So I finally managed to make some time and decided to marathon one series that others recommended to me and man, Gurren Lagann was beyond words. Calling this series AMAZING won’t even give it the justice it deserves.
Some say that this was the spiritual predecessor of Kill la Kill. While I find it true in some aspects, I hate to admit but Kill la Kill can’t hold its candle against Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
And why is that?
While both delivered the same comedic enjoyment and the awesome thrill of battle, Kill la Kill never had any real weight to whatever message it tried to convey.
Sure, there’s the similar extraterrestrial threat that plans on fucking up the human race as well as the supernatural lolwut and the epic transformations but, to put it clearly, there weren’t as many character deaths in Kill la Kill.
And deaths ARE important. And Gurren Lagann never stressed that fact any better. From Kamina’s death down to Kittan’s and Nia’s, every death paved a path to the meaning of their hardships, to their futile struggles and countless battles.
And this is where Kill la Kill failed. I think it would’ve made sense if Mako or the Elite 4 died but the only prominent death there would be Senketsu. And while I agree that Senketsu’s death weighs a lot, I think it can’t compare to the deaths of Kamina, most members of Team Dai-Gurren, and Nia. Because let’s face it. Senketsu’s true death came after the final battle. And don’t even start with Ryuuko and Satsuki’s father…
The other thing that makes Gurren Lagann stand out is its good cast of characters.
I have to say, I was particularly bored with this series due to Simon being the annoying dick that he was for the first 7 episodes and I actually raged at how Kamina died because of him but after meeting Nia, he just went total badass for the remaining 16 episodes and I’m actually surprised they were able to maintain such a strong characterization for that long.
Simon may have done a lot of reckless stuff but it’s because he is capable of doing gambits like that that hooked me real good with this series.
Kamina is indeed an epitome of GAR. If it weren’t for him, I would’ve dropped this series looooong ago. What I liked about his character though isn’t just his ridiculous moments of strength but his moments of weakness.
He may never show it publicly but his moments with Yoko as he drops his act is what makes him really human, what charms viewers and gives the impression that he too is no different from us. And for a show to develop such a character and have that character imprint his awesomeness on the viewers is something.
The last character that really made an impact on me would definitely be Nia. And logically speaking, I found this weird. She’s the character among the protagonists who managed little screen time during the second half of the series but her death held a different weight compared to the other deaths all-throughout Gurren Lagann’s run.
I’m a sucker for romance and to be honest, Nia’s character served more than what I hoped for than just a romantic pair to Simon. For me, Nia filled in the gap of Kamina’s role. Like Kamina, she immediately noticed Simon’s good points and admired him for it. She accepted Simon and brought him up even if the rest seemingly abandoned him. And how can anyone not call that romantic?
And even though she filled in Kamina’s role, she does things her own way. If anything, instead of coming up to smack Simon for his lack of resolve, she instead lets him develop his character at his own pace. She lets Simon be her knight than force him to be one.
And while her and Kamina’s methods are different, I am amazed at how their approaches shaped Simon to be that badass that he is.
Of course, this series isn’t all too perfect. I think having Simon voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara is a weak choice (I’d prefer Hiroshi Kamiya) since he wasn’t able to pump up Simon’s manly front. And it did have a lot of dull moments but the merits of this series overpower its faults.
Good soundtrack, overall amazing cast (Nobuyuki Hiyama has good characterization even in Kill la Kill), insane and intense fight scenes, entertaining comedy, well-conceived characters, good animation quality, great plot progression.
If I’d rate this series between 1-10, I’d definitely rate it 10 since it made me shed manly tears… Then add 90 points for the overall awesomeness, making it 100 then deduct 1 point for the dull moments and Simon being a dick for the first few episodes granting it a final score of 99.