Genre(s): Action, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Mecha, Comedy
Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (Violence, profanity, suggestive themes)
Platforms: Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, Funimation
TheAwersome Rating: 9.5 / 10 (A pinnacle)
Premise: Simon and Kamina were born and raised in a deep, underground village, hidden from the fabled surface. Kamina is a free-spirited loose cannon bent on making a name for himself, while Simon is a timid young boy with no real aspirations. One day while excavating the earth, Simon stumbles upon a mysterious object that turns out to be the ignition key to an ancient artifact of war, which the duo dubs Lagann. Using their new weapon, Simon and Kamina fend off a surprise attack from the surface with the help of Yoko Littner, a hot-blooded redhead wielding a massive gun who wanders the world above.
With the sky now in plain view, Simon and Kamina set off on a journey alongside Yoko to explore the wastelands of the surface. Soon, they join the fight against the “Beastmen,” humanoid creatures that terrorize the remnants of humanity in powerful robots called “Gunmen.”
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: It’s very hard to adequately express the experience of this show. It is so ridiculously over-the-top and cliché, and yet we both found ourselves deeply emotionally invested. We were practically crying every episode out of pure joy and love for being human. The animation and character design are extreme in every sense of the word, with strong, hard lines and choices being made, and it is absolutely beautiful. It was no surprise that the team who made this later went on to form Studio Trigger (Kill la Kill, Darling in the FranXX, Promare, etc.) as it’s filled with the same raw unashamed passion for the craft.
TLDR: A bold and saturated experience of strong creative expression fueled with raw Saturday Morning chutzpah.
I can’t stress enough how on paper this show doesn’t have any right to be as good as it is. According to all the conventions of what makes a “good” anime, or even just a “good” story, it fails. Willpower, or “fighting spirit” as Kamina calls it, literally is a fuel that powers the technology. The power of friendship is literally the driving force behind everything, our heroes are so reckless and ridiculous, yet somehow it works. And not just “it” as in their plan works, but it works for the show, for the experience. At no point did I feel that the absolute disregard for physics, caution, or logic detracted from the show or made the characters less heroic or lovable. You get sucked in with such power, charm, and charisma that you accept everything they throw at you; probably because they don’t pretend in any way that it’s supposed to be realistic.
You’re here for fun, intensely animated robot fights and strong ridiculous characters, and they know it. They know you know it, and as such don’t bother with trying to “convince” you of the seriousness, plausibility, or absence of plot holes because that’s not what this is about. Gurren Lagann is a celebration of the raw determined willpower that defies expectations and logic and does exactly that.
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