A few months back I wrote up an article for Kill La Kill and I really enjoyed discussing the satire and comedy and seeing that show for the insane parody that it was, but I feel like I missed out on something by not mentioning Gurren Lagann. Those two series’ share the same writer and director, Kazuki Nakashima and Hiroyuki Imaishi, respectively; it’s their very unique style which is comedy, great animation and frantic animation that give their shows such a wonderful and unique look. If it was not for Gurren Lagann and one weekend where I was left with nothing to do I would have never gotten into Kill La Kill, so I guess this is a case of respecting what came before.
Gurren Lagann takes place in a future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, who forces mankind to live in isolated subterranean villages. These villages have no contact with the surface world or other villages and are under constant threat of earthquakes. Selected villagers called diggers are conscripted to expand their homes deeper underground. Simon, a meek young digger ostracized by his peers, finds solace in his best friend and older brother figure, an eccentric delinquent named Kamina. Kamina encourages Simon to join his gang, Team Gurren, to help him achieve his dream of visiting the surface world. One day, Simon unearths a drill-shaped key called a Core Drill, followed by a small mecha resembling a face called a Gunmen. Shortly thereafter, a giant Gunmen crashes through the ceiling and begins attacking the village, followed by a girl named Yoko, who attempts to repel the Gunmen. Simon uses his Core Drill to activate the smaller Gunmen (which Kamina names Lagann), and it is used to destroy the larger Gunmen and break through to the surface world.
That summary gives you the basic plot, but it goes on from there and will take you to places you will never see coming. It’s weird, on one hand you have this series that parodies mecha anime and has giant machines, who only get bigger, battling it out. Trust me they get very big. While on the other hand you have this weird moral about pushing on no matter what people try and tell you because you won’t know where you can go until you get there. That’s not the only lesson, as with many anime there is this sense of having to believe in yourself which leads to the series famous quote –
“Listen up, Simon. Don’t believe in yourself. Believe in me! Believe in the Kamina who believes in you!”
I just love this fantastic quote because as cheesy as it is, it’s something a lot of us can relate to, believing in our own power can be terrifying but having faith in others is what gets a lot of us by and in that we can find the strength to do amazing things, which at its heart is what this whole series is about.
The animation is just brilliant. It’s colourful, fluid, beautiful and fantastic in every way. It’s very easy in any massive robot anime especially one as frantic as this to lose touch with what’s happening. However the team behind the show really have this amazing way of making the most insane and out of the world fights. With characters that are beautifully drawn and interestingly enough quite a bit of male nudity and the most scantily clad female ends up with more clothes on at the end of the series. It’s an interesting look at a genre which has been done to death. Though I do love me some giant robots!
The series music is weirdly enough one of its strongest points. It’s a great mix of so many different sources plus they created a series of music videos that help further develop the few of the plot lines while others are just mind-blowing.
Gurren Lagann boasts quite the cascade of characters from the uber manly Kamina to the everyman Simon, the voluptuous Yoko, the sneaky Kittan, the devout Rossiu Adai and the relentless Viral. Each character brings their own unquie twist to a series which at its heart is about charcters trying to find where they belong and failing that they build somewhere for them to belong. As wonderfully upbeat and fun this series is it does carry a few low points but these lows make the highs all the better.
Gurren Lagann is one of the most unique series I have ever seen and if you’re a newcomer or an old hand in anime this is going to be for you. To sum it up Gurren Lagann will take you from the depths of the Earth to soaring through the celestial heavens on a journey you will never see coming. It’s wild, fantastical, beautiful and wonderful all at once. This series is an art form itself and it’s going to make you feel damn good about yourself!