Synonyms: Top wo Nerae!, Aim for the Top!
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 7, 1988 to Jul 7, 1989
30 min. per episode
R+ - Mild Nudity
L represents licensing company
Score: 8.021 (scored by 12769 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
action drama mecha sci-fi
SynopsisIn the very near future, a race of huge, insect like aliens is discovered traveling the galaxy. These aliens seem dedicated to the eradication of the human species as it takes its first steps away from the solar system, and they are getting closer and closer to Earth. Humanity has responded by developing spacegoing battleships and giant fighting robots. These robots are piloted by the best and brightest of Earth`s youth, picked from training schools around the world.
The story begins in the year 2023, not long after the first battles with the aliens, and centers on young Noriko Takaya. Although Noriko`s father was a famous Captain in the space fleet who was killed during one of the first battles of the war, her own talents as a pilot are questionable. Nonetheless, she has entered a training school. Through the series Noriko, joined by the beautiful and talented Kazumi Amano, will fight to overcome the trauma of war, the doubts of her peers, and her own lack of confidence.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Comic Gunbuster
Sequel: Top wo Nerae 2! Diebuster
Alternative version: Top wo Nerae! & Top wo Nerae 2! Gattai Movie!!
Summary: Top wo Nerae! Gunbuster! Science Lesson
Side story: Gunbuster Renewal EX
Characters & Voice Actors
Director, Storyboard, Key Animation, Screenplay
Script, Theme Song Lyrics, Creator, Screenplay, Planning
Gunbuster starts with a fairly simple formula. Monstrous alien life forms are threatening the Earth, a young and inexperienced pilot must rise to the occasion and use a super-powered mecha to lead humanity's counterattack against the enemy and save the planet. The execution of this premise, however, is among the best in the genre, and the seamless way this merely 6-episode OVA covers the main character Noriko's growth from student to hero while escalating both the stakes and scale of her battles is nothing short of masterful storytelling. From schoolyard bullying, to losing loved ones in battle, to shouldering the responsibility of the entire human race, we follow Noriko's development as a character, and the strengthening of her resolve to fight is likely better handled than in any other anime of this sort, relying on both subtlety and moments of sheer emotional power.
One impressive thing about Gunbuster is its general commitment to maintaining a setting based on hard science in many aspects that don't concern the Gunbuster itself. Ships travelling at sub-light speed undergo time dilation as per Einsteinian physics, meaning that time on a relatively stationary body like the Earth passes faster- many of the more emotional moments in the show are based on this difference in the passage of time between those fighting in space and those left behind on Earth. Furthermore, a good portion of the show centers not around the mechas but the space fleet, grounding the setting in procedure and a more realistic, wartime feel. This, in turn, makes the comparatively unrealistic mecha battles all the more triumphant for being special, unique among a setting dedicated to the relatively mundane. In fact, these moments have real power- not simply because it's cool to see a giant robot fight gigantic alien insects, but because every important fight is built up to, set up with real tension and high stakes while carrying the entire emotional weight of the characterization and conflicts. In other words, it's literally and physically exciting: something that can be said of very few things in the entire medium. Not only that, but the climax of the show along with its ending are incredibly powerful emotionally- the final episode is nothing short of moving on an inspirational, triumphant level.
Personally, Gunbuster is one of my all-time favorite series, and there are few things in anime that I ever enjoyed more. It's far from perfect though, most notable among its flaws being that there are moments when the budget of the show cannot catch up to its vision. Furthermore, the pacing in the first half is slower than the second, which allows for good and thoughtful characterization but alienates the first three episodes from the last three in terms of general quality- episodes 1, 2, and 3 only exist to build up episodes 4, 5, and 6. Being made in 1988, its style may put off some younger or newer viewers, and if you're not already somewhat familiar with the genre you may find it hard to suspend your disbelief in the initial episodes. In fact, it can only be fully appreciated by one already somewhat familiar with the super robot subgenre, Nevertheless, I implore anyone who considers themselves an anime fan to watch this short series. It might lack the artistic or literary value of a select circle of masterpieces, but it is a superb piece of work that does nearly everything better than almost anything out there. read more
There is an ongoing controversy about Neon Genesis Evangelion and it's status as an iconic anime. As much as I dislike the main characters, I have to agree that NGE is a classic anime for many reasons. However, many diehard fans of the show become blinded to NGE's superior onee-chan, the show which marked the directorial debut of Hideaki Anno in anime - Top wo Nerae!
In the simplest terms, if Top wo Nerae! didn't exist, the NGE would never have been made. Many of the themes from TwN are key themes of NGE, and although NGE took a more metaphysical route with it's story, Top wo Nerae! remains firmly rooted in a more realistic approach (figuratively speaking that is).
The plot for TwN pays homage to the classic tennis anime Aim for the Ace, something which is clearly reflected in the title. The hollywood movie Top Gun also influenced Anno with regards to how his characters should develop. The very simple and straightforward story is about a war between humanity and a mysterious alien civilization. Humanity is using every tool it can conceive of in an effort to win, however they are steadily being pushed back, and things look grim for Earth.
The story begins with Takaya Noriko, a 16 year old girl who attends a military training school in Okinawa. At first she seems rather clumsy and unreliable, however she possesses a steely determination as she desperately wishes to follow in the footsteps of her famous father Takaya Yuzo, an Admiral of the space fleet who went missing during the early days of the war.
The story then continues with the introduction of several other key characters, all of whom play a very big part in the development of Noriko's character, the most important being Kazumi Amano (the girl that Noriko idolizes), Ota Koichiro, and the young pilot Toren Smith.
I'll stop with the story there as this is only a 6 part OVA, and I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't watched it.
The art for TwN is excellent, especially considering the time it was made. The anime is 20 years old now, yet many of the action scenes still stand up to more modern shows. The character designs are reflective of the time, however they are still distinctive for each character. There are two areas where the art and animation deviated from what would normally be expected though. The first was the introduction of "bouncing breasts" into the show (making it the first anime to include such things).
TwN's usage of jiggling breasts wasn't actually meant as fan service originally (although many now see it that way). The original reason why they were included was because Anno wanted the characters to move as a real life person would move. It's unfortunate that many viewers nowadays will automatically see bouncing breasts and base the worth of a show on their inclusion (because they don't like fanservice, or love it far too much), when the original intent was for some far more innocent and blatantly non-sexual.
The second deviation from "normal" anime practices was the final episode. This episode was made almost completely in black and white and, unusually for anime, the episode was produced by creating the art and animation in shades of grey from the start, rather than shooting colour animation using black and white film. The final battle is also memorable for it's usage of still images, something which heightens the dramatic effect of the scene.
The sound quality for TwN is also excellent, especially given it's age. The OP is extremely catchy (it's stayed with me for 20 years after all), and the music throughout the show is often inspired in it's usage. The effects are of a very high standard, and although there may be some off-kilter moments, these are easily missed, and very minor.
One of the strange things about TwN is that, even though there are several key characters, the story is effectively about a young girl who comes of age and finds her place in the world. The characters are generally excellent in their roles, but as with NGE, almost all of the development goes to the lead character. Unlike NGE however, this works because the show is only 6 episodes long, and events happen at a much more condensed rate.
Noriko is excellent as a lead character. There are some who find her annoying, whiney, etc, however those people are usually the ones who mark Ikari Shinji as one of the greatest anime characters ever (which begs the question of what drugs they're taking). Takaya Noriko, whilst being shy, somewhat nervous, more than a little unreliable (and she knows it), and constantly surrounded by people who really are better than her in many ways (we're talking geniuses in combat, piloting skills, etc), is understandably more than a little scared as to why she is part of such august company. The added pressure of having to match up to what other people can do naturally is telling on her development as a character. Although she does often become disheartened, she displays some of the best character growth seen in anime (in many ways far superior to that displayed by Shinji in NGE).
It's unfortunate that TwN was such a short series however, as the other characters are deserving of development. None of the characters were annoying in any way, and the relationships between them, especially between Noriko, Kazumi and Jung, are handled very well throughout the anime.
Top wo Nerae! is very enjoyable to watch for many reasons. The characters and their relationships, the dramatic tension, the taut storyline, all serve to whet one's appetite for more. It's truly unfortunate that, whilst NGE often receives plaudits from fans, this show is often overlooked or marginalised - even though it is better than NGE. Many fans of NGE dislike the fact that the TwN lacks NGE's symbolism and metaphysical elements, and blatantly ignore the fact that TwN was a landmark anime for several reason, not the least of which is the fact that it has a girl as the main character rather than a boy. This was almost unheard of at the time, especially as this show is very much action oriented. In addition, whilst Shinji is seen to suffer in NGE, many people automatically marginalise Noriko's suffering, partly because they perceive it as insubstantial, and partly because they believe that Shinji's trials and tribulations are "more believable" (pardon me while I laugh), than Noriko's.
It may seem odd, but it's easy to distinguish between fans of NGE who actually understood what was going on, and those who are simply emo fanboys/girls, by their reaction to TwN. The one's who do actually understand NGE actually like TwN, and can see where NGE has it's roots. The fanboys and girls will write off TwN as crap (which one are you I wonder?).
Humans versus aliens is not a new story, but what makes TwN unique amongst the many in the mecha/action genre is the fact that it very clearly shows the lengths to which humanity will go in order to survive. The only other show where this is highlighted is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which shows just how rare this theme is in anime. NGE wasn't so much about saving the world from aliens, but more about saving yourself. Another rarity is the fact that TwN also clearly shows the training that young people must go through before piloting a mech (something that is suspiciously glossed over in NGE and many other mech shows).
This is one of those shows that I would recommend to everyone. It's a rarity of an anime that combines a great story, great animation, and some excellent characters. Many NGE purists would have you believe that that show is Anno's greatest work, however this is not the case.
Anno's directorial debut remains, to this day, his finest achievement. read more
Apart from both being made by GAINAX, Gunbuster shares the same similar method of using absolute force of will to save the day.
You may also find a lot of references to Gunbuster within Gurren Lagann.
HARD WORK AND GUTS!
Gainax EPIC ! Hotblood FTW
Gainax. Both have awesome action, great stories, and beautiful animation styles.
The basis for Gurren-Lagann thematic wise: humanity fighting for survival against a righteous enemy, the rise to power from a cowardly lead character and a similar brotherly relationship.
Gainax's original super robot series made many years before Gurren Lagann.
If you want to see elaborate fight scenes fueled by passion like Gurren Lagann, then Top wo Nerae delivers, but what's more important is you get a view into much of the foundation of Gurren Lagann and Gainax as a whole.
Top wo Nerae! is basically the prototype (and better version imho) of TTGR. Atmosphere, characters and overall feeling are the same. If u liked one, its a guaranteed u will like the other.
Top wo Nerae! (AKA Gunbuster) is an older Gainax anime involving giant robots and bending the laws of physics in preposterous ways. The relationship between Noriko and Kazumi is well done, and one can see how their symbiotic relationship is similar to that of Kamina and Simon in TTGL.
The style of Gunbuster may seem dated for some folks, and the first 2 or 3 episodes are a bit lacking, but the awesome factor of the ending makes up for it completely.
Gurren Lagann are inspired in Gunbuster and both are produced by gainax. Story are alike (humanity trying survive against a huge beast/monster army) and both have epic moments with great soundtrack
Gunbuster was the first Gainax mecha anime, and Gurren Lagann owes a LOT to it.
Same Epic feeling from tengen toppa gurren-lagann.Noriko starts with no confidence as simon. Also both of them are from Gainax
The same studio. The same ROW ROW FIGHT DA POWA attitude.
I'm amazed that no one has actually made this recommendation yet.
Top wo Nerae is the Onee-chan of NGE by a good seven years. Both are works by Hideaki Anno, but NGE gets all the glory for being more recent (which is a shame in my opinion).
Top wo Nerae is a truly groundbreaking, character driven, Sci-Fi anime that is better NGE in many respects. If Top wo Nerae did not exist, then NGE may never have been made...
Both are powerful well written mech stories and Both are animated by Gainex,unlike it's later Sequel Diebuster,The first Gunbuster was more seriouse and payed more homage to Evangelion,both the first Gunbuster series and Evangelion both feature a lead who both grow from cowards to strong leads, Noriko Takaya from Gunbuster is very similar to Shinji Hikari from Evangelion,they may be crybabies at times,but they're likable and tolerable,Gunbuster is a cult classic worth checking out if you like Evangelion (Aliens,Angels, and Fanservice.....Oh my) and a bit of horror
Classic Gainax mecha anime that had a huge influence on the genre of mecha anime as we know it today.
Both are mecha-themed series created by Hideaki Anno. Though Gunbuster is seven years older, it already covers the concepts that formed the basis for NGE. Gunbuster does not delve in psychology as much as NGE, yet it tells the same coming-of-age story in which kids have to fight in real battles.
Giant super robots, massive battles against horrific enemies and unpleasable father figures! (And nudity!)
Hideki Anno created both Top wo Nerae! (Gunbuster) and Evangelion. Gunbuster is an essential for any mecha fan and a must watch for Evangelion fans because you can clearly see the prototypes for characters and ideas in Evangelion.
Coach = Gendo, Jung-Frued = Asuka, etc.
If you haven't seen Gunbuster, you can't understand what Anno is deconstrucing in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
You can easily see how NGE and TTGL grew from Top wo Nerae. It's as if a branching pathway was created by exploring the two extremes of psychological fear from piloting a giant robot and the over the top nature of the anime.
The first direction of Anno, Top wo nerae shares a lot of aspects with NGE (themes, characters, direction...), while in a denser package. A must-see for any SF anime fan (and a "watch-it-right-nao" for Anno fans).
Take Evangelion, remove the armchair philosophy, junk psychology, and horrid end-of-series pacing, emphasize the stellar plot and character development, condense it, and you have Gunbuster. Eva-bashing aside, if you liked one series, you will probably like the other.
Opening Theme"Active Heart" by Noriko Sakai
Ending Theme"Try Again" by Noriko Sakai
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