Simon was never the most courageous guy. Like everyone else in his village, he had spent his life in an underground cavern fearing the occasional collapse. His friend Kamina however isn't satisfied with the meager existence under ground. He's convinced there is a place called the "surface" where there is no ground above, and no fear of collapse. Kamina pushes Simon to keep digging and eventually the find there is a surface. It's not what they expect however.
On the surface there are giant mecha called gunmen piloted by beastmen who eliminate those who make it to the surface. Kamina manages to hijack a gunman, and he finds a way for it to combine with a smaller gunman Simon discovered. Together they form Gurren Lagann. Can a single mecha stand against the forces of the Spiral King?
When I started watching Gurren Lagann, I was hooked by the weird premise. However I wasn't taken with the characters. Simon constantly whines about EVERYTHING. I know I know, character development. But do they have to start out this annoying? Aside from that Kamina pushes the plot forward by completely defying logic. I wasn't sure what to make of that. Eventually I let go of that logic stuff and figured I'd just go along with Kamina's over the top antics. That turned out to be an important point in this show. You see, Kamina may seem like just another character, but his attitude and approach are the basis of the entire show. If you don't take a liking to Kamina, you probably won't like Gurren Lagann. Even if you don't like him at first, he'll probably grow on you.
It's hard to explain the story of Gurren Lagann because it starts at a point so far removed from the finish. I expected a showdown at the end with some sort of plot twist. Instead this anime keeps progressing, and never gets stuck in "battle of the week" mode. It seems like the main antagonist is the Spiral King, but the battle with him takes place only half way through the show. Things take a strange turn when the story is picked up seven years later. What I like most about Gurren Lagann is that it gets more grandiose every step of the way. Just when you think things couldn't possibly get more over the top, Gurren Lagann does just that, and keeps doing that to the finish.
Some characters are annoying at first, and some annoying later, but by the end they all developed into people I really liked. Simon is the central character who becomes downright awesome. The middle of Gurren Lagann gets kind of serious with political BS and intrigues. Just when it looks like everyone is doomed, Simon steps in and it's basically "Screw your real life political crap and your realistic expectations. We're doing this the anime way because it's awesome." I'm like: you know he's right. Screw reality, anime rocks! From then on it's non stop action, and counter logic; where anything is possible with determination. And I was cheering for the characters every step of the way.
I wouldn't say Gurren Lagann is perfect, but I can't find much to complain about either. The style is unusual for anime, but it fits the show quite well. I'm disappointed that none of the main characters are allowed to have a happy ending (typical for stuidio Gainax these days), but that's a personal taste thing.
If you like action based anime, and are alright with a show that revels in overcoming problems by sheer force of will, no matter how crazy it is (and plenty of dialog saying so), Gurren Lagann is a great watch. It looks shallow on the surface but the story progression is outstanding. Also the bad ass attitude of "we do this our way" is a refreshing and not as cheesy as I expected. Or maybe it's better to say it is cheesy, but the anime managed to convince me it's awesome. It's a good show, regarded as one of the more memorable anime titles of the time; and deserving of that too.
Kamina: Don't believe in yourself. Believe in the you that I believe in.
Yoko: What does that mean?
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