurren just isn’t powerful enough to penetrate. They decide to transform the Super Galaxy Dai-Gurren and use to pierce the enemy superships. According to Lordgenome, if Simon can transform the Super Galaxy Dai-Gurren (SGDG from now on) into its humanoid form, they will have the power of a micro cosmos. The plan is for Simon to transform the SGDG into the SGGL (Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann) but in order to do so he will need to withdraw from the battle. Yoko and Kittan and the rest of the bozos provide cover. The enemy superships begin to make their move and Simon and Yoko both get bad vibes.

Wait, so who’s the real Kamina v2.0? Kittan or Viral? Ok, let’s just say that Kamina was so awesome that you need two characters to replace him

Simon needs another ten minutes to finish accumulating enough Spiral power to complete the transformation while Yoko wonders just why their small ragtag band of fighters is able to hold off a horde of millions of enemy fighters. However, as soon as the retreat signal is given, the enemy fighters become extremely competent, hijacking the human fighters and using them against each other. I actually really like the consistency behind the way the Anti-Spiral works – they always give the humans a glimmer of hope before trying to take it away. Even here, just as Kittan & co. thought that they had everything under control, the Anti-Spiral spring a trap when they are vulnerable. The retreat commences are Gimmy and Darry and the rest of Grapearl Squadron retreats while the Team Dai-Gurren fighters provide cover. One of them, Zorthy, is in trouble and two others Kid and Iraak go to help him out but their death flags are already waving in the air as Kittan realizes that they aren’t going to make it back. Zorthy ticks out first, his fighter exploding after taking heavy damage. Simon can sense his death and I wonder if his deaths and the ones to follow will affect the amount of Spiral Power Simon can generate. Kid and Iraak follow Zorthy into the grave shortly after as they find themselves out of ammo in face of the enemy’s numbers. Their deaths mark the first deaths in this show since Kamina.

Simon getting serious

I don’t know about Simon, but the deaths are affecting Kittan too. The enemy superships are launching massive missiles at the SGDG and the rest of the them has to run interference. Yoko takes the first down though the impact sends her flying (Kittan saves her, d’awww) while Darry takes the second but there’s no one to save her while Makken takes the third missile on the other side by ramming himself into it and forcing an explosion. He too dies and suddenly within a matter of minutes, Team Dai-Gurren has lost multiple members. These are named characters and clearly not just your regular rank-and-file redshirts but still, it’s a sign that the story is going to get bloody and that the main characters are in danger. I doubt they’ll kill any of the major characters but there is certainly an imminent danger from the Anti-Spirals now. Gimmy resuces Darry and Simon is at 95% and the SGDG begins its preparation to transform. Gimmy and Darry are still stranded without backup though, and the enemy fighters close in. It would honestly suck if those two kids died here and now – they’re clearly supposed to be humanity’s hope for the future. They are saved by Jorgun and Balinbow who throw them towards the SGDG but tell the two to live ‘for them as well’ as they stay behind to draw the enemy’s fire. That’s six members of Team Dai-Gurren dead within this episode alone. Damn, the bloodbath’s started early. I’m very impressed that Simon’s managed to keep his focus and his positivity throughout that entire fight and it’s paid off – he’s got the energy he needs and promises not to forget the sacrifices made in his name. However, before the transformation can begin, the SGDG hits a wall of gravity, described by Leeron as a sea (and it feels and looks like a visual form of a sea of ‘despair’ given that it’s coming from the Anti-Spiral which does seem to reinforce the metaphor I mentioned earlier). It’s clearly an Anti-Spiral trap and the team has waltzed right into it and the episode ends on an ominous note.

Ya think?

I really, really liked this episode for a bunch of reasons but the biggest one was because it really raised the stakes. It’s been a while coming; honestly, since the second ‘season’ started, the show has had a much more serious tone and atmosphere. There was still plenty of the silliness and humour that made this show what it was but it felt like the characters’ decisions had consequences, as opposed to how Simon and Kamina could just over-man their opponents in the opening episodes. That was fun too then but I’m glad we’ve moved away from that into a slightly more serious story. I find it funny that I can even call a story like this serious given how nothing really makes sense if you look too closely at it, but I think it’s a testament to the writing and the characters’ charm that I really feel for the characters loss and am genuinely concerned about what will happen to them next. They often say that it’s fine to love or hate a story but any author/artist/creator will be offended by a total lack of reaction. I also liked how this episode took the spotlight away from Simon for a while – one of the show’s flaws is that the secondary character have gotten barely any screentime and it shows in how little I care about the deaths of the characters in this episode. Or rather, it’s not that I don’t care that the characters died, but rather I don’t feel any sense of loss in their deaths but instead I feel bad for the characters I know since they had to experience their friends’ deaths. Still, this episode gave them their fifteen minutes of fame (quite literally) and we got some cute moments from Gimmy, Darry, Yoko and Kittan, so it’s all good with me. Kittan, in particular, has really grown on me, especially since he stood up to Rossiu over his treatment of Simon. We’ll see what the next episode brings to Team Dai-Gurren!

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