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Japanator review: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

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An epic is a long narrative poem that celebrates the feats of a legendary or traditional hero. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is an epic. It might not be a poem, it might not be over 9000 episodes, yet it is indeed an epic. Way back before Japanator’s time skip, I wrote my first impression of Gurren Lagann, in which I stated that Gainax has never made a bad mecha show. To this day I stand by my word like I said many moons ago.

However, my first impression was only based off the first three episodes of the series. I said it was great then, even excellent; but how can something become even greater than that? Well, it becomes epic, that’s how. See why after the jump.
The basic story revolves around the idea of evolution, and about how humans have the possibility to do anything as long as they put there hearts and souls into it. Like most epics this one starts out simple -- all with a boy who just wants to dig holes to make his village bigger. It goes from that to a man who leads a group of warriors to the ends of the universe, against beings that rival gods.

In the beginning, humans were forced underground by the oppressive beastmen. Simon the digger knew nothing of the outside world, only his best friend and brother (in soul) Kamina knew that the outside world existed. With the help of Yoko, a sexy female sniper, the three of them managed to escape.  

The group meets up with more people  (like the super smart and super gay Leeron, the quick tempered Kittan, and the prudent Rossiu) who had escaped from other underground villages, transforming them into honorary members of Kamina’s personal gang, the Gurren Brigade .  In order for them to survive on the surface of the planet, the brigade must destroy the tyrannical Beastman Empire.

Without spoiling too much, after the group takes care of the Beastman Empire, the story skips ahead seven years when a majority of villagers have escaped to the surface from their underground villages. Now the members of the Gurren Brigade who saved the world previously from the Beastman reign are now the leaders of this new world government. However, because of this revolution, humanity pushed aside what initially had protected them, jumping from the boiling water right into the fire itself.

What makes this story so great is its scale. The difference between the first episode and the last episode is about a galaxy in length. I happen to be a sucker for stories where the hero starts out as nobody, but by the end of the series has the universe in his/her hands. If you are like me, then you won’t be disappointed. As an added bonus, if you ever wished Shinji from Neon Genesis would man up and do something, then be prepared to be happy -- very happy.

Gurren Lagann is 27 episodes long, but it could have been twice that in length. Much like a train that pulls a heavy load, it starts off slow, but by the end it is going so fast that there is no possible way to slow it down. One of the complaints I have about this show is that it just goes by too fast at the end, where new mecha are only shown for an episode or two before another power up.

Each arc of this show has its own soundtrack; sometimes sharing a few songs here and there or remixing them up. Overall it is a fantastic soundtrack, ranging from orchestral  pieces, to heavy rock, to rap-opera (ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWER!!). They always place these songs in the right scenes, which usually will bring a tear to your eye or make you want to beat up your dog (because you think it’s a beastman).

People might say Gurren Lagann is predictable, a show where the good guys always win, or just an orgy of brainless action. This isn’t brainless action, this is over-the-top, kicking-reason-to-the-curb, punching-you-through-time-and-space, action. But to say the good guy always win is definitely wrong in the case of Gurren Lagann. The good guys might win, but at what cost? You can not kick reason to the curb forever, sometimes there are things no one can do, and I believe this is one of the themes Gurren Lagann tries to send us away with. However, the other theme is to never give up, and try even if it is only a .00000002% chance of success, because .00000002% is more like 100% in the eyes of the Gurren Brigade.

Gurren Lagann
might not be correct in the eyes of science, its not always serious, and it definitely makes all girls good looking, so don’t expect reality in this sense. But what Gurren Lagann does better than most series is that it creates an emotional connection to the characters so strong that it is hard not to shed a tear when a character whips out a gigantic drill, or someone sacrifices their life for the betterment of the brigade. If you like epic battles, giant drills, emotional speeches, and kicking all reason to the curb, then Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a must watch. Its power can even reach us, breaking the bonds of what we think is normal and concrete.  

Final Score: 30/10
Forget it!/Rent it!/Buy it!


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reviewed by God Len

 

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