Ah, Gurren Lagann. Now, this show is one of those odd ones. It follows all the formula for a shounen series, and then decides to exagerate everything about it, just to show how utterly rediculous this genre is.
I may be thinking too much about nonsense, but Gurren Lagann strikes me as a second deconstruction of the Shounen Mecha genre, the first being Neon Genesis Evangelion. But where Eva tried to go for the "overly realistic, world is not nice because you're the main character, everyone is going nuts because they can't take this" route, Gurren Lagann decided to go the opposite. They made characters born and bred to be shounen mecha characters, overly excited to go out there and kick some ass. You had the overly excited shounen hero guy, Kamina. You have the ecchi picture made flesh with a sniper rifle, Yoko; the younger brother who looks up to his hero, Simon, and a ragtag bunch of heros who are ready for anything the Shounen Mecha genre can throw at them.
Then something breaks. The deconstruction begins. The show breaks one of the great taboos of Shounen anime, and the cast then has to deal with it. People step up, revealing hidden strengths that you didn't think they had. Characters who may have only gotten a little screen time get fleshed out in ways that make you smile. The idea that this intense shounen anime suddenly broke, and became something... a little more real. This is where the show diverges from Evangelion. In both shows, they started with a Mecha show, and broke something. Evangelion showed the sprial downward into dispair that the characters can take when a Shounen Mecha anime character actually has to deal with a cruel unfair world. Gurren Lagann takes this to the other extreme. And extreme is the understatement of the year. Gurren Lagann takes things and enters the realm of the rediculous head first. They decide that they just weren't using enough of their magical willpower-strength, pick themselves up, and make things explode untill they win the day in a metaphorical and literal sense.
As they said themselves, "We break through the impossible and kick reason to the curb!"
Not only do they break one of the taboos of Shounen Anime, they do so spectacularly. This little idea brought new life to what seemed to be a stale genre. The storyline seems to follow the same average shounen plot of battle, power-up, more battle; but once this taboo occurs, the show is a little off. It continues the same line, it just seems a little more... fresh. The plot twists are generic, but well done, and the ending is satisfying, but somewhat melancholy. It's very much a "Life isn't fair" ending, but is always optimistic about it, which somehow works. There are some lulls in the show that you could almost call filler, which drops this to an 8, but it can be forgiven in the light of the way they did the rest of the story.
Animation - 7/10
I don't have a very good artistic eye for animation, but the way they played with primary colors and the character designs were pretty nice in my book. The characters all wore stuff that hinted at their characters, whether it be Simon's goggles, a tip off for Digimon fans that he's the real main character, or Kamina's Cape, with red seemingly the color attributed to badass. The artstyle was always fun, rough and high energy, though there was that one episode early on that breaks that chain, which is why the animation only got a 7.
Sound - 8/10
Well, there's really not much bad to say about this one. The catchy intro and ending themes were overall great, I probably watched them about every episode just to hear them again, and the background music was very well placed, and more interestingly, varied. Everyone who watches the show recognizes "Libera Me from Hell" switching off between Rap and Opera in a mix that while odd, is very nice to listen to. The rest of the soundtrack is just as interesting, and worth a listen by itself if you ever get the chance.
Characters - 9/10
I think this is where the anime really gets to shine most. The way they fleshed out thier characters was natural, but what really struck me is that they never left anyone out. Everyone in the Gurren Brigade got their own characterization, with thier own unique challenges. Everyone getting thier five minutes of fame may sound boring with a cast of this size, but the energy is high throughout the entire thing, and the cast is interesting enough to get by. You gotta give them credit for fleshing out each character when everyone is trying to be the same "badass action hero who likes to shoot guns and say cool lines" archetype that Kamina is.
Overall - 8/10
Overall, this is one of the good ones that I heartily reccommend to any fan of big robots and stuff exploding. If thats what you want to see, then this is one of the top. If you want something more in depth, then you might be pleasantly surprised by Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Evangelion was the pessimistic deconstruction of Mecha. Gurren Lagann was an optimistic little engine that could... be utterly superb at tearing apart the Shounen Mecha genere.