Warning: This review will contain some strong language which would not be suitable for young children. Reader Discretion is advised.
Critic's Log - Earthdate: March 12, 2013. Review #39: Gurren Lagann
A year ago, I wrote my first review and posted it. That review was Cowboy Bebop. Soon after, I started writing, posting, and doing more reviews ever since. A year has passed and I plan on continuing this hobby of mine. This review I have now is for an anime that has broken through the surface with its badass style and strives to PIERCE THE HEAVENS! THAT ANIME IS GURREN LAGANN!
With that said, here's my review of Gurren Lagann! JUST WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM!?
In their closed-off underground village known as Jeeha Village, Kamina and Simon (pronounced "Shi-moan" in Japanese and "See-Moan" in the Dub) attempt to break out of the underground at the limits imposed by the village elder because Kamina is determined to make it to the surface. The attempt fails and Kamina is sent to the underground's stockade without food and Simon is let go because it was obviously not his idea. Yet all this will change, when Simon stumbles across a big metal face - just as the village's peace is broken by a violent intrusion. A gigantic Gu... You know what, I'm ending the little plot sypnosis right here and now, I'm going to tell you the more technical stuff and all the juicy bits too.
To be technical, Gurren Lagann is a Studio Gainax production and you can tell that they are shoving this anime at your face to the heavens and it works. The animation is badass and kicks ass when it can in ridiculous over-the-top proportions. It's so over the top that it's proportions of being over the top is over the heavens. Okay, spare me for just saying that. To make things easier to explain, the animation is really cool and it doesn't waste a second of the show's length, except for one particular portion of the series... and that is Episode 4: Does Having So Many Faces Make You Great? I don't know if it's just me or something... but the facial expressions are drastically different than the previous three episodes that came before it and this is the only episode that has this...Thank God.
I can honestly say this while trying hard not to piss off the fanbase for saying this but... I felt the facial expressions in that episode were terrible and this is quickly redeemed with the episodes that follow. putting personal nitpicks aside, The animation is vibrant, energetic, and in your face that you would not care if the animation had some quirks like...Episode 4 for an example. The animation will simply kick your ass and will make you cheer with indominable spirit after watching certain spectacles known as "moments". To put it simply, the animation is a blast and ridiculously entertaining.
The music by Taku Iwasaki contributes in all that "In your face" attitude that the show carries. The way the music is done in this show is astounding and definitely worth listening to with or without the show. There's some techno, hip-hop, rock, orchestra, and it even has a little jazz. The music will grab your attention and it succeeds full-front on that. Taku Iwasaki really struck all the chords right on Gurren Lagann and has had a pretty good resume ever since. He would later be the composers of such animes like Soul Eater, and Black Butler. Extra kudos goes to Iwasaki-san for combining Opera, piano, and Hip-hop all in one song during a particular moment in the show. I mean, Opera, with piano and hip-hop really don't mix too well. It just so happens that the impossible was made possible in this show. The opening is catchy and the closings are also great in the show. The soundtrack is great and pierces some unconventional barriers in one particular moment.
When it comes to voice acting, The Japanese cast is pretty damn good. Katsuyuki Konishi is terrific as Kamina, Tetsuya Kakihara is also terrific as Simon, Marina Inoue is pretty good as Yoko. Yukari Fukai is great as Nia, Mitsukia Saiga is also great as Rossiu, and Nobuyuki Hiyama is a blast to hear as Viral (pronounced "Vee-ral") The standout extras in the subbed version include Kisho Taniyama as Kittan, Masaya Onasaka as Leeron, Jouji Nakata as Magin, and Michiko Neya as Adiane (pronounced "A-dee-neigh"). On the English Dub side. Kyle Hebert is terrific as Kamina but he does lack the energetic manly passionate attitude that Kamina's seiyu nailed in just right. If there is someone that got the attitude right, it would be Yuri Lowenthal as Simon and he plays the role terrificly. Michelle Ruff is great as Yoko. Hynden Walch is... *Record Scratch* Wait... The voice of Starfire from Teen Titans? SHE'S ON HERE!? *Ahem* Hynden Walch is great as the younger Nia while Bridget Hoffman is also great playing the older Nia. Johnny Yong Bosch is also pretty damn good as Rossiu, and Sam Regal is alright as Viral and his performance is drastically different comparing Viral's Seiyu. I'll let you be the judge of who you like better. The standout extras in the dub are Jamieson Price as Lordgenome, Paul St. Peter as The village chief in the first episode and Thymilph, Derek Stephen Prince as Artenborough, and then of course there's Steve Blum
(Duhuhuhuh *shiver*) Yeah, Steve Blum... and he voices Leeron. I am not lying when I say this, his voice creeped me out when I first saw and heard this guy and my mind was blown at the time when I found out that Steve Blum voiced this flamboyant gentleman. I mean, he was the badass voice of Spike Speigel from Cowboy Bebop, Darcia from Wolf's Rain, and many other roles before and since. The guy is pretty damn talented and he sure made the character funny whether you were uncomfortable or bursting with laughter. The Japanese cast is great and so is the dub for what it is. Tony Oliver may have not made the English dub superior to the Japanese cast but he did do a superb job as the ADR director for this dub.
The characters themselves don't disappoint greatly. Kamina (in some way) is a badass and he's also damn hilarious when he gets some funny moments. When I watched this the first time, I actually found him to be a total douche, But that was because I was watching this dubbed in which Kamina's seiyu didn't really portray him as a douche all that much. But as time came by, I actually found him pretty cool. Simon is a character that's easy to latch on to. Yoko is obviously in the show for fanservice but that was intentional from the beginning but she has some good qualities in her character. Rossiu is an interesting case, and so is Viral. Nia is also an adorable character during the first half. Other characters that are great would have to be Lordgenome (because he's kinda cool) and Leeron (because he's really damn funny at times), and Kittan (Because he was a bit of a douche but got away of it for being a douche, he was also pretty cool too). Like I said, the characters don't disappoint greatly. The characters make the show extremely watchable.
Now that I've mentioned that Gurren Lagann has cool animation, a great soundtrack, A great Japanese cast, a solid dub, and extremely memorable characters. I have to address one thing about a certain factor in this anime and that would be the story. If you are to take the story seriously, you are screwed...WITH DRILLS! To be perfectly honest, the story is extremely dumb in epic proportions. Here's the catch! IT WAS INTENTIONAL! In a metaphorical sense, this show shouts out "FUCK LOGIC!" and it even plays the Deus Ex Machina card a few times. The use of cliches is also intentional as well. Hell! The fanservice is also intentional that even drills will get a hard-on. It even has EXPLOSIONS! That's right, Gurren Lagann has both fanservice and explosions and this anime could possibly put Michael Bay to shame. The premise and approach is extremely a bit silly and over-the-top but what this anime promises is that it will get guys to cheer on for the characters. Another strength to Gurren Lagann is its humor, this show has some really damn funny moments as well as funny one-liners.
Speaking of one-liners, this show does tend to get quoted quite often from people after they see the show, so expect someone to say "Just who the hell do you think I am?" at a convention or from one of your friends that has seen the show. Even with the story having a silly over-the-top approach and premise while being actually decent, what I find astounding about Gurren Lagann is that even with a ridiculous premise, the creative staff still found a way to make it extremely entertaining with an apparent passionate mindset of making the impossible possible. When it comes to the writing process, this would be one hell of an accomplishment for Kazuki Nakashima. I should also note that the director of the show Hiroyuki Imaishi had a bit of a interesting resume after I did a little research. Before he directed Gurren Lagann, he was the key animator for the movie The End of Evangelion, and the second and fifth episode of FLCL. Both Gainax works yes, but FLCL and Gurren Lagann were both extremely over-the-top in their premises and I guess Imaishi-san was a fitting director for this show. Now that I've said that, I should say one more thing before I start wrapping up this review. So, here goes! *ahem* If Rainbow Dash is 20% Cooler, then Gurren Lagann is 20% Epic, 20% Badass, 20% silly and 20% more cooler than Rainbow Dash. If Kamina were a pony, he would easily be the best pony out there. Also, I'm a Brony. and if you got a problem with it, JUST WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM!?
Gurren Lagann was available from Bandai Entertainment until they went under. Unfortunately it went out of print. The manga written by Kazuki Nakashima and illustrated by Kotaro Muri was available by Bandai Entertainment and it was dropped because Bandai Entertainment went under. The manga is also out of print here. The light novel series written by Kurasumi Sunayama and illustrated in parts by Hiroko Shinagawa was never released stateside. A couple Gurren Lagann video games were also never released stateside. Last, but not least, there are two compilation movies of Gurren Lagann that have some moments and additions that were never in the series with the first movie called "Childhood's End" and the second being named "The Lights in the Sky are Stars" are available from Aniplex USA.
With all that said, Gurren Lagann is obviously a guy's anime, there's just a lot of elements that are very manly. Besides that, it has pumped-up energetic animation, A great soundtrack, A great Japanese cast, a solid English dub, extremely memorable characters, Kickass action scenes and EXPLOSIONS! and hilarious humor. Gentlemen, this is an anime to watch with your heart and not your mind, and certainly not your dick... Ladies, this is an anime to watch with your heart, not your mind, and definitely not your boobs.
I give Gurren Lagann a 9.8 out of 10, it is EXCELLENT!
Feel free to comment below, and believe in the you that believes in you!