Summary: Gurren Lagann takes place in a fictional future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lord Genome, who forces mankind to live in isolated subterranean villages. The plot focuses on two teenagers living in a subterranean village, Simon and Kamina, who wish to go to the surface. Using a Mecha known as Lagann, Simon and Kamina reach the surface and start fighting alongside other humans against Lord Genome’s forces.
It’s here due to the fact that I only re-watched and completed the series a few months. Up till then, I originally thought it was more than one series given how divergent each story arc is.
This is one of the show’s strengths:
First series, the role of Kamina, as a leader and mentor, Simon, his apprentice, the introduction of Gunmen, forming Gurren Lagann and the conflict between the Four Generals and mankind. Most people live underground, not due to nukes or deadly weather conditions, but because of oppression. After becoming rivals with Viral and thwarting multiple Beastmen, Kamina embodied the hope of all humans to be free. Ultimately, the arc ends with Kamina’s death… which shapes the second.
Second series, shows the impact of Kamina’s absence, from Simon’s breakdown, Yoko’s misdirected anger, and the Team’s near dissolution. Before Simon had his epiphany, he and the team found and took in Nia Teppelin (Genome’s daughter and his future love) who a pacifying air to a community in disarray. Once reconstituted, Simon led his team against the remaining Generals and eventually Lord Genome himself. Also delving deeper into what Spiral Power actually is while Simon unlocks it’s potential and defeats Genome, freeing humanity.
Third series, the shortest and may be the most disliked, explores the resurrection of civilization on the surface and Simon’s ascent and subsequent descent from power. As the series reflects, Simon is not comfortable with his political responsibilities and falls victim to politics surrounding him. Also Yoko’s sojourn from the Team and its city. She and Simon feel that they are fighters, defenders first. Rossiu Adai, who was rescued in the first series, a former priest’s altar boy, was adviser to Simon. He usurped Simon combat the Anti-Spiral’s campaign…his way, without Gurren Lagann. His failure leads to Team Dai-Gurren’s reformation (former antagonist Viral, in tow).
Fourth and Final series, the scale and escalation go through the roof as the Team takes the fight to the Anti-Spirals in space. Nia was activated by the enemy and used as a messenger, and held hostage to further their goals. These episodes included many deaths and the stakes ramp up in each episode. The Team’s Gunmen goes from a star ship to a Galaxy crusher, wielding planets as mere weapons. The main antagonist had been behind it all, a society who gave up their humanity to form a consciousness of unfathomable force in order to eliminate the chaos of Spiral Power. This series concludes two ways; both remain sad.
Another strength is its characters and the range of their personalities:
Kamina, went from a self-important egotist to a full-blown hero and inspiration to those who loved him. His confidence and passion drove his words, actions. He knew what he could and couldn’t do. What he saw in Simon was nothing short of amazing.
Simon, secretly the series’ main character, was someone who lacked self-confidence yet had a knack for drilling. Kamina’s plot to get him to see his own potential, not giving up on him in pivotal moments, made him a man. One not to be trifled with. Also the perfect host to Spiral Power, his persistence, potential, response to adversity, and what Kamina coined as his “fighting spirit”. Loosely, A Green Lantern akin to Kyle Rayner, perhaps; Spiral Power Core Drill equals Green Lantern Ring as Fighting Spirit is equivalent to Willpower. Furthermore, his growth from boy to man executed well (if you can separate him from his Kamina-esque traits).
Overall, despite the length of this series as a whole, Gurren Lagann, for the most part, knows what it can and cannot do. Hints of many anime, non-anime genres come to mind: Sentai Force, Mecha, Comedy, Drama, even Green Lantern, persist throughout. Concepts of brotherhood, self-esteem, friendship, death, grieving, and politics intermingle. In turn, it stands as an analogy to Pandora’s Box as all evils were released into the world…and only hope remained.
Bye for now, KS.