Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

"Bust through the heavens with your drill." -  It's a statement that makes no sense on first read. However, it is the perfect name for the first episode of an anime that has earned a reputation as being one of the quintessential anime of the post-2000 era. The statement is a promise of what is going to happen in this anime and to your mind as the series continues. The heavens shall be pierced and the top of your head will pop off from just watching it happen.

It is perhaps the greatest mecha anime ever made made by one of the more talented folks involved with anime. Imaishi Hiroyuki has lended his talents to Neon Genesis Evangelion as key animator and FLCL as animation director, but it is his contribution to the direction of whole series that might endear him to anime fans from now on. After directing the anime film Dead Leaves, Hiroyuki took his first bite from the anime series director apple with this very series. He has since gone on to direct the well known Panty Stockings & Garter Belt and the insanely popular Kill La Kill, but it is undoubtedly Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann that sparked the man's legend as an anime director. 

Not only were his characters trying to bust through the heavens, but so was he and he succeeded just as much as they did. 

Gurren Lagann goes through three phases during its 27 episodes. The first phase details the discovery of the Lagann robot by Simon and Kamina. The two of them live underground in the village of Giha where no one dreams about silly things like life on the surface. Simon just drills and Kamina just gets in trouble with the chief of the village.

However, life throws a curveball their way when a robot with a large face busts through the surface of their world and attacks the inhabitants below.

Kamina decides that this is his chance (thanks to Simon's newfound robot Lagann) that the surface world can be retaken. However, Kamina wants his own robot and so he takes one and names it Gurren. That's kinda where the name for the anime comes from (although you won't hear the "Tengen Toppa" part until much later in the series). Along with the help of the scantily-clad Yoko, the three of them form the basis of what will later come to be known as Team Dai-Gurren. 

Their goal is to fight the giant face robots through the process of using their own robots to combine manly. If that doesn't make sense on the first read then you just have to watch it to understand.

From there, well, the anime takes off in a completely different direction than what you might think. The journey that begins in episode one seemingly ends early in the eighth episode, but Gurren Lagann has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. 

The animation is fantastic and incredibly eye-catching. The character designs are great. Simplistic, but memorable. The story itself builds to something so over-the-top that it is tough to imagine it had such humble beginnings, but there's a method to the madness. The goal of this anime is to pierce through the heavens using a drill. This anime is a documentary on how to do that. I'm pretty sure anyone can do it, too. Just find your favorite drill bit and get started now. (Lemme know how it works out if you seriously try it.)

The best thing of all could be the dialog. If there was ever a "man's anime" then Gurren Lagann would have to be it. It's sort of the life-changing experience that would be worthy of Ron Swanson's Pyramid of Greatness and the dialog is the reason for it. "Don't believe in yourself. Believe in me. Believe in the me that believes in you." Then there's this: "Whether it's impossible or laughable, great men open up paths in battle. If there's a wall, we break it down. If there's no path, we make one with these hands. The heart's magma burns with flames. Everlasting combination! Gurren Lagann! Me... Us... Who the hell do you think we are?!"

It's a classic. Watch if you love anime or if you want to love anime. I'm just going to warn you that these writers don't play it safe. 

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