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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Gurren Lagann Part 1 Limited Edition w/Artbox and LED light
Gurren Lagann Part 1 Limited Edition w/Artbox and LED light
Bandai // PG-13 // November 11, 2008
List Price: $64.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted January 4, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
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The Series:
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 way American TV shows have been distributed for a while, and Bandai Visual has 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 of the 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 an English dub track (as well as the original Japanese) and extras that will eat up six discs.  Todd Douglass reviewed the sub-only releases here and enjoyed it just as much as I liked the dubbed discs.  Gurren 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 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 Gunam too and the strange drill shaped object is the key. 
Practically forcing Simon into Lagann the young driller, along with a boisterous red-head named Yoko who followed the Gunman from the 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 humans, 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 spirit, manages to capture a Gunman during the next attack, which he labels Gurren.

The trio also discovers where the Beastmen base is supposed to be located, so with their two mecha and the sharpshooter Yoko, they take off 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 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!" 

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 all, to combine Lagann, a six foot tall face with a boring screw protruding from the bottom, with his Gurren, a typical giant mecha.  Everyone is astounded that he's going to try something so bone-headed, and even more amazed when, after ramming Lagann into the top of Gurren, that it 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 you have fighting spirit?!!?
As the supporting cast grows, including a fey mechanic and some orphans from another underground civilization, the writers have more to work with.  The jokes never get tired and the show doesn't run out of steam, at least in these first two discs.

The DVD:


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 on the top.  The front has an image of Gurren's face, and the box opens by lifting the top and side which splits at Gurren's mouth revealing his teeth inside.  In addition to the two discs, the box also contains a drill key like the only 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 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.
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 studio who 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 studio while they were working on the show.  She talks to various people involved with the project and sees how a show comes into being.  Finally there's a clean opening and closing. 
Final Thoughts:
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.'  Highly Recommended.
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