Gurren Lagann, if it were filmed in Sydney today.
Gurren Lagann, if it were filmed in Sydney today.
Gainax accommodated my assignments and lack of time to review Gurren Lagann by largely creating a derivative episode from the previous one. Still, despite all the despair hope prevails! Right?
Plot: With Simon behind bars and entertaining the end of days with his old arch nemesis, Rossiu directs the remaining hope of humanity into the sky, leaving plenty of souls behind. Basically part two to the previous episode.
Context: We finally get a clear picture of what Earth in this universe looks like. Definitely not one we're inhabiting right now! Or is it Earth in the distant past, or at some point in the distant future?
Quotes: "Team Gurren has its own way of doing things". Damn straight.
Surreal: If someone who'd never Gurren Lagann before entered the room while I was watching thus, they would have seen a anthropomorphic chicken battling with Simon. I guess... that's no different to Foghorn Leghorn. I say, I say.
Drills: The power of the spiral knows no ends. Such forces even propel mighty space faring ships, and are strong enough to be detected by lunar evilness.
Priorities: Suddenly seem very different when you have a family, don't they?
Heart tugging: Seeing the ship leave orbit with all those left behind, I choked up a bit in the same way I choked up when I watched Titanic and saw the lifeboats leaving the rest of the passengers behind. That said, I did watch Titanic when I was 12 or something, and Leonardo DiCaprio was just dreamy.
Character development: After painting Rossiu as cold and a little vindictive in recent episodes, this time around he seemed more human. The artists drew him with panda eyes even darker than the ones I seem to always have, and we got plenty of shots of the beads of sweat on his face. Despite ultimately going forward with his plan, I could empathise more with the bind he found himself in, and how ultimately he felt he had little choice.
More character development: After struggling for so long, Simon seemed finally ready to accept his fate as he watched the ship take off, and leaving him behind. A temporary lapse, or a change in attitude completely?
Conclusion: Are the comments Anti-Spiral-Nia torments Simon with true? In trying to defend everyone, has Rossiu lost his humanity and ultimately achieved the Anti-Spiral goal? Will despair prevail?
Nah... Yoko is back! And this is why we love her now.
Possibly the darkest episode of Gurren Lagann so far. In going after this enemy, are they losing their own humanity?
Plot: With the increasingly violent unrest of the populace now they're aware the moon is to be hurtled towards the Earth (always a concern), Rossiu finds his scapegoat, but not before using him to defend Kamina City once last time.
Relationships: I definitely don't condone Rossiu's actions, but I can understand from his perspective why he did them. At least, I think I can. He's a character who's getting harder and harder to read as the series progresses.
Comic relief: The chair, has a mind, of its own! Family guy reference of a Star Trek reference ;). Given the heavy nature of the episode, the antics in the design room while formulating a new theory for a class of weapon were sorely needed. I would love to have him as one of my university lecturers and tutors.
Design: The inventiveness of Gainax continues to amaze me. A veritable tree of ships?
Tactics: Instead of exploding these self-decaying devices, draw them out to the desert and destroy them there. Not only that, but deal the final blow with an energy weapon that draws it's strength from a... spiral! Just brilliant :).
Homages: The courtroom was almost identical to the courtroom on Qo'noS that the innocent Kirk and McCoy were tried in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I'll stop observing these Star Trek references when Gainax stops making them!
Loopholes: Simon is to wait for the end in a prison cell, granting him ample time to formulate something. Or to have something formulated for him. Because he can't go... right?
Mindf*ck: After being thrown in prison, we see... Viral! I suppose it was to be expected, two episodes ago we saw him being apprehended.
Heart tugging: Simon seeing the engagement ring he bought for Nia on her hand since she transformed into a cold messenger for the Anti-spirals. Still, it suggests a small element of her past survived her transition. A possible source of hope?
Unanswered questions: Is Rossiu's pride going to be their downfall? Sure they have an amazing new ship that's been hidden from them all this time, and they have a new weapon, but surely they'll need Gurren Lagann again... right? I suppose without Simon it's useless. Surely they can't do what they plan to do to Simon, right?
Conclusion: Are the lives of people worth using as pawns for political motives? Will humanity, decency and compassion be regained before the government charged with protecting people ends up inflicting damage themselves? Something to think about.
Star Trek meets Gurren Lagann in this second story arc. Kinda.
Plot: Having finally understood and come to terms with the imminent lunar based threat against their species, our humans in this saga demand restraint and discipline against the one person who has defended them.
Art: At the risk of repeating myself (repeating myself, repeating myself) from the previous episode, the cityscapes and art were even more breathtaking than before. The fact Gainax hasn't released Gurren Lagann in Blu-Ray or another form of 1080p media was once a major inconvenience, but now it borders on criminality. Just saying.
Light: Supreme ditto. Does that exist, "supreme" ditto? Sounds like a pizza. Wait, we're discussing Gurren Lagann, not Railgun, Angel Beats or Code Geass.
Explanations: Amongst the issues I've raised with this series in the past, one has been their incredibly speedy technological progress from subterranean dwellers to futuristic city dwellers. After reanimating the former Spiral King in a large, Futurama-esque jar, Rossiu learns of the spiral power that gives humans the power to progress so rapidly... and pose a threat.
Mindf*ck: I'd long anticipated the enemy's actions weren't as black and white as they seemed, but it does seem Our Heroes really had no idea who the real enemy was. That said, that Spiral King was still incredibly obtuse, and only by reanimating his corpse without emotions were they able to learn the whole truth (Nia aside).
Science fiction: Lots of Star Trek here. Their enemies fly ships that bear an uncanny similarity to the Enterprise-D, defended by energy fields we'd call shields. Finally, the idea of a civilisation wanting to neutralise a potential challenger before they can advance was the plot of Star Trek First Contact. The anti-spirals are The Borg!
Quotable quotes: "Shame he's not a mecha... THAT we could fix".
Relationships: In his (albeit understandable) capacity as scapegoat hunter, Rossiu further strains his relationship with Simon. I hope we see a resolution of this, they worked so well together in the past.
Homages: Was it just me, or did it look as though Evil Nia transformed into an Evangelion-eque character with one of their plugsuit things? I know very little about Evangelion, but lived with people intimately familiar with the series a few years ago!
Heart tugging Will Simon get his beloved Nia back, and ipso facto will we, the viewers, get her back? That reminds me, I still haven't found a[n affordable] Nia figure anywhere.
Absense: Yoko, and the fabled "Gainax bounce" which I was informed of today. Are they setting it up so she's instrumental in saving them in the future?
Meaning: Essentially, this series has taken the concept of Fibonacci numbers we see in nature but can't yet explain, and added meaning to them, and the plot for a story. The idea of everything from galaxies to the double helix being a spiral, and therefore the essense of who we are... I thought that was a really beautiful concept, and only makes me want to get a drill to wear around my neck even more!
Conclusion: Despite my two favourite characters being taken out of action for reasons that weren't their fault, I otherwise loved this episode. While I can understand some people may have reserveations about some of the fanservice (of which this episode was surprisingly absent of), I don't grok those claiming the series is shallow. I'm looking at you, Sydney Morning Herald writers!
A lot happened in the Gurren Lagann universe in seven years.
Plot: In the intervening years since the previous episodes, Kamina City (*sniffles*) was built up around the ruins of Teppelin, the former royal capital. Of course, we join them just as something big is about to go down.
Transition: As a science fiction fan, such stories often want to jump further into the future to display the ramifications or effects of certain events. Some seem stilted and tacked on, but Gainax did a great job with Gurren Lagann. Kiyoh's pregnancy and Simon's proposal tied the timelines together, and they didn't seem too bound by the rules of their previous story arc. If any of that makes sense, I'm not a media student!
Art: As close to City pr0n as you could want. Hugely detailed skylines and streams of lights along streets at night. Their landscapes in previous episodes had been pretty amazing, but I revel in art such as this. It was one of the reasons why I enjoyed Bakemonogatari and Railgun so much.
Light: Related to art (or is art related to light?). The optimism of this new world they've created was reflected in the abundant light, and was quickly replaced with darkness when replaced with fear. Hey, maybe I should be a media student.
Character development: It was great seeing them all again. Yoko and the world's greatest fabulous engineer seemingly haven't aged a day! Simon and Rossiu are older now, and still contrast each other's personalities. In previous episodes this worked to their advantage, but in this arc it seems their relationship is pretty strained. Something to keep an eye on.
The enemy: A million apes. We'd heard the former Spiral King mention a potential lunar threat. We finally got a glimpse of what he meant, something which no doubt will form the plot for the upcoming episodes.
Gainax references: Was it just me, or has Darry turned into the spitting image of Nono from Diebuster, right down to the eye colour and hair?! Though she does seem a little more serious ;).
Nostalgia: They called it "Kamina City", and erected a gigantic statue for their fallen hero. This series is so full of win. *sniffles*
Social commentary: People who grow up in comfort and excess end up being lazy, and the cost of progress in technology and living standards is... roads choked with traffic. Is that progress? And who would have thought Gainax would make us think.
Divergence: Simon had bureaucracy thrust upon him, but Yoko was able to avoid it by heading off on her trippy hovering bike, more reasonable clothing and awesome new set of schades. Sorry, "shades" (its a reflex for someone with my last name). Something tells me we'll be seeing her again though, and that this coalition of strong willed people might not last.
Suspension of disbelief: Surely a civilisation that progressed from underground caverns to a state of the art city with gigantic computer screens and futuristic lighting in seven years would have more efficient and technologically advanced methods of conducting a population count that a simple census. Why not orbiting sensor grids, ala Star Trek? They can send ships to the moon, so it would be possible!
Originality: The Gurren Lagann universe was so different and had contraptions powered by human spirit. The Gurren Lagann Universe 2.0 has... a city with cars and tall buildings. I have to be honest, while it did look terribly futuristic, it was all rather... predictable. Felt like Gainax missed an opportunity to create something truly unconventional.
Breaking the fourth wall: I suppose this isn't really an example of this given the characters themselves do come from the series, but that standing cutout of Simon and Kamina in the restaurant made me smile, if only for the fact I've seen this exact prop in shops ;).
Surprises: You expect Nia to respond to Simon in the affirmative, but of course she doesn't... until later. And then it's intentionally left vague. Geez, these folks sure know how to build suspense! Oh yeah and Nia... I hope she's okay, she's my favourite character.
Conclusions: A solid start to the next story arc, with and plenty of unanswered questions and cliffhangers. Was also great to see them all again in this amazing new setting.
Returning from a university-induced Gurren Lagann hiatus, Gainax gave me an opportune summary clip show to refresh my memory! While most people seemingly hated this episode, I revelled in seeing some of the studio concept art, my favourite of which I included here :)
Awwwwwwww! Episode 15 of Gurren Lagann.
Plot: Having set the wheels in motion for the destruction of The Capital, the giant cylindrical buildings that bear a striking resemblance to the Peachtree tower in Atlanta begin falling from the sky and Tepellin is revealed in its true form.
Art: The explosions and weapons fire were little more than lines of colour and circles of pale yellow, presumably to save on production costs as they're simple to animate. Still, they put on quite the light show.
Tactics: Initially I was horrified at seeing how they mutilated and destroyed large swaths of Dai Gurren, before Yoko reminded us in her narration role on the bridge (again) that defeating the Spiral King and forcing him to confront the daughter he cast away were the entire reason for the mission. Had they been more cautious, they most likely would have failed. Are there life lessons in this anime?
Pride: That (seemingly false) modesty imposed by the four generals so as to not dignify these petty humans with too much of their time and firepower? Seems as though the Spiral King wasn't going to make the same mistake, launching a barrage of ships.
Graphics: Starfleet ships have LCARS (a version of which I posted about earlier today, ironically enough!), and Dai-Gurren is equipped with icons from various warning and emergency exit signs. I've got to say, the latter makes far more sense!
Expectations: Every single episode I've thought Simon and Kamina, then Team Gurren Lagann, then Team Dai-Gurren would be toast, and every time I was proven thoroughly wrong due to a combination of advantageous circumstances, strategy, strong teamwork, and Gunmen devices that seem to defy virtually all laws of physics. This time I was almost certain they wouldn't make it, again.
Metaphors: Namely, drills. They're what give Simon the strength and physical capability to do his job in his subterranean village way back in episode 01, they give him the ability to pilot his Gunmen Lagann with such dexterity and skill, and they're even the source of the King's power. Ultimately, a simple one is responsible for his downfall.
Heart tugging: When Nia sits on Simon's lap so they could go see her father. When she and Simon sit together during the battle with their eyes ablaze. When Simon is potentially in his final throes and she exclaims she believes in him with all her heart. When the battle is over and Simon places his hand on her shoulder, then cuddles her close while they see their allies and friends coming to them. I'm a fan of this stuff, I'm unashamed!
Relativity: When Nia confronts her father again and exclaims her horror at what she perceives to be his lack of morals. I get the feeling we're going to learn the issue isn't as black and white as what we're being lead to believe at this point, but for now you can understand where she's coming from... well, where they're all coming from.
Unanswered questions: Who/what were inside all those buildings they just destroyed? Were they buildings? Why would such a powerful Spiral King be so unkempt, surely he would have access to excellent grooming facilities?
Conclusion: After coming all this way, and with all the obstacles and pessimism in the world, they made it to the capital and had took care of business, with their flag emblazoned with the late Kamina's sunglasses. There's jubilation, and optimism! The world is finally theirs!
Still, why do I get the feeling they've just opened the proverbial can of worms with this?
I've been watching Gurren Lagann for two weeks now, and I'm so thorougly absorbed in their universe. One of the great things about limiting yourself to one episode a day ^^.
Plot: An epic 13 episode journey started by a boy and a young man in a subterranean village culminates in a final showdown between the fortresses of two of the generals, and the valiant crew of the Dai-Gurren. Victory is in sight, but can they comprehend what they've unleashed? Can I even comprehend it?!
Narrator: Despite having one of the most powerful weapons in the fleet, and despite being given the biggest pounding yet, Yoko seemingly preferred to stay on the bridge of Dai-Gurren and narrate what was going on to us. Now that I think about it, often she didn't even do that, she just provided facial expressions while other bridge officers told her what was going on. Poor show Yoko ;).
Tactics: Compared to previous episodes where an all-out offensive seems to be the winning ticket, the sheer number of enemy ships causes Simon to pull rank and fight them himself, relegating the defence of Dai-Gurren to the others.
Art: Given the predominant theme of the episode was "blow evil ships up" we had quite a fireworks display. Mostly Gainax showed off their light effects, particularly when Gurren Lagann powered up to take on the millions of avian ships.
Common sense: I know The Generals have their pride to maintain and didn't want to dignify these humans with too much firepower, but why didn't they use two of their fortresses in the first place? They could have crushed these silly little humans ages ago! Pride cometh before the fall.
Technology: Sometimes a low tech solution is better than a more sophisticated one. When a gigantic Gunmen needs to traverse water, what better thing to arm oneself with than a giantic paddle? When communication lines are down, what better thing to use than a projector aimed at a swirling cloud of dust to attract attention?
Friends: Having inspired other humans to the surface with their antics, at a critical moment (of course!) our heros are joined by an armada of friendly ships ready to assist in taking their enemies down. A good thing, given it seemed they had no hope otherwise.
Nostalgia: Seeing Simon use tha late Kamina's passionate rallying cry was one thing, but to see Nia show that spirit was quite another. By the way, Nia is absolutely adorable, and I'm abashedly a fan ^^.
Partnerships: I really didn't think Rossiu/Simon stood a chance piloting Gurren Lagann together after the epicness that was Kamina/Simon, but they've turned out to be quite the formidable duo. Over the two weeks I've been watching this series, they've both come such a long way.
Unanswered questions: The Dai-Gurren crew have a sophisticated armada of Gunmen, but given they were all claimed from fallen enemies at some point, they're a hodgepodge mix of devices with different shapes, sizes, capabilities and epicness. When they meet their new human allies, not only do they have far more ships, but they're all uniform in shape, size, capability and epicness. Did these humans raid a factory?
Cliff hanger: Several episodes ago I commented that the Spiral King looked as though he was standing in either a gigantic ship with columns, or a city. With the destruction of the Teppelin Capital, these giant columns with windows (slabs, if you will) proceed to fall from the sky, revealing a horrified facial expression. A homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey?
Heart tugging: Seeing Simon and Yoko looking onto their memorial for Kamina, with his sword and cape. I hope he's able to keep that promise.
Conclusion: The known world is coming apart at the seams. What will be the implications? I have the feeling we're about to have our minds blown.
The infamous Boota episode of Gurren Lagann of which I've seen screenshots from online for years!
Plot: Trudging ever closer to The Capital again, the more monotonous parts of their journey provide a setting for some character development, before they come under siege from above with some serious avian firepower.
Soundtrack: I don't know what the music was, but it sounded terribly Mission Impossible-esque. While I thoroughly approved and thought it fitting, The Bird is The Word would have made for an even better musical score, given their avian enemy today. Picture it: Yoko firing her gigantic gun at The Enemy with an epic pose, hair flying behind her, with Bird Bird Bird, B-Bird's the Word, or during the final gigantic explosion. Just saying.
Boota: The best way for a little pet to motivate people is to launch himself into the air and land in an opportune place. I suppose such a position would offer the most cushioning were something bad to happen. Cushions are soft ^_^.
Expectations: With Simon blushing and Nia looking expectantly at him on deck, we think she's going to profess liking him, but instead offers a more practical suggestion for the use of their time. They're supposed to be together, come on guys!
Technology: Not only can Gunmen be commandeered on the surface after being defeated, they can be skewered in mid-flight and integrated! That's so... phisticated.
Strength: What I'm really liking about Gurren Lagann is each character is strong in their own way, and that they save and help each other rather than always just having one strong character and a damsel or doofus in distress. Today it was Simon's turn to rescue Yoko instead of the other way round, and seeing her cradled in Lagann's arms was just adorable. Simon is growing up :).
Physics: Despite looking and acting almost magical, these Gunmen devices do possess some technological devices to help them achieve said effect. Case in point, the Dai-Gunten fortress hovers due to two large orbs, one of which is destroyed and the other caught by Dai-Gurren like a gigantic basket ball. There's a Futurama Harlem Globetrotters reference in there somewhere.
Tactics: In the last episode I'd talked about how the generals had attempted to shoot them, blow them up, squish them and trick them. Clearly none of those had worked, so the last general with a settle to score decided to do something different and... blow them up. You'd think those with a sophisticated air force and hovering fortress could have been more creative than that ;).
Fanservice: Before each episode, Gainax show summaries of what happened in the previous episode, something which presumably would be irritating if you were watching them all in an afternoon, but are really helpful for a silly guy like me who likes watching one a day! That said, for their summary of the fighting scene in episode #12, they decided to illustrate it with... a close-up of Yoko's flapping swimsuit skirt. There were so many great shots they could have used, like the one where she's standing there firing from the deck of Dai-Gurren with her colleagues looking on! Oh well, Gainax just trolling us again :P
Costume: Their enemy of the day's colourful, towering imposing plumage was rather fetching. I'd love a outfit designed like that for an anime convention cosplay costume. I'd look fabulous!
Honour: Despite presumably being a scoundrel and the enemy of Humans, Viral bows to Simon's call that taking Yoko's hostage was playing dirty. He may have a personal vendetta against [who he thought was] Kamina, and he's potentially putting his own neck in a noose with the generals, but he has honour. Perhaps.
Stereotypes: It's a favourite in anime that a cute, nice character everyone likes tries their hand (or both hands, in fact) at cooking, and people feel bad telling him/her just how... awful their food is! I think that happens when I cook for people. In any case, Rossiu takes one for the team, and subsequently spends time in the infirmary... speaking of honour!
Metaphors: The Spiral King offers us a glance at his own glowing drill device, suggesting its an integral part of something much larger, rather than just Simon's symbol of hope.
Pronunciation: On a recent phone call, I was called out for pronouncing Simon as... Simon! In the anime he's Schee-mon, and that's how you're supposed to say it! Point taken.
Cliffhanger: Who are humans? Spiral King, you evil cliff hanging devil you!
Conclusion: Just wow.
As far as blatant beach episodes go, Gurren Lagann's was surprisingly tame, and had a plot!
Plot: Hey, I just said it had one. Dai-Gurren and her (his?) fine crew have reached the coast, with no option other than to traverse it. Of course, once in the water this allows whatshername and whosits (what I call Adiane and Viral now) to launch an attack in their home territory. Well, Adiane's territory specifically. No wait, whatshername.
Hilarity: What Gainax lacked in their restrained RBE (below), they more than made up for with abject absurdity! Dai-Gurren's retrofitting, complete with a gigantic paddle and the giant feet converted to flippers had me giggling a little too loudly to be considered healthy!
The Required Beach Episode™: In short(s), the Required Beach Episode is nearly always included purely so the animators can dress their characters in various states of undress. Surprisingly, Gainax's Gurren Lagann beach episode was surprisingly tame. Not a single top "accidently" came off!
Relativity: Upon seeing the swimsuits of the Black Siblings, Yoko exclaimed their attire was "ridiculous". This coming from a fighter who wears a bikini top and hot pants all the time. I suppose for her they're just clothes, in which case it's relativity? I have no idea.
Explanations: So the reason they have to frolic in the water is entirely due to the fact Dai-Gurren's appearance of seaworthiness is merely a façade, and that a retrofitting will take time. I've seen far more tenuous reasons ;).
Blush: So it seems Yoko's hostility and general frostiness lately have largely been due to jealousy and an understandable sense of insecurity, both of which only became more acute as everyone lavished their attention on Nia this episode. Her accident with the food though showed she had a really cute side too... I'm unashamed, this is my kind of "fanservice". ^^
Art: Gainax's strong suit seems to be their skies and landscapes. The water in this episode looked fairly flat. Oh well.
Tactics: Having tried blowing them up, crushing them, shooting at them and tricking them, the enemies this time attempt to push Dai-Gurren's pressure limits underwater with some pretty evil looking hook things, from the comfort of their rather swish bridge. Clearly taking back the Gunmen isn't the priority any more!
Production: I'm not a media student, but splitting the screen up into frames to focus on all the chacracters faces, then having Yoko's hair drift over it before she whooped arse was just brilliant!
Cliche: After being outcast for much of the episode, we all knew Yoko would be instrumental in saving the day and winning everyone back, but it was still awesome to see her do so. Of course, Nia also has the unshakable belief Simon will save them; and the room in which she confesses it to Yoko proves to be another one of the more hilariously framed scenes!
Character development: After seeing Yoko portrayed as a more stubborn and cold person of late, we finally see her more caring side, while obviously still being a fiercely independent and strong person. The final scene at dusk where she and Nia bond while she cuts her hair was really sweet. I hope to see more of this :).
Conclusion: An episode I feared would be shallow turned out to be a great watch, with some real progress in the story and the characters. I approved!