Archive for January 3rd, 2008

Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: Modern-Day Gunbuster

Compare:

with:

It’s a bit more than a reference, I think.

While I was watching the concluding episodes of Gurren-Lagann earlier this fall, I was struck with one impression–how incredibly similar to Gunbuster it was. It started off with me just thinking “Man, Gurren-Lagann has as good a payoff as Gunbuster did back in the day.”

That was episode 21. Needless to say, Gurren-Lagann ended up having what may be a much better, if slightly different in style, payoff than Gunbuster.

There’s a genuine basis for the comparison here, and let me explain it a bit. For one thing, the themes of both series are quite similar. In Gunbuster, you had Noriko aiming for the Top, as it were, and helping save the Earth from extermination from the Galactic Monsters, the white blood cells of the galaxy. In Gurren-Lagann, you had Simon and the Gurren-dan leading…a quest to take on the Anti-Spirals as they threatened to exterminate all human life on the planet.

Sound a bit similar to you, too?

I’m fully aware that Gainax actually made Diebuster/Gunbuster 2, but I’m firmly convinced that Gurren-Lagann is the spiritual sequel to Gunbuster. There’s a lot of similarities–Noriko and Simon are practically the same character at times, except one has breasts and the other doesn’t. As well, episode 5 of Gunbuster (you know, the one with HOMING LASER!) seems to have been directly copied for the massive battles at the end of Gurren-Lagann. The concept of a select group of people putting their lives on the line to save the Earth crops up as well.

LIke Gunbuster, which oozed with references and pastiches of even older mecha anime, Gurren-Lagann apparently evolved like this: Gainax staffers, working on planning out the new mecha show, are sitting around a table. Someone says “Hey, guys, let’s make this a show about drills!” (drills, of course, being a Man’s Romance, and a common theme in classic mecha anime). The Gainax staffers share a hearty laugh at this premise, and then sit down and get to work taking it completely seriously and thus Gurren-Lagann was born. WIth such similar initial concepts, and the ultimately strong and moving anime they ended up being despite inauspicious beginnings, it’s safe to say that Gurren-Lagann will probably be as fondly remembered in the hearts of otaku today as Gunbuster was to the otaku of the 80s.

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Ookiku Furikabutte Episode 1, or: Wow, Baseball Anime

Yes, I know about Princess Nine (and it is one of my favorites). But I’m not even a general fan of sports anime, aside from Hajime no Ippo, which is probably one of the best shounen manga/anime in existence (I have most  of the DVDs, and I hear I was supposed to get the rest for Christmas, but haven’t actually gotten them yet because they haven’t shipped–so, yes, you ex-Geneon staffers, someone actually bought Ippo), but I’ve always liked baseball as a sport, as I played it as a kid (also bowling, but I don’t think there’s been a bowling anime–yet). And Oofuri isn’t even shounen, it’s seinen, and the manga received the Osamu Tezuka Award and the Kodansha Manga Award, and was serialized in Afternoon, so you know it’s good.

And, although the first episode wasn’t quite entering “this is awesome” territory, it was still really good. The manager, who I don’t think has been named yet, can crush oranges to make juice with her bare hands. Of course, the real meat of the episode was the compaionship between Mihashi Ren, a pitcher (who thinks he sucks at pitching) and Abe Takaya, the catcher. Already they’re a team–Mihashi learned that the abuse heaped upon him by his peers in his middle school baseball club might have been really undeserved, as, with Abe’s help, he totally creams a fourth-at-batter.

I have no idea where the series is headed at this point; I can only hope that there’s a series of exciting games and character development ahead for me–from what I’ve seen, the series seems to be focused on the characters, rather than the sport, which isn’t necessarily bad, as Princess Nine focused on the characters too, but the games were not exactly thrilling escapades for the most part (although the episode where the girls used sex appeal to score runs was probably the best game of baseball ever played). Arguably, if I wanted to watch thrilling baseball games, I’d watch the four seasons of Major (which I might do, someday, maybe), but Oofuri will probably have at least a few good games in its run (which already ended but whatever). But, hopefully, this series will not only please my seinen aesthetics but also tickle my shounen aesthetics. If it does both, then I’ll love it.

Also, if you are reading this, Central Anime, please get a different encoder for your XviD versions. I’m not a video snob and I can tell there’s something wrong with those encodes. For one, you don’t encode a 16:9 video in a 4:3 resolution with black bars, that’s just wrong.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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