Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann

-all of Casting Crowns’ album Lifesong

I just finished Gainax’s newest series, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. At first I was skeptical. Although I’ve been pleased by Gainax’s past mecha productions—Aim for the Top! Gunbuster, Aim for the Top! 2 Diebuster, and to a lesser extent, Neon Genesis Evangelion, I felt that maybe G-L was just hype. It came after I’d finished a rather serious series (Code Geass), so I didn’t think comedy and camp would be something I’d wanted to see. Nevertheless, I tried it out.

Now to be honest, G-L didn’t appeal to me immediately. Due to the first episode being mostly set underground, the coloring was initially quite flat and somber, a drastic change from the bright and flashy style commonly seen in anime nowadays. Of course, later on, G-L does look a lot brighter in scenes where there’s actual sunlight—so at least their art direction was aimed towards atmosphere and simply not bling.

Furthermore, I lost interest in Gurren-Lagann after the fourth episode due to the fiasco that came about after the guest art direction. A lot of people complained about the art being flat, static and uninspired in Episode 4, and this ticked me off. Thankfully, I heard that the problems were immediately fixed in the next episode. Still, business kept me from progressing. I laid off the series until last week.

Then the awesome started.

Just like its major theme, evolution–which it interprets as surpassing oneself–the series surpasses itself repeatedly. The action escalates from an extended trek through the desert to an epic climactic battle with the Beastman forces at the capital city, and then the first half ends. There’s a lot of camp, hot blood, and fanservice in the first part of the series.

Then the second half comes and turns everything on its head. The characters question their motives and even their accomplishments, and have to come to grips with how  to deal with their new lives. Just when everything seems to normalize (a bit too much, in fact)–a new enemy shows up, and the spiral of the series’ evolution goes from a Sim City nightmare to an epic space opera of ownage. Simon’s Ganmen goes from the bathtub-sized Lagann to the meter-sized Gurren-Lagann to the warship Dai-Gurren…to…

Spoilers henceforth.

…the city-sized Arc Gurren (and Arc Gurren-Lagann, which can punch holes through space)…to the Moon-sized Chouginga Gurren-Lagann…to the truly, utterly, totally, absolutely GINORMOUS Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. To put it simply.

Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. Was standing. On. A. Galaxy. And big enough to actually tower over it. Of course, the enemies at this point were also truly enormous.  Simon’s final mecha was piloted by a good portion of the main cast (won’t say whom), and it was tough enough to survive having a BIG BANG THROWN AT IT.

Of course, it wasn’t just the overwhelming cheese of the mech’s power that drew me. Hey, Ideon did that, but it still doesn’t draw me in the same way. What drew me was the attitude of the series. Sure, it wasn’t a particularly reverent attitude. (Their catchphrase, instead of “I will punish you in the name of the Moon,” was quite literally, “WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK WE ARE?!”) But there was a certain spirit in the anime that really got to me. I can’t really explain it at this point, but it’s something like this.

Gunbuster and Diebuster gave me the feeling of pleasant contentment after the hotblooded action gave way to a happy and warm ending. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann made me feel I could take on the world. The ending was truly inspiring in my opinion, and although some people didn’t like the ending, they have to agree that they surely loved the series. The characters were lovable, each awesome in his or her own way, and even the villains are redeemed in the end—yes, even the final villain.

I really was pleasantly surprised with this series, and I highly recommend it.


Anyway, I’m going to Baguio again. I went there last year to administer the PSHS screening test, and it was somewhat a traumatic experience. But that was official business anyway. This time, we’re traveling there to unwind. I’ll talk more about it when I get back.


~ by J. R. R. Flores on March 19, 2008.

One Response to “Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann”

  1. Glad you finally got round to watching this anime. Like you, I didn’t find Gurren Lagann interesting for the first few episodes, but after episode 8, I was really pulled into the storyline… and by the time I finished watching the series, Gurren Lagann ended up being my favourite anime series of all time.

    I’ve seen hundreds of anime before it, but Gurren Lagann was quite simply the most amazing anime I’ve seen, if not the most inpiring piece of fiction I’ve ever seen. It can truly make you believe that you could achieve anything if you try hard enough. It’s that spirit of the anime that makes it stand out as one of the greatest anime of all time, not to mention it being the most epic in terms of scale.

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