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Farewell, Dai-Gurren-Dan…

November 26, 2007

And so, like all good stories, Gurren Lagann came to end, for me, this weekend.

Like my post-Full Metal Alchemist emo, I feel I may never enjoy an anime as much, ever again. Fortunately, I suppose, I will inevitably be proven wrong. But for now, TTGL is the finest series of anime I have ever encountered, and I can’t bring myself to watch anything else.
Perhaps a severe analogy, but it’s like falling in love with the perfect woman, only to have her die or leave you. It screws you over. If not for life, at least for a very, very long time.

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 kick reason to the curb

It’s easy to gush over a series like TTGL. If you distance yourself from it all, and view it objectively, it’s all a little… ridiculous. Over the top. One wonders how it can be taken seriously when viewers describe it as ‘sorta like FLCL’ And yet, a few episodes in and you can almost see the writers and animators pulling the emotional strings. The thing is, getting involved in it is all too easy. From the word go, from episode 1 all the way through to the conclusion, Gurren Lagann grabs you by the nuts and refuses to let go.

And it’s one helluva ride. The inertia feels just right, never letting up but neither getting ahead of itself. Of course, like all anime, heavy doses of tragedy persist throughout, and it’s the one thing I would have liked to see slightly less of, but that’s probably because I’m jsut a big mushy sap. It wouldn’t be the same without it. In fact, I’m sure had Gainax adopted more of soft, Western approach, it would have been ruined. As it is, though TTGL is a lot more upbeat than Gainax’s earlier work, particularly the iconic Evangelion. Lagann is probably the total antithesis of NGE. For that alone, it’s worthy of watching.

I suppose what really got to me, was the ending. It left me with mixed emotions – it wasn’t exactly sad, but neither was it a happy one. I’m trying my damndest not to drop spoilers here, but I know this – it couldn’t have been done any other way. At least it concludes… well, mostly. One hanging thread is left, but it’s hardly noticeable. Rather, the ending is human. That’s the best word I could think of. Human. After an incredible buildup and probably the most epic ending fight sequence of all time in anime (mecha the size of galaxies throwing planets at each other…) , the last 10-odd minutes are almost a let-down. Almost. Until you realise that, that’s just the way it has to be. A cheesy, happy ending where everyone got what they wanted would have cheapened it all. Instead, they suck it up, and make the hard calls instead of opting out, and that’s what heroes do.

“With great power, comes great responsibility”.  It’s like the entire series reverses it’s message of ‘do whatever it takes to get what you want/believe in’ right at the end. But that only means that everyone has grown up, just a little. It’s bittersweet, but hey.. that’s anime. You get used to it.

TTGL will make you laugh, plenty. It’ll make you stand up and cheer while your family/neighbours/significant other wonder what the ruckus is about. It will in all likelihood have you weeping on more than one occasion. It runs the gamut of what it takes to be a man. To fight. To smile. Too goof off, and to be serious. To love. And, ultimately, to do the right thing.

So farewell, my Gurren Brigade friends. And I, for one, will remember that all the lights in the sky are stars.

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