There was a time.
When men were men. They were screaming like crazy speeches, faced the impossible, and said things that made no sense, but that even so we did say "EPIC".
There was a time.
A time of captains Harlock, a master time Asia, a time of Domons.
Logic was not important. The strategy was not important. If you believe in the impossible, impossible would be nothing in front of you.
The time is gone
A wave of animes that have to be "realistic", "philosophical", "adults" around us. Are good? Are. Meet your purpose? Meet.
However, however ... I miss something.
Characters idiots who laugh in the face of death, and not
to be shaken by anything. Characters that I remember that, in essence, in the beginning, were not meant to be realistic.
No wonder that I am addicted to shonens: manga as One Piece, Fairy Tail remind me that there are heroes who still believe that boundaries are bullshit, and that men should talk about crazy dreams with a smile on his face.
Few original anime (non-manga based) can pass this spirit, and if I had to indicate a Studio to produce an epic-without-notion, "Gainax" probably would not be the first on my list.
But they did so. Oh, how did.
Ladies and gentlemen, forgiveness for the lengthy introduction: Let's talk of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Many have already heard things about this series of 27 episodes. Effusive praise. Discouraging reviews. And you may already have heard the following phrase: "compliments to the Gurren Lagann are exaggerated"
And let us be clear: Yes. ARE.
But it could not be otherwise.
Gurren Lagann anime is not the type that parses. Is the type of anime to which you manifested with exaggeration and passion. "Overkill" is the key word of the anime: everything is extremely Titanic, extreme, "over-the-top", "larger than life", etc.
With certain exceptions (some Gundam, some Macross, tss), never been a fan of mecha anime. Would be far from the top of my list and, being this a recurrent genre in every new season animes, I believe my dismay is understandable: it is both anime mecha clamoring arrogantly that will "revolutionize the genre", "overcome Evangelion", "be the new Gundam" and other things that many simply die on the beach, lost in own mediocrity.
Gurren Lagann will by reverse path: doesn't take itself seriously. Does not involve complex plots policies or attempts to "explore the essence of the human being". It's about guys inconsequential facing death in colorful fuses (and often ungainly) and BLOWING THINGS UP. Many things.
The series is a species of "giant parody mecha", a spoof so well done that took an undeniable brilliance. As the series develops, over the hump "70 years" (frantic action and episodic with colored robots), "80 years" (frantic action and sequential with specific enemies ... and colored robots!), "90 years" (frantic action with colorful robots ... in space!) and Century 21 (IE ... a tribute to the series, where the hype coming into the extreme).
The series features a climate extremely pure (remember One Piece in this sense) that does not match the latest productions of Gainax (with the exception of perhaps Diebuster): in Gurren the Studio tries their best to tell a story extremely positive, bright, boiling the blood-is as an antithesis of Evangelion.
The cast features some of the most best ever seen in recent years, with big names like Kamina ("do not believe in yourself. Believe me, I believe in you "), Kittan (" no, this is my soul! You will regret it! "), Simon (" my drill is one that PIERCES the HEAVENS! "), just to name the most unbelievable (after all, we still have Viral Genome, Dayakka-" My wife is the best of the universe-SWING! ").
Heroes who face the impossible again and again, like real men. The psychological development of some of them (Simon, to quote) is monstrous: the series managed to combine and traces of human "weaknesses" with the "iconic" of characters (courage to sacrifice himself when necessary, never retreat, and other elements worthy of legends).
Council to watch this anime: turn off your brain. One of the best quotes of the anime is "Go beyond the impossible and kick the logic to corner" (Kamina), and this is often taken in a sense more than literal. Gurren Lagann is about ridiculously scenes with epic songs -Sung playing in the background (and I know that many of us love this type of scene, feeling rather lack thereof in the current anime), is about characters screaming attack names aloud, and gigantic explosions. If you allow "get in the mood", you will be taken to an unbelievable journey. And smile like a fool, knowing you made the right decision.
The animation is jaw-dropping. To get an idea, 40% of the money used in the production were dedicated to the last 5 episodes, creating sequences that make many films out there go shame. The soundtrack contributes with the light/climate: epic songs sung, rap and Opera hybridizes to give a special glow to several of the best scenes of the series (many of these will be marked for those that see).
Perhaps the only factor of production that is worth being criticized is the episodes "reprise" (there are two of them, a long piece of episode 6 and episode 16 integer), but it is worth remembering that this is part of the "joke" that Gainax proposed to do, saying that "kick the logic to corner" with this series: 27 episodes rather than 26, the protagonist being voiced by a man (many of the previous, as Shinji Ikari of Eva, were dubbed by women), etc.
"you're praising too! You're exaggerating! "-
I 'M. But as I said earlier, this is an anime that does not allow cold and calculating analysis. The very premise, the first episode, it doesn't make much sense. It is a classic "love or hate". Or you enter the atmosphere of "OW MAN, WAY TOO EPICNESS" or so says "This is not my type." Despite the success that had (yielding promises of future projects), Gurren Lagann is not for everyone.
It's about courage.
Struggles that make the DBZ characters seem Wimpy
It's about heroic speeches and exaggerated.
If you are unable to watch something that cannot lead to seriously, I recommend more sober, more series "feet-in-the-ground".
If you are willing to embark with the crew of the Gurren-Dan, welcome to war.
By the human race.
Through The Universe.
To quote the slogan of a well-known epic film: "Prepare for glory".
Only on the rarest of occasions does an anime come along that truly grabs me and elevates itself above mere entertainment and into the realms of gripping television. Gurren Lagann did this with frightening ease, not with complexity or depth of its storyline, nor with its technical excellence, or innovation, but with its boldness, energy, sense of humour, and heart. Some people may be put off with the degree of silliness the show never ceases to deliver, or at least be deterred from becoming deeply invested in the plot or its characters, but being the sucker for just this kind of shameless splendour and over-the-top
theatrics, I took to it with enthusiasm, and came out of it with a strong sense of appreciation for the fun that the show delivered from week to week. Gurren Lagann is the kind of series that you may scoff at while you’re watching it, or laugh at its unapologetically ridiculous antics, but which still leaves you craving the next episode. I became so swept up in the show’s passion and heavy-handed charm that I quickly learned to turn my brain off and just go along with the ride. And this is how Gurren Lagann is best enjoyed, with an open-mind and a desire to sit back and enjoy yourself; if you can’t refrain from cynicism or pretentiousness, you likely won’t enjoy the show. I also recommend that the series is not watched as marathon fodder, in fact I’m not sure you can truly capture the same experience if you missed out on watching it on a week-by-week basis.
But the show is not just for action junkies and comedy fanatics; it may have more than its share of explosion-riddled skies, sexual innuendo and galaxy-sized mecha, but more than that the show is somehow able to endear the viewer to its characters through all the furore and anarchy of the plot - and it is not afraid to cash in on that either. The characters are all really fun to watch, each of them flamboyant and charismatic in their own peculiar way, and on top of that, the series weaves in a good amount of sincere character development almost without the viewer noticing. Kamina, in particular is instantly likeable and memorable as the unstoppable and inspired leader of the group that the show revolves around. His unquenchable determination and guts are what really caught me into the series to begin with - one cannot help but stand alongside the other characters in the show with their reverence for him. More than being a likeable gang, the characters are used to great dramatic effect; the show has a number of dramatic peaks over its course that won’t easily fade from my memory. Simon’s transformation from a cowardly underling of Kamina, to an empowered and confident hero is also a key part of the story, and it is handled acceptably, though not quite believably. For that type of theme, I defer to Eureka 7’s development of its protagonist, Renton.
Furthermore, the story itself, while inarguably simplistic, revolves around a strong moral core, with themes that are challenging at times and rousing at others. The use of metaphor is vastly overdone, but revelations further into the show made me appreciate the central “drill” metaphor a bit more. My actual interest in the plot varied throughout the series, starting off quite high with the intrigue of the mysterious new world and the immediate threat of the Beastmen, and cooling off until the post-timeskip story kicked in, which introduced a more serious and challenging feel to the series and hence boosted my interests once again. The pacing is probably my biggest complaint for the show, as the constant action, ironically, became tedious at times, particularly in the build-up to the climactic episode 15. The show may always have a sense of fun, but it is inconsistently gripping.
The animation, episode 4 aside (whose director was later fired - although that’s another story), is brimming with vigour and vitality; it is not always consistent, and rarely very detailed, but it seems to adjust itself to the mood of the show in a very unsubtle but fitting manner. There were a number of blatant shortcuts that were used during many of the battle sequences that I couldn’t help but notice, but given the ‘epic’ nature of the show, it is difficult to expect top-class animation right the way through. At times, the art and animation are genuinely amazing, and there is no denying that this was an ambitious and costly undertaking by the usually self-preservational GAINAX. An extra boost of cel detail would have welcome but probably impractical from a budgetary perspective.
The music for the show is much like the show itself, in that it’s hard to take seriously, but it is unavoidably engaging. Rather than cinematic type of score work, the show is packed with insert songs and a handful of key piece of theme music. I am appreciative of the way the music was distributed throughout the series, with new music being added to the mix right up until the end. This prevented it from stagnating. A few of the tracks are stand-out pieces of music, and are used in the show to give it a genuine boost of captivation and emotion. In particular, the main heroic theme of the show never fails to rouse me into a high-spirited love for the series.
At times powerful, almost always senselessly fun, and with a strong moral core top its themes and story, Gurren Lagann is the highlight of 2007, and an anime worthy of anyone’s viewing. Far from flawless, yet somehow rarely flawed, this anime series is inexplicably lovable for those who are easily hooked in by unsubtle fun. Gurren Lagann has something for everyone, and as such I recommend it to everyone. However, I think it appeals more directly to a male audience with its badassery and male hero role models.
Gurren Lagann was breathtaking. An endlessly thrilling ride from the most humble beginnings to the most fantastic of ends. Absolutely inspiring and a must-watch. There are so many memorable moments in this series, and lines and ideas that it imprints into your very soul.
I will admit this is one of the first anime I had ever watched, except Miyazaki films. And its ridiculousness shocked me as a newcomer. Even so, I was enraptured, drawn by the infectious energy and the constant adrenaline rush from this show.
Because it was unique. It was so very unique.
Tengen Toppa, while
it does have an amazing story, is not about the story. It's not about a logical progression, strategy, conflicts of interests, world building, exploring the sci-fi or the other ideas in it. In fact, it is about the deconstruction of all those things. I usually like smart anime. But Tengen Toppa is unique, managing to be good without trying to be smart. Because it isn't about being smart. Its about feeling. Everything else is just a plot device. Its abstract almost, like a legend or an epic. You don't need to believe it. TTGL takes your ideas and your expectations and says fuck you. The only one idea that matters is feeling and spirit. It delivers on an emotional level. A primal instinct; willpower, that adrenaline rush and madness that overcomes you as you resolve to beat an impossible challenge in pursuit of what you want.
Every aspect of the show work to arouse and reinforce this zeal in the viewer. Its art, with a clever use of angles, bold lines, exaggerated designs and at times simplified drawings personify its brazen self-confidence and panache. Its soundtrack oozes fearless charisma with a liberal use of energetic horns, drums, opera, rap(!), violin ensembles, and forceful sound effects... all the while also reserving a soft, passionately delicate side for its emotional moments. Its vibrant characters(especially one of the manliest leads in anime I know, Kamina) are among the most unforgettable I've ever encountered, and how far they come by the end, and indeed how much they grow on you is amazing to behold. Every single one of them, in the span of 27 episodes(yes, TTGL hates norms, even season counts), manages to surprise you and show you the many faces of human nature. In a way, they are perfectly chosen to represent the show's central theme of the struggle between human "spirit" against the abyss of "despair".
I like to think of Gurren Lagann now as at least in part, as a light hearted jab at various overused tropes in anime(such as copious amounts of fanservice, plot arcs that escalates from small to unbelievably huge and so so many more). Gurren Lagann takes every cliche trope there is and ramps it up to 11, in a way that it feels strangely new and enjoyable again. If I could describe this show in one word, it'd be "ridiculous"... and I don't mean that in a bad way in the slightest.
The blatant and ridiculous sexual innuendos everywhere(the Di-gurren has a gigantic dick for a hull for just one example), the in-your-face approach to fan service, the seemingly boundless main plot arc, the battles, the set pieces, those outrageous VILLAINS, Nia and her moeblob eyes, the cheesy dialogue(it actually seems to work quite well in TTGL for some reason although it wouldn't anywhere else), the over-the-top speeches and declarations, the attack names... the list goes on and on. It presents these obviously un-serious things in the most serious and cocksure way possible. And somehow... manages to be convincing. It shocks you and grabs your attention with nothing else other than its unique spirit and confidence. TTGL feels like its taking an adult and making him play pretend, dragging him about in a crazed rush, and learn again what its like to be mad with drive and child-like passion for your dreams.
For deus ex machinas, there were so many in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann I couldn't count them all. But it played into the show's theme "Kick logic out and do the impossible" perfectly. I didn't get the impression from the rest of the narrative that the show was taking itself very seriously at all(viewed as a parody, TTGL is pretty damn good), so they actually felt natural and strangely uplifting, instead of disappointing.
Tengen Toppa is also excellent at emotionally moving you. They even state in the anime itself, "kick logic out... it's all about spirit!" And it delivers. It will move you, fire you up, make you cry, laugh. But it will most definitely not intrigue you, or make you race the characters in deductive reasoning like in other shows. But it will leave you exhilarated regardless.
And maybe... just maybe... etch itself into your memory for a long time to come.
EDIT: Now, as much as I know it is strange to say now, right at the end, especially after(rightly!) emphasizing the ridiculousness so much, I think it is dishonest to give the impression that this is just a mindless show intended to make you scream. Believe it or not, how epic it manages to be despite the absurdity is actually the result of very clever writing, brilliant implementation and noticeably passionate production values and attention to detail. In fact, I would even say this is one of most subtly intricate and thoughtful series to come out in recent years. This doesn't take the form of philosophical debates and pretentious sci-fi however. In true TTGL(and Gainax) style, it defies expectations. Everything thats silly is in your face, and whats clever is hidden for those who care to look.
It takes the form of exquisite symbolism, subliminal homo-erotic rap, intricately interwoven themes which the show doesn't always spell out for you(as just one slightly spoilerific example; think about the mistakes of humanity. Think about the Elder in the Face-God Village or the Chief of Jiha village and compare population-control Rossiu and the Anti-Spirals to them... they all are driven by the same thing), the bitter contrasts of war and how they seem to fade once you actually understand the sides, how infectious and inspiring spirit is when it truly refuses to give in to cynicism... hell, when you've finished I actually encourage you to read this: http://wtf.animeblogger.net/?p=140
Perhaps no other show I have viewed have I gone into with higher expectations and hype than with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Practically everyone I know has told me about how awesome it is, how its epic ending is the best thing since the invention of the internal combustion engine. Looking back I suppose that made it inevitable for me to be let down and disappointed.
A message to the rabid fanboys probably is in order. If you are incapable of accepting anyone’s opinion that differs from your own then you might as well stop reading this right now. What follows is
a critical and perhaps a bit harsh analysis of a series that at its best was one of the best things I have ever seen, but at its worst made me want to punch a hole in my television. I certainly did not hate TTGL. I can clearly recognize its achievements and its place in anime history and its influence. But it also has some unforgivable warts that many of which were unnecessary. It's typical of a GAINAX project which always seems to be high on presentation and build up and piss poor at conclusions.
There is nothing remarkable about the story in TTGL. It borrows from familiar themes and unfolds in a pretty predictable and formulaic manner. It’s the presentation of the storyline that makes it so unique from most anime of this type. TTGL is really two anime in one. The series is divided into two major story arcs. Both are full of balls out macho testosterone filled awesomeness. The scale of the story grows exponentially as each battle and each Gurren Lagann transformation becomes more and more epic. Taken at that, TTGL succeeds at an unrivaled level. The first arc has a perfect mix of comedy, tragedy, drama, and GAR. I loved it. It totally worked at every level. Until...
Where things start to come undone is in the second arc which starts at episode 16 and is set seven years after those events. The feeling is totally different. First you’re trying to get used to characters that have grown up, at least physically, and a setting that is completely alien to the apocalyptic wastelands of the first half of the series. But where things unravel is that it starts to get away from what made the early parts of the series so successful. It begins more of a romance arc, which you expected given the way things went in the first part and frankly I would have been disappointed if this hadn’t developed. However it’s so ridiculous that all it does it make you think the characters are completely retarded. I mean seriously, how can you be in a relationship with someone for seven fucking years and never kissed that person? Really? You expect me to take this seriously or actually care? The second is the addition of a political drama that does about as much for the story as the unrealistic romance elements. All it does it take a cast that was almost entirely likeable from the first half and make half of them asshats and douche bags.
Eventually though things get back on track with what made the show so completely awesome before. The problem is by time they do will you be so angry and pissed off that you even care anymore? That was the situation I found myself in. As much as I wanted to be angry at it the feelings I had for it do start to pop up again. The battles are even more epic and literally galaxy shattering. It’s so totally masculine that I am surprised I didn’t grow a pair of balls myself. But... it seems I always have to say that, just as it manages to redeem itself and make me swoon with delight; GAINAX delivers their final fuck you to the audience and frankly, it is unforgivable. Sadly it completely ruined any enjoyment I had for it.
TTGL characters are pretty much what you would expect from shounen anime. However it manages to carve out a few legendary ones. Pretty much anyone who is a fan of anime knows who Simon, Kamina, and Yoko are. I can say that they aren’t overrated by the fandom either. Kamina is pure awesomeness. A man’s man and a woman’s dream. His single minded determination and love for his comrades makes him the kind of friend that any man would want. While he may not be "husband material" to us girls every one of us would want to put our arm in his and be protected by him. He’s the kind of guy that can really only survive in a world of conflict. A true hero for the ages.
Simon has many of Kamina's traits. As the main protagonist in the series he does well to overcome the obstacles in front of him. I loved him, as a boy. It was after the time skip that he has grown up that he becomes less interesting as a character. He evolves into something he’s not, a virtual clone of Kamina that they are almost indistinguishable from one another. The weaknesses and more reserved nature of the younger Simon which made him for me a much more real and interesting character disappear. Instead of the thoughtful and cowardly boy we have a guy who is as reckless as Kamina ever was and goes into everything with all guns blazing and damn the torpedoes! Its so uncharacteristic of him that it takes away from his character. The final events of the story in particular are needless cruel and unnecessary and a further example of how out of character he has become. By the end he is Kamina, complete with the ending you would have expected of him and all traces of the likeable kid all but erased.
Yoko is the ship that launched a million wet dreams from boys and probably a few grown men alike. You might think that a character with eye popping measurements that spends the majority of the series in a bathing suit would be simply a tool for exploitive fan service. But that’s not the case, as she really shines on her own and manages to be sexy without feeling like she’s just a prop. Yoko is one of the few characters in the story to actually grow up. She takes on responsibility as opposed to the rest of the cast who seem intend on riding the coattails of their past glories instead of contributing something to society. Overall though she's treated poorly by the story and while she is very important to the first part of the series it’s almost like she became just another face in the crowd later on. Being a big fan of hers I found that to be particularly disappointing.
The rest of the main and supporting cast is a bit of a mixed bag. The reason my score of them as a total suffers is that the vast majority of them are very static and unchanging. Most of them are not all that interesting and are more like the background. With few exceptions when one of them dies in the story's epic death count you are left with little emotional reaction because you didn’t feel anything for them when they were alive. The time jump also affected my enjoyment of them as I mentioned many of them had total personality changes that really had no justification. Some initially charming and interesting characters such as Nia I found myself just despising or becoming apathetic towards.
One thing that TTGL does not fail to deliver though is heart pounding and eye-popping visual effects and artwork. This series is truly a masterful work of art. Everything about it screams epic goodness. GAINAX always has a bit of a unique and cartoony art style. But what I really love is the bright colors and quirky designs. It totally works for this series perhaps like no other ever has. This is truly an achievement that I can find absolutely no flaws with.
Not to be outdone, the musical score and voice acting is just as exceptional. The actors manage to bring out all the macho characters and the often screaming dialogue and make it all work. The music is some of the best I have heard in an anime. The OP/EN themes rock hardcore and will have you moving your feet and singing out loud.
So did I like TTGL? The answer is yes. Did I enjoy it? Not really. Because of that it just can’t go down as one of my favorite series as it really should have thanks to that retardation at the end. I know I am going to be in the minority here. The story is not meant to be taken seriously and for the most part I didn’t. However I was expecting more and I didn’t get it. Chances are if you’re male, and under the age of 30 you just might watch this and think it’s the best thing ever. For us girls your experience may vary. It’s definitely worth the viewing but beware the trap of unrealistic expectations and hype.
Gainax is easily one of the most well known anime studio, especially with titles like, Neon Genesis Evangelion, KareKano, and Wings of Honneamise. However, as of late many fans claim that the quality of Gainax has dropped down significantly and that their golden age is over, well that was until Gurren Lagann. Without a doubt Gurren Lagann took both Japanese and western fandom by storm. This coupled with the fact that there was very little hype before hand thus, making the extreme popularity even more impressive. For me what was more impressive was the fact that people that normally don’t like
this sort of thing (ie prefer more serious, dramatic works) enjoy it immensely. This was what drove me to watch Gurren Lagann and write this review afterwards.
Gurren Lagann reminds me of another Gainax title, Gunbuster especially the last third. GaoGaiGar was another anime as both GaoGaiGar and Gunbuster are unabashedly over-the-top and cheesy. Not only that, it thrives in its cheesiness and over-the-top nature. Also, one cannot claim that Gurren Lagann half-asses anything, it does everything with the same vigor and intensity. At the same time this is what makes or breaks Gurren Lagann for most viewers. Its cheesiness or over-the-top nature will strike a chord in you or (as some people put it) appeal to something more primal inside else you’ll end up like me, facepalming. This is something I cannot understand for the life of me. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Gurren Lagann can be seen as a throw back to super robots/”manly” series of the seventies a direct contrast to the proliferation of so called “sissy” anime as of late. However, it fails to achieve any more than that, a mindless, over-the-top mecha/action series. Now whether or not that’s a bad thing is up to you.
The story and structure was distinctly shounen thus, suffering from a high degree of predictability. First, you have a powerful opponent yet against all odds the protagonists defeat them. Then another more powerful opponent pops up and yet again against all odds the protagonists defeat them, usually by some kind of power up. Keep on repeating till there are no more enemies left. Many of the characters are also the embodiment of your typical shounen protagonist, energetic idiots that keep running forward destroying every obstacle in their way. This was accomplished with very little thought when it comes to probability, strategy, and even logic. It keeps on this monotonous path until the time skip.
Here the cheesiness and its shounen nature are reduced significantly. The characters and setting are also different and quite interesting. However, at the same time I can see the characters mature/grow in that manner. I was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events and for a fleeting moment thought that Gurren Lagann would redeem itself in my eyes. Sadly it was nothing more than that, a fleeting moment, as it went back to its same old self, magnified 10 times, a few episodes later. It is ironic that for the overall review of Gurren Lagann, I lowered the score due to the fact that’s it was out of place. Consistency is very important in my books. If they had kept with the same seriousness until the end, then it would have rated Gurren Lagann higher.
If my favorite part was after the time skip then my least favorite part would the very beginning, the first arc (ep 1-8). This arc was easily the silliest and dumbest of Gurren Lagann. I can easily see why so many people dropped it during this arc. Not only was it stupid but slow. It took forever for me to get through these episodes as I couldn’t watch more than one episode at a time. If I had to rate this arc alone it would probably get 3 out of 10. Thankfully, after all the mandatory character introductions it starts to really move. By the 2nd arc (ep 9-16) the episodes seamlessly blended together as the overall flow/pacing was much better. Also, idiotic filler such as the onsen episode were gone and the stupidity in the name of comedy was reduced a little bit. Yes, I still find it stupid and over-the-top but at least it had a fast pace and somewhat enjoyable, because of this I could watch multiple episodes in one sitting. This arc would get a 6 or 7 out of 10 and the 3rd arc would be a 5 out of 10.
As for the characters, I mentioned that most of crew are energetic idiots and Kamina was the worst one of them all, as well as being the shallowest (character-wise) of the main characters. All he had was “guts” and confidence that was completely baseless. He said it himself, Simon was the one that saved him countless times, and it was Simon that had the ability, not Kamina. However, not all of characters are like this (shallow I mean), in fact there was a decent amount of characterization and those characters were quite interesting in their own right. Yoko was an awesome side character that was far more than a fanservice character, Simon developed quite nicely throughout the series, Viral was an incredibly sympathetic beastman, etc. I could go on but I think you get the idea. Perhaps this is why I really enjoyed the episodes after the time skip, as there was a lot of focus on the characters themselves and not on the next battle. Sadly, Gurren Lagann didn’t focus enough on the characters. This brings me to my next point, the ending and the epilogue.
The ending just didn’t feel right considering the overall tone and feel of the series. Interestingly enough, I actually thought the epilogue hurt the ending. This is considering how much I love epilogues. Spoilerish comments hidden…
In particular, Simon being a wanderer and Nia dying are two things I didn’t expect. Nia dying really didn’t make much sense to me and even if there is logic behind it, it still doesn’t feel right considering the series. While I can accept that, what Simon did feels really forced. He’s saying he’s tired/done fighting and left everything to the new generation. I can understand the idea they’re trying to get across. With him leaving everything to the new generation at such an early age, albeit forced, reinforces the idea. If it ended right there then it would be a perfectly good ending. However, with the epilogue I was forced to take his decision more literal. He’s only around 20 years old and he’s already done everything he can in his life!? While I don’t see him leading epic space battles, I don’t see him being a wanderer either. Perhaps a mentor to reinforce the idea of the child surpassing the parent.
Since this is an action series, animation is of considerable importance. Gurren Lagann thankfully delivers, and features well animated giant robot action. However, as I stated above I put a lot into consistency and quite often there was be a dip in art/animation after an explosive episode. For example, there was some noticeable weakness in the art in episode 9, which was after the huge battle in episode 8. In general, there were some fluctuations in terms of art/animation throughout the series. As for the art it was unique, but fits with its extreme shounen and silly feel. The only thing that bothers me about the art was the slight lack of detail. However, I really can’t complain too much about the art.
Gurren Lagann was over-the-top, silly, and corny mecha anime. However, it did it with so much gusto it can be seen as a plus for some. This is why I think some people that normally like serious/dramatic/intelligent anime also enjoy this. For me it was simply too silly, too corny, too much. Its blatant shounen nature didn’t help either. Thankfully, the characters fared a bit better as not all of them were overly energetic idiots. Those characters received quite a bit of characterization and are fairly likeable. This was what saved Gurren Lagann from being dropped again. Sadly they didn’t spend nearly enough time on those characters and moments like the dream sequence in ep 26 are far and few in-between. In the end it all boils down to whether or not one can accept its over-the-top and extremely corny nature.
"The story of a man who fights to forge his own destiny."
Pretty much we can resume those words onto this story. To be honest i would have never thought that i would enjoy a show where you can find excesive and overadrenaline fights. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann called my atention just because of the very commotion of being such a overrated anime, or people calling it trash. Turned out that i was wrong to think that this anime would be a waste.
From unexpected shouts of wars to supergalactic fights that our imagination never would manage to have, we have Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a plot
that brings the story of a man who tries to forge his own destiny with the company of his friends. Sounds very simple isn't? It is indeed, but just because it is simple it doesn't mean it lacks of complexity and it still will be of easy understanding. The plot revolves in a very simple way, we can see the two main characters standing in a world they don't quite feel comfortable with. What would you do if you were on their shoes? On the surface this seems like a fairly straightforward plot and you may be wondering what's so special about it. And that's part of it, the story is a straightforward tale of two dreamers and the path they take.
With zero weapons, zero plans and a lot of guts, our main heroes try to grasp this first dream; reach the surface.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann wasn’t really about being deep or carrying serious issues -although the themes dearest to Gainax, such as the adolescent growing and the contrast between reality and dreamworld, make an appearance; I think it nevertheless was a compelling story, and also not too much predictable -Sure, it is a Super Robot anime, the hero has to win every time no matter how it is unrealistic and predictable; but if its predictable moments are compelling and carried with style, they just succeed- no matter if you like it or not.
One of gurren lagann's advantage is a story that could be told in 27 episodes without something like fillers or other annoying things. Why advantage? Because Gurren Lagann didn't have enough time to pause and remind everyone their past and showing weaknesses and long ass monologues every episode.
I wouldn't say that Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a masterpiece on terms of artwork and animation, The Cartoony yet ambitious style is why it fits so well. This is because even though it doesn't look serious, it takes it self seriously. Yet in the other hand, the 'draw' efect that some episodes has is just incredible on itself, you will be really pleased with the changes that the time-skip this series had. Also when things get hectic and packed with alot of action the art changes to being very epic looking. Especially the scenes where they take a break half way through the anime.
It is indeed very stylish and artistic. I didn't seem -in my opinion- perfect, because it didn't seem to go above and beyond. It was very well done, but still seemed within the realms of 'safe'.
The sound in itself fits so well, from the long battles scenes to even the dramatic moments, the music is just, is just incredible in all the sense of the word, you won't be disappointed and therefore pleased you will be. The opening is inspiring in all ways, from the very first AMV to the last one, Sorairo Days will be on my mind always as one of the soundtracks most enjoyable ever and of course without leaving behind the ending,"Minna no Peace", wich suits perfectly for such fantastic season. The hardcore songs in the middle of the battle will make you scream! Even to the point that it will give you the chills of how epic the music is! Believe me that the soundtracks of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is the very embodiment of exitement.
Well setup and mechas are two important ingredients of a good Giant Robot show, but any anime ultimately lives or dies based on its characters, and on this count, Gurren Lagann doesn't disappoint.
Yoko almost has no purpose other than to fulfill the requirement for X amount of boobs in an anime. People may hate me for saying this, but she's only there to balance the testosterone with estrogen. She saved Simon and Kamina countless of times, yes, but she didn't moved too much the plot. (Hurts me to say this because i love her). Kamina in a lot of ways is the living embodiment of the series its spirit and he's loudly outspoken, supremely confident in his and Simon's abilities and believes so much in his dream, his friends and his own ability that he comes up with some crazy ideas. I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling the surprise, but Kamina, with his boundless 'machismo' and optimism, is an energetic and charismatic enough character that soon he has inspired humans all across the surface to join his banner and fight against their mysterious oppressors, the beastmen. And although Simon comes close to the whining protagonist archetype that bugs me so much, Kamina's presence and his own inner reserves force him to come through in the clinch and ultimately make him a much more likeable character.
Other than Simon's growth and development, though, the characters just aren't that interesting. You may argue that they're a perfect balance of different character personalities, but they really do nothing other than one thing (ugly button pushing nerd, grunting twins, dumb three useless sisters, conveniently placed old man, mindless battalion leaders, etc, etc).
Enjoyment? Do I need words to express this? To be honest, my first impression was really bad, thought that really changed as i saw every episode. This is, in my opinion, one of the most enjoyable series out there. All the explosions keep you at the edge of your seat wanting more and more. The story flows smoothly without an episode wasting its time on petty things. You will love each one of the elements on this series, his action, his drama, his comedy and even romance.
Emotionally, Gurren Lagann is all about self-belief, confidence and optimism; after all, that is 'spiral energy', an unrelenting, blood boiling ambition to succeed; even when all seems lost, dare to have hope and god dammit, believe in yourself.
"Who the hell do you think i am?".
Indeed, without a doubt such words will stay on our memories forever as one of the war shouts more surprisings that an enemy could have.
Overall no other anime has ever crossed the line to make itself this predictable. Don’t you guys see? It’s this stupendous mash up of predictable and generic plot elements that also make this anime one of the most original animes I’ve ever seen.
Your review is the review that will pierce the public opinion!
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is an over the top, in your face show that is fast paced, fun, and almost nonsensical at times. The opinion on this show is split right down the middle. Many people love it to death, while others go as far as to say that it is a non-functioning piece of garbage. My rating may seem too harsh to those aforementioned diehard fans, but there is reasoning behind it. This is mainly because I found the first "half" to be uniquely crazy and exciting. However, I felt that the final eleven
episodes simply took this craziness too far. It went from a sui generis comedic mecha to a copy and paste shounen that was repetitive, and at some points even obnoxious.
While I am not going to reveal specific plot details, I will discuss how the story is laid out. The story is split into two parts: the first "half" being episodes one through sixteen and the second "half" seventeen through twenty seven. I really enjoyed the first half and found it to be, as I mentioned before, uniquely crazy and exciting. However after defeating the "invincible" bad guy boss (who is supposedly the epitome of evil), a completely different, and even more impossibly powerful one is revealed. This is where the series went stale for me.
The battles became repetitive and the inspirational speeches became meaningless. Everything was happening over and over again, just on a bigger scale each time. I do suppose this is quite symbolic, because as you go down a drill, it does the same thing; a repeating cycle that grows bigger and bigger. The whole shtick of the show was to "break through the impossible with your drill", but even if there is meaning behind it, this routine grew quite tiresome.
Besides the story lacking in depth, there were not really any other problems. The art was always beautiful and explosive, with a good soundtrack to back it up. Even the characters, while being very shounen-esque, were able to develop throughout the series and become better versions of themselves. However, decent characters and a splendid art and music combination are not enough to make a series great. There needs to be a solid story as well, and in my opinion this is where TTGL fails.
In the end, I could not bring myself to give the series a 4 or lower, yet I thought that 7 or above would be too generous. So I scored it like this: 8/10 for the first half, and 3/10 for the second half. Thus I figured that the final score should be somewhere in between, and I stuck with 5. I genuinely enjoyed the first half and I still wish it had ended there with perhaps an episode afterwards to give some closure. The second half left nothing to the imagination and just kept repeating the same cycle again and again until the series was run into the ground.
I just finished watching TTGL about a few days ago, and let me tell you all, this anime isn't rated #1 for nothing.
Now because there are already reviews that I couldn't hope to outwrite already posted on this page, let's assume that I agree with all of the positive ones. What I hope to do is give an image of what to expect by addressing some of the negative comments about the anime.
First off, some people say "This anime is way too cliche, it doesnt work for me cause theres nothing new". This is completely understandable, because usually the cliche can breach the lines of
corny and become, well, cliche. The thing is, I am REALLY into the whole "if you think you can do it, you can" mentality, and when you watch TTGL, keep in mind that that mindset is a focal point to the series. Personally, I think its great, and of course, EPIC. The characters are indeed cliche, and the story as well. But something about TTGL elevates these to such a level that you find yourself getting into the story, and attaching to certain characters. There were absolutely no major flaws in the plotline of this story, and the last episode left me tingling with enjoyment. The rewatch value of TTGL is immense; it's ridiculous.
Next, people say "This anime makes no logical sense, how can all this possibly happen?" Well, you're watching an anime, people. Do you expect it to be realistic? To be special, a story usually has to be unrealistic, if not romantic. Ignore that the events of this show could not possibly exist, and enjoy the moment. It really is fantastic.
Also, I wanna add this for people who are thinking about watching TTGL. You might think "I don't really like mech animes" or "I just watched evangelion, and everyone was depressed and it sucked!" I think both of those as well, and mech animes in general aren't that entertaining unless people can really relate to the characters. TTGL really blows down the boundary between your average mech anime and... well, everything else. If you dont like mech animes, watch this anyway.
Finally, some people say "This anime tries to be everything at once: Funny, serious, crazy, it just doesnt work!" Well if you are a seasoned anime watcher, you should know that it works great for an anime to be funny and serious at the same time, and as I already mentioned, pretty much every anime is hard to believe. I'll bet some of the people that didnt like TTGL because it was unrealistic didnt even give Death Note a second thought, both of which are pretty darn unrealistic. But who cares about that anyway? Just sit back and enjoy!
Anyway, my thoughts: Perfect anime. This is one of the ONLY animes I have seen that has a proper end, and leaves nothing unanswered. Basically, every time you think you can withstand the awesome, another wave hits you and you gape in awe at the screen. It's almost never negative, always with a "get up and believe in yourself" attitude throughout. You do not want to miss this cliche yet somehow amazingly captivating series.
I was basically forced into watching TTGL by my brother, and I'm ever so grateful because I, like many others, had not experienced true epicness until I saw this series.
STORY - The story for Gurren Lagann seems very modest at first glance. That's very misleading though, as it eventually becomes quite grand and all-encompassing. Simon and Kamina just wanted to break out of the underground and see what was on the surface, but they got so much more than that... It's amazing to me just how far the story goes between episode 1 and episode 27 (is it 27 episodes because it was just way
too amazing to fit into 26? I think so). The characters' goals at the beginning and end of the series can't even be compared, and yet, the progression happens incredibly smoothly... so smoothly that you don't even realize how different everything's become until it's all done and over. I find astonishingly impressive. It totally floored me.
Gurren Lagann's story also makes it accessible to a very wide audience, which I also find impressive. Mecha and shounen fans get a great deal of fighting and big robots (really, really big robots...). Shoujo fans get a substantial bit of romance and plenty of general cuteness. There's great general adventure for everyone else, and even moe fans have something to look forward to! The only real catch is that there's a lot of stuff that's just silly and over-the-top. It doesn't take long to realize that TTGL is a rather ridiculous series that can be difficult to take seriously at times -- but that's fine because it's all in good and clever self-mockery (gar is the fuel source of the universe!). Besides, the sillier bits just make the more serious sides more amazing. I love it when a series manages to be outrageous and poignant all in the same breath; it's definitely something that takes skillful storytelling. And satire fans will get a big kick out of all the madness.
Gurren Lagann also manages to do a lot of things you don't normally see in anime. Romantic relationships are actually confirmed and canonized. People die. Important people die. There is a timeskip that doesn't suck. There is a fanservice character that's actually pretty cool and substantial! The bad guys aren't completely one-sided! That's a lot of pretty refreshing stuff!
CHARACTER - There is only one character in Gurren Lagann that you probably won't like, but that's okay because you're not supposed to like him anyway (the backstabbing bastard!). The protagonists are fantastic at garnering audience support and sympathy. Kamina is the manliest man in the world and has enough gar to power nuclear reactors. Despite being Shinji-like and overly emo initially, Simon is very easy to relate to and you just can't help but cheer him on every step of the way. Yoko and Leeron are both fantastic support characters that have quirky habits (and they're also there to poke lots of fun at anime stereotypes). Even the antagonists are fun people! Viral is just... probably the most pathetic villain you ever did see, but so much that you seriously just feel bad for the guy. He tries hard! Very hard! It isn't even that he isn't skilled! He just... can't win against the good guys because they're good! And his superiors are all unique and memorable fellows that put up good, entertaining fights.
Admittedly, few of these characters have deep, probing psychological complexes -- they are simple people with simple goals, but this doesn't necessarily make them one-dimensional. Simon grows a great deal throughout the course of the series, something that's really accented by the timeskip. He's easy to understand, which really adds to his likability as a character. Yoko and Viral are two other characters that really benefited from the timeskip: both develop in somewhat unexpected and interesting ways. The two of them answer the questions of "what does a fanservice girl do after the war?" and "what does a bad guy do when his team loses?" -- two questions that aren't often addressed in other series. Some of the developments are a bit tongue-in-cheek, but overall, they're pretty interesting. And actually, though it isn't obvious at first, there is a question of morals and ethics presented in Gurren Lagann. It can be as deep as you want it to be, or as simple as you want; maybe the ability for you to choose and be satisfied either way is another grand merit of the show.
ARTWORK & ANIMATION - Excluding the infamous episode 4, the animation is pretty nice all the way through. The art style's interesting and fun, and while it isn't anything amazing, it does the job. Now... episode 4. I've heard a lot of reasons why, but the fact is just that there was someone different animating that episode, and it looks awful.The style is completely different; the characters look pretty retarded, and it's just lackluster all around. Don't worry though. Episode 5 is back to normal, and you never see it again! <_<
Also, Gurren Lagann also sports some of the most innovative mecha designs I've ever seen. In a way, they're a mockery of every other kind of mecha out there just because they're absolutely ridiculous. The whole "combining" thing is especially "what the hell???"-inducing. It really gets out of hand after a while...but in a good way though, I assure you.
MUSIC - Gurren Lagann has some pretty epic music. It isn't often you hear opera and rap mixed together for your final boss battle theme. "Libera me" is probably the most heralded track in the series, but for good reason! It's fantastically done and does well to boost your excitement levels for the corresponding scenes. The rest of the music is also pretty amazing, and I'd definitely recommend getting your hands on the soundtrack if you can. The battle themes and unique tracks like Viral's theme are just very memorable and fun to listen to, even if you're not watching the series. Additionally, all of the OP/ED themes for the series were great. I'm especially fond of the opening as it seems to capture the spirit and energy of Gurren Lagann very well. It'll also get stuck in your head for days.
VOICE ACTING - The Japanese voice cast is top notch. Kamina's voice is the perfect amount of epic for his character, which is very impressive considering his gar fuels the entire show. Simon's voice also fits perfectly throughout his many mood swings, and it's hard to imagine anyone being able to replicate Viral's strange voice. Like most others, I was incredibly skeptical about the dub. ADV's cast seemed lackluster, and I balked at the idea of Vic Mignogna as Viral. Bandai's cast, however, was nothing short of WTF... mostly because of Steve Blum's role as Leeron. In general, Bandai's list had a lot more talented names on it, and I actually looked forward to the dub's big premiere on Sci-fi.
For the most part, I wasn't disappointed. Kyle Hebert as Kamina takes a little getting used to -- it's true, he's not as manly as Katsuyuki Konishi, but he does a pretty damn good job anyway. I was the most impressed by Yuri Lowenthal as Simon though. The voice is perfect and Yuri doesn't sound anything like his other prominent roles (it's very easy to forget he's also Sasuke and Suzaku). The rest of the cast isn't nearly as great, but they don't bomb their roles either. I'm not a big fan of Michelle Ruff and think most of her voices are pretty generic; Yoko isn't an exception. Johnny Yong Bosch as Rossiu is kind of hilarious because unlike Yuri, Johnny's voice is reminiscent of his other roles. Hynden Walch as Nia is a bit too cute for me. She sounds exactly like Starfire, but while Starfire's personality is very fitting to Nia's, I just find the voice in general to be way too high-pitched. Viral also isn't that great, but ah well. Like I said, none of them are nearly bad enough to make me go screaming in the other direction.
Oh, and Steve Blum as Leeron? Fabulous. (The voice is a little stereotypical, but it's fabulous nonetheless.)
OVERALL - It's hard to dispute TTGL's sheer epicness, and I think it's a pretty awesome series for both the newcomer to anime and the longtime veteran. You just have to have a sense of humor and the ability to embrace the ridiculousness that will be thrown your way. Live a little, laugh a little, right? Everyone I know came away with the same reaction as me. This is one of those series that after you see it, you will become gripped with the need and desire to share it with everyone you know. So be it. ;3
Believe me when I say I don't give overall scores of 10 very often.
A now famous quote that is Kamina's battle cry, Simon's battle cry, and arguably the show's battle cry. Gurren Lagann is a show that screams this in every way, shattering all limitations placed upon the constraints of its world. In doing so, it becomes what is arguably the most epic anime on the map today, in every sense of the word.
Gurren Lagann is an epic story, because the narrative actually is the layout of classic epic poetry. A vast limitless setting to journey across, passionate speeches, and heroes that embody the hopes and dreams of entire civilizations. It
is a tried-and-true formula that Lagann follows to the letter. This is especially enjoyable for people such as myself, who need more... much much more, to even consider watching a "mecha" anime. In telling the story as it does, Gainax yet again reinvents the mecha anime. Bravo.
Unfortunately, epics tend to tell the story of one man, not a whole cast. Lagann however has a huge cast of supporting characters, and many of them are hardly necessary to the plot and do nothing but chew (or in this case, blow up) the scenery. The only real key characters to the story are Kamina, Simon, and Nia... yes, Yoko really is just a pair of boobs and a gun. Disagree all you want but tell me how she significantly moved the plot... that's what I thought. So it goes for the majority of the cast in terms of development and usefulness. If the three mentioned aren't on screen, it's kind of hard to care about what's going on. Regardless, this flaw is relatively minor in terms of series quality and the characterization of the three key players is still outstanding.
Lagann is animated expertly by the infamous veteran studio Gainax. A studio known for inventive directing, and this series is no exception. Animation is jerky and sketchy, but given the sheer energy of the material and it's unbridled force, it works and it works perfectly. You may not like the look of it, but that doesn't mean it's not appropriate. Only one episode of the bunch really stands out in quality, but it is a one-time slip... still it is a massive slip so points need to be taken off for it. Everything else is Grade-A material.
The journey of Gurren Lagann is accompanied by Taku Iwasaki's soundtrack. The use of rap doesn't always work, but the majority of the music is not rap, and does well to highlight the epic nature of the series with swelling brass, snare drums, and even opera. The sum of it sounds like a grand call to war, which fits the series perfectly. Shoko Nakagawa's opening song and insert song always do a great job of pumping up the viewers, but I feel mixed about the ending themes. They're not bad, but they don't really add anything.
So here we are at review's end. To be frank, very frank, when I finished Gurren Lagann I felt like my soul had had an orgasm. The passionate dialogue and grandiose animation are rhetorically dynamic. You feel what Simon feels, you want what Simon wants, and you go through it all with a deep sense of satisfaction. Gurren Lagann is a genius anime, but it is also a respectable triumph in general entertainment, anime or otherwise.
Overall, I give Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann a 9 out of 10.
First of all, I'd like to point out that I do not normally watch anime about mecha. That being said, I found Gurren Lagann to be a fresh look at the genre, and one that was quite entertaining as well. Unfortunately, I do think the show has been slightly overrated (being ranked #1 on this site at the time of writing) and for this reason my expectations upon starting Gurren Lagann were somewhat higher than they should have been. I'd have probably enjoyed the show more if I'd gone in with my usual attitude toward anime of this genre and been pleasantly surprised rather than
My main reason for writing this review therefore is for those like me who might otherwise watch this show without regard to the fact that it still follows many the typical shounen mecha tropes that made me dislike this genre in the first place. However, this is not meant to be a critical review of the genre in general but of Gurren Lagann in particular, so let me emphasize that no matter what your preconceptions of this type of anime may be, I still believe that this show is worth watching.
Gurren Lagann is primarily a coming-of-age story. The main character, Simon, begins the story as a young boy who is unsure of himself and largely dependent on his older brother Kamina. As the story progresses however, Simon is forced to with situations where his brother can no longer protect him. Simon must therefore learn to become a hero in his own right if he is to survive in the dangerous world in which he finds himself.
The story progression is fast paced and the characters undergo changes with each episode, so it was definitely much more than the mecha-battle-of-the-week show that generally turns me off toward this genre, as I mentioned previously. The story has a few good plot twists and most of the characters make a meaningful contribution to the story (with the exception of Yoko who is mostly fanservice, though even she is given an interesting subplot toward the end of the series.) Although the plot can be somewhat silly at times, especially in the beginning, it is offset by serious moments and the mood of the show can change in an instant.
The biggest complaint I have about the story is the overextension of the technology/science around which the entire plot is centered. The technology involves a (metaphoric?) relationship to drills, which I felt was somewhat strange and could at least have been better explained. I tend to make a big deal about this sort of thing, so I expect others will disagree with me, but I found the somewhat ridiculous extent to which the characters powers had evolved by the end of the series to be somewhat unbelievable based on the premises set down by the rest of the show. I realize that the evolution of main characters to demigod like status is widely accepted in anime (i.e. DBZ, Bleach, etc.) I just thought I should warn those who are mildly annoyed by this as I am.
That being said, the action scenes are rather well done, even those toward the end that involve large mecha hurling galaxy sized energy blasts at each other. The fights are greatly enhanced by a mostly techno/rap soundtrack, and the fast paced action, while not the best I’ve seen, was more than enough to remain exciting throughout each battle. I even found myself enjoying some of the epic battles near the conclusion in spite of myself. These closing battles were quite attractive to look at and the operatic background music completed the feeling to create something that was actually quite enjoyable.
The animation is definitely not the most realistic, but instead uses a unique style that is still pleasing to look at most of the time. The simplicity of the artistic style combined with the bright colors are reminiscent of earlier shounen action anime, but somewhat more caricatured.
Overall, Gurren Lagann was well worth watching, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys mecha and fast paced action. Even if this type of thing isn’t what you normally watch, this show is still worth a try. It is necessary to suspend disbelief at several points of the story, but the action is still quite enjoyable, so long as the viewer is not prone to over analyzing everything.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a fast paced, no-holds-barred Shounen, Sci-fi, Mecha, Adventure anime that takes many of the elements that worked well, to form something that is bursting with entertainment. ^_^
The story revolves around humanity’s struggle against enemies known as the “beastmen” who use mecha to annihilate all the humans on the surface. The story is really simple, with no need for complications as it follows several people (including Simon, Kamina, Yoko, etc.) who stand up and fight. As the story goes, the people get stronger and their numbers grow larger and even after some major turning-points it never loses its focus. Nonetheless the
story may be too simple for its own good. Yet this still doesn’t change the fact that the anime is pure entertainment, having no dull moments but is always full of action and laughs. This somewhat changes after the time-skip though.
The characters are all pretty great themselves, with plenty of laughs to be had but it is the main ones that truly stand out. Simon who is the typical weak-minded boy found in a lot of shounen anime, Kamina the extreme, fanatical guy always moving forward towards his dream and Yoko the hot babe who is not only there for fanservice. These are the ones that develop the most throughout the story and in such interesting ways.
The animation quality may not be the best ever but it is perfect for this series. It embraces a rich colour palette with detailed background and environments. The characters and mecha have pretty basic but cool designs; with completely fluid movements, even during the comic book style action sequences. These over-the-top action sequences are what make the series so exciting with superbly implemented explosions, smoke and other special FX.
The music comprises of a mixture between sombre and thumping Rock, Rap and JPop beats and even though it gets fairly repetitive, the adrenaline will still be flowing whenever the action kicks in. The constant screaming and shouting can get annoying though.
Overall this is a fast-paced anime series that will give young fans something to get excited over but also give of a classic anime feel for the somewhat mature viewer. What makes this mecha anime stand out from the rest is that is never gets too serious, so there’s nothing in the way to ruin the enjoyment and mindless fun to be had. Of course for those who don’t like mecha anime wouldn’t suddenly like this one but if you don’t have anything against giant robots then this series is a must (especially for FL CL and FMP! fans).
This review will contain spoilers.
Since the narrative and all in all the goals of the story differ so much before and after Episode 16, I'll be analyzing the 2 'parts' separately and then together.
Animation (applies to show as a whole) - I enjoyed the animation quite a bit. The changing styles to a more gritty pencil style at points, character designs were all unique, the fights were all well animated.
Sound (applies to the show as a whole) - The OP, ED's and OST were all good, especially the OP. Voice acting in both the Subbed and Dubbed were good as well.
To be perfectly
frank, I didn't enjoy these episodes much. If you enjoy watching mechas fight mechas with nothing else, then this is right up your alley. I for one, do not.
Story - My main gripe with this part would have to be the predictability of the story. After the first 2 fights, I could tell it was just going to be them winning fights forever till they got to the spiral king. It got boring, and the only thing that kept me watching was the effect of Kamina's death, which I also figured, because of the blatant romantic foreshadowing with Yoko.
Character development - Pretty much limited to a small few, but it wasn't all that well done. The characters (other than maybe Simon and Nia), we're just blank slates, to advance the plot of defeating the spiral king. If you removed the purpose of defeating the Spiral King, what are they? Not much... Just a group of rowdy people, who can easily be described by a sentence, if not trope. Also, I really didn't get Yoko's purpose in the story. After she couldn't be a love interest, she was just a source of fanservice.
While we're on the topic of fanservice, I know that most anime have it, but I think, firstly there was too much of it (eg beach episode (and the attempt on Nia just made me cringe)) and secondly, it completely ruins the (somewhat) serious tone of things. Yoko (I know, again) just shows up in a bikini shooting a sniper rifle, while people are dying and fighting for survival. I get thats somewhat her personality, but some of the shots (heh) just didn't blend.
Episode 16 was a recap of episode 1-15, which might actually be useful in how one might watch the show
Story - This would be the reason to watch this show. This part incorporates many more themes into the show. Politics, Romance (a bit), Philosophy and Action (obviously). The 7 year timeskip was actually one of the best timeskips I've seen. It was to advance the plot of the story, and not to just get the writers out of a hole. The characters changed somewhat, which added to the realism.
The other themes explored in this part of the show, I quite enjoyed. The idea of using Simon as a scapegoat, and the problems of the transformation of society, the residents rioting, the value of lives, utilitarian or not?, the government under Rossiu. This was all interesting, and reminded me a lot of Code Geass. Nothing revolutionary, but still good nonetheless.
The deaths of some of the side characters, though sad, seemed really telegraphed and forced. I also dislike the fact that emotion can override everything, sure it makes for a heartwarming story, but for something that was made to contain humans (Ep 26), all of them being able to overcome it simply because they wanted to, just seemed like a cop-out to me. The ability for them to win just because they wanted to, and come out on top in the worst situations, just made this boring
I did have a gripe with the action. Again, it was predictable. Since we now know that spiral power is strengthened by emotion, Simon never loses. He just doesn't. The show fails at creating suspense, which is one of the main goals of action.
Giant robots? Don't worry. Its Simon
The moon is falling onto us? Don't worry. Its Simon.
Fighting an entire dimension of enemies? Don't worry. Its Simon.
Whats the point in watching (sure the animation is nice), but its not engaging, its not thought provoking, you're not emotionally involved.
Character Development - I didn't really see the point to Yoko's side story either. It could be looked at as simply filler, or a desperate attempt at development onto a character that hadn't got much of any before. We had some average character development in this part, especially Rossiu. Otherwise characters were sub-par.
The show overall, was somewhat bland, around around 4/10.
The idea for TTGL was a good one, but it wasn't executed well. If you have a good story with bad characters, its still a bad story (While a bad story with good characters can be good). The characters are only there to advance the plot.
If I was going to recommend this to someone, I'd almost recommend skipping he first 15 episodes, because the second half is more interesting, and you have a recap anyways.
When I hear about a company making a mecha anime, there are only two things that spring to mind: either they are brilliant, or they are goddamn blind and living under a rock. Thankfully for fans of anime worldwide, the boys and gals at Gainax are neither blind, nor living under a rock. The simple fact is that Gainax has proven one universal truth: no matter how saturated the genre may appear at any given time, there is always room for improvement. All you need is a robot with two heads, arguably the most elusive quality in a mecha.
In many ways, TTGL represents the true
evolution of mecha. It takes the concept of armored fighting vehicle to a whole new level. A level no mecha anime dared to do before.
Not once in TTGL did I feel like being let down. It is both visually and in terms of concept, a cross between Eureka Seven and Fooly Cool. Only, because of the nature of the genre itself, it's far less scripted. I was constantly being shocked in each episode, as it just keeps on getting better and better. The whole anime was frantic, brimming all kinds of nonsensical BS. But thats what separates TTGL from the rest of the mecha's. And it is the key of TTGL to winning the hearts of millions of people.
The story was enough for me to get hooked although it wasnt anything lavish. Ive always lean more on post-apocalyptic anime's since it has a tendency have an interesting story. There's even a major twist later on the series which is an excellent addition. In even went as far as, botching all logical sound judgment just to be able to explain what it has done.
The unusual thing about this show is the pace. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann had the advantage of not being based on manga, thus the speed of unfolding events was not constrained by manga releases. While Tengen Toppen Gurren Lagann certainly went through content faster than other animes usually do, it is actually quite reasonably paced. In truth I was quite pleased with the rate of progression throughout the series. It did not really feel too fast nor was it too slow. Despite the story being nothing unusual, it is very well done and well worth the watch, at least the first two thirds of it.
The characters here are also striking. They werent believable by any means, but they were certainly memorable. One in particular is Kamina, favored by the majority. I myself cannot deny this. With an optimistic, easy going personality, who wouldnt like Kamina? He and the strikingly bold style of this anime made what is today. Aside from him, a handful of characters go through a major development. We have Simon, a hopeless digger who is worse than dog **** acquires maturation. Rossiu, an annoying prick who becomes well... it wouldnt be fair if I give it away, now would it? There is even a minor romance here between the characters that increases the relationships between the characters. It was amazing how they were able to add drama in the middle of all the eccentric events.
The animation is top notch. It was able to change something so common in anime's into something deviating from the recognized that catches the eye of millions of people out there . The fan service here are also a plus, to most people at least. So if your not into "bouncing", skip episode 6 and you'll be just fine.
The music was owing. The OP was lively enough for you to go to the top of your roof and scream your lungs out. It really made you prepare for what is to come, one hell of an awesome anime. Even better, it was prevalent during climactic parts which really spices up the mood. The ED was also good. It had a nice mix of rap and metal.
Granted, no anime is perfect, and neither is this one but as far as action anime's go, TTGL has done a stellar job. From guerrilla warfare to flinging cosmos as if its just mere softball, everywhere you look something over the top is happening.
Every second was intoxicating in TTGL. The comedy is also outrageously utterly ridiculous, you wont miss a laugh from it. But that doesnt mean TTGL cant be a tear jerker too, there are moments when there wont be a dry eye on the house.
In all, while no anime is perfect, Gainax should be praised if only for doing the unthinkable - by innovating the mecha genre. Of course, its effects go well beyond the sub-genre and advance the genre as a whole, which in itself has become a remarkably rare quality in the anime. Hats off to the Gainax boys. I may not be the biggest fan of mecha anime's, but this one just goes way beyond anyone's affinities towards mecha. Unless you hate being driven to shrill uncontrollably, Mecha fan or not, you will not regret watching this. You will rather regret for having read this review and have wasted all this time, not watching it.
Every once in a while a series comes along that, for lack of a better word, owns the competition. Ladies and gentlemen that series is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, do not let the lengthy name intimidate you or the seemingly cartoonish style put you off because this show is worth it and you'd sorely regret not experiencing this gem of a series. In a world where the majority considers mediocre shows such as Naruto to be masterpieces, we often overlook shows that so sorely deserve our attention and they end up just passing us by. I'm writing this review in hopes it will divert
your attention away from shouting bankai as you imitate Ichigo and open your eyes to this series.
Story wise Gurren Lagann shows us exactly what an anime should be, a seemingly simple story of a young men forced to stay in a world against their will delves into gripping story of man vs fate, man vs man, and man vs self. The story itself doesn't drag on and on for episodes on end trying to solve what could be done in one it is, in short, paced perfectly. Also it is impossible to be lost or confused in this series as you are constantly given just enough information to understand what is going on but it holds back enough to keep you interested.
The art is easy on the eyes though it does have a choppy feel at times it isn't so bad that you can't make out what is going on. Chalk it up to production expenses, since there are a lot of action scenes.
The musical score was obviously well thought out, it matches the mood of the scene and doesn't interfere with the story at all it remains where it should be...the backround. It also incorporates many genres as well it's a mix of hip hop, contemporary, rock, even opera so you should find a few pieces that are similar to your taste in music.
The characters are done extremely well, they are developed nicely and convey emotions quite well, you can literally feel their plight. Also their emotional depth doesn't consist of a bad childhood, and crying when the world doesn't bend to their will. The are a wide range of characters, and as well so you're bound to find one that interests you . A word of warning, this isn't a cutesy series where all semi important characters are protected by an anti-death shield so don't expect your favorite characters to have happy endings.
The enjoyment factor should be apparent in the way I've written so far, just in case you are slow this is an extremely enjoyable show, it has quite a bit of slapstick as well as non-slapstick comedy. The battle scenes are intense and fast paced be they in mecha or hand to hand.
Overall this is a series that you shouldn't let pass you by, so please if only for a second turn away from Naruto and Bleach (take a deep breath buddy, they'll be there when you turn back) and give Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann a chance you won't regret it.
I didn't like Gurren Lagann. Really, there was nothing special about this show. At all. Seriously, it wasn't that good.
Now, my main peeve with Gurren Lagann is it's inability to decide what it wants to be. It stuffs as many genres as it can, rather sloppily, into a tiny package with little-to-no substance. So, in my quest to figure out the appeal, I found myself questioning various fans, who, as a whole, appear to have the same difficulty as the show.
"So, what's the appeal? I found it to be, among, the least enjoyable shows I've seen. What made such a stupid show so popular?" I
"Well," nameless Gurren Lagann fan 1 replies, as-a-matter-of-factly, "It's that Gurren Lagann wasn't meant to be smart. It's a parody."
"Huh? A parody? But it certainly wasn't very funny," I respond.
"Oh, that's because it's not about the comedy!" exclaims Gurren Lagann fan 2! "It's about the adrenaline. It's a full-blown bona-fide action show!"
"Odd that you say that, I never once had adrenaline rise while watching GL. In fact, a good portion of the fights were snoozers, nearly fell asleep out of sheer repetition. The most exciting fight was the first one with Viral, and even then, I've felt my heart pound more intensely by watching two sleeping pandas duke it out."
"Oh, you're right about the fights," inquires Mr.3. "But, that's because GL isn't an action series, it's all about the characters" - What? The characters were so unoriginal it made my head hurt! - "and their interactions!"
"I'm not even going to go there. All the characters were weakly constructed."
"Kamina was the greatest character ever! That's why this show is so good! It's such a MANLY and EPIC series!" retorts an angry 4.
"So, having the mental capacity of a toddler is 'MANLY' and 'EPIC'?" I find myself asking.
"No! Everything was got really big! 'cause 'epic' means 'large'!" declares Mr. 5.
"But.... in 4th grade I came up with somthing far bigger than anything in GL. It was called 'Chickennuggetzilla'. He was 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles on all sides, and was shaped like a chicken nugget. He was very angry and had magical ice breath. Ice breath that was on fire. And the ice would freeze anything it touched forever, while confusing it due to the immense heat at the same time. Isn't that about the same level as GL?"
"You're dumb! That's not an insult, I'm stating that as a scientifically proven fact, although it clearly isn't and I'm actually the one who is stupid," explains 6, whom notable has fantasies of people brushing teeth with male genitals.
And thus sums up the fanbase of Gurren Lagann. Not a very pleasant sight, very few are remotely tolerable.
So, in conclusion, I feel I should dress my baby brother up like Odysseus and film him as he beats up evil teddy bears with a stick and indicates to the viewer the location of ones nose and toes, post it on YouYube, and it'll become an instant success - as the World's most MANLY and EPIC adventure ever. Even more than Gurren Lagann.
Now, enough of the rambling I suddenly felt the need to edit in, and on with the review:
Okay, so there's this dude and he digs a lot. It's, like, his job or something. Who knows why he's digging, and in a civilization that already lives underground, no less, simply making the whole "We're going to dig" that much dumber. So, he's an outcast and only one person likes him, but that guy happens to be an imbecile, so he doesn't count. So, we have a dude who hasn't got any balls and another whose balls have exploded from the overabundance of testosterone. Okay, then, this giant thing attacks the village and they use ball-less dude's silly robo-face - which he happens to have discovered not long ago. And they leave the village because..... actually, I don't really remember why, specifically, because Kamina was being too much of a dumbass to form a coherent explanation. And, somewhere along the lines, they discover boobs - really big, scantly clad boobs on a scantly clad lady - a scantly clad lady who's character was about as original as everything else in the whole bloody show, in other word, none of these characters took any talent to come up with. At all. And, as these characters are driving the story, the story manages to fall flat on it's lame, generic face. The plot is about these characters fighting against the evil king that has oppressed them to the underground. *twirls finger* How engrossing. Oh, and there's some stupid plot twist that leads up to the final handful of episodes. It's pretty stupid, but nobody watching really cared about the plot anyway.
Art? What art? There's nothing artistic about Gurren Lagann! It's GAINAX's pitiful attempt at making another FLCL! It tries to be outlandishly crazy, but it constantly to the exact same animation techniques as FLCL. The characters have cliche "cool" character designs; the backgrounds are nothing more than a bunch of rocks; the fights consist of someone hits their enemy who spins uncontrollaby through the air and crashes, then an overused power up sequence which gets add-ons later in the show, but it doesn't make a huge difference - there's an occasion where something gets an elongated limb, but it's still nothing interesting.
Average quality. Nothing special. Voices were okay when they weren't yelling; when they yelled, it was usually done by an annoying character - which was often.
Do I even have to talk about those? They were lame. Simon was irritatingly lame - he's afraid of everything for the first half of the series, then his character magically developes into someone whose not quite as much of a pansy, but still a loser. Where have we seen this before? Oh, every other freakin' anime ever created! Kamina needed to learn to shut the hell up, everything he ever says is stupid and he constantly states the "moral of the story", which has always been a peeve of mine. This is worse than usual, as it's an excessively stupid moral like "Don't believe in you who believes in yourself, believe in me who believes in you." Okay, it was funny the first 2.5 times, but after the 10th I wanted to shoot Kamina in the face, and that's not nearly the last time he says it before *SPOILERS!!!!11!1 like anyone gave a damn about this story* he dies *END SPOILERS!!!1!1!!*, and even after that, they continue to spew such a pathetic notion, making it painful to watch the show or care about any of said characters. Yoko has big, bouncy boobs and shoots a lot of stuff, that's about all.
Not very much. The story was bland, the characters were bland, the dialog was bland, the fights were bland, the art was bland, the sound was bland, everything was bland. There was no "Epicness" that I'd been promised so many times, just big robots. Big robots =/= epic.
Overall, 3. Bad. Didn't like it. Unenjoyable. Predictable. Uninteresting. Bland. Any other negative term you can possibly conjure. It was not good.
When reading some of the reviews for Gurren Lagann, I realized very quickly that a lot of people are transposing their enjoyment of the series onto their opinion of its story and characterization quality.
This is a mistake.
While Gurren Lagann is a fun, entertaining anime with many over-the-top, wow-factor moments, it doesn't do anything that hasn't been done before in one form or another. The overall message of believing in oneself and that "Ganbarre yo!" atmosphere is a major factor in the enjoyment of the show. The opening theme is great, the animation, apart from one episode near the beginning of the series, is mostly spot-on,
and the voice acting is superb.
However, if you're looking for a serious anime like Death Note or the majority of Code Geass, you won't find it here. Don't expect many intellectually mind-blowing events or characters, if any. This anime is zany, wacky, fun, and almost nothing more.
I want to be clear: I enjoyed this series, but I can acknowledge that it really isn't anything special.
The emotional impact of the show is pretty much summed up in the "Ganbarre yo!" effect I mentioned earlier. It's all about doing your best and fighting no matter how bad the situation gets.
If you like a series where things are zany, over-the-top, and crazy, you might like Gurren Lagann.
If you like a series where the characters win by force of will alone, you might like Gurren Lagann.
Finally, if you like a light-hearted series that you can sit down and watch without the emotional turmoil of some other series (read: Code Geass), you might like Gurren Lagann.
Watch the first 4 or 5 episodes. If you don't like it by then, it probably isn't happening.
The thing about having high expectations is that you do your best to enjoy the show even before you press play. And once you’ve finished watching, you either feel satisfied that this series truly lived up to the hype and something you too would recommend to others or, more than often, you wind up sitting down, watching the credits roll and wondering why you were looking forward to this wishy-washy stuff in the first place.
In 2007, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann pierced its drill not just into the heavens, but also into the hearts of millions of fans across the globe. It is probably one
of the most massively raved shows with fans believing the series was a gift from the mecha Gods themselves and critics lavishing praise to the point of reducing the scores of its counterparts just because they didn’t stand up to what was thought to be Gainax’s magnum opus.
All build-up and fandom aside, the critical question must be answered: “Does Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann deliver?”
To an extent, it does. But this is by no means masterpiece material.
As you might’ve noticed from the score and the introduction, I am not a fanboy of this show. If you are, then please hold your horses and try not to burst a vein, because everyone is entitled to an opinion and I’m doing my best to justify mine here. Your patience is appreciated, thank you.
In the world of TTGL, humans live in underground cities and must dig to expand and survive. In the tiny village of Jiha, Simon, a young and skilled driller, teams up with Kamina, a hot blooded punk, to break out of their cage. After stumbling upon a mecha head and running into a voluptuous teen named Yoko, the trio manages to break out of their hell hole and reach the surface, where danger and destiny awaits.
There are two ways one can look at TTGL:
1. As a homage/tribute to the old school mecha anime. (If you’re a fan of the genre.)
2. As a standalone series. (If your knowledge of mecha anime is little to none.)
In the first case, the show is said to be parody/tribute to fans of the genre defining anime of the 20th century – the Super Robot era. I’m referring to the time when the word ‘anime’ was almost synonymous with mecha shows such as Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Macross. This was the period when anime gained its most fervent otaku, who believe this to be the Golden Age of anime. TTGL captures the key elements of these anime and crams it all into a single 27 episode series. Although you may be thinking that the handling might come out as kind of rough and rushed because of the sheer ground that needs to be covered, it does not. The execution is seamless and manages to port every one of those memorable scenarios, which are today clichés because of their success then. It’s a lot of fun for those who closely followed those classics, because TTGL is a wonderful tribute and is sure to get you to join the “Bring back the GAR!” gang. It’s a lot like the warm and nostalgic feeling of watching Star Wars reruns on TV. So, assuming you’re one of those “Old is gold” and “Screw the moe, bring the GAR” people, then you’re sure to find TTGL to be one of the most engrossing stories you’ve ever watched. The pure manliness of it all will win a place in your heart.
Now, let’s consider TTGL as a standalone anime and not as a “homage series”. When I watched TTGL, I had no idea that it was a parody/tribute. It was only later when one of my friends told me that it was did I even start thinking from that perspective. The reason for that is probably because I don’t watch a lot of mecha anime and had no idea that most of the scenes were references to the beloved 90s shows. Therefore, not knowing that the clichés were intentional, I found the plot to be a total and complete letdown. It is downright predictable and there were only a handful of moments when I sat up and said “Whoa, I did not see that coming”. The story progresses in the usual style of beating mini bosses until you find out that the main boss was actually a mini boss to another main boss and so on. Trademark, textbook stuff, this one. Take a kid, sit him on a mecha, hand him a shonen script and your TTGL storyline is good to go. If this is your first mecha anime, skip this one at all costs. Nothing surprising, shocking or even mildly original.
One other thing that must be known about TTGL is that it is split into two arcs, the second arc beginning just after the halfway mark of the series. The second arc occurs after a time skip of 7 years and this makes it seem like almost a second season. There is a complete overhaul of the TTGL mechanism and there are drastic changes to the point that it is hardly recognizable with the anime you watched a couple of episodes ago.
The first arc was about Simon manning up and facing the wrath of the Beastmen Empire. The tale is the usual “boy grows a pair” one, which is shockingly (and intentionally) similar to that of Shinji of Evangelion. While fighting off hordes of mecha (referred to as Ganmen in the show), he also bonds with Kamina and the rest of the cast, slowly paving the way to adulthood. The story moves pretty fast paced here and testosterone charged action is aplenty. While nowhere close to adrenaline pumping, it does retain your attention from start to finish.
And then there’s the second arc. Here, the show transforms into something completely different. Many hated it, but I personally preferred the second arc to the first. In fact, if you’re one of those guys who doesn’t have a very large attention span and found the first few episodes of TTGL to be disappointing, then I recommend you watch episode 15, which is a recap episode, and move on to the rest of the series. The second arc is more about the people and less about the mecha. It throws in dashes of politics and psychology. It is still fast paced, but doesn’t quite feel like it because of the sudden lack of explosions, missiles and screaming shonen kids. Things finally get a tad emotional. But don’t let that delude you into thinking that TTGL becomes a more mature show. Hell, no.
Which perfectly poises me to break down one of the show’s biggest downfalls (or biggest selling point, depending upon your perspective): Wackiness. What starts out as mere lack of logic soon turns into sheer idiocy. There is only so much nonsensical content one can take. There are moments in this show when you feel like banging your head against the screen because of the fact that even suspending your disbelief cannot eradicate the magnitude of insanity. Ripping dimensions apart to travel faster, using galaxies as bullets, mashing them together to make a bigger bullet, claiming planets to be mechas, it’s all here. But then again, when you can have a bot that relies on emotions as a fuel, what is to be expected other than chaos?
The shows TTGL borrows from actually had field tactics, strategies, pilot psychology and other intellectual plot twists. But TTGL itself has nothing of that sort, which is a total misfit if it’s supposed to be a series that should bring memories of the classics.
All criticism aside, I finally land on the thing that impressed me most about TTGL – the animation. It’s fresh, funky and fun. Bold and bright colors are thrown around to make the episodes vibrant with life. There is an overall punk-style. The font of the episode name and the mid-screen change, depending upon the character in focus, and it all shows that the artists put some heart and soul into it. The Ganmen look varied enough and there’s hardly any room for confusion even though there are tons of them. My opinion here might be a bit biased since I watched this on Blu-ray, but I’m still not denying the animation department a ten on ten.
The soundtrack was on target too. The OP was bad and the EDs, except for Love and Rock Peace, were painful to hear as well. But, there is one track that stands out as one of the most memorable pieces of anime music I’ve heard in a while. Yes, I am of course referring to the rappera (rap + opera) song, Fight the Powah! This one track carries the weight of the ending on its shoulders and is played around 4 times in the last 3 episodes. In fact, here’s a message to the people who’ve watched TTGL and ran around the forums screaming on how epic the ending was: Try to blank out the soundtrack playing in the background and just focus on the video and the voices. You’ll notice how terribly stupid it sounds. Good music makes for a good atmosphere.
The characters are, in all honesty, terrible. They are paper cut-outs from the “How to Make Shonen Characters” book. Some of the side characters (Viral, Rossiu, Kittan) were easily more eye-catching than the main cast.
Simon is a meek attempt at Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion. He is the usual bloke who throws a tantrum when he doesn’t get what he wants and shouting like a little girl who was bit by a rabid dog seems to solve all the world’s problems. He is totally boring and even the slight addition of layers to his character in the second half aren’t enough to make him an interesting character. Sad stuff, really. I really was expecting more from a character who appears on almost every episode of the series. However, his second arc changes are what made me boost his scores up a bit.
Kamina is the hot blooded shonen teen punk, the optimistic happy-go-lucky git. Not too much to say about him because he doesn’t get as much air time as Simon, for reasons you’ve got to watch to know. But Kamina is definitely an embodiment of badass leadership and the sort of hero every nerd wants to be, and you can’t really blame them.
Yoko, the wet dream frequenter of thousands of otaku, is actually a pretty complex character. Sadly, she doesn’t live upto her potential because of her poor treatment by the scriptwriters. What could’ve been a fantastic female lead is turned into a jiggle-bimbo with a gun. There is one other female character that deserves a mention. This character was a complete and shameless Ctrl+C – Ctrl+V of Euphemia from Code Geass. Faanboys are bound to blame that on the “tribute factor” too.
The enjoyment factor…probably the hardest place for me to rate TTGL on. Why? Because its stupidity was actually entertaining at times. Hearing “Who the hell do you think we are?!” right at the finish of an epic battle sequence, feels, well, epic. Uber-manliness. There were times when I pumped my fist in the air and gave a “Hell, yeah!” to Simon and his gang. But there were also times when I used that same fist to smash the screen because of the WTFness. I just couldn’t handle the clichés under the pretext of homage during the first arc. Once again, your enjoyment will depend on whether you look at TTGL as a tribute or a standalone, the former triumphing over the latter.
Overall, TTGL is the kind of anime which you’re going to enjoy depending upon your love for the genre. If you love mecha anime, then this one is sure to give you a bang for your buck. If not, then your experience might be underwhelming.
[ THE WRAP-UP ]
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is the sort of anime that ends up being disappointing mainly because of a reputation that precedes it. It’s a matter of whether you look at TTGL to be a mark of respect for the mecha anime over the years or whether you consider it to be a completely detached series. If it is a case of the former with you, then TTGL will be one of the most epic anime to ever hit the screen, but it will be the exact opposite if your opinion is of the latter. It is a giant banner for the “Bring back the GAR!” movement. The story is split into two very different arcs, of which you will love one and hate the other, based on your personal tastes. The animation has a funky punk style and is one of the most richly drawn anime I have ever seen. It is evident that Gainax did not spare any expense in the audio department as well, because the soundtrack is almost as stunning. The characters are a massive let down and do no justice to their massive fandom. My advice is to watch the first five episodes and if you don’t like it, then just watch the recap episode on 15 and move on to the second arc. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is one of those anime I liked, but never enjoyed.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is one of the most watched, most rated, most talked about anime series on MAL. Have you ever considered whether you should give this show a try? Just why do people keep calling it “epicness”? If you are curious enough to look up this show but is undecided (or unsure) if it will turn out being a complete waste of time for you, then look no further! You have found the missing piece to your puzzle.
Imagine. Life in underground caves where the sky is blocked off by thick layers of dirt, where no trees can ever grow,
where no wind can ever blow. Imagine. Life as a digger whose sole purpose is to endlessly dig and drill as there is nothing better to do. To top it off, let us further imagine that life are constantly under threat by an unknown source of earthquake from above. This hell hole is precisely where the story begins.
Our teenage protagonist, Simon the digger as he calls himself, has absolutely zero talent of being a hero-type guy to begin with. In fact, he was more likely to be viewed as a loser. His eventual success of being “the man who saves the universe”, in part, is thanks to his best friend whom he often regards as his older brother known as Kamina (*and no my name was not derived from him*). Brother Kamina, along with a cute long hair sniper girl called Yoko helped transform the loser Simon into a “GAR” Simon.
While the story, to a large extend, focus on the character growth of Simon and how he cope with various issues in life, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the story itself is very plot driven. This is especially true in the latter half where viewers will notice an onion peel effect in the battles. One can find a story buried within another story, yet buried still within another story. There may also be people out there who will tell you the story can be basically split into two parts. Where the first part totally owns in terms of character growth and overall sanity of the show and the latter just totally transform the plot into something not recognizable but any sane person. Guess what? They have a point.
Although the battles in the first half of the story pales compare to the latter part (as far as actions are concerned), at the very least there was a sensible goal and sensible way to deal with the problem. However, the second half literally takes things to the edge of the universe. Hardcore action fans will most certainly scream with joy seeing the most unbelievable action in their lifetime, but to the everyday norm like the rest of us, it may seem a little unexpected (some extremists called it unacceptable for ruining all the hard work built up from the first half). Anyhow, at least it was a nice change from the predictable monster of the week cliché.
The soundtracks, by and large, are extremely well made. A few particular BGM played during the key moments of the story just make things all the better. Both the OP and various ED fit nicely with their corresponding animation counterpart. The seiyu have done a wonderful job as well, acting out their roles with great passion and pride. Surprisingly, a few seiyu used such a unique voice that most people (even fans) don’t even recognize them (see if you can identify their voices without spoiling yourself).
Certainly TTGL is not just another one of your average anime. With intense battle scenes, a decent amount of character developments, and creative plot (note that I acknowledge its creativity and originality, but I am not necessary saying the plot make sense nor reasonable … that my friend, will be decided by you once you have watched the series) it will deliver beyond your expectation.
Born deep in the dirt, surrounded and made captive by earth above and below, where can a person go from there? There are three options: you do nothing and lay there until you die, you dig lower and strive to find yourself in the filth and darkness and loneliness, or you cast it all aside and reach for the sky you know exists. Certainly, the latter is the most difficult path to choose and it's not likely to just fall into your lap—but let's say it does just that, in the form of a device that will empower your very desire to explode
forth into the world.
In this case, a boy named Simon—Simon the Digger to most—finds a small key that resembles the drill he uses to explore his surroundings in search of treasure. Little does he know at first that he has just found a treasure that will grant him control of a mecha that will respond to his emotions. And before long, when the huge and scary world above comes crashing down into the tiny world he knows, he'll discover what he can do with this machine thanks to the encouragement of his big bro, the fiercely optimistic Kamina. One battle leads to a sort of tumbling-up-the-rabbit-hole, where the vast sky wheels around them and there's no limit to be seen—no dirt ceiling hanging above, just the endless blue horizon.
By the second episode, Simon and Kamina have met Yoko and her band of rebels up on the surface. Where do they go from there? They soon learn that the surface world is a scary place, and the old cave from which they emerged begins to seem like a refuge, the place of their childhood—an earthly womb, perhaps. Up here, the beastmen piloting mecha with giant faces called Ganmen seek to exterminate humans, and along with this group of scrappers Simon and Kamina find themselves engaging in a succession of battles, awkwardly beginning to realize what they're capable of doing. Kamina, especially, throws himself into the mix with a boldness that sets the tone for the series. "Who the hell do you think I am?!" he shouts, demonstrating that in this world, where there's a will there's a way. And as the forces of oppression loom ever larger, the Gurren Brigade gains more and more resolve.
Like many coming-of-age stories, TTGL has its phase of male adolescence. A time-leap brings us to an era when our heroes, once grasping for the skies, have lost their way. They struggle to face their new freedom and responsibility, and suddenly they are not very likable. In fact, you'll probably want to punch most of them. Simon especially, as he struggles to become even half the man that Kamina proved to be early in the series, let alone a man of his own strengths and desires. He may as well be back in the cave he came from, gathering dust in angsty stagnation. It's only fitting that Yoko and the other women at the core of the cast have found their place in the world apart from the rest, accepting their adulthood in stride. And it is only a new threat of loss and oppression that provides the man-children the kick in the ass necessary to get them moving again. And move they do. Purpose is rediscovered. Maybe the scared and thoughtful boy that Simon was can find himself after all, even if he does follow in Kamina's footsteps. There are far worse things one could aspire to.
Quick comments on the quality of animation and sound here: excellent. Aside from the occasional misstep (such as the notoriously ugly fourth episode), everything here looks great, emphasizing the wild boldness of the story with animation that threatens to disintegrate into pure color and energy under such force. The soundtrack is thunderous, full of upbeat pop-rock and bombastic classical or neoclassical pieces that suit the increasingly epic feel perfectly.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann could be considered Gainax's magnum opus—the contrarily nihilistic Neon Genesis Evangelion notwithstanding. What they've managed to do with this show is take traditions set forth by Gunbuster/Top wo Nerae! and its sequel, Diebuster/Top wo Nerae! 2 and blend them with more subtle elements of the very non-traditional postmodernist FLCL. Rather than having robots popping out of the young protagonist's head after being clocked by a girl with an electric guitar, the boy goes about his usual mode of working his way through life and discovers the key to a robot that responds to his emotions, his very spirit, opening the way up and out, eradicating limitations as long as he can muster the desire to change, grow, and realize his destiny. Look to your dreams and reach for the heavens: every light in the sky is a star. It's a premise that is just as absurd, yet it seems to make sense compared to all the pubescent confusion FLCL hurls at its audience. This drill is the boy's soul—the key to a boundless extension of himself that he will call Gurren Lagann. "This drill is me." The "hard work and guts!" of Gunbuster becomes, "My drill is the drill that will penetrate the heavens!" Aim for the top, indeed.