I’m a grown man of 22 years of age. I like art house cinema, progressive and experimental music, high literature, and intellectually stimulating drama. Simultaneously, I am a humongous dork. I love comic books, video games, and anime. There’s something about watching giant robots duke it out or dudes with spiky hair blow up planets that gives me a child-like sense of pleasure. One of my all time favorite television series is Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I don’t care that it was a show primarily marketed to children. It’s got awesome animation, awesome fights, awesome characters, and an awesome story. It is made of pure, undistilled awesome. A couple of months back a friend of mine recommended that I start watching an anime that I had never heard of before called Gurren Lagann, a giant mecha anime from Gainax Studios (the company responsible for the Citizen Kane of the mecha genre Neon Genesis Evangelion). Well, it was available to watch instantly on Netflix, so I figured that I would watch the first four episodes and see how I felt. Boy, am I glad I made that decision!
So far (cause I’m only 4 episodes in), Gurren Lagann is about Simon and Kamina, two orphans who live in an underground village. Simon is fairly young. I would say like 12 or 13. Kamina looks like he’s about 17 or 18. Simon is shy and demure, whereas as Kamina is hot-headed and head strong (and made of pure win). Kamina’s dream is to see the surface, which his village chief say doesn’t exist. His dream becomes reality when a giant mecha known as a “Gunman” crashes through the surface and lands in his village, beginning to terrorize it. Simon finds a much smaller mecha hidden beneath the Earth and pilots it to help fight off the monster. Around this point, Yoko shows up. Yoko is a surface dweller, toting a huge sniper rifle hunting the “Gunman”. Let’s just say that Yoko is perhaps the purest bit of fan service in the history of anime, that wasn’t actually hentai. Her outfit is barely there and her breasts are ginormous. It’s absolutely ridiculous.It’s so ridiculous that it borders on offensive. Without wanting to ruin too much more of the plot, needless to say, they make it to the surface where Kamina gets his own mecha to pilot and things progressively get crazier and crazier.
If the plot sounds like your typical shonen mecha fare, it probably might be so far. However, this show is made absolutely fantastic because of how ridiculously over the top it is. This is like the anime equivalent of Shoot ‘Em Up. It takes all of the tropes and cliches of the mecha and anime generally and lampshades them to hilarious effects and cranks them all up to 11 (and then some). I’ve only watched four episodes of this show and Kamina is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite anime characters along with Spike from Cowboy BeBop, L from Death Note, and Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. He spouts some of the most ridiculous lines I have ever heard. It’s like if you gave Joss Whedon crack and told him to make an anime. Not to mention, the animation on this show is top notch. It looks absolutely fantastic, and this one of those rare instances when watching the English dub doesn’t make me want to scratch my eyes out because it’s actually pretty good.
I can’t wait to watch more of this. From what I’ve read, the series just pretty much gets even crazier and crazier and more awesome as it progresses. So, this is a rough score that I can give from just four episodes in. It may get higher or go lower as I see more, but updates of my viewing of this awesome show will continue to come along as I get further and further in. I can’t wait to keep watching the antics and exploits of the living breathing meme fountain Kamina and his nakama of Simon and Yoko.
Score in Progress: B+