In the early 21st century, insectoid organisms are invading the galaxy, searching for new stars to house their young. Mankind's only defense lies with space cadets such as Takaya Noriko, daughter of a celebrated admiral killed in battle, and Amano Kazumi, the top of her class. With their skill and the power of the mecha known as GunBuster, the girls must help fight to protect the galaxy from total annihilation...
It’s not an easy thing to mess with expectations. If the pilot episode offers the viewer a basic image of what the show is all about, then he will expect for the rest of the show to be as such as well. Making a sudden turnaround to something different will most likely feel like an ass-pull and the average viewer will most likely be displeased if his expectations were formed up to then. There is of course the option of taking the viewer by surprise, by inserting events that seem out of place yet work just because he didn’t expect them at all. Although that usually works (the most recent example at the moment I write this review is Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica) it still in effect counts as nothing shock effect that is there just to mess with your emotions as if you are a rug doll. Gunbuster is amongst the first anime that managed to find the perfect balance between a good story and an entertaining presentation. It is not an easy task that one can write down and offer it to all the rest so they can mimic the formula thereafter. Even after all these years Gunbuster belongs in a very small group of shows that pulled it off nicely, while most other shows were usually too serious and boring or too stupid and distasteful.The thing that makes this show good is that it is smart and stupid at the same time, thus it can appeal evenly to all types of anime fans (in this case I’m referring to the simple separation to hardcore type As and casual type Bs). - On one hand we have a show which did its homework and inserted lots of scientific information around physics in an attempt to excuse all its advanced technology. The fringe science is still improbable even with those explanations included yet you are made to feel like everything is based on something scientific and it’s not your usual magic dressed as technology. Even if you don’t try to reason everything, it is still nice info for the ignorant to learn a few basic things around astrophysics and time distortions. - One the other hand the show is full of guilty pleasure, such as cute/silly girls in tight uniforms, overblown drama where willpower is more powerful than nuclear bombs, as well as really epic in scale battles. You can just shut off your mind and enjoy the idiotically entertaining human pathos and the over the top action. Another great thing is that the show does not remain wrapped up in a repeating formula all the way. It starts as a weak war drama around a girl whose father is killed by aliens, then gradually turns to training to get stronger ala shounen, then to romance, and then to over the top mecha action. The transition from one genre to the other may feel rushed since the duration of the show is rather short but the excuse is there nonetheless, backed up by science and people growing up and getting wiser to make it far more plausible.The characters are another good thing. Although they are all quite simplistic as personalities, their roles are exploited to the fullest and not always in a linear fashion, thus their importance to the rather short duration of the show feels tenfold. The lead girl begins as the typical naive klutz unsecured girl that steadily needs to train and toughen up in order to take revenge and protect the planet. Her teacher becomes more than just a teacher. Her main female rival becomes more than a female rival. The aliens are more than they appear to be, the scale of the war gets out of control, and nothing is expected. By the end of the show, you will really get to like their simplicity, for they evolve to something entirely different than their introduction scene. That counts as character growth and even catharsis.Production values are also very good for their time, with high detail given to both character figures and backgrounds, as well as making the battles to appear super epic. The BGM is also good at transmitting the proper mood and voice acting is both full of cheesy dialogues around getting stronger, as well as explanations around the fringe science used in the story.Yet another thing is that the final episode is made fully in grayscale, and there are many still frames depicting the action. Not because of budget restrictions as much as artistic choice. A different director would have just made a crappy colorful finale but this one chose a far more melancholic, bittersweet feeling. I am referring to Hideaki Anno, who just like the finale of Neon Genesis he created a controversial conclusion with minimum funds, which makes it far more artistic and memorable for its unorthodox approach. It takes a genius to do this right and Anno is one. In all, this is a jewel in the rough; highly entertaining yet not completely retarded. It has a story that heads somewhere, characters that evolve, passion and intellect, an ending that leaves you wowing with its scale of action and unorthodox coloring. Not many managed to do all that. I can even say Tengen Toppa took pointers from it and Neon Genesis used it as a blueprint for its director to make something great out of something cheesy. Great stuff indeed. Me likes Gunbasta. Stoopid an’ smart at da seim taim.
I should begin by mentioning that going into Gunbuster, i generally am not a fan of mecha or large scale space warfare (e.g. the mecha part of Gargantia and space warfare of Legend of the Galactic heroes were not particularly intetesting to me.) However i do love FLCL every single time i see it, and thus i went into Gunbuster with a lot of goodwill due to the Gainax label. The story of Gunbuster covers a relatively large amount of arcs over the span of only 6 episodes. This also means that a lot of the space warfare etc. (which i do not care too much about anyway) takes the backseat to character development for the most part. While i do have some gripes about how some of the characters do not get enough of an introduction relative to how important they are to the plot, i generally liked the relationships between them. This is also largely due to how (minor spoiler) these relationships are often affected by a time-distortion element; causing characters to age at different speeds, which leads to some interesting situations. The characters themselves are pretty standard though, with little interesting going on, but that is as expected with this little time for building up their backstories. Though i don't care that much about the mecha-element, it is (compared to today's standards) pretty average. It does have some very satisfying scenes though, both in regards to the action, the way moving mechanical parts are animated, as well as the general technology in the universe. The music and animation quality is pretty darn fantastic for its time, and still hold up decently today. It has those crazy Gainax moments, but significantly toned down compared to their more modern series. Still very enjoyable however, with things going quite bananas at times. Finally it should be mentioned that the story has a satisfying ending, and can be enjoyed by itself. Of course if you find the series enjoyable it is natural to move on to the sequel. Overall pretty enjoyable, if you like or at least can live with a relatively mecha-centric plot. Secret Santa Review
This anime was recommended to me because of its (pseudo)scientific depth. I completely agree; the cheer amount of detail that was put into the science that guides the backstory is painstakingly intricate. So much so, in fact, that they have little "scientific" shorts to explain relativistic and theoretical physics (and their own sci-fi addendums) in leyman's terms. This anime was Hideaki Anno's (the same director as Neon Genesis Evangeleon)first; thankfully it's not so philosophically deep that it melts your brain (as his future works do). My self-centered, science-buff biased opinion is that I completely love this six-episode animation. However! Putting myself in the typical anime audience's shoes, I'm going to have to criticize a few (but important) aspects. The gratituous nudity is by far the most distracting aspect. To quote Wikipedia, "[t]he series is ... notable for being the first anime to introduce jiggling breasts as a form of fan service, which led to ... the show being nicknamed Bustgunnerby fans." I can come up with three excuses to forgive the animators for their blatant use of fan service: This OVA is too short. How do you allow your audience to become connected to your characters in such a short notice? Why, you could, perhalps, show your characters having an intimate discussion about their breasts while they take a relaxing bath. It may sound crude, but males and females alike should feel less threatened by anyone who "trusts" them enough to discuss their intimate thoughts. It's breaking the ice 101! Comic relief: the plot gets very depressing at times. What's the easiest way to cheer up the audience? Humor! Seeing people accidentally exposed is funny. This sudden shock disconnects us from the tension we're feeling; a catharsis of emotions that's very effective. Did it have to be used in 5 of the 6 episodes? Well! :3 That brings me to the next excuse. Brief, innocent nudity is a staple of (80's) anime! It's expected; if your story lacks it, it's not real anime! Okay, I'm exaggerating, but the point is valid. Sex sells. Your fans want it, you oblige. Even so, I'd feel the slightest bit uncomfortable watching some of these scenes with my friends, my mom, or my children. If I were a 13-year old and my parents walked in on me (or vice-versa, I were a parent and walked in on my kid) while watching this anime, it would be awkward. Only a little bit, though, it's not like watching Elfen Lied. Yep. It bothered me, if just briefly, that gigantic ships the size of cities that are capable of near-light speeds were very ineffective destroying enemy ships, but this tiny humanoid robot (that in itself is incapable of moving near light speed) can shoot infinitely powerful beams out of its head that destroy millions of city-sized bugs in one shot. The science adds up extremely well for everything else, so why do these mechas need to jump rope and do a gazillion pushups to get stronger? Anyone with a knack for science will be perplexed at these inconsistencies, if not insulted. Also, Smith bothers me as a plot device. Some little kid's heart must have been broken when this very cool, maybe even likeable character is just tossed out of the script. He would have been a fun distraction to the gloomyness, but Gainax didn't use it to their advantage. It's like Vincent Valentine never appearing in the Final Fantasy 7 ending. Or how about Bleach? Don't even let me go there. It just seems people create these really cool characters, but the director already had plans. At least they didn't do that to Kimiko, Takaya's best friend. Oh, wait... I didn't even notice when she was dropped off the script. Oh, well. Happy ending, right? ..Right? As a sci-fi and happy-ending(?) loving adult, I give this anime a thumbs up. As an over-protective parent, I give it a "parental guidance is a must". If you haven't watched this and I haven't spoiled the ending for you (I don't know, have I?) watch it now. It's short (for those of you with short attention spans), it's iconic, (for you hipster anime buffs that liked anime before it was popular and need to watch classics, subs only, on vinyl, etc), It's romantic (for the ladies!), and it's got fan service (if you're into that kind of stuff).
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