The first anime series I’ve started from scratch this year is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. I basically decided to watch it on the spur of the moment as I’d seen lots of figures and dollfie photos of Yoko and knew she had a distinctive image (click the above image for a wallpaper!) and wanted to watch an action anime (and 12 episodes in, Shakugan no Shana 2 is proving to be almost a pure slice-of-life series so far). Anyway, this anime has always been highly rated but as stated in my completed series 2010 post, I tend to prefer slice-of-life stuff to action, and have no interest whatsoever in mechs. However, I’ve absolutely loved both Evangelion 1.11 and 2.0 (not yet seen the original series and waiting for 2.22 to come out on BluRay and then 3.0) and this is by the same studio, Gainax.
So, a couple of days ago I started watching Gurren Lagann. It immediately drew me in. Episode 1 is like a movie. An epic movie. Just like Evangelion. And just like the second two Matrix films. Indeed, episode 1 is very similar to those since the lead two characters, Kamina and Simon (love the way they pronounce his name btw) live in an underground village. The introduction of Yoko was amazing, similar to how Gainax introduced Asuka in Evangelion 2.0, as was their first view of the “real world”.
I’ve since watched the first six episodes in rapid succession. This anime is just so appealing, it has great characters, comedy, action, fanservice, and the feeling of discovery and exploration. Therefore it epitomises a lot about anime in general. Everything is done for fun, its pretty much all comedy but doesn’t come across that way as it is an epic action adventure.
There are plenty of mech fights and mechas in general, and again, the way they behave and the way they interact with the human riders reminds me of Evangelion. However, it doesn’t get into too much detail of the mechs to bore you. They also combine, which reminds me of Transformers and Power Rangers, which I watched as a child. The way they “unite” and particular how they do by drilling into one another is very euphemistic. Which is another of the shows themes. I mean, just look at that wallpaper of Yoko I posted. There’s plenty of “fanservice”. Her bra hardly covers her boobs and on numerous occasions Simon’s face has ended up between a pair. In fact, episode 6 features another anime stalwart – the onsen episode. However, it was so steamy that half of it was censored on TV and replaced with recaps.
Despite the silliness, the show can be serious. There are standalone episodes such as the 5th one which takes place in a “backward” religious village, set in black and white and featuring musings on how to run/control a population with limited resources.
The characters in this show are really great. Simon is a young kid who is scared to pilot his Ganman (mech) but respects and draws strength from an elder lad, Kamina, who he respectfully calls aniki (big brother, even though they aren’t related). Yoko is a kind of mothering figure to him also. Kamina is simply crazy. He wants to achieve the impossible and loves being a brash frontman seeking fame and achievement. He has ridiculous aims he makes up on the spot but somehow they manage to achieve them. He also loves naming things. He has a true spirit of adventure. Yoko is the third main character and is basically there for fanservice. She wears hardly anything but what she does wear is striking in colour, like her long red hair. She is a great character though and really wins you over. She acts the lady part but is also bold and a strong fighter.
Anyway, thats my thoughts for the first six episodes. Strangely, this anime is 27 episodes long. And I’ve just watched the bonus episode 5.5 which was fun and am going now to watch the uncensored six episode from the DVDs. I didn’t blog about anime last year, but maybe this year I’ll do it more often.
(Oh, and a final thought – episode 6 seems to have a couple of Studio Ghibli tributes – to Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, oh, and a couple of the onsen girls look like Rei and Asuka from Evangelion.)