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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Gurren Lagann 2
Gurren Lagann 2
Bandai // PG-13 // August 5, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted September 8, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Show:

Gurren Lagann has something of an interesting history here in the States. A while ago ADV had announced that they acquired the license but due to mitigating factors the company was unable to follow through. Bandai Entertainment was quick to pick up the title but rather than release it with an English dub they decided to push through the series with the original Japanese language first. It's a move that may feel rushed and haphazard for all intents and purposes, but you know what? I'm damn happy Bandai picked up the series and released it such as they did.

The 27 episode Gurren Lagann hit Japanese airwaves in April of 2007 and enjoyed a decent amount of success. Produced by Gainax and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (who worked on FLCL) it developed a cult following both in Japan and here in the States. A manga has been released and an animated film is actually scheduled to come out overseas in September. If you've never heard of this series before though, chances are good that you're wondering what the heck it's all about.

Gurren Lagann is arguably one of the most irreverent and over-the-top mecha series ever to be released. It has a wild sense of style and quite honestly the series is unique and imaginative right from the start. While it certainly does not have the most refined story ever created it's definitely one of the most enjoyable rides we've taken in a while. Few shows are this upbeat and Gurren Lagann has a lot of fun while never taking itself too seriously. Bandai's first volume came packed with nine episodes and right from the opening credits the series proved just how great it was. Can the second volume live up to the hype?

Things begin for Simon and company after a great tragedy that left every member of the Gurren Brigade mourning the death of a comrade. In case you haven't seen the show I'll refrain from spoiling this little tidbit for you, but let's just say that it's a major character. It was rough to say the least and the way the show played it off it was simply fantastic. Real human emotion came into the show and this volume begins with the same feelings of guilt and loss. Simon in particular goes through a wave of emotions and expressions that have more or less made him an empty shell of what he once was. A part of Simon died in the last volume, but they also happened to gain another.

During the final moments of the previous installment Simon discovered a chest with a young girl inside. Her name was Nia and in this installment we find out early on that she happens to be a daughter of the Helix King. Once we figure that out it creates an interesting dynamic in the relationship between humans and beastmen as you might expect. There are many unanswered questions at this point but from here out (at least for a while) the show explores Nia's relationship with each of the Gurren Brigade's members. She more or less fumbles around for a bit, but eventually she realizes that she has the ability to cook. Granted the only person who can really stomach her food is Simon so it allows for some funny moments. More importantly we see her fill a void that Simon had due to the death of the other character.

This installment follows through quite nicely as Simon and his ragtag group of heroes continues their march towards the Helix King and the beastmen's layer. Along the way there plenty of prominent enemies to fight and some familiar faces pop up as well. Some more amazing battles await you and the action in this series is simply stunning all around. The pacing is brisk throughout the first disc and up until episode fifteen the series is in constant full gear (though the beach episode was kind of silly even for this show). When you get to the second disc and you hit episode sixteen there is a bit of a recap of what has transpired to this point. This disjointed the fluidity of the series, but it was kind of crucial due to the fact that the series jumps ahead by seven years in the very next episode. I'd rather not spoil the remainder of this volume for folks who saw the first, but rest assured it's every bit as awesome as you'd expect it would be.

Gurren Lagann has quickly become one of the finest anime treats on the market today. It has outstanding character development, over-the-top action sequences, a fascinating story, and it's downright infectious. If you have not taken the time to watch this show yet then by all means, go to a store right now and buy it! You'll be glad you did. This series is one of the best of 2008 and Bandai did themselves a heck of a favor by scooping up the license.

The DVD:

Video:

Gurren Lagann is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The production for this series is fantastic and the animation is second to none. This is also one of the brightest shows I have seen in a while with some vibrant colors and a fine contrast to the image. Some very light grain does appear in darker shaded sections of the picture so shadows aren't as deep as they should have been. Even so this is still a fine looking transfer for the show and it looks great with a nice home theater set up.

Audio:

One thing that will probably cause some people to stay away from this release is the lack of an English dub. To be quite honest though the 2.0 Japanese track that is included here is all I'll ever need. I simply do not feel that an English voice cast could capture the insanity and spirit of this show. With that being said a 5.1 track definitely would have gone a long way to improving the experience; especially during battle sequences. The 2.0 provides some nice punches but without rear channel support it's simply not as immersive as it should have been.

Extras:

All you're going to find on these two discs are some clean animations and Bandai previews. Sadly if you want better features and more content you're going to have to fork over some dollars for the special edition.

Final Thoughts:

Gurrent Lagann is THE show to beat right now. This addicting action-oriented romp is wrought with silliness, over-blown sequences, and a can-do attitude that will endear it to anyone. There's so much to be said about this installment and the series as a whole, but details have been omitted to preserve plot twists. Few shows achieve what this one sets out to do and even fewer pull it off as effortlessly. Look for this as the one anime to beat in 2008.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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