The second set of dubbed Gurren Lagann episodes is just as a
fun, funny, and hyper-kinetic as the first. The series moves fast,
with several unexpected twists and turns keeping the interest level up
and the narrative flowing along. Filled with a lot of humor and some
kick-ass mecha action this is one of the most enjoyable anime series to
come around in a while.
Series Background (warning: contains spoilers from set one):
Simon is a driller. He lives in a subterranean cavern and his
job is to drill new tunnels to expand the living area of his clan.
He's quite good at making new tunnels, one of the fastest drillers the
tribe has, and one day he discovers a strange spiral shaped object buried
deep below the 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 Kamina who realizes that Lagann
is a Gunman too and that the strange drill shaped object is its key.
Practically forcing Simon into Lagann, Kamina and a boisterous red-head
named Yoko who followed the Gunman from the surface, manage to defeat the
invading monster. Discovering 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 humans, which is why most of the population has disappeared
Gunman attack Yoko's above ground village every day. Kamina, filled
with energy and a ridiculous fighting spirit, manages to capture a Gunman
during the next attack, which he labels Gurren. With two mecha on
their side, the trio also discovers where the Beastmen base is supposed
to be located and take off to put an end to the attacks once and for all.
Along the way they start to gather recruits. When other humans
hear that Kamina fights in a captured Gunman, others start to take the
Beastmen's weapons. Soon there is a small army tagging along.
That doesn't mean that there are no casualties however, and when Kamina
unexpectedly dies in battle, Simon is deeply affected. Even the discovery
of a strange girl locked inside a metal box that a Beastman was discarding
is enough to shake Simon out of his funk.
Things aren't that great at the start of this set. With Kamina
dead and Simon in a deep depression team Lagann doesn't have a leader.
To make things worse, one of the Four Generals attacks and the group has
a hard time fending her off.
Then there is the mystery of Nia. Just who is this strange girl?
It's soon revealed that she's none other than the daughter of the Spiral
King, the person who created the Beastmen and who started the war against
humanity. She seems nice and gentle, but most of the humans don't
trust her, even though the General who is attacking wants to kill her.
As things progress the brave band of fighters gets closer and closer
to the Beastmen's capital, Teppelin. The closer they get the more
resistance they meet and once they see the secret that Teppelin possesses
it's not clear if they'll ever be able to win.
The one thing I really like about this show is that it moves at a fast
pace. As where some shows would take seasons to get to the enemy
capital, Gurren Lagann does it in a little over a dozen episodes.
Things happen in this program too; main characters die, enemies that seem
destined to plague the group forever are dispatched and Team Dai-Gurren
achieves the goals they set out to achieve. That's really great.
After watching countless anime that are enjoyable but where nothing much
happens to advance the plot, it's nice to see a show that speeds along
at a good clip.
Another great aspect of this show is that it's laugh-out-loud funny.
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 main 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 you!"
This two disc set containing episodes 10-18 comes with a really cool
Gurren Lagann backpack. It's much sturdier than I imagined it would
be. 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
alive during the battle sequences. The Japanese track was also very
good, but it didn't have the sonic impact of the 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.
There are a few standard extras included with this set; a clean
opening and closing, and some Bandai previews, that's it.
This second set is just as entertaining as the first, and that's saying
something. This show 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.' Highly Recommended.