Gurren Lagann, some people love it, some people hate it. If you are in the first category, then these OVAs should satisfy you if you are looking for a bit more Gurren fun.
Well since these two episodes take place during the series, it just won’t have the charm from the actual anime, nor do they really fill any kind of gap in the story. They are simply meant to be fun little stories for the Gurren fans.
The first OVA (episode 5.5) shows a few extra things that happened to Kamina and the gang while they were crossing the wilderness. The key point here is
that two new faces are lurking in the shadows, who's true motives are unknown to the gang. "Are they friend or foe?" Now don’t expect this episode to have any extreme action in it, in fact it actually plays more along the lines of an actual comedy episode, all done with the same Gurren charm. Though you do get some fun action in it as well. The only real bummer I had with this episode, is that it’s only about 12 minutes in length, it would have been much nicer to have a full episode length. It’s fun, and will put a smile on your face afterward, but it’s a bit too short.
The second OVA (episode 6 - Director’s cut) takes us back to the infamous spa episode, which most fans probably remember from the series. If you were dissapointed at the fact that the original episode contained mostly flashbacks, then you will be happy to learn that this Director’s cut version, is all 100% episode, with all the flashbacks removed. It even has many "uncensored" parts to it. So if you are looking for some fan service, this should satisfy. There are a few niches though. The first one being the obvious--this isn’t exactly a new episode, it’s basically a more fuller version of episode 6. And secondly--considering that it’s suppose to be "uncensored", it doesn’t really go that extreme distance like you would expect. In fact only the male characters actually appear nude in this episode. With the females in somewhat more exotic style scenes, but no nudity from them. So if you were expecting some steamy Yoko scenes, you might be dissapointed. But there are a lot of laughs to be had here too, and I feel that it makes up for it quite nicely with that. Despite these episodes having some small problems, they should still end up leaving you with a smile.
Not really much to say regarding this, it’s the same stylized animation from the series. Characters are colorful and well proportioned, yet they have their own exaggerated features to them. And you also get the trademark goofiness in the art when the comedy is playing key role (ie the characters have huge facial and body movements). If you have never seen the show before, then the art really will stand out for you. It looks like a traditional anime, but has a style all it’s own.
You get the same opening theme from the first part of the anime, with a few extra scenes thrown in from the OVAs. The ending is exactly the same though. Character voices are well matched, and seem to hit the right key notes at the right time. Some of it does come off as a bit "too acted out" in some scenes, but it’s not all that noticeable.
They are still funny, still charming and very fun to watch. Kamina plays more of a comical role in these two OVAs than he probably did in the actual series, and tends to steal the show from the other characters. The supporting cast are all present, but don’t play much of a role in these. Basically they keep all their trademark antics from the anime. If you loved them before, then you will love them again now, and visa-versa of course. It is also interesting to note that two new characters are introduced in this episode. However, there is little to no back story on them, and they never show up again afterwards.
When it comes right down to it, they are enjoyable OVA titles, and still manage to capture the charm from the show. Due to the fact that episode one is short, and episode 2 is simply an expansion of another, not all fans will be pleased. Still, if you liked the series, you owe it to yourself to check these out. While they may not blow you away with anything, they certainly aren’t a waste of time either.
As a seasoned Gurren Lagann veteran, I'm returning six months later to watch some of these extras to enjoy just a little more of that signature Gurren Lagann fun.
As this entry is the second OVA (the full length Director's Cut version of episode 6), the other being the brief episode 5.5; I'm going to throw out a quickie here for both of them. Edited for a re-write.
Going to cover the things common to both episodes here:
Vibrant, vivid colors with the excellently animated and quick feel one expects from Hiroyuki Imaishi. Fluid movement, consistent character design,Highly stylized, and just a touch of
the goofiness that made the show charming.
Sorairo Days (OP) is an absolutely fantastic mood setting song to get you into the show. Always loved it, and still singing along. ED is the same, it's perfectly listenable too.
Voice acting is great. It's a touch grandiose and over the top, but what about Gurren Lagann isnt? Juicy explosions, awesome BGM, just overall excellent.
Characters: 7 (all for main cast, extras don't add much)
Because I'm not reviewing the main series, the focus here is going to be on what's actually different.
Kamina, Simon, and Yoko take center stage, as usual. These episodes are mostly comedic in intent and delivery, and it does so. Supporting cast are riding shotgun, and really don't do a whole lot.
We are introduced (ep5.5) to two new beastmen, a father/daughter team out for some vengeance against the naked apes. They provide some laughs, but have sort of a Team Rocket ending, and never appear again.
Ep 5.5: (2/7 points)
The aforementioned father/daughter crooks show up under the guise of being professional Gunmen washers, offering to clean up the dingy, neglected Gurren. Much to the dismay of Kamina, Simon keeps Lagann spotless- and after having his glasses painted over while napping, and the girl performing a miraculous paint removal service, Kamina contracts the young Beastman girl to clean Gurren with her magical spray. Commence theft and loony antics, and this one is pretty much over. At 11m in length, it's a quickie.
This episode is just an additive, kind of like putting a little food coloring in your cake. It doesn't make it taste any different, but it's something new to look at.
Ep 6 reeeeeemix: (5/7 points)
In the original series, episode 6 was a recap episode, told in the form of Simon and Kamina reminiscing through flashbacks while relaxing at a rather dubious spa found in the middle of nowhere, run by a creepy grandma. About half of the flashbacks were taken out, excepting the recap of the first episode- and we get new a little bit of new plot, mostly just a more fleshed out dialogue and scenes in between the flashbacks that get the story set for the next real episode.
It doesn't change the course of the story, but this more filled out version is a lot more interesting to watch, and would have been a better disguised flashback episode than the original. The episode was obviously one that was designed to be a budget saver, and as such doesn't radically change, but as a whole, was improved in this instance.
Enjoyment and Overall: 8
These are a little obscure, and should be watched as bonuses after seeing the series in its entirety, as they don't change the story, but rather some minor differences that just add to the fun. The first part, the 5.5, is kind of a tacked-on feeling episode.. not really necessary, but it provided a little more Gurren Lagann for someone who loved the show. I enjoyed them- kept me laughing, and reminded me why i loved Gurren Lagann in the first place: because it's just plain fun.