A quick background before I introduce this review: Back when I began watching anime, I had no idea about any of the hype behind any series, and I’m sure everyone else started the same way. I just shot through random review sites, picking up whatever sounded cool or whatever was highly rated. Obviously I read reviews too but this one review stuck in my mind. I’d totally forgotten where I’d seen it until just recently when I stumbled across it on Animenfo. It was a review so powerful that it made me drop everything and go watch it. This is the link to the review but I’ve copied it down here for you guys to read.
The guys user name is XDragon. The anime he is reviewing is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
Every few years, an anime comes out and marks a generation. We have seen Neon Genesis Evangelion do it. We have seen Cowboy Bebop do it. And GTO, and Samurai X, and a few others. These defining series have set the golden standard for which all other animes hope to reach.
Tengen Teppo Gurren Lagann is different: it has surpassed the unreachable. Not only has it set a new bar for its successors, but it has taken anime onto the next level. It has succeeded where others have failed: TTGL has broken down the barriers of genres; it has exemplified the way a story should be told; it has embodied the meaning of positive progression – that every episode can and should be better than the last. It has also proved a common theory wrong: that the build-up to a climax must be slow and careful, that stale moments are needed to contrast with the defining moments of the show. No, TTGL will throw you onto an epic roller-coaster ride of uninterrupted intensity that never gets old.
It is simply, hands down, one of the greatest animes ever made.
I would tell you that it is the best, and let me explain why.
Greatest – cast – of – characters – ever. In Gurren Lagann you will find the perfect balance between the believable and the unbelievable: the main characters are crazy/insane/exciting/exaggerated and yet, you will still identify yourself to them, you will believe them, you will believe in them and you will come to love them. When they win a battle, you will feel relief; when they are betrayed, you will hate the culprit; when they overcome the greatest of trials, you will feel the adrenaline rush through you; but when they cry of despair, you will feel the sadness course through your veins.
When I say that you will believe them and in them, I am serious. You will really come to believe that the characters will change the world, that their words will sway a nation, that their spirits will never break. You will cheer for them and hope that they will succeed in their pursuit. All the important character – including the villains – are multifaceted, multidimensional in their own distinct personalities. There is no black and white: everyone has his or her own qualities and faults.
The best part of all, however, is the evolution of the main character: there has never, in my opinion, been an anime that has captured the boy-becomes-man concept so well. From the timid, cowardly boy who could not stand up for himself, to the complete and utter badass with unwavering spirit and courage (don`t worry, you see this at the very beginning in the prologue), you will see it all. What more can I say? You just have to check it out for yourself.
Although it is not the most complicated or mind twisting of tales, Tengen Teppo Gurren Lagann`s story-telling is second to none. You will be submerged in a world of hope and despair, of humans and gods, of love and hatred. In front of your eyes, heroes are born, legends are written, and heavens are destroyed. You will witness and learn that the greatest of gods can be overthrown even if all you have is belief. TTGL is the ultimate story of evolution: from the small, insignificant underground village of Jeeha to the gigantic, space-bending clash of the titans, you will have experienced it all. And in the end, you will be left with a feeling of emptiness and disbelief: but how could 27 episodes be so short?
Ups and downs
Animes usually spend too much time on a victory or a loss. For example, if someone dies, the mourning usually drags on for a while. In TTGL however, both victories and losses are short lived: the essential is captured while the rest is left out. In other words, you will feel the joy of a victory or the sadness of a loss, and you will see their respective consequences, but the show never loses its focus on the mission that is at hand. None of those extremely time consuming (and often, boring) flashbacks; none of those sidetracking moments where everyone is in a standstill. Gurren Lagann will make sure the story continues progressing even if the world seems to be ending.
By short lived victories and losses, I also mean that the fluctuations are large and frequent. One moment, you can have the main characters at the height of their excitement (you are gripping to your chair just by watching them go), and the next, they have fallen into the pits of despair (and you cannot believe what just happened). These frequent twists in the story make every single episode exciting, because you never seem to know what will happen next.
Straight to the point
In every action/adventure show that is considered `good`, there are always some defining moments that really stand out: they usually involve a heavily emotional moment, a turning point in the story, or a sign of character evolution. Gurren Lagann is revolutionary in this aspect: it practically consists only of these moments one after the other.
Some would argue that it is only by having stale moments that the defining moments can stand out. I would have agreed until I saw TTGL. Every 5 minutes of the show seems to have some sort of character evolution tied to it, or a twist in the story, or a sentimental moment. It is as if they had written a 200 episode script only to take the best moments out of it to make a 27 episode masterpiece.
When I say emotionally heavy, that does not mean that TTGL is an extremely emo show or whatnot. No, in fact, TTGL is almost hyperactive as an anime: it is fast paced, the characters are always exciting, and the general ambiance of the show is quite charged up. However, it is a very touching show. When someone dies, no matter how heroic the death seems to be, you feel the sadness it invokes. Drama in the story is not frequent, but I can guarantee that once it occurs, you will remember it for the rest of the show, because they really touch your heart. There are also many heartwarming moments that will mark you, especially when you see your favorite characters overcome the impossible.
Flow and Balance
Finally, one of the things that struck me while I was watching TTGL was how I could not remember a single time where I was thinking something along the lines of “oh, that was weird” or “huh? what the? that doesn`t make sense”. Everything flowed with each other so well, despite being such a fast-paced anime. Even the frequent twists in the story seemed to make sense once they had taken place. The entire show felt like a smooth, continuous story-telling of a boy becoming a man.
There isn`t too much focus on comedy, nor on ecchi, nor on drama. Gurren Lagann is as it should be: an action/adventure story. However, there is enough comedy for it to be funny at times; there is enough ecchi for the girls to look really hot at times; there is enough drama to make you feel sad at times. In fact, I even have trouble classifying TTGL as a pure action/adventure series, because it seems to have fused the elements of action/adventure/comedy/ecchi/drama together into one anime. For example, in the middle of a battle you can have comedy, ecchi and drama occurring all at once, without disturbing the flow of the battle. Tengen Teppo Gurren Lagann has transcended the genres.
After hearing all the hype about TTGL, I had to see it. However, it did not seem to impress me so much during the first few episodes (it was good, but not THAT good). But I have to say, this is one of those rare animes that just gets better and better, and never stops up until you are left speechless in front of your screen. Every episode seems to be better than the previous one; and fortunately, Tengen Teppo Gurren Lagann also has one of the most epic anime endings ever.
TTGL is a `guy` show or so to speak. But whether you are a girl, or whether you absolutely despise mecha and action/adventure, I can guarantee that you will not regret watching it. Be warned though, that Tengen Teppo Gurren Lagann is a story of heroic tragedy. A touching and yet epic tale that deserves to be considered the masterpiece of all masterpieces.