I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for quite awhile. Internet in the campus has been acting up lately. The lecture notes needing revision are piling up. Assignments are around the corner. I struggle to find some time just to do a decent review. Having said that, expect more unannounced hiatus in the future. I’d say, welcome back to student life.
I have long intended to blog about this anime. When I first heard of this anime, it fails to get my attention simply because of the odd mecha design and I originally did not enjoy watching mecha-type anime. But my extinguished desire for mecha anime has came back to life, thanks to Gundam 00. And ever since then, I thought to myself that Gundam 00 may not be the only good mecha-oriented anime around. In fact, some are better (such as Code Geass, which I am currently watching done watching and I will get to that later) and not necessary focusing on the mecha themselves. I believe that at the end of the day, what really matters is the story. Of course, you need the kick-ass action and flawless animation as a compliment but those two along won’t make any sense without a solid plot from the beginning towards the end of the story. And Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann is one of the honourable mention. Otherwise it won’t be picked as Best Anime of 2007 by the staff from Random Curiosity.
Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann
Having living in the underground, digging hole using his trusty drill is the only life Simon had always know. This dirty life does not appeal to the girls but there was one man who always stood proud by his side. In fact, Simon always look up to him to the extent of calling him “Aniki” – a title literally means “brother” and usually used to refer someone respectable to you (not necessary related). This man is Kamina, Simon’s idol and together they path their destiny together to pierce through the heaven, which is what “Tengen Toppa” basically means. However little did they know that their journey that they soon embark from their humble underground village is the path of destiny that will soon change the entire world and to the greatest extent, the whole universe. The enemy they are facing are the Beastmen; rowdy, violent, and definitely not human. The first Beastmen came to their village with a mecha weapon, the Ganmen. Simon who earlier made the discovery that he clearly ignored in the beginning as the discovery that will change his life and the lives of many in the coming future. This thing he discovered is another Ganmen but this one is a lot smaller Ganmen compared to his enemy’s. Regardless it was the only weapon they had at the moment and with that tiny machine alone, he was able to defeat the Goliath. And that was not the end of them. Many had come but Simon had what it takes to defeat them and Kamina is there by side. Things gotten much better when they had more comrades on their side. The significant one being a female Ritona fighter, Yoko and together they decided to destroy the one responsible for the movement that caused suppression towards mankind – the Helix King. It was not possible though without the help of Leeron, the mechanical genius and of course their victory is not even close of being possible without Simon’s own Ganmen named Lagann and also Kamina’s Gurren (Kamina named both of the Ganmen). In the midst of their battle, a miracle happened. Both of Gurren and Lagann were able to combine to form a stronger mecha which was simply named as Gurren-Lagann.
Simon and Kamina. Together they change the fate of mankind.
The whole team that was named as Gurren-dan (Gurren Brigade) by Kamina is unstoppable, able to push forward no matter what the challenge they face ahead of them. Their first worthy opponent was Viral but he was too soon been subdued. He however lives for another day though. It was until when they had to confront one of the Four Divine General when Kamina unfortunately met his doom. He was always remembers as the iconic figure and the ever-charismatic leader of the Gurren Brigade which was later called as the Great Gurren Brigade. After taking over one of the main fleet of the Four Divine Generals, they soon fought their way to face Helix King or otherwise known as Lord Genome. Along their way, they met more comrades and also Nia, who soon to be destined to be with Simon. Before Lord Genome was put to his end, he warned Simon of the great catastrophe that will soon destroy Earth. However all of them were ignorant of his stern warning. All except Rossiu, an aide of Simon who later became the administrative leader of their newly formed Kamina City. He did all he could to prevent that from happening, including reviving Lord Genome from his grave. Yet all of that was for nothing when the real nemesis revealed themselves to mankind – the Anti-Spiral. The Anti-Spiral considered humans as the Spiral beings whose energy and capability to evolve pose a threat to the existence of the universe. Once again, Simon stood up against the challenge of defending Earth from the imminent destruction. But nothing braced him to the cruel fate that he was about to take. The face of the Anti-Spiral took on Earth was no other than Nia herself.
What many would think as a worst-case scenario the story could partake, the despair is soon over. Nia somehow managed to regain her true self after the Anti-Spiral presence on Earth was defeated. But the fight was far from over. They now need to embark to destroy the source of this threat itself, where the Anti-Spirals are. And would require them to travel to the edge of the universe (should the universe have its limit, which seems too impossible but this anime is all about being epic). At the same time, Simon would need to save his beloved Nia who is now in the Anti-Spirals’ custody. All of these seems too much to accept, thinking that there are such existence that seems god-like. But this is what the story is all about. Being epic in many aspect and to the great extent of the whole universe. Yes this anime is about epic proportions. Even the Gurren-Lagann evolved in the same manner. The endless combination with much greater vessel. First being the Arc-Gurren (Lord Genome’s personal vessel) to form the Arc-Gurren-Lagann then the Chouginga Dai-Gurren (Cathedral Terra originally and another battleship of Lord Genome’s) to form the Chouginga Gurren-Lagann and to the Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann as the ultimate form of the all the Dai Gurren-dan (Great Gurren Brigade) powers combined. Yes, everything grows big and the ultimate form is insanely big.
Nia. Both of Simon’s lover and opponent.
Viral. Bad guy turned Simon’s next-man comrade.
Now when it comes to the plot however, you can’t stop to think about those typical shounen anime whereby the main character would become stronger as the story progress to the point he is insanely unstoppable. But cheers to the victor who are the good guys. What made Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann sets themselve apart from the rest is that the writers have no intention to hold back and being humble when comes to being epic. Can’t believe me? The final form of Gurren-Lagann is as big as an entire galaxy. How about that? The same way Son Goku from Dragon Ball defeat the endless “strongest villains ever.” But it is not to excessive to the point that it is appalling. Considering that the whole stretch of the epic fits nicely in just 27 episode, this anime is not too bad to watch. It is fun considering the endless adventure with Simon. The story also comes strong with the emotion part but my favourite was when Kamina died. To me, the particular event shaped what would have happened in the future. His death is no less of being significant as it was able to lead Simon and his comrades towards victory and the survival of mankind. Again, how’s that for being an epic story? Nonetheless being all too typical in terms of plot and yes, it’s all happily-ever-after kind of affair, I have to admit it, it is dull to endure it all. But the actions keep me wanting more and that is what the writers was able to deliver. When it comes to the BGM, there was no shortcoming there. Self-explanatory, it was composed by Iwasaki Taku. The animation also did come on short; it came on delivering the best each coming episode. However should there be any disappointment, it would be episode 4 when the story is pretty much a filler and the animation QC went bad.
Love it or hate it, you can be on both sides. Love it for the epic story, hate it for the same reason as well as it was all too typical. Love it because it delivers well in character development and animation, hate the silly mecha design. Come on, the robots basically have huge face on the body. At least, it was an attempt of being original. All I can say is that you are going to like the story just as much as you are not fazed by it. Even so, you will definitely not going to hate it.
My ratings: 4/5