06
Sep
09

The greatest anime review I have ever read

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.

Characters

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.

Story-telling

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.

Emotionally heavy

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.

In conclusion

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.

About these ads

13 Responses to “The greatest anime review I have ever read”


  1. 6 September 2009 at 4:30 am

    Someone has writing skills or education AND watches anime it seems. Just a coincidence.

  2. 6 September 2009 at 4:34 am

    What’s sad is that you can tell he only watched the show once, though, because as amazing as TTGL is, seeing it a second time really opens you up to the flaws you miss when you are overwhelmed by it’s greatness the first time. One might say, it can’t live up to the expectations set by your first viewing.

  3. 3 Camario
    6 September 2009 at 7:12 am

    The guy knows how to write well but I also agree with digitalboy, in that he’s giving way too much praise to TTGL and should try to look back at the series from a more critical and less “OMGTHISISAWESOME” perspective.

  4. 6 September 2009 at 3:52 pm

    It does seem like he’s only watched the show once and I’m not doubting that the accuracy of the review is flawed. However this review could have been written about Queens Blade and it still would be fantastic. This is because it is impossible to review something that can accurately describe what everyone feels about the anime without becoming annoyingly objective. A review should be written as subjectively for it to have any life. I suppose that’s just my preference in reviews.

    In short, I picked the review not because of the accuracy but because of the quality of the writing

  5. 6 September 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I agree with everything on the review, except for the emo part. Emotion is not a strong suit for TTGL. And the problem with TTGL is that it is awesome to watch but you couldn’t be bothered to watch it again. However, it is a must-watch for anime fans, mecha fans or not. An example of a classic anime is Cowboy Bebop. This may sound exaggerating but it’s true: Cowboy Beboy transcends generations. Even though it’s a 90’s anime, this show is still enjoyable for generations to come, and make no mistake, it will be good even for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

    @Scamp: I know you’re in for the review (love the writing style BTW, I wish I could be more like this in my reviews) but I’m just giving a piece of my mind. @Jura is spot-on!

  6. 6 kadian1364
    8 September 2009 at 1:26 am

    This is just a whole lot of fanboying. Not a bad thing mind you, I love to fanboy about TTGL as much as the next otaku, but this falls way short of what I’d call a fair and measured “review”. In terms of writing quality, not among the best I’ve seen, even those just about TTGL.

    However, I do think I get where your feelings for this review come from. The sites I read in my early fandom had a huge impact on me too, most notably the mini-reviews from a site called “Anime Academy”, whose entire staff has been completely turned over since I last regularly visited some 5 years ago, and reviews from one “Anime Jump”, a site that hasn’t been updated in years, but you can still thumb through its archives of reviews. They pointed me towards many of my now all time favs, Kare Kano, Kino’s Journey, Crest/Banner of the Stars, early Miyazaki films, little-talked about series that shaped the course of my fandom. Sometimes I think about who I’d be as an anime fan, if I still were, without reading those sites.

  7. 8 September 2009 at 3:14 am

    @kadian1364

    Yeah I guess this review is tinted with nostalgia for me. I’ve probably read better reviews than this but it’s not the fair and measured reviews that one remembers though. It’s the reviews that make you drop everything and watch the show in question that are the one’s you remember. That’s why I had to post this when I stumbled across it again. I still think it’s very well written though. Well structered and never once does he give away a spoiler. You finish reading the review with a sense of amazement yet not a clue what the anime is actually about (although some people probably call that a bad thing)

    Animenfo was the site I read most of my first reviews. It’s weird to go back and see how innacurate some of them were. I watched Welcome to the NHK because a review said it was a lighthearted comedy…yeah really.

  8. 12 September 2009 at 6:00 am

    “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.”

    Not really, I started watching anime before the internet was common at all, and before anime was anything more than an underground ‘hey pass me that bootleg VHS’ here in the states.

    As for the review, I feel just about the same as the others. It’s not accurate, the only ‘great’ thing about it is the style and prose of the writing – not the content in its actual context (though gotta say anyone who uses the term ‘animes’ loses points with me, and he did).

    A few other things that always annoy me with TTGL reviews are that most people who watch it havn’t seen most of the shows it references or don’t realize the references – TTGL is very much a parody series of many classic series it even was marketed as such, hell you could probably find as many references to other series in it as you could find references to religion in Evangelion. For example, aside from the obvious Captain Harlock stuff, even Kamina is a complete rip-off of the most irresponsible man in anime, Tylor, straight down to his trademark pose, attitude, and even the glasses. So a lot of the positive stuff in TTGL really is only thanks to the series it’s parodying rather than anything in originality…and this reviewer never once mentioned that side of the series – which is a huge part of it as its what the entire series is based on, parody of classics and stereotypes shown in a more serious way rather than a Hayate full-on comedy style.

  9. 12 September 2009 at 6:44 am

    @Tallon

    Now that I’ve had time to get over the ‘ZOMG, it’s the review that made me watch Gurren Lagann’, yes, there are flaws in the review itself. Everyone else has already pointed out the flaws, although I kinda wish I could contact the guy who wrote the post.

    As for the affectionate parody in TTGL, I can speak from personal experience that you don’t need to know any of that to enjoy the show. It was one of the first series I ever watched and the first mecha series and I still loved the thing.

    You’re an older fan, one of the folk who were around during the good-old days of the VHS bootlegs. I’m a member of the youtube generation of anime fans and quite a lot of the time it’s difficult to discuss anything with older fans without one side scoffing over the other’s lack of knowledge or aloof attitude. I’m guilty of it myself, sometimes totally panning older anime simply because these old-fags keep referring to it. I’ve stopped doing that now, mainly thanks to the shock I got when I realised how good Akira was, but there’s still a level of friction between newer and older fans. Not sure why I’m saying all this to you though…just please don’t bring up Mazinger Z

  10. 12 September 2009 at 7:03 am

    My point wasn’t that you can’t enjoy it without knowing the parody, but that the review should have mentioned it at least even just in passing – but it never came up a single time.

    I was saying something more along the lines of the review just left something very important to the show out of it – let me re-use my eva comparison in a new example.

    Basically what i mean is that reviewing TTGL and not mentioning the parody AT ALL (even just a sentence or two saying it DOES include a shit-ton of parody) is like reviewing Evangelion without mentioning religion being involved at all. Sure, you can enjoy TTGL without knowing a thing about anime, you can also enjoy Eva without knowing a single thing about religion (much like myself), but in reviewing something you should know and touch on at least all the basic things that are a huge part of what makes that show/manga/etc what it is.

    So don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying something negative about you or the person who reviewed this, only that it was missing something hugely important in the creation of TTGL – also that the reviewer basically said how dynamic and original the character and story feels in TTGL…but it isn’t. This is what bothers me – not the fact that you don’t know this or that old show, that’s fine, I understand that and REALLY do not mind it at all, if anything I like seeing more people like you because it means anime is becoming a much more well known art and entertainment medium which is great news.

    All I mean is that when there’s something there, it should be given credit even if only in passing. The reviewer didn’t do such. Even I don’t get every single thing referenced in TTGL, I don’t expect him to have some deep list of every single parodied thing – I just mean it should have been mentioned at some point even just in a statement or two.

  11. 12 September 2009 at 7:16 am

    @Tallon

    I’ve just realised how hard it is to discuss follow on comments to a post I basically haven’t written myself. I really wish there was a way to contact the guy who wrote this review so he could see the constructive critism he’s getting. That’s something anime blogging needs quite badly, a form of constructive critism. Which you’ve given one of our new writers at the blog, thanks for that. I didn’t have the balls to say it myself

    Anyway, I see what you mean now. I think I’m going to have to add Harlock to my to watch list if he’s what Kamina was based upon.

  12. 12 September 2009 at 7:22 am

    Harlock is what Simon is based on (at least his older manly self), Kamina is a bit of a mix of a lot of classic characters. I’m sure a lot of people would give different views on who they think he is most like – but I definitely see him as good ol’ Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Just look at this picture, same person.

    http://i43.tinypic.com/250p6pd.jpg

    They also share personality. The series was alright, if you plan to ever watch it definitely check out the OVA afterwards its pretty much awesome.

    As for Harlock, it’s got a lot of other series in the same ‘universe’ so if you ever watch that make sure to watch Galaxy Railways and Galaxy Express 999 which are all in the same continuity.

    And yeah, I guess I’m kind of pointing my comments to the wrong guy, lol.

  13. 13 Nova
    20 September 2009 at 6:55 am

    “Every episode seems to be better than the previous one”…Hm, except episode 4. God, was the horribly animated. I did enjoy that review though! Very passionate and exciting. I’m still trying to buy the rest of the TTGL dvd’s. I’m not gunna lie, that show was freakin EPIC! And I’m all for supporting the dvd sales. Plus, it’s an easy way to introduce it to other potential fans. =]

    Also, I’d like to add, Simon’s little emo bit in the series was fine by me solely for this reason: he stays emo JUST long enough for you to hate him being emo, then he realizes- I need to man up! Yeah, I said it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Irashaimasen

Welcome to Bokutachi no Blog. That's "Our Blog" in Japanese. Our Anime Blog, to be exact. And if you landed to this page by accident, probably in search for ecchi stuff, then you should regret to have hit this page. Don't worry, this blog is children-safe and no misdemeanor acts here. Sorry, you bald, middle-aged perverts. But thanks for the hit anyway.

Blog Extra


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers

%d bloggers like this: