Story: This didn't even need a story. If it just had mecha, explosions, ham and manliness with a barebones plot to push all that forward, then it would have been awesome. But you get a plot to go with your larger-than-life mecha and overblown speeches. The plot starts off simple and could have simply ended at 12 episodes in but with the time-skip at that half-way mark, you're getting another story that could have been a second season. And that story, is made of awesome once it picks up.
It's not simply the "fight for freedom" that does it but how as it continues, it gets bigger and bigger until it's past the stage of larger-than-the-world. It continues to climb and top itself with every episode, every battle and everything that happens. But with every event that occurs, a few will always linger, will always stay with you and it's those events that really push it over the top. There's heart admists the coolness and manly nature in it, a soul that is within the burning spirit. And to go with those memories, is the sheer unadulterated rule of cool.
All that heart stuff there does hold a candle to the manly action that goes on, so manly that you don't even need a shirt to go with those awesome shades. This is the mecha that drives it forward, the hammy speeches that pump you up and the mass amount of explosions that outnumber the enemy and ally mecha. This is 50-60, 70% of the tale; manly men and women doing manly things, getting into manly battles and to prove it, mecha is ran by manliness; coolness, also known as Spiral Power. Science proves that coolness is the key to the world!
So it's deeper than what you would expect, and that's icing and a good portion of the cake. It had the spirit but the plot is it's soul, and it burns just as brightly.
Animation: First off, it looks great. That goes double for the mecha, which while unusual to me, have a sense of style and faces that match the tone of the series, as well as the shades on Gurren Lagann. It's slick and moves at a good pace and switches to a more sketchy, penciled and frentic style in times of extreme manliness or finishers. It's a nice idea and not overused. Also props to their style, which is both oddball and pretty cool, despite the lack of shirts in such a hot setting. The only miffle is a episode early on which is so out of place with everything else. You'll know it when you see it.
Sound: Gorgeous, the musical score is brilliant, and especially Viral's theme and Libra Me From Hell. The score is complimented with the VO's: sub or dub, take your pick; it's brilliant work both ways.
Characters: From the trinity of Kamina, Simon and Yoko to all the other heroes and the four generals of the Spiral King, the characters are what help make it what it is. Kamina's great on the offset, all macho bravado with hammy speeches and just being a badass ham all around but it's Simon who takes the cake. Throughout the series, we watch him from a wimpy kid who takes the initiative when he's pushed to to the man we see at the end. He lets go of his childhood and steps into the shoes of being a awesome badass. He's not the most likable at the start, but he can grow on you.
And a shout-out to Viral, who is by far the best antagonist in the series. So much more than a villain our heroes fight numerous times, and his chemistry with the heroes only adds to the deliciousness of the broth.
Overall: Add in the fun factor and that's what I came up with. This was an absolute blast from start to finish and I had loads of fun in the second run. Packed to the brim with cool and explosive mecha action and badassitude, this is at the peak of the genres it partakes in.
I could have sworn it talked a lot about a man's burning spirit and soul. Must have been the shades.