I’ve had some time to binge some TV shows, after Dark, I decided to go back to an anime, I’d watched Kill la Kill previously, and I went with Gurren Lagann. I didn’t know much about it going in, besides the fact that it was one that showed up on Netflix as an anime and was one that I’d heard about elsewhere.
Gurren Lagann is a pretty typical mecha anime. Something horrible has happened to the world and there are monsters of some sort who are trying to take it over or kill all humans or something along those lines. It’s only those who can control these mech armor suits that have a chance at saving humanity and defeating the big bad guy. This covers a wide swath of anime, including the one that I’m watching now, Code Geass.
More specifically for Gurren Lagann, the world and humanity have been forced to live underground because it’s too dangerous to live above ground, though not everyone knows why. There are underground villages, and in one of these villages we find a digger, who drills through the ground looking for things and expanding the village, whose name is Simon. Simon is an excellent digger and one day he finds the head of a mech. The same day, the roof/earth crust collapses in on their village and while people survive a giant mech crashes through. Followed by a girl who is trying to destroy it. Simon, the girl, Yoko, and Simon’s Bro, Kamina end up in the mech head that Simon had found and are able to destroy the mech that has fallen into their village. This is Kamina and Simon’s chance to get to the surface and they take it. Up there they find a world where humans aren’t allowed to live and the Spiral King is using beastmen in mechs to kill any humans who come to the surface, and the show continues from there as Simon, Yoko, and Kamina take on mechs as they try and reach the Spiral King.
My initial thoughts are are that is a pretty typical anime. There’s a fair amount of fan service, and the plot is pretty simple at the start of it. I will say that it grows into more of a plot and does an odd anime thing where half way through the show pivots hard. The more that I think about how it pivots, the more I think it does a decent job with it. Gurren Lagann doesn’t end up having a ton of depth, but does touch on a few interesting topics to think about. I won’t go into them as it will give away how some of the story ends up going. It reminds me of how it changes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is another anime I should watch again.
Gurren Lagann is also an anime that I feel like leans into it’s tropes as well. The fan service, the mechs, everything is done in a pretty typical anime manner. Even the bravado of Kamina is very typical. For that reason I can’t recommend it all that highly, though for a standard anime, it doesn’t seem to miss that many beats with what it does. The pivot in the middle is probably the point where it is the most rough as everything just pivots a little bit too hard and overall it isn’t the easiest to follow. As compared to Kill la Kill, Gurren Lagann isn’t as self aware about the tropes that it is leaning into. I don’t think that is a bad thing, as it does make it more accessible to newer anime watchers, I feel like it’s just okay because of that. However, as compared to Kill la Kill again, it isn’t nearly as over the top. Kill la Kill is an anime that I wouldn’t recommend to a newer anime watcher because it is so over the top and leans into tropes in a way that will be confusing or will be harder to read and understand what they getting at and how they are subverting things and playing against tropes as well as into them at the same time.
Overall, Gurren Lagann is just an okay anime. It isn’t long as if you want to watching something that is pretty traditional mecha anime, you won’t go wrong watching Gurren Lagann. If you’re a more seasoned anime watcher and know more of the tropes and standards for mecha anime, I’d definitely recommend Neon Genesis Evangelion over it as a more classic anime and a better done anime.
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