I had kind of a bad weekend, not really because of any sort of external factors but because I was in a bad head space, for lack of a less hippie-ish term. I was in a place where I needed to be cheered up and, as even a cursory perusal of the subjects my blog seems to be covering would reveal, I have not been experiencing a lot of cheery media. Fortunately, however, I do have a solution for this. It's a TV show I was trying to write about before, but that post turned into a post about the giant robot genre in general, rather than one show in specific. The show in question?
The young boy in question is Simon. He lives in an underground village where the populace lives in constant fear of earthquakes (especially Simon, who lost his parents to one before the show begins), a place where no one has ever seen the sunlight. Chris Rock, in this interview, talks about how he loves that Ricky Gervais, as a comedian, will throw perfectly good jokes (as part of his performing style), which in Rock's mind takes a certain amount of balls. Gurren Lagann does a similar thing, in that the sheer amount of ideas and settings it throws out could last another show whole arcs and seasons. If the show were doing something different it might well take three or four episodes to fully flesh out this underground world, and there might even be something to a show taking a full 13 episodes (a fairly common season length for anime) to develop that world.
Gurren Lagann is working at a much more accelerated pace, however. By the end of the first episode Simon has discovered something called a Core Drill that activates a mysterious robot shaped like a head, the eponymous Lagann, and with it he, his boisterous and charismatic comrade Kamina, and newcomer-from-the-surface Yoko have all escaped the underground village to arrive at the surface. What begins there is a trek of universe-spanning proportions.
Gurren Lagann is a lot of things, and among those things is the fact that it is exceedingly well-executed. The fourth episode was given to one man, who had been working at GAINAX (who created the show) for years and years, to basically do single-handedly; due to this fact, it looks incredibly rough compared to the rest of the series. This is the only misstep I can think of as far as the process of creation is concerned; while I don't necessarily want to say Gurren Lagann is the The Wire of giant robot shows, I make the comparison because a) I wanted an excuse to write a sentence where writing 'the The Wire' was structurally necessary and b) they are both examples of shows where, by and large, the creative staff involved were allowed to make the shows they wanted to make. You can not like either show, and it's perfectly valid to do so, but you're disliking the shows they made for what's in them, not because of changes the creators might have had to make because of outside pressures. For me that's a great place to be in terms of critiquing a created work; I know for some that doesn't matter, but I am not one of those some.
Gurren Lagann, as a show, tops itself again and again, and while that isn't necessarily the pun on the title it looks like, given the language barrier, the title itself is Heaven Piercing Gurren Lagann, and you can't pierce the heavens if you aren't constantly striving to reach higher and higher. Gurren Lagann as a show is incredibly positive, which is why it was what I needed this weekend; while the themes are pretty well-layered and well-executed, it's not necessarily a philosophically complicated show. What it does say, largely, is that you'll be better of in life if you believe in yourself and don't give up. And a show that says that is valuable to me.
In the earlier post I mentioned a show where the characters literally fight the moon. This is that show, and even though I'm pretty cavalier about spoilers here, because I largely prefer talking about to talking around, this is a show I wouldn't necessarily want to spoil for people beyond what I've already said. I genuinely believe that it's accessible enough, even to non-fans of the genre or the medium, to recommend to anyone who's willing to indulge their inner teenager.