With the anime market being so tight, publishers are trying
new things to cut costs and raise revenue.
FUNimation is releasing various series in half season sets the
American TV shows have been distributed for a while, and Bandai Visual
played with releasing anime in the US
the same time they come out in Japan
with the same price point. Bandai
Entertainment is trying something a little unusual with their release
cult hit show Gurren Lagann
too; they're releasing the show in a sub-only
version spanning three volumes first, then as releasing it again with
English dub track (as well as the original Japanese) and extras that
up six discs. Todd Douglass reviewed the
sub-only releases here
and enjoyed it just as much as I liked the dubbed
Lagann is a fun, funny,
hyper-kinetic blast that will have anime fans rolling on the floor.
Simon is a driller.
He lives in a subterranean cavern and his job is to drill new
expand the living area of his clan. He's
quite good at making new tunnels, one of the fastest drillers the tribe
and one day he discovers a strange spiral shaped object buried deep
surface as well as a metal face the size of a man.
Simon's friend, Kamina, names the face Lagann
and when a huge Gunman (mecha unit) crashes into Simon's cavern, it's
who realizes that Lagann is a Gunam too and the strange drill shaped
Practically forcing Simon into Lagann the young driller,
along with a boisterous red-head named Yoko who followed the Gunman
surface, manages to defeat the invading monster. Now
knowing that there is a surface world,
Kamina and Simon leave their village to explore the great outdoors. Yoko fills them in quickly about the realities
of life on the outside. The Gunman are
piloted by Beastmen, animal-like creatures that want to exterminate all
which is why most of the population has disappeared underground. The Gunman attack Yoko's village nearly
everyday, and Kamina, filled with energy and a ridiculous fighting
manages to capture a Gunman during the next attack, which he labels
The trio also discovers where the Beastmen base is supposed
to be located, so with their two mecha and the sharpshooter Yoko, they
to put an end to the attacks once and for all.
There aren't too man mecha shows that play up the laughs but
Gurren Lagann is one of them and it works wonderfully.
The show is outrageous and so over the top
that it's impossible not to laugh. The
comic character is Kamina who gung-ho to the point of being absurd. He doesn't let logic (or reality) enter into
his plans, his fighting spirit will show him the way, or so he hopes. Typical of his thinking is the advice he
gives to Simon when the driller hesitates to pilot Lagann:
"Reject common sense to make the impossible
possible! ... Listen Simon, don't believe
in yourself. Believe in ME!
Believe in the Kamina who believes in
Each episode has some laugh out loud moments, and one of the
best is when Kamina, having trouble battling a Gunman in an early
episode. He decides, based on nothing at
combine Lagann, a six foot tall face with a boring screw protruding
bottom, with his Gurren, a typical giant mecha.
Everyone is astounded that he's going to try something so
and even more amazed when, after ramming Lagann into the top of Gurren,
actually works and the pair become more powerful than the sum of their
parts. Granted the bottom of Lagann's
screw misses Kamina's head by inches, but what does that matter when
As the supporting cast grows, including a fey mechanic and
some orphans from another underground civilization, the writers have
work with. The jokes never get tired and
the show doesn't run out of steam, at least in these first two discs.
The first two disc containing episodes 1-9 come in a
magnificent artbox. The thick board box
has the Team Gurren Logo on both sides and the back with a cast picture
top. The front has an image of Gurren's
face, and the box opens by lifting the top and side which splits at
mouth revealing his teeth inside. In
addition to the two discs, the box also contains a drill key like the
Simon found that has a green LED inside.
Quite a nifty bonus item.
Unlike the earlier release, this disc comes with an English
dub in 5.1 in addition to the original Japanese stereo mix. I have to admit that the English dub is very
good and I enjoyed listening to it. The
voice actors do a great job and the 5.1 mix really makes the show come
during the battle sequences. The
Japanese track was also very good, but it didn't have the sonic impact
full surround mix.
The show is presented with a 1.78:1 anamorphic image that
looks fairly good, especially the above ground scenes.
These are bright and colorful and have a nice
range of tones. Underground the show
isn't as visually appealing, mainly due to the drab colors. There is a bit of noise in the image, both
above and below ground, but it never becomes distracting.
While the first release was pretty bare bones, this one has
a few nice extras. First off there's a
10-minute interview with several members of the GAINAX production
worked on the project that's a pretty standard Q & A:
What's the origin of the series? Who
did the idea of the drill come up? Things
like that. More entertaining was the
featurette Yoko Goes to GAINAX. This 25-minute special
had the voice actress who plays Yoko in the series visit the production
while they were working on the show. She
talks to various people involved with the project and sees how a show
into being. Finally there's a clean
opening and closing.
There are few middle of the road comedies when it comes to
anime. They either work or they
don't. This one works exceedingly well
and has all the action and excitement of a mecha show to boot. Filled with hilarious situations and some
well choreographed battles this show is a 'must-buy.'