[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Review

TTGL

Title: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

First Aired: April 1st, 2007 – September 30, 2007

Studio: Studio Gainax

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Rating: 9.5/10

Strip away the massive mechas, the enormous explosions and the larger than life characters and you’ll see that at its heart, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (TTGL) is the traditional bildungsroman at both its simplest and its finest. The series follows two young men, Simon and Kamina as they fight to break free of their mundane lives in a post-apocalyptic underground village and discover what wonders the world above holds for them. It’s a story of how self-belief and friendship can conquer any odds but more than that it’s about breaking free not only of the limits we set for ourselves but those that others set for us. It is, by turn, stupid and silly, heart-breaking and touching but over and above, relentlessly entertaining and uplifting. It is, beyond a doubt, one of the best series in the last decade, and possibly one of the genre’s most complete stories.

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[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 27

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So this is it, the final episode. It’s been quite a ride – the last three or four episodes especially have been pretty damn emotional but this is where it’s all supposed to pay off. All the final pieces are in place; Simon has the Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann ready, Nia is back to herself although she hasn’t been rescued, technically speaking, and the Anti-Spiral has shown itself and is therefore ready to be taken down. What I’m more interested in however, is how this is all going to end. My instinct tells me that Nia and Simon make it out alright but based on the sacrifices that the last few episodes have entailed, I think we’re going to need at least a couple of major sacrifices before this is done and they better not involve Yoko. Seriously, she’s like the second or third best character in the show and she’s suffered enough. More importantly though, I don’t think this particular fight can be satisfactorily resolved by just having Simon punch the Anti-Spiral to death either – that was fine for all the fights before, but given that this is the final boss, I want to see something more substantial than just another fight. This show hasn’t disappointed at all yet and I have faith that it’ll finish what it started properly.

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[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 26

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After the Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann emerges from the sea at the end of the last episode, Simon begins to unleash his inner beast and fuck some Anti-Spirals up. As always the Anti-Spirals have no intention of going down without a fight. The massive superships, comprised of faces, begin to counter-attack. They begin to power themselves up by consuming whole planets. I actually like how they’re even trying to stay true some scientific principle with the whole energy mass equivalence thing as though people even care about the science at this point. That said though, the image of these mindless, enemy spaceships eating planets whole is not just pretty cool, it also gives us a great visual representation of just how far our heroes have come – they’ve gone from a small underground village to fighting beings on a galactic scale. The enemy’s initial salvo has no effect but the Anti-Spiral pulls more pseudo-science out of its collective ass and throw ‘probability-altering’ missiles that pierce the Gurren Lagann’s armour. The Anti-Spiral talks to them again and asks them if they are willing to achieve victory over the corpses of their fellow Spiral races. Simon doesn’t get what they mean, but neither do I exactly. I’m trying to keep this all straight in my head: basically, the Spiral Power is the power to change and evolve and it is somehow generated by positive thinking and self-belief. The Anti-Spiral is the embodiment of negativity and…stuff…and is anti-evolution because clearly the Anti-Spiral is a hardcore American fundamental Christian. I think that sounds about right…

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[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 25

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The team is panicking after sinking into the sea of despair. Leeron explains that the ‘sea’ in front of them is compressed ultra-dense space and it sucking them in but is powerless to pull them out. The ship’s weapons are also ineffectual now because the ‘sea’ around them absorbs the Spiral power. Lordgenome, in his infinite wisdom and usefulness, calls the sea a Death Spiral Field. It almost sounds scientific. Apparently, their Spiral Power is converted into mass. Basically the sea is like quick sand; the harder they try to escape, the denser the field around them gets and the more they are pulled into it. Lordgenome notes that if the SGDG reaches the ‘sea’s’ bottom, they are all dead. Not to worry though, Simon has a plan and it’s one we’ve seen before. He intends to force the engines into overdrive – supply more Spiral Power than the sea can drain. Viral doesn’t get it but agrees anyway, because clearly the strategy of ‘you’re-not-doing-it-till you-overdo-it’ has been working pretty well so far.

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[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 24

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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.

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[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 23

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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.

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[Anime] Gurren Lagann – Episode 22

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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.

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