We start out in space, and get 2 great motifs for the show. Boota says “All the lights in the stars are our enemies, huh?” and of course the epic shouting of Gurren Lagann. The show already looks beautiful, with so many moving parts and colors. We already got an epic moment, and we haven’t even started the plot. Next, Simon’s passion is immediately established, as he mentions that he does the work because he loves digging up treasure, not because it gives him food. It’s amazing how little this show works when it develops characters. Simon literally just describes what does, yet we already get some sense of what he’s like. Right after that, a bunch of girls make fun of Simon, and kinda call him a rapist. Simon is down for a sec, showing his shy side, but then Kamina comes in and is the coolest mother fucker in the multiverse. The concept of their underground villages is explained by Kamina, quickly, while they fly into the air on pigs. They live underground, and no one wants them to go to the surface.
The Mayor tries to punish team Gurren, and the 3 nameless characters pussy out. Kamina and Simon just stand there, because they did what they wanted to do. Simon is already likable, trying to keep by his bro even when let off the hook. The rocks fall, and Kamina brings Simon inside, saying “Oh, right, your parents.” From this, we can assume what happened to Simon’s parents, without having a lengthy scene explaining everything.
As Kamina and Simon are complete rebel badasses, the Mayor talks about how he is raising these orphans because it’s his duty, making him somewhat sympathetic. Simon finds Lagann, and literally breaks Kamina out of jail. It shows how blown away he is by Lagann, and how much he cares about his bro.
A single Gunman completely destroys the ceiling, showing us how powerful they are. Kamina stands up to the gunman, by himself, showing how he is such a badass, before he’s even fought anyone. Yoko swings in, and shoots the Gunman a few times. She acts cocky, and laid back about the situation. Kamina flirts with her, because he’s Kamina.
Kamina immediately changes his mind on Yoko after learning she’s from underground, which makes us realize that he was really only attracted to her being from the surface. At the time at least.
Simon shows Yoko and Kamina the robot he found, Lagann, and Kamina want Simon to pilot it. He says it’s because Simon found it, and he can’t break the bro code. Though, really, he’s doing it because he is scared, and knows that Simon can do it. At first, the Gunman kicks their asses, but then Simon gets in the fucking robot and fights for his bro, because even though he is scared, protecting his friends is more important. The drill, Simon’s passion in life, is now the weapon on his robot. Because his passion is what wins the match.
They break through to the surface. Which is beautifully lit, and it’s sunset. Yet, it’s still a desolate wasteland. Suggesting that the surface isn’t all fun and games, and it’s definitely not paradise.
We are one episode in, and we already have more characterization for the main trio than 50 episodes of SAO could ever dream of. We have a tease for later, know that it’s uniquely animated and directed, and has a kickass soundtrack. We know it’s an explosive show, but that it can get serious sometimes. All this, in 22 minutes. I know this sounded a lot like plot summary, but when you break down the actual events of an episode, and look at what it says for each character and theme, it means so much more than just casually watching it.
Episodes 2 and 3 of TTGL are about establishing relationships. Most of the time in these episodes, they are showing how Simon is in Kamina’s shadow. If Kamina is believing in himself, he is also believing in Simon. Implying that Simon is nothing more than someone following Kamina. Simon is basically Kamina’s shadow for these episodes, until the end of episode 3. We realize that Simon is developing his own sense of self, in being the reasonable one.
Yoko and Kamina have a lot of flirty scenes, atypical of most anime series a few episodes in. Most notably, Yoko not wanting Simon to go hunting with them, and Yoko going completely tsundere after the villagers comment on her feelings towards Kamina.
These episodes also develop the relationship between Viral and Kamina. They are clearly shown as somewhat friendly rivals. With both of them commenting on each other’s arrival, and how they should be scared of each other’s presence.
These episodes also comment 0n Kamina’s recklessness. Characters constantly tell Kamina that he will be seriously injured or killed if he keeps acting this way. Kamina even sees what happened to another man, his father, that stayed on the path Kamina is on. But Kamina doesn’t care, because he has Simon, and he believes in Simon.
Back to human mode for a second, episode 3 is everything good about the series so far. Subtly introducing character personalities and relationships. Few and far between but utterly hilarious humor. Blood boiling hype. Perfectly fitting music, tons of unique directing and animation tricks. Overall, the best episode so far.
TTGL episodes 4-6 are all about the three sides of its own structure. Episode 4 is an action based episode. It’s frantic and explosive. The character introduced, Kittan, perfectly represents this side of the show. The animation style used in the episode is fucking weird, and is a great example of this show’s crazy side.
Episode 5 is a dramatic episode. It goes in depth about a village who worships Gunmen, and it’s head priest. This is a very important episode, for setting up future villains in the show. I’ll get back to this one when we reach the final episode.
Episode 6 is a comedy episode and god does it show it. This is the silliest episode of the show by far, and it wears that on it’s sleeve. Kamina is almost entirely a joke in this episode. The amount of schemes he comes up with here is laughable, and the whole thing just has a sarcastic attitude about it. Like, yeah, we know it’s a fucking hot spring episode, just enjoy it.
The cool part about all of these episodes is that, despite being primarily focused on one of these elements, it also success at the others. Episode 4 has humor in spades, and does have drama in its epicness. Episode 5 clearly has action and comedy, especially in the latter third. Episode 6 even fits some romantic tension in there, with Yoko saying she would be fine with Kamina seeing her naked.
Episode 6 leads right into episode 7. We start out with some quick comedy. Then there is a sword fight, but once again they talk while fighting. They explain the idea of the Spiral King and the Beastman capitol in one sentence, instead of dragging it out. Then, Super Dimensional Fortress Dai Gunzan appears. With new giant penis!
Kamina is shown to be reckless as hell, and it nearly gets him killed. We get a super unique animation cut. This whole episode, time and time again, shows us that Kamina’s recklessness is dangerous, and is going to get him killed. However, Gurren Lagann was a huge inspiration to everyone, showing that Kamina’s recklessness causes great happiness and hope. But at what cost?
The fight ends by showing that Simon’s calm, strategic outlook ended up saving the day. The episode concludes with a fucking adorable scene of Kamina and Yoko being cute. Right before that however, it shows Simon staring at Yoko’s chest, and being awkward around her. This whole episode is all foreshadowing for the next one.
Yoko and Kamina are right back to being adorable at the beginning of the episode. This conversation gives Kamina another reason to fight. We are reminded that Simon likes Yoko. When they are planning the fight, Simon realizes that just because he’s distraught, time won’t stop. However, right after this, Kamina realizes how much time has truly passed since the first episode. This shot of all the gunmen walking towards the fight is so satisfying, considering we started with two teenagers and a little rat thing in a cave, and now we have an army of giant robots. It shows that just because Kamina’s recklessness is dangerous, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a positive effect on people.
Kamina mocks Viral, showing that he gives zero fucks about the situation. More epic inspirational speeches, because this episode loves those. Kamina and Viral have another cool rival shot, showing their unchanging rivalry and ferocity. Kamina and Viral mimic shot for shot their earlier fight
Kamina runs over to Simon, and confirms to him that Simon is the one who has the correct ideals in his heart, but hasn’t discovered them yet. Right after that, Kamina gets his comeuppance for his ideals. Proving his previous statement that Simon is the one with the correct ideals trapped in his heart.
Kamina remarks “Old Furball doesn’t know when to give up” which is a subtle jab at his own ideals. Kamina realizes he’s about to die. In desperation, he tells Simon that he’s ideals are the answer once again. The music kicks in. And god, it’s the most insanely badass thing ever. Try to get through this scene without screaming, dying and cumming at the same time.
It shows that Kamina is like a super powerful engine that lasts all of 10 minutes. But he knows that Simon can become an equally powerful engine that lasts for all of time. This whole episode is recapping everything we’ve known so far, but this time, the stakes are way higher.
Episode 9 immediately set ups Lord Genome. Hell, all the generals as somewhat robotic and terrifying. We then see how everyone is acting like nothing happened. They may care, but they are not really effected openly. The other members of the crew are more happy about the positives they gained from the fight, rather than what they lost.
Kittan completely blames Simon for Kamina’s death. Simon freaks out, and emotionally attacks Rossiu. Remember this, it’s important.
Yoko talks about her feelings towards Kamina, and we see her grieving in the shower. This is our glimpse that the others really DO care that Kamina died, and are only acting that way because it’s fucking depressing to act otherwise, and they want to notice the positives in life.
When they are fighting, Simon tries to adapt Kamina’s philosophy, but it doesn’t work out. Lagann rejects him and send him flying off a cliff. Simon blames himself, but in reality Kamina’s philosophy was just dangerous and stupid to begin with.
The whole show, it hasn’t rained at all, because Simon’s life had meaning, with Kamina around. In this episode, it’s raining constantly. Until he meets Nia, where the rain stops once she talks to him. Teaching her what life is like, and seeing her optimism gives Simon a reason to live again.
He tries to go with Kamina’s philosophy again, but Nia tries to convince him otherwise. To be calm, and protect yourself, over others. Simon feels betrayed by everyone, including his mecha. So Nia is important because she is the only person that Simon feels accepted by.
This episode is kind of ugly, honestly. It has a lot of off model shots, and the action scene is mainly stills. It’s still a great episode, but the visuals are very disappointing. Im skipping episode 10 for now, because it’s basically episode 11 build up fodder. Not to say it isn’t great, but not worth analyzing back to back with episode 11.
Episode 11 has so many great ideas and foreshadowing, that I’m just going to go through some of them in a kind of random order. Guame mentions that Lord Genome hates human self awareness. Guame explains that it’s because he thinks of humans as dolls, but in reality, it’s because self awareness makes him scared of a rebellion, which would cause the Spiral Nemesis
Later in the scene, Nia smacks Guame and he flies about 7 feet. This seems ridiculous, until you realize that it’s symbolizing Nia’s emotional strength and weight, and Guame’s emotional weakness and failure. Nia later shows that she has gained confidence from Simon, by standing right in front of a loaded gun
Simon explains early in the episode that he can never be Kamina. He is right. I’ll explain later in the review why, if you haven’t already figured it out. This scene even works as Harsher in Hindsight because Kittan tries to be Kamina, and look where that gets him.
Simon realizes that of course he can’t be like Kamina, HE ISN’T KAMINA! Simon, only after Nia and Kamina’s influence, realizes that he is himself. He can’t live as Kamina’s shadow. No one is anyone else, and everyone is themselves.
Not only that, but even if he could be Kamina, he realizes that it’s pointless. Kamina died, so why try to replicate that? Simon takes Kamina and Nia’s mistakes, and makes them his fuel and drive. Simon is himself. All too often, characters will die in stories, and their successor will become exactly like them. Simon doesn’t do that. He knows who he is, and who he wants to be, and does EXACTLY what he wants to do to save the world.
Before we get into the personal aspect of this, I would like to mention that Simon and Nia are an infinitely effective romance. Due to how much they are helping each other, and how visible that help is, they are immediately likable as a couple. Also, this episode is Simon’s rebirth, symbolized by this shot here.
Now, time for the personal stuff. I’m warning you, this means absolutely nothing to someone who doesn’t have anyone that they look up to, someone they lived in the shadow of. Plus, it’s stuff about my life, someone you, chances are, don’t give two shits about. But because it’s a broad topic, and Im trying to show how this show can effect people, Im writing this anyway. Ill try to make it short, but I make no promises.
I lived my whole life as the worse version of my older brother. I felt like I could never accomplish anything, because my brother had done everything 10x better. This episode made me realize something. Just as much as I can’t be my brother, he can never be me. I realized that there is no point in just doing what my brother has already done. I should carve my own path.
Here’s an example. A remake/sequel should never be the same as the original, because all that will happen is that one will end up worse. The true ethos of Gurren Lagann, and hell, my current life, is as follows: You are you, and everyone else is everyone else. Trying to be someone else will only cause failure. Rely on others, but don’t become them. Use those people you look up to as a springboard to who you truly are.
As Shirou, Shinji, Kenshin and Ed showed before him, and Killua and Aladdin showed in years to come: Only after the loss of the embodiment of an ideal, can one realize the fault in that ideal.
Warning, huge philosophical rant on the nature of criticism coming up: Writing this has made me realize something. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. In the anime community, this is some what relevant actually. Don’t pretend to like something that you do not. If you love a show that everyone else hates, wear it on your shirt like a flag. Don’t feel bad about yourself because you like/hate something that everyone else hates/likes. Everyone has something that means the world to me, and this is mine. I want anyone who has heard me rant about any show they love in a negative light to realize something. Everyone has a show that means the world to them, and no one else can take that away. I will never try to rob anyone of their love for anything, and how much it means to them. I’m only here for people to see my side as well, even if they don’t agree.
For example, Naruto has probably effected me more than 99.99% of all other anime. Would I be annoyed if someone hated Naruto? No. Would I totally see where they are coming from? Yes. I want people to know something about me. I don’t give a shit if someone tells me that Sword Art Online is a masterpiece and Parasyte is trash. As long as you see the opposite side of the coin. Yeah, I don’t like Evangelion. Do I see that it’s positively effected millions of lives and that it has many positive qualities? Yes.
Time to get back into the actual show. You see, many believe TTGL to be sexist, mainly due to Yoko’s fanservice, and her general “perfection” throughout the first 8 episodes. The most common joke is that Yoko is just a 14 year old’s wet dream. Which is ironic, because that’s exactly the point. Yoko (episodes 1-8) is the physical manifestation of Simon’s lust. All the fanservice shots are there because the show is told through Simon’s eyes, a horny 14 year old. However, after episode 9, when he meets Nia, the Yoko fanservice almost completely disappears from the show, because Simon found someone he actually loves.
This episode shows off what Yoko is really like, without Simon’s hormone tinted goggles. She fucks up, she gets angry easily, and gets jealous easily. Like a fucking human being. It then goes on to show how perfect everyone views Nia to be. This works because she actually is far from perfect. She’s occasionally air headed, can be to far in the opposite of Kamina’s ideals (extremes of either path aren’t good) and she can’t cook for shit. Point is, the first half of this episode is showing that Simon no longer has childish feelings towards Yoko, and realizes that he loves Nia for who she is. This is symbolized by Yoko’s skin-showing outfit being far worse received by the characters than Nia’s natural charm, even though she was in a very modest outfit. Flashiness can’t beat genuine humanity. Not to say at all that Yoko is an inhuman character, as she is one of my favorites. Oh, and the mecha with a vagina mouth is fighting on top of a giant mecha with a dick. 3rd grade level humor folks.
The episode also has pretty great action, and might be the funniest episode so far. But this is also the weakest episode. I found myself least interested in this episode than all the others. Even though it was funny, badass and gave a cool new perspective on Yoko, it’s following up the single greatest work of art I’ve ever been blessed with witnessing in my entire life, so it’s not exactly an easy act to follow