AKA: Tengen Toppa Guren Ragan, 天元突破グレンラガン
Genre: Adventure, Mecha, Comedy Drama
Available On: Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu
This was a show included in my CR Challenge! If you aren’t familiar with what that is, you can read about it here.
I have never been a Mecha fan. That’s a lie, I’ve enjoyed watching most of the Gundam series and I also love Big-O but other than that I don’t go out of my way to watch them. Giant robots fighting just don’t intrigue as much as I thought. However, Gurren Lagann had one factor that a lot of other shows didn’t and that was Kamina. He really made the series stand out because of his character and relationships with the others. I was sold after seeing him on the screen. Then, in a few more episodes, I had hit a green flag. I started to care about the supporting characters as much as the main ones.
We’re getting introduced to a new studio this week! Gainax is a Japanese anime studio that has produced numerous critically acclaimed works such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kare Kano, Corpse Princess, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, and FLCL (Fooly Cooly). Apparently it’s a really small studio with less than 20 employees but they’re work has some of my favorite animation.
Gurren Lagann follows the story of Kamina and Simon. Technically, Simon is the main protagonist of the show. He’s a 14 year old digger from the Giha village. Since he’s small and timid, most of the other villagers look down on him but he’s the best digger in the village and enjoys the solitude of being away from people and just digging. Opposite of him in every way is Kamina, He’s passionate and outgoing individual who wants to explore the outside world. The two have an already established bond where Simon usually follows after Kamina. He also refers to Kamina as his brother even though they aren’t related at all.
They live in these underground villages after being forced to by the Spiral King, Lordgenome. Many of them have never been above ground and are told there are earthquakes every day which is the reason for the loud noises and movement. Kamina creates a team named Team Dai-Gurren, who are planning to go above the surface.
Throughout the series, their team grows larger and stronger until Kamina gets killed. This causes Simon to sink into a deep depression and loses his will to fight. That changes when he meets Nia, for him it’s love at first sight. Many battles ensue leading to Simon having to defeat the Spiral King himself, which he does. Then, the series fast forward seven years later. Simon is older and the head of a new city named Kamina City. As soon as the population reaches 1 million, spirals appear and attack.
In the end, all of the characters get their resolutions, a lot of characters also die (RIP 90% of Dai-Gurren) and then there’s another time skip of 20 years. Simon is much older and traveling by himself and Kamina city has developed a lot.
The main protagonist of the series, Simon (pronounced shi-mon) is 14 years old at the start of the show and lives to dig. He’s the most talented digger in his village. Eventually, he’ll go on to become the next leader of Team Dai-Gurren. He’s mostly timid and shy. He pilots Lagann’s head and using his core drill and eventually is able to combine his part with Kamina’s to form the Gurren Lagann. Simon really admires Kamina and forms a close bond with him.
Genuinely thought he was the main protagonist (until they killed him off). He’s literally the hype man for Team Gurren. The man is loud, energetic, and tough. His father left him to also travel above ground but early in the series he finds his cape which is marking his grave. Kamina takes the cape and puts on those iconic shades and the rest is history. Everyone seems to gravitate towards him and when he dies a piece of me died, honestly.
There was no reason for this girl to be running around shooting gunmen wearing a too small bikini and shorts. Other than that, I didn’t mind her as a character. She was strong physically and mentally. Also the sparks between her and Kamina were clear from their first meeting. The only thing that confused me was her random kiss with Kittan, like girl…you just have a thing for loud, rambunctious men don’t you?
Nia was sort of the “princess in peril” for Simon. I mean she was a literal princess since her father was the Spiral King. At first, the rest of the team didn’t trust or like her but Simon was always 10 toes down for her! After the first time skip, they get engaged but the attack of the anti-spiral triggers her to revert to her original form and she becomes more of a messenger. Simon of course fights for her but when he defeats the enemy, he defeats her too. They managed to get married towards the end of the show but she isn’t able to hold out any longer and disappears forever.
- Soundtrack always at 100%
- A dash of romance, drama, and fighting (something for everyone)
- Kamina is a top 10 memorable character
- A lot of amazing side characters
- Fanservic(y) women characters
- One of the main character’s killed off too early
Another highly recommended show! As I said before, even if you’re not a fan of mecha, I think you’ll be surprised by how interesting and entertaining the show is. Plus, I cannot stress how amazing the OST is, the voice acting is top tier, the drama is meaningful, I just can’t find enough praise. I was sad when Kamina died but I accepted Simon getting the torched passed to him. His whole grief sequence was nice to watch in that you could tell he wasn’t just going to be the next ‘hero’, he had to earn it.
Also, I can put my differences aside for Yoko’s fan service attire because she genuinely was a good character. Gurren Lagann gave what it was supposed to give! All the mecha anime I’ve consumed had a fair amount of action and drama which I feel the drama is really needed to keep attention. Like I said, I don’t really get excited seeing giant mechanical robots fighting one another. That’s why it is essential to have good characters.
With all of that in mind, I’ve given Gurren Lagann a rating of 4/5 Onirigi! It would’ve been a perfect score but I just did not like how they killed off Kamina so early. I get it was supposed to be a central way for development for Simon but I think they could’ve done that without killing him off! I mean just look at the end result; Simon could’ve still took over and still faced opposition but I guess it’s for the dramatics.
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