By way of episode 15, analyzing the appeal of Gurren Lagann

I watched episode 15 of Gurren Lagann last night. Put simply, it was awesome; the best episode so far, I can’t emphasize that enough. I wanted to blog it right there and then, but threw in the towel after two hours worth of typing had produced little more than a couple of paragraphs lined with superficial hyperbole. I must admit, even now – the morning after, I’m still struggling to come up with the words to explain exactly why it is so much fun; my only answer is to say that “it just is”.
Poking around the interweb, it’s becoming clear that I’m not the only one to have trouble talking about Gurren Lagann either. For example, it’s almost the smallest sub-forum (out of 11) under “Current Series” on AnimeSuki; 2,753 posts compared with the 3,044 under “sola” and 8,781 under “Lucky Star”. It didn’t even make the top 10 on last week’s Anime Nano Popularity Chart. Why not?
Through it’s provocative use of colors and symbols, Gurren Lagann relies on invoking a core emotional resonance within the viewer, but it’s so far disconnected from what we consider normal that we find ourselves gazing in awe, simply watching it all unfold. Watching, rather than participating; there is a clear separation between Gurren Lagann and the real world. That’s not the case with the majority of other anime, where the settings, the drama and even the characters are able to satisfy our nostalgia; allowing us to mentally place ourselves within story, to imagine that we are there.
This disconnect leaves me with little more to say about Gurren Lagann. It’s an “awesome” and “cool” series, fun and imaginative, but it’s different in that it won’t allow you to “escape” in the same way.

5 replies on “By way of episode 15, analyzing the appeal of Gurren Lagann”

Finding words that match my emotions when it comes to Gurren Lagann is the hardest. I saw 15 yesterday after prep school and spent ten minute running about my house, cheering and jumping and cursing Japanese animation for making me feel so silly and hyper and happy on the inside.
In regards to why it’s so appealing, I’d have to agree that invokes core emotions at the base of every person.
As to the watching over participating bit, I’m sort of the opposite. What’s so attractive about anime like Gurren Lagann is how far it falls from the real world. For me, that gap is the escape.

It’s sad, but whenever I go to articulate this show to someone else I just keep coming back to ‘awesome’ as the main word to describe it. If I tried to fully describe it, odds are it would sound much more cliche, stock and just worse than what it really is.
Gainax really seems to of learned how to provoke an emotional response and ever since episode four has just been on a complete tear with this series.

@Xerox: I know exactly what you mean. After watching Gurren Lagann, and especially this episode, I really want to show it to the whole world.
God knows how much money they spent on the animation for this episode – it was like watching a movie!
@Veggies: After almost every episode, I want to blog about it, but I feel like I can’t do it justice with mere words alone. It’s so frustrating; even now, just writing this comment, I feel like I’m not getting to the core of why I like it. In the end, it’s just something that you have to see to understand.

Yes! The world needs to know about this. It’s like you found a gold mine, you want to keep it to yourself, but at the same time you want to share it with everyone.
I’ve heard rumors that it’s going into space and considering how the next big obstacle stems from the moon, I’m putting my money on that too. It’s still just episode 15, that’s the crazy thing. XD
Ah, it’s so good to know that there are people out there I can talk to about Gurren Lagann.
I usually don’t buy DVDs, because I don’t have an income and my parents think it’s silly, but I’ll do anything to have Gurren Lagann, anything. God, I wish I lived in Japan sometimes.

I almost feel guilty trying to analyze what makes Gurren Lagann so cool, because it feels pretty good to just sit back, relax, and agree that “it just is.” But I guess for me, it’s about the passion and charisma that Kamina had, and how it spread to Simon and to the rest of the world and still lives on through all of them. Then you’ve got the crazy off-the-wall moments like when Kamina first tried to “combine” with Simon or when the Dai-Gurren performed some sort of midair roundhouse kick out of nowhere. I think those two elements mixed together are the heart of the series and the reason why it’s so much fun to watch (and why it makes me want to run outside and yell, “I LOVE YOU GURREN-LAGANN”).
And even though their world is so disconnected from ours, I think there’s always things that you can relate to, like the characters themselves and their newfound passion to band together and fight. I don’t think anything can stop you from “escaping” into a story as long as you have a little imagination.

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