The end of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Yet as the dark of night finally drew in and the stars twinkled with an ephemeral beauty, the sea of emotion raging inside this blogger fell suddenly calm in anticipation of the end. That is, the end of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

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The internet teaches harsh lessons; one of the most important is to be vigilant for spoilers. Something good was released on Sunday and subsequently, these past few days of surfing the rippling tide of written voices was gradually stifled by spiralling waves of paranoia. Yet as the dark of night finally drew in and the stars twinkled with an ephemeral beauty, the sea of emotion raging inside this blogger fell suddenly calm in anticipation of the end. That is, the end of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Such is the quality of this series that it inspires me to write such melodramatic words. Time and time again, I’ve come away from it excited and brimming with enthusiasm, and of course, the end was no different. In fact, my heart was captured by the mere pre-credit sequence; Simon rolls in to save Nia, the now-familiar opera swells and the Gurren-dan assemble – each kitted up with their own bad-ass attitudes and standing on their hind legs like a group of little Rory Calhouns. They know, as we know, that this is IT. Time to kick ass.

I’ve read some complaints about Gurren Lagann, largely that it’s rather predictable. I can’t deny that; after all, the opening scene in the very first episode is a glimpse far into the future. From then on, we know exactly where it’s all leading, so yes, it’s predictable. But knowing what’s going to happen doesn’t take anything away from the beauty, the emotion and the excitement of Simon’s against-all-odds journey from snotty weakling to legendary hero.

Similarly, I’m somewhat baffled by criticism squared at the narrative’s illogical progression. I was immediately taken by the tone of “forget realism, ALL WE NEED IS GUTS, PASSION AND FIGHTING SPIRIT”. Emotionally, Gurren Lagann is all about self-belief, confidence and optimism; after all, that is “spiral energy” – an unrelenting, blood boiling ambition to succeed; even when all seems lost, dare to have hope and god dammit, believe in yourself.

All of this comes across in the presentation of the series, which was a constantly refreshing dose of colorful animated adventure. Above all, the animation was consistent and full of life, far separated from the low-frame, jerky rubbish that passes for anime these days. Inspired by Simon’s strength of will and symbolic of an optimistic human spirit, everything constantly expands, grows and transforms to an extent where entire universes are crushed under the weight of mankind’s struggle to survive.

The end, like the rest of the series, is tinged with a knowing mortality. The loss of life is not tragic as much as poetic. Indeed, during the epilogue we see the characters decades on, notably older and wrinkled, yet they are happy. It’s somewhat sad and depressing to see such strong characters in this state, especially our hero Simon, fading from such bright times, yet still, it feels reassuring too, they are human, they won’t live forever. Overwhelmingly, we’re left feeling like there is hope for us all. What an awesome show.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance.
I live in Cambridge, England. That’s not an excuse, by the way.

17 thoughts on “The end of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann”

  1. i dont know man… terra has set the bar supremely ridiculously high for 2007. i doubt any show will be able to top it this year. i’ll check out GL when i finish zegapain. i keep hearing that its the new DBZ in a way. considering how much WE ALL loved dbz back in the day, but now people pretend they never liked it, im not sure what to think. anyways im looking forward to it. the best shows of 2006 IMHO were black lagoon and NHK. i wonder who will second terra this year or attempt to dethrone it. ofcourse the masses will go for geass or death note. good but not great shows. yet considering how much folks have been raving about geass, deathnote and GL it should be an interesting turn out for who people will hail the best. however for me, i dont know or believe terra can be topped.

  2. yeah great article as usual bateszi no one can write this words except you its really sad to see it ending series like that are the reason why we are Anime fan forever

    PS come on man we want some one piece entries

    @kauldron26
    i havent watched terra and for me i dont believe that it can top deathnote or GL since they are of my all time favorite so i think one cant decide after he tries first

  3. @kauldron26: I haven’t read these DBZ comparisons, but they sound fairly pointless. To a certain degree, all action anime have somethings in common. One thing I will say is that Gurren Lagann is obviously a cartoon – there is no regard for realism at all, it’s totally driven by emotion, and that’s probably why I love it so much. Anyway, you know my thoughts on Terra, it’s a great show, definitely one of the best of the year, but then, so is GL. Also, I would tentatively suggest Dennou Coil as another potential great. Without question, Gurren Lagann, Toward the Terra and Dennou Coil are the best of the 2007 (so far), and provided how everything ties up, Seirei no Moribito could well join them. Sadly, Darker than BLACK never lived up to the talent involved in its creation.

    @qwertypoiuy: I was tempted to write about the Ace and Blackbeard face-off. Now I’m stuck watching the series on a per/episode basis, it’s kinda hard to build up the steam to write about it but I’ll always be a One Piece fan, so no doubt I’ll be inspired to say something sooner or later :)

    Also, thanks for the kind words about the article – I spent nearly 4hrs writing this, the entire evening was totally swallowed. It’s nice to know someone enjoyed it!

  4. You know, you said it all. XD I’m trying to find something to add, but it’ll be just me ranting about how much I miss GL. It was a pretty phenomenal experience, I haven’t felt so much for a series for a while. Of all the shows I’ve seen in 07, Death Note, Terra, DtB, the one that I’ll remember most is probably GL. Guts, passion and fighting spirit makes one helluva combination.

    “Similarly, I’m somewhat baffled by criticism squared at the narrative’s illogical progression.” I have to agree with that. It doesn’t really matter how the narrative progressed, it doesn’t matter at all. The best of GL is how emotionally captivating it was.

    “Overwhelmingly, we’re left feeling like there is hope for us all.” That’s probably why I loved this show so much. At the end of it all, you walk away with a profound love for everything, with hope, with some of that guts, passion and fighting spirit. And a new catch phrase, “Who the hell do you think I am!?” XD

  5. The soundtrack just came out. I shouldn’t need to tell anyone how awesome it is. FIGHT THA POWA! 28 tracks, damn, too good!

  6. God, this show was just to amazing! I don’t know if I’ve ever been so pumped after watching an anime. Definitely a show I’ll remember for a long time.

  7. I somehow cannot understand why people are so fascinated with Gurren Lagann. All the positive hype around the show made me want to see it, even though I am not a huge fan of mecha anime. Unfortunately that turned out to be a mistake – GL just made me remember why I hate mecha anime so much. A mech in a larger mech in an even larger mech flinging galaxies at another “mech” almost made my head explode because of the sheer stupidity of the idea. I guess it’s just personal taste…
    I have to admit one thing though – the animation was superb, reminded me heavily of FLCL (Gainax – duh!) and was the only thing that kept me watching till the end.

  8. @Johny: What about the story itself? I mean, I’m not exactly a massive fan of the mecha genre either, but what really hooked me into this anime was the sense of attachment I felt to the characters; I was totally rooting for their successes during their various struggles against fate, and I would suggest that you really have to feel for them before Gurren Lagann can properly get under your skin.

  9. @bateszi: Well the only character I felt attached to was killed off early on in the show. Ironically it made me more interested in the show for a while – after all, not many creators are brave enough to kill one of the main characters. On the other hand my newly found interest quickly faded away, as I couldn’t really feel for any other character, as they seemed a bit cliche too me (Dai Gurren members) or I found their development to be awkward to say the least (Rossiu). Simon himself had the “been there, done that” feel too him in the sense that there’s a standard pattern to his actions – I’ll be in trouble, then I’ll beat my own weaknesses and win. Repeat times infinity. Everything was pretty much predictable (beside the aforementioned death).
    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying it’s a bad anime. GL just didn’t do it for me. After all the hype I expected more than a pretty straightforward tale about a boy fighting against the world. That and the whole mecha concept made me feel disappointed with GL. I woudln’t recommend the show to any of my long time anime fans friends, but I guess GL would be a good choice for someone only starting his adventure with anime.

  10. Instead of the plot I felt that the main driving point of Gurren Lagann was it’s execution and subliminal message. After all, as an emotional being it was the attachment and epic scale of Gurren Lagann that probably made it what it is to those who love it. As Bateszi also mentioned, I felt that the Lagann itself didn’t have the most impact on the show, and it wasn’t Simon’s journey either, rather it was the a package of the whole thing itself.

    I would recommend Gurren Lagann to anime newcomers but I’m afraid that they’d be disappointed with whatever else they come across. xD

  11. @Johny: I’m a long time fan of anime and probably a whole lot more “elitist” than you yet I thought the show was tremendous triumph. Like Ez said, it’s not the “superficial” what makes Gurren-Lagann shine but rather the charismatic execution and underlying ideals. The characterization takes common archetypes and brings them to life with a very magical charm; they feel natural and palpable thanks to the very talented animation staff and the incredible script. Predictable is not a valid criticism about any kind of narrative since it is meaningless as measurement of actual quality, especially with a show about as global and emotional as this.

  12. @LaBread – Who said I am elitist? Just because I didn’t like GL doesn’t mean a thing – it’s just a matter of taste. I did watch a ton of anime though. :P Anyway, “The characterization takes common archetypes and brings them to life with a very magical charm; they feel natural and palpable thanks to the very talented animation staff and the incredible script.” that’s the part where our opinions heavily differ. I just didn’t feel the charm of the characters, to me they were just that: common archetypes. The script managed to gain my interest for maybe the first 10 or so episodes. I honestly am not sure why exactly. My best bet would be the following 2 factors:
    1)I couldn’t get the feel for any of the main characters beside Kamina
    2)The epic scale you and Ez are talking about kept pushing me away instead of dragging me in. That’s because I’m biased against mecha anime and the bigger the scale, the more my brain wanted to go on strike.
    As much as the general message of GL was to my liking, the rest of the package just didn’t do it for me. As I said before – personal taste. It’s not outside the bounds of reality that I would fall in love in GL just as you guys/girls have had GL only had a different setting. Then again, it wouldn’e be GL anymore… ;)
    I think I’ve made my opinion clear enough. If something is still not understood then it’s not my fault, cause English is not my native language ;)

    Oh, and it’s a pleasure to be discussing here. I’m genuinely surprised with the level of the comments – both the language used and the politeness are greatly above average. Keep it up!

  13. Eh, I guess this is kinda pointless but I feel the need to say this somewhere, since none of my friends are into anime I can’t really discuss it with them. Anyways, this is the best god damn thing I’ve ever watched. Just finished watching it through a second time, and good lord is it great. Just wanted to suggest this to anyone who hasn’t seen it…

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