Gunbuster - Reviews

Alt titles: Aim for the Top!, Top wo Nerae!

ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Jan 4, 2012

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.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
keiko777's avatar
Jan 27, 2011

Gunbuster is by no means bad.  Its characters are likeable and its plot is interesting.  But, its main characters simply aren't that well developed, and for every awesome scene, there are long stretches of mediocrity.  Especially the first two episodes are quite trite, but later, there is definitely an improvement in later episodes.  I think the real problem this show suffers from is its short length, which simply doesn't allow the characters to become unique enough to sympathize with, at least to the extent the audience needs to for this to be a truly great anime.  For example, there is a character who shows up for only one episode, who greatly affects the mian characters actions, and I just couldn't bring myself to care about their relationship, because he was there for too short a time.  Having said that, these characters are charming, and even if we the audience aren't sure of their intentions, we do learn them by the end, without any dramatic reveals (for which I am grateful.)  They are realistic, and this show does explore certain implications of space travel, especially regarding time, in a pretty thought-provoking way.

This OVA is old, but the animation. like the show, isn't bad.  The movements of the characters weren't jerky enough to be distracting, except a little bit near the beginning, and the breasts of our teenage protagonist are always rendered in magnificent detail.  The character designs are pretty, and the designs of the space monsters were creepy, but also beautiful in their own.

I would recommend this show, but I wouldn't want anyone to go into this with the highest expectations, because I think you'll be disappointed.  I must admit that I don't understand why this shows up on so many poeple's favorite lists, but I was entertained, and I did end up feeling for the characters.



?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
WhiteKnight's avatar
Mar 7, 2013

I'm going to be short. The premise, the science, the story overall were great. Enjoyed it to no end. I almost dropped it and didn't pick it back up though, simply because the two main characters did nothing but cry. When one wasn't the other was. It's that simple. This might just be me, but I couldn't bring myself to care about either of them because they were so easily broken. That being said, I will probably watch it again at some point.

On a side note, I'd like to know where they got their math done for time dilation... the numbers didn't seem right.

7/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
1/10 characters
5/10 overall
MuspellPete's avatar
Dec 25, 2017

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

8/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
8/10 overall
Matu's avatar
Feb 18, 2012


In the near future, humans are beginning to explore the depths of space, even leaving their solar system.  Such an exciting time is marred by the fact that evil "Space Monsters" have their sights set on Earth.  The humans quickly begin training their warriors to do battle, but will they be enough to save the Earth?

The story of Gunbuster starts out as basically a school drama, only with giant robots.  From then it moves on to a space-traveling drama.  This part is very interesting, because the humans are traveling at the speed of light, which apparently has a drastic effect on space and time.  For instance, the pilots could be in space for 6 months, and 10 years could pass on Earth.  Of course this leads to some sad situations as the heroes return to Earth only to find that their friends have all been aging without them.

The Mecha have a surprisingly small role in the OVA, only appearing for a short amount of time, and they weren't too memorable. 


As Gunbuster was originally released from 1988-1989, the animation seems a bit dated, though it has aged relatively well.

The color palette is pretty low-key and realistic, making it easy to believe this story was happening on Earth, to the people of Earth.  Had they gone with a more vibrant/bright color scheme, this anime would've seemed a bit more silly, and the drama wouldn't have worked as well.  The colors were a great complement to the tone of the story.

The final episode is animated in black and white.  Many people (including me) will likely find this annoying at first, but give it a chance.  It adds a special, new kind of flavor to the ending of the story.  Almost as though you're suddenly viewing it from afar, like you're reading about it in a newspaper rather than watching events in person as you had been the rest of the anime.

Also, bonus points to this anime for pioneering the "Gainax Bounce."  ;)


The music fit the scenes well, but is nothing too impressive.

The voice actors did a good job in this one.  They fit their characters well and helped me see things from their perspective in this surprisingly emotional anime.


The characters went through many changes during this short series.  You'll find yourself liking a character one episode, only to find out that they're a bit of a jerk during the next.  The emotional trauma caused by the constant time-shifts leads to some unique character development, which you should find quite interesting.

Final Thoughts:

This Anime Is... An Essential.  If you're an anime fan, especially a fan of Mecha/Sci-Fi anime, you need to see Gunbuster.

Should I Watch This Anime? Yes!  Like I said above, Gunbuster is basically a must-see for true anime fans.  And at only 6 episodes, you aren't "throwing away" a huge chunk of your life if you don't like it.  Enjoy!

6.5/10 story
6/10 animation
5.5/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
6.5/10 overall