"Simon and Kamina live in an underground village, unaware of the world above. But when mecha titled Gunmen and a beautiful woman called Yoko carrying a superconducting rifle appear their lives take an interesting spin.
Escaping the village and thrown onto the surface, this trio embark on an epic and dangerous journey that will take them further than they ever imagined, right into the heavens above! From the director Kill la Kill, Hiroyuki Imaishi, comes the cult classic tale that kicks reason to the kerb in an action packed adventure!"
Recently the UK bore witness to an uprising of epic proportions. A huge population, kept in darkness for hundreds of years have risen against their unelected oppressors. Not the Scottish Referendum - Gurren is finally out on blu-ray!
This month I had the pleasure of reliving what was one of the highlights of my time in the anime fandom - Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (lit. "Pierce the Heavens Gurren Lagann"). Animated by Gainax and co-produced by Aniplex and Konami, the box set contains 27 episodes, 2 animated films and the complete Parallel Works. Special features also include Yoko Goes to Gainax, Sazigen 3DCG test animation footage, animated storyboards, clean OP/EDs and more!
The series originally aired in Japan back in Spring 2007. Seven years later, All The Anime have championed the long awaited blu-ray release, packing as much as they physically and legally can into the 6 disk boxset, which alongside its absolutely stunning box-art, includes a hardback collection of artwork from the series.
Comparing to the Beez DVD release, the blu-ray is noticeably sharper, which in turn allows for more detailed animation and makes viewing genuinely more enjoyable.
The series begins underground, in the squalor of Jeeha village. We are introduced to Simon - the digger and his "Bro", Kamina - leader of the Gurren brigade, which is essentially a gang of yankee misfits. Kamina vows to break through to the surface, against the wishes of the village chief, and to the complaints of Simon, who is somewhat withdrawn. Fate would have it that Simon would happen across the duo's key to freedom, in the shape of a glowing drill. Simon soon after discovers a mysterious robotic head, which he conveniently uses to save the village from a huge mech which has broken through from the surface above! With the intruder destroyed, with the help of Kamina and Yoko - a girl who followed the mechanical beast down from the surface, the growing Gurren Brigade is hurtled skyward with just enough time to appreciate the horizon before crashing back to earth.
As the brigade grows, and discovers more of the world around them, they also learn the true nature of their enemy - The Spiral King! But what are his true motives?
The animation itself is amazing. I personally consider Gainax to be producers of very high quality work. The animation style has similarities to the Diebuster, FLCL and Re: Cutie Honey OVAs, with fine attention to detail and great expressions and mannerisms. The timing and direction of characters is helped me to empathise with them, and really drives the plot forward.
The original soundtrack compliments the series perfectly, and I have long enjoyed it irrespective of the show itself. There are a diverse number of tracks to suit the scene, though my favourite sounds like it came directly from an American cowboy film.
The story features growth as a core theme, and from a narrative view alone this is fantastic. As the plot develops, the protagonists are faced with new challenges - bigger challenges. Their personalities grow also, as a result of facing these challenges and learning more about their new place in the world. They also grow physically. As their enemies get bigger, so must their own weapons - often to the point of lunacy! It's definitely a show that's easy to binge watch as you're swept up in the crescendo of story telling. Once I had started re-watching, I couldn't stop.
Fans of the Getter Robo series may notice some similarities or parodying of themes in Gurren, as series writer Kabuki Nakashima cites the creator Ken Ishikawa as an influence.
Gurren Lagann has a personal nostalgia. I remember it as one of the last series I watched as part of a university anime society. For me, it symbolised graduation and much like Simon, I had grown a lot. It's unfair to compare my story to his too much, I sacrificed little for even less in return, though I could definitely connect with him, and the other members of the Gurren brigade on some level.
Gurren Lagann - Ultimate Edition is available now, at Amazon and other good retailers. It's the highlight of any true shonen collection. Evidence would suggest it's selling very fast, so don't miss out!