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Gurren Lagann, Pt. 3 Limited Edition

Bandai // Unrated // May 5, 2009
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted May 16, 2009 | E-mail the Author
The Series:
The final set of dubbed Gurren Lagann episodes closes out the show with the last nine episodes.  Though sometimes anime programs have a hard time wrapping things up, that wasn't the case with this show.  It concludes just as strong as it started, making this one of the better releases of the year.  Still 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 sets one and two):

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 underground.

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.  Eventually they get to the Beastman's headquarters, fight their king, and gain the human race's freedom. 

With his dying breath however, the Beastman King reveals that there was a reason behind his persecution of the humans.  It turns out that humans have 'spiral power' and if the population of mankind ever reaches a million, the anti-spiral race will come to destroy them.  That's exactly what happens seven years after the victory, and the anti-spirals aren't fooling around.

This Set:

Things looked bad for humanity at the end of the last set, and the situation grows worse as the first volume opens.  After the humans have (barely) beaten back the first anti-spiral attack, the aggressors decide to get serious and send the moon on a path that will have it crashing into the Earth in a matter of weeks. 

The Earth government, run by members of Team Gurren, tries to get as many people underground as they can, while outfitting a huge space ship for the rest of the population.  Things are looking bad for Simon too.  The populace has turned against him since he defeated the anti-spirals, blaming him for the imminent moon crash.   He's arrested, tried, and actually sentenced to death. 

Like the previous volumes, this show moves at a fast pace and covers a lot of ground quickly.  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 final pair of discs is a little more serious, though there're still some light moments.  The battles have higher stakes now, and things don't always turn out like you'd expect, especially in the last mega-battle at the end.  Even with this more sober set of shows the program is still exciting and action-filled.

The DVD:

This two disc LE set containing episodes 19-27 comes with the first volume of the manga and a two-disc soundtrack CD.  These are nice bonus items and I wish more companies would include a manga volume.  It's a great way to get more people reading the original version.
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 and some minor aliasing, but these never becomes distracting.
There are a few nice extras included with this set.  The first disc has a 15 minute reel of 3D tests (with text comments) of some of the CGI mecha; a clean opening and closing, and some Bandai previews.  Disc two has an 8-minute interview with the singer of the opening song, Shokotan, a clean opening and closing for the third versions, three more previews.

Final Thoughts:
This show wrapped up just as strong as it started.  Though these shows were a little more sober than the beginning episodes the program is still a lot of fun.  Entertaining, action-filled and with some unexpected twists, Gurren Laggan is a 'must-buy.'  Highly Recommended.

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Highly Recommended

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