[Spoilers] The defense of Rossiu Adai
Aug 22, 2016 4:31 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Jesus Christ I didn't intend this to be such a huge wall of text. I forgot to credit gurrenlagann wikia from which I borrowed a lot of exposition from individual character pages with some personal edits and adjustments to fit the theme of the thread.
At the time of writing and researching this, I came across a bunch of amazing discussions that are somewhat supporting what I've said here, like this amazing video by BestGuyEver which may most likely be a much worthier watch than this thread is worth reading unfortunately. Also someone suggested that father Magin may actually be father... of Rossiu. Interesting stuff.
If you've seen this show, you may remember the forehead boy. If you've completed the series, chances are you hate this guy. While I understand why you would, it pains me to see how underappreciated Rossiu Adai as a character is because I believe he is one of, if not the best written character in the series. In order to understand and appreciate Rossiu as a character, you need to understand what Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is as a story, as well as other so called antagonists.
In a nutshell, it's a story about being recklessly hopeful and confident about the future, how even the 0.0000000001% chances of success can lead to a 100% positive outcome - high risk, high reward. What's amazing about this is that the show at the same time tells us that this can and will backfire, remember what happened to the embodiment of this very idea, Kamina. Not to mention the existence of "villains" such as Lordgenome, Anti-Spirals and arguably, Rossiu and Father Magin. I'll talk about quotemarked "villains" later.
Certainly, going against ridiculously high chance of failure is not in any means the sane approach. But this story is insane, everyone can agree on this. A boy from an underground village spending his time digging tunnels becomes a captain abroad a space ship drilling through heavens. How many times during the show did our heroes decide to do something absolutely insane yet still come out alive and successful? Probably more than you can count on your fingers.
However what most people seem to miss is that this story is also about the clash of two types of characters; ones who push forward without a second thought about failure, disregarding any danger and laughing at it and; characters who are careful to avoid disasters, seeking the most reasonable and probable way of saving as many people as possible. The former are the ones who are taking all the credit for how amazing the show is.
Meet Rossiu Adai. A boy from another underground village, a village where only 50 people are allowed to live in, once a 51st child is born, one random person needs to be banished to the surface because the village doesn't have the resources to support that many. The village elder Magin comes up with a fake religion, based on a book that he can't read (which is later revealed to be a book of nonsensical scribbles), proclaiming how anyone selected is going to ascend and live with the Gods above, where they would actually most likely die or be killed. Rossiu's own mother was picked by this system, and even when he discovers the truth, he eventually (after a bit of crying, of course) defends the system because he understands and knows very well the state the village is in. If the population of the village grows beyond the limit of 50, people would starve, or worse it would disturb the peace as someone would surely fight for food. It would cause chaos and the entire village, as small as it is, would easily be wiped.
The village elder Magin is not a villain, he is just trying his best to protect as many people as it is possible, even if that means sacrificing the minority.
7 years after a glorious victory over the super evil villain Lordgenome, most of the humans are no longer living underground, they built cities and are populating the surface. Finally, a life free of oppression from the pesky beastmen. However, Simon and Rossiu are worried over what Lordgenome's last words were. Once the population reaches 1 million, the human race will be annihilated. Sounds like something we heard 7 years ago in some poor underground village, doesn't it? A couple of episodes later, we find out that Lordegenome isn't the super evil villain we thought he was, oppressing humans just because he can. He once was a hero, just like Simon, fighting the super evil villains, the Anti-Spirals. He joined the Spiral Warriors of that time and together they fought and fought, but they were unable to pinpoint the location of the Anti-Spirals. In time, most of his allies were slain due to a seemingly unlimited amount of enemies, and then he discovered the truth behind the Spiral Power, how it has a potential to destroy the entire universe (more on this later). Lordgenome breaks down here, he attempted to stop his remaining alive allies from fighting further, however, they wouldn't listen. In fury, he kills them all because they didn't agree with him. He compromised with Anti-Spirals, where they proposed that humans are allowed to continue their existence only in small numbers. And so, after many years, he becomes the Spiral King we are first introduced to in the show. He knows that Anti-Spirals are way too powerful and he is absolutely certain that there will be people like he once was, willing to rebel against them. Forcing humans to live underground with the fear of being killed if they ever dare set foot on surface, in order to control them and in the bigger picture, save them. He technically is the guardian of humanity, even if that meant that he was actively killing any human found on the surface.
Lordgenome is not a villain, he is just trying his best to protect as many people as it is possible, even if that means sacrificing the minority.
Let's talk about the Spiral Power. Spiral Power is specifically stated to defy conservation of energy, which in addition to explaining the creation of mass that is practically constant during battles, also carries danger if Spiral Power is overused. Eons before the story begins, a certain race evolved enough to prosper across the stars through the use of their Spiral Power. However, discovering that the limitless evolution and power could one day lead to the destruction of the entire universe, an event they termed the Spiral Nemesis, they abandoned the use of Spiral Power and sealed their bodies on their home planet, ceasing to evolve, and calling themselves the Anti-Spirals.
As the name implies, they also acted to repress other civilizations that used Spiral Power, fearing that they could also become a threat to the universe if left unchecked. Since Spiral Power comes from the will of its users, the Anti-Spirals tend to employ tactics specifically designed to induce fear, despair and hopelessness in their enemies. The Anti-Spirals also tend to spare their enemies if they surrender, but leave behind automated "defense" systems that will activate and attack a Spiral civilization if it grows too strong.
After the defeat of the Spiral Warriors of Earth, the Anti-Spiral set up numerous Human Extermination Systems all across the planet (some were in the form of unaware human beings like Nia), warning Lordgenome that if the number of humans on Earth exceeded one million, they would activate these systems and finish what they had started.
Anti-Spirals think exactly like the village elder Magin, they are literally setting a limit on how many people are allowed to live for the greater good. Elder Magin knows that his village can't afford to support more than 50 people. The Anti-Spirals know that the rapid growth of the Spiral race will be the end of everything as a result of Spiral Nemesis.
Anti-Spirals are not the villains, they are just trying their best to protect as many people as it is possible, even if that means sacrificing the minority.
After talking about these 3, I can finally get to talk about the greatness that is Rossiu Adai. In the third part of the show, after the time skip, Rossiu becomes second in charge and responsible for the entire population of Earth, next to Simon. After a millionth child was born, as they feared, Anti-Spirals really do announce that in a very short amount of time, the moon will crash into the Earth and wipe out humanity. That's when Muganns also appeared. When Simon fought them, he lost the favor of the people. In a crisis, panic among people can be extremely dangerous and something had to be done. Rossiu knew that he had to punish Simon somehow. He sentenced him to death. He had to please the population of Kamina City somehow.
To protect the population from the impact with the moon to be provoked by the Anti-Spirals, Rossiu prepared a contingency plan by dividing it into two groups: one to take shelter in the underground villages, assumed to be safe by the government, and the other to board the Arc-Gurren. However, when Leeron showed him that no life form, in the surface or underground, would survive the impact, which would render the planet completely uninhabitable for one year, Rossiu decided to change his plans, by filling the rest of Arc-Gurren with animals and livestock, ensuring a chance of survival for them, and abandoning the rest of mankind. However, Earth was attacked earlier than expected, and he had to escape with only half the expected refugees on board of the Arc-Gurren. Rossiu's plan starts falling apart and as the anti-spirals had anticipated this, they had Mugann ready to ambush them. Nearing despair, Simon saves Rossiu and his ship containing 180,000 people. When the Earth becomes dangerously close to destruction, Rossiu still orders Gimmy and Darry to pull the Arc Gurren-Lagann out at the last minute, in a last desperate attempt to protect the 180,000 people aboard the ship, even if that means leaving Simon and others to die. Thankfully, Simon managed to convince Nia to move and the earth was saved. As you can see, Rossiu is an extremely flawed character.
Or is he? He's a character that made mistakes, yes, but he's only human. Humans make mistakes. So what happens next? Unable to cope with his decisions, Rossiu fell into despair.
One week after the Human Extermination System was stopped, Rossiu left a farewell message and set for his home, Adai Village, having decided to take his own life to atone for his mistakes. However, Kinon found the message and Simon rushed with her in Gurren Lagann to stop him. As Rossiu was about to pull the trigger, Gurren-Lagann appeared in a rift created by teleporting. Rossiu attempted to fire, but hesitated when he heard Kinon's voice. This allowed Simon to punch Rossiu, giving him the words of encouragement Kamina once gave him. Rossiu snaps out of his depression.
The show goes very far to show that Rossiu absolutely hates every single thing he has done that ended up or would end up hurting people, and he has done not a single thing out of spite, malice or anything evil - everything he did was of an obligation to help others. I seriously can't understand how can anyone not respect Rossiu after finishing the series. In any other story, he would be called The Hero. He was doing his best to save as many people as he could as possible as it was. But this is Gurenn Lagann, a show out of reason, where anything is possible. A show about saving both sinking ships, not only the one with more people on it.
So what does Rossiu remind you of? He is just like Anti-Spirals, Lordgenome and elder Magin. However...
How does Tengen Toppa Gurenn Lagann end? Before I'm done with this huge wall of text, I need to mention Simon as well, and why all of this is important in order to appreciate Rossiu Adai. If, for some reason, you still don't.
Simon and co. aren't the first to fight the Anti-Spirals, we know that. There are a countless men who came before them, and a millions who would soon come after, if they had failed. The Spiral Power is a power of essentially infinite potential, you can do anything with it. Simon could technically bring Kamina back, he could bring Nia back, but he doesn't. He now knows all too well that if he was to use it, he would have to bring back everyone anyone has ever lost. That would surely lead to Spiral Nemesis.
In the show, there are two polar opposites, Kamina and Anti-Spirals. People like Kamina are in no way perfect and in some sense, even less moral than Anti-Spirals. They embody reckless ambition and strive towards always doing the impossible, never backing down - road to Spiral Nemesis. Their goal is somewhat selfish, but understandable because they're ignorant to it. You can't blame them.
But of course, we know that Anti-Spirals aren't particularly moral either. They have killed a massive amount of people, you can't deny that. However, their goal is simply to keep the universe going, they don't want it to end. So they'll do everything and anything in their power to keep it running.
This is where Rossiu comes in. Simon and Rossiu, after defeating the Anti-Spirals, are left with a massive responsibility - do not destroy the universe. They very easily can, but as the epilogue shows, they didn't. Simon is now an old man traveling around the Earth helping people with random things. We see that old Rossiu (who looks extremely similar to elder Magin now) is left in charge of controlling the entire universe, but not like a super villain, rather as someone who will not allow Spiral Power to be used recklessly. Leeron calls him a president and tells him that only he could have achieved a peaceful world free of worry; to which Rossiu denies and hints to his biggest regret in his life and says that Simon could have done it too.
Only when these two types of characters work together can a safe and sound universe exist, they finally found a middle ground, allowing as much as freedom as desired without putting the universe on the verge of collapsing.
Rossiu Adai is only human. A human with a good heart but everything he does ends up being a mistake. He is a character that relies on the philosophy of sacrificing the minority for the greater good, yet it always ends up hurting more people without doing much good. After he realizes that he was always making bad decisions, that he was always in the way, he breaks. He can't stand to be a nuisance anymore and attempts to atone for his mistakes, thinking that the only punishment worthy enough is death. It's always nice to see characters having self conscious/awareness, something that unfortunately is pretty rare in anime.
Rossiu Adai is a character in the wrong story, he does what the situation requires and what in the big picture makes the most sense, striving for a best possible outcome, in a series that's all about doing the impossible. But having him in Tengen Toppa Gurenn Lagann is the reason I respect this show so much, and is what convinced me to rate it a 10/10.
Modified by null, Aug 22, 2016 5:13 PM
Aug 23, 2016 12:21 AM
Joined: Apr 2016
Completely agree. I also love the subtlety in how TTGL refuses to make Rossiu another antagonist to be fought and defeated by the protagonist like LordGenome in the first half or the Anti-Spirals in the second half. Instead, the protagonist saves him. It really shows that this show is about a middle ground between self-propelled destruction and oppressive survival.
I don't see this come up very often with discussions about TTGL, but for all the absurd things that happen in TTGL, I'd hesitate to really call any of them unreasonable. Obviously, there's the "throw reason to the curb" thing that Kamina does, but all the decisions make sense for the characters. It doesn't conventionally seem reasonable to leave your lifelong home (Giha Village) and plunge headfirst into a place you know almost nothing about (the surface), but that's only if your top priority is the most stable lifestyle, which sure as hell isn't anything Kamina values. He hates everything about being in Giha Village, from the cynical people to the inevitable earthquakes that come along and kill them. Even though he would probably be more well-liked and respected among the villagers if he worked with what he knew for sure Giha Village had to make the best of that situation, making the best of a situation isn't something that Kamina cares about-he's looking for a new, better situation with more things to be had, period. If he doesn't like a situation, he isn't thinking about accepting the conditions of that situation and working within it, he's going to make a new situation.
On the other hand, Rossiu, Magin, LordGenome, and the Anti-Spirals are all trying to work within the conditions of a situation they don't like. The main difference in decision-making between Rossiu/Magin and LordGenome/Anti-Spirals is how much they know. Magin doesn't know much about the surface, so he's not willing to risk going up there in the possibility of finding more resources so that the killing the 51st guy ritual isn't a thing anymore. He knows that the village doesn't have enough resources, accepted the condition that the surface is off-limits, and isn't willing to move an inch forward. Hell, he's still in that hole seven years later. Rossiu at least goes out of Adai Village, but he runs into the same basic problem when fighting the Anti-Spirals (or as I like to call it, "slowing down" the Anti-Spirals).
Rossiu isn't willing to throw his all into destroying the heart of the Anti-Spiral threat until he knows the full conditions of fighting them, but he doesn't have enough time to do that, and being pressed against a wall, he reverts to old Magin sacrificial philosophy. First he sacrifices Simon, the best fighter he has, so that he can get the support of the people as fast as he can, which works. But then his knowledge starts failing him, as with Magin. He knows that the moon is coming down, and since he doesn't know anything about it, he accepts "the moon is falling" as a condition to work with and puts people in underground shelters instead of fighting against it, because that sounds crazy. But he also doesn't know that as crazy and unlikely to succeed as fighting the moon seems, putting the people in shelters has a 0% chance of success. When he does know this, it's too late and he once again accepts the conditions-The people underground will die, and that's a condition to work within. When there's not enough time to board to ship, he can only accept that as another condition to work within. The key point of what Rossiu doesn't know is the greater condition that he's accepting-the Anti-Spirals are not focused on having Mugens come around and kill some people every now and then or even having the moon fall on the Earth-their greater objective is total fucking genocide, and that's not a condition you can work within to save people. His entire plan is laid out without truly understanding this greater condition, so it has a 0% chance of success. But not understanding that, he continues with it anyway despite it failing at almost every turn, and the plan itself (sacrifice Simon, put people in shelters, put people on the Arc-Gurren) becomes another unbreakable condition for him.
Now in the case of LordGenome and the Anti-Spirals, they know much more than Rossiu and Magin. They more or less fully understand the situation, so their unchangeable conditions are much more actually unchangeable, rather than guesswork based on fear. At the end of the series, only when the characters know and understand what the Spiral Nemesis is, can the now more competent Rossiu be put in charge of the future rather than Simon, because he's good at working within conditions and Simon is not. Both characters have learned to respect each other methods (without downplaying their own like when Simon let himself be jailed and Rossiu tried to commit suicide to atone for failure), and it's basically the happiest ending possible.
Aug 29, 2016 4:38 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Great thread by both of you. I regret only that I'm not smart enough to add anything and contribute.
My only takeaway is the immensely motivating idea of balancing self-propelled destruction and oppressive survival.
It makes the whole theme of TTGL a lot more relatable and relevant to normal people.
Aug 31, 2016 4:13 AM
Mar 15, 6:18 PM