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Bateszi Anime Blog

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Big and dumb mecha show, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

In a word, the 2007 spring season has been AWESOME. So much so, I’m already fearing the potential back-log of episodes. Of the 7+ new shows I’m following, my favourite right now is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It’s hard to know what to expect from Gainax these days, but I had great fun watching this. I love that it’s just a big and dumb mecha show, splattered with colour and full of life. Everything moving so fast and looking so exciting; especially the characters, who are hyperactive and without regret.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi and his “sugar rush” style is stamped all over the show. His directorial debut came with 2004’s seizure inducing Dead Leaves, but where that was extremely vulgar, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is pervaded with a liberating, almost heart breaking, sense of discovery and freedom. My favourite moment from the series so far is in episode two when Simon and Kamina, having lived underground all their lives, are gazing upon the glimmering star-filled night sky. It’s a nostalgic scene, combined with the soundtrack, that really emphasizes the feelings of wonder and adventure surging through the characters upon seeing something so endless and beautiful for the first time in their lives.

Comments

tj han says:

Indeed, this is the best season I’ve ever seen.

With such large amount of scifi, which is my favourite genre.

Seth says:

TTGL is cool, and because it’s Gainax they may go in interesting directions with it; there is a lot of story potential in the setting the construction they have here.

Martin says:

Sadly I’ve only had chance to see a raw of this but the style and boundless energy has left me eager to track down a subbed version. I also agree that it’s part of a good crop of new stuff for the season (which to my dismay clashes with several coursework assignment deadlines!). Out of the new shows I’ve seen recently, it’s one of the most promising. Much potential indeed.

bateszi says:

@tj han: Yup, same here. And I still haven’t seen "Kissdum Engage Planet" or "The Skullman"! I haven’t seen many TV episodes that look as detailed as the first episode of "Seirei no Moribito".

As far as Gurren Lagann goes, I must admit it’s shaping up to be the best TV series from Gainax since His and Her Circumstances in 1998 – that’s nearly 10 years! Though in 2000 they gave us the masterpiece that is FLCL, so I’ll cut them some slack.

Animated FatCat says:

Gurren Lagann is the best show of the season so far. Somehow, I just knew you’d comment on this lol, it’s nice to see no holds barred, brash, exciting shows with adrenaline rushes, and a sense of fun.

Eleutheria says:

Two shows this season seem to break through my cynicism: this one, representing the mecha division, and Romeo x Juliet, representing the romance division. Most of the other shows are meh

Equitan says:

Bleh, up to me to be the lone dissenting voice. Gurren Lagann isn’t bad, but I fail to see why it has generated *so* much praise.

I guess I’d like it a lot more if Simon had said something more than "Aniki!" in the opening episode. Still, I don’t reckon that much of Kamina either. I don’t know what it is but I don’t find him hilariously funny in the way that I do other ridiculously over the top anime characters like… say, Tougou, from School Rumble, to pick a recent example.

Yoko I do like, and for more than just the fan-service she brings: the Kitsurubami reference inherent within her being the number one reason I like the character.

The mecha battle was fun, and that’s all I think I’ll be able to say about this series. Given my personal tastes, I reckon this’ll amount to a B grade series and nothing more. Even that would make it the best Gainax series in a looooong time (how the mighty have fallen!).

What are the other series that you’re currently following?

bateszi says:

Hey Equitan… I don’t think we’re supposed to laugh at Kamina in a slap-stick sense, he’s just supposed to be a cool guy with a sword, GUTS and SPIRIT. I guess I just like those kind of care-free, "piss into the wind" personalities. I reckon he hangs around with Simon just to make himself look good!

With that said, I’m not sure if it’s really worth critiquing the characters in show like this when there is such an overriding sense of adventure and discovery. Either way, it’s nice to hear your thoughts – yours is the first comment I’ve read that criticizes the show! :)

With regards to what else I’m watching, here’s the list as of Saturday: Heroic Age, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, Claymore, Bokurano, Darker than BLACK, Seirei no Moribito and Romeo X Juliet – and I’m still waiting on both "Kissdum Engage Planet" and "The Skullman". You got a favourite for this season? Given your opinion of Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, I’m interested to know what you’re enjoying :)

Equitan says:

Heh, yeah, there are times when I do look into things a little too much. I’m sticking with Gurren Lagann, but I doubt I’ll find it as enjoyable as most seem able to.

I’ve checked out a lot of first episodes so I’ll give you a brief run-down of my thoughts.

After two episodes Darker Than Black has impressed me the most thus far. The set-up and characters are both interesting, the animation is good, and Yoko Kanno’s music hasn’t been bad thus far either ;D

Claymore looks solid, if unspectacular. I haven’t read the manga but it’s a shame that it looks like being a repetition of that age old cliché of a strong character saddled with a pussy sidekick. Hopefully Raki evolves a little and the series can really take off.

I’ve never seen a series imitate NGE in the way that Idolmaster Xenoglossia does. You have the submerged Tokyo, the Misato clone, the Gendo clone, the Ritsuko name, the HQ, the city and the launch sequence, the mechas that are "alive" (not that this is an Eva original, but still). Heck, I wondered if the whole penguin deal in this episode was a reference to Pen Pen (probably me thinking too much again)? SOMEHOW the series remained inoffensive despite all that but I doubt I’ll keep tracking this one.

Hidamari Sketch really wasn’t too my tastes; just didn’t seem to "get" the comedy in it. Much the same as with Lucky Star, which was just bad. The infamous five minute food scene being the prime example of the lack of laughs.

Hayate no Gotoku! sounded dumb and proved to be so. More moe, but hardly any laughs.

Hitohira had a surprisingly good first episode, but I’m always a sucker for a decent high school set anime. There are a couple of details I’d tweak but the characters seem pretty fun, and their designs aren’t bad; not to mention the head-butt incident was a genuine laugh-out-loud moment.

Bokurano I picked up because of your prior mention of the manga in your season preview. I liked the manga a lot so I’m *hoping* the anime matches up well.

El Cazador de la Bruja seemed, as expected, very Noir-ish and that’s not really a good thing. I’ll give it a couple more episodes, but doesn’t look like one I’ll be following.

After the first episode Sola looks like it’s going to be a bit odd (vampires?). Again though, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for a couple more episodes.

Romeo X Juliet, and Heroic Age are sitting on my hard-drive waiting to be watched. I’d also like to catch Seirei no Moribito, Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo, The Skullman, and Lovely Complex (shoujo fix!) if / when they’re subbed. Whether they’re any good is, of course, another thing entirely ^^

Oh, and the sooner Kino no Tabi: Byouki no Kuni gets a sub the better!

Phew, sorry, for all that. I do try to check out as many first episodes as I can, just to be sure I’m not missing anything. My anime watching habit is pretty eractic these days but I do my best to get into things at the start of each new season.

bateszi says:

Glad to see I’ve snagged you on Bokurano – keep going with it, some "crazy stuff" is going to start happening in the next few episodes! :)

I must admit I was underwhelmed by "El Cazador de la Bruja" too. I’ve just never been a fan of this kind of "effortless killing machine" anime, but still I gave it a chance and I basically left the first episode feeling a whole lot of "meh" and little else.

I was kinda expecting the same thing from Claymore, but I actually really liked the first few episodes! I am a horror fan, so I can’t resist the demon hunting, but the animation and atmosphere are particularly impressive, tending to present a show that is actually far more serious and mature than I expected. At least the side kick hasn’t cracked any fart jokes yet.

With regards to "Darker Than Black" – I’ve also seen the first couple of episodes and while I was generally impressed, I felt no immediate pathos with the characters and their situations. Something about it feels very artificial and cold, though given the setting, that’s probably intended. One thing I did love was how the "Contractors" have to fulfill some stupid rule after using their powers – the dude eating flowers and the other guy breaking his fingers… That’s just an awesome and really creative idea! Some one is bound to have a kind of kamikaze contract.

I’m with you on Kino no Tabi: Byouki no Kuni. I’ve seen all the anime on UK DVD and it was one of my absolute favorites from 04/05! Can’t wait to see more of Kino and Hermes!

And simply the word "Idolmaster" in a title is enough to scare me away from a show. Good to see I’m not missing out on anything!

Hige says:

I’d love to be as enthusiastic about Tengen as you, but the bloody fansub groups can’t seem to release it on a standard avi format, which means I can’t watch it properly on my Mac. Rather irritating seeing as my Gainax fanboy wants to see what the fuss is about. :/

GBladeCL says:

Hige, maybe you should checkout VLC.

As to TTGL, it has to be my favorite show of the season; Ep 3 sealed the deal for me.

qwertypoiuy says:

yes Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is the best of season
and it looks it really is going to be one Gainax best work but how come you didnt mention evangelion

bateszi says:

The Evangelion influence was a lot clearer in episode 3 – which I’ve only just seen, and which, incidentally, FUCKING ROCKED!

qwertypoiuy says:

nice let us hear your opinion when you finish it but dont forget you must watch the movie

Hige says:

GBladeCL: I use VLC as my standard player; it just does not like MKVs or MP4 formats. No idea why, either. It can’t be a RAM issue because I’ve got 1.25 GB of the stuff and although it is an aging G4 iBook it’s still fairly powerful.

But no bother, AVI versions do eventually come out for the show… just at a slower rate. :/

EcureuilMatrix says:

Try MPlayer OSX, it works wonders for .mkv files.

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