Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann literally means, “Pierce the heavens, Gurren Lagann.” This strange title is used as a common phrase to inspire and build up the main protagonist of the series, Simon. If you haven’t realised by now, I love it when an anime series breaks off the norm and the stereotypical and does something new. Gurren Lagann does this, while paying homage to old school mecha anime and even traveling through different generations of mecha anime. It does this without even telling you in the process.
The true genius of the show comes not from the reflections of past series of the genre, but rather the emotional tie that the audience develops with the characters. In the beginning, we are introduced to Kamina and Simon, who live in a small underground city that has forgotten about the surface of the earth. This episode introduces these two characters as well as the setting. The second episode throws you into the constant struggle above ground and the struggles as Simon tries to live up to Kamina’s expectations. From the end of the second episode, you are either into the show or aren’t. The slow increase in plot does not last long. If you make it past the painful tribute to fan-service that is episode 6, you will not be able to drop the show as episode 7 catapults you at full speed into the spiraling depths of emotion from which you cannot return. At this point you will love the show or will hate the very thought of it’s existence. In most of my experience, the first is more often the case.
I would go so far as to say that every person except two that I have known and have seen the show love it. The other two despise it. I personally love the show. It is by far one of my absolute favorites and is one I have watched many times through. I love the vibrant visuals and fitting sound track. I even love the dub. Most of all, I love the character development. The characters are memorable. They are strong and you don’t forget them. They struggle and you feel their joy and their sorrow. The plot even seems to enforce the difficulties they face, but they never stop fighting. They press on like we do. I love how the character struggles don’t hold characters back like with Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion, but rather their struggles make their victories greater and their passions stronger. They make the characters feel at times human in ways I haven’t seen many shows do.
First of all, I recommend Gurren Lagann. Second, I do object to the amount of fan-service that is prevalent in parts of the show, especially episode 6. That being said, this is an annoyance and does not cause me major problems, but should be considered depending on individual situations. The North American release and dub does censor some of this. Third, I believe this show does an amazing job of calling out the destiny of the main characters and of allowing the audience to dream big with them. And finally, you should watch Gurren Lagann; it is so beautiful.
Kick logic out and do the impossible.
– Kamina (English Dub)