Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: Modern-Day Gunbuster



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.

2 Responses to “Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: Modern-Day Gunbuster”

  1. 1 Deranged 4 January 2008 at 7:53 am

    I watched it is backwards chronological order (Lagann to Die to Gun) and i felt it was noticeable the similarities.

  2. 2 JR Saycon 20 June 2016 at 7:59 am

    This is definitely Top wo Nerae 3! Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. After the aftermath of Diebuster!, more and more topless arise and because of the reputation of the topless saving humanity from the true space monsters and also the destruction of the buster machine #7 which naturally meant the destruction of the buster corp., the topless were no longer hunted or rebuked. The buster corp. hunted the topless for they resembled the space monsters in evolution but with their absence the Topless propagated and lasted longer till they became eternal but this meant the end of peace. It also meant the possible extinction of the powerless humans. Threatened by this belief, both sides continued to build more and more buster machines till eventually war broke out in the cosmos. The war ended with both sides on the brink of total annihilation when humanity used the greatest ultimate weapon upon our topless brother and sisters. It was a lost technology from the age of mythology known as the “Black Hole Bomb” which was later known by topless as the “Spiral Nemesis”. As time grew by all living things were known as spirals and the topless that broke away from humanity were known as “the anti-spirals”. Several Millennia later, mankind and the anti-spirals grew apart and then they meet again when mankind decided to leave the solar system. They met the anti-spirals and just like the very first space monsters,they decided to destroy spiral kind. Lord genome was a energetic warrior who vowed to protect humanity and he fought countless battles with the anti-spirals and won several times but he was defeated yet he managed to repel the anti-spirals at the cost of so many lives to the point where they were on the brink of extinction. Lord Genome realized the destructive nature of spiral kind and also how helpless they were against the reality bending powers of the anti-spirals. He decided to seal his chariot “The Cathedral Terra” and put humanity very very deep in the ground so that may live in peace forever. He then created the non-spirals which are weakened versions of his own of the ancient biological buster machines to ensure humanity does not sneak out of the cracks and crevices forever.
    Timeskip, during one of Simon’s digout, he discovered a head of a buster machine from a time long before Lord Genome’s probably dating from the first spiral and anti-spiral conflict.

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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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January 2008

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