New week, new episode of Anime Breakfast and we also stay on the Gainax studio: this time we are going to tell you about Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
When I feel weak, when my determination weakens, I see Simon’s shoulders in my mind, intent on digging relentlessly, and I say to myself: “I will never laugh at someone like that!” Listen to me Simon, never forget that. You have to believe in yourself. And not for the trust I place in you, nor for the one you place in me. You have to trust the part of you.. That believes in itself!
Continuing in the wake of the last Anime Breakfast dedicated to Neon Genesis Evangelion, we remain on the Gainax studio, but we almost completely change sides by genre, themes and above all atmosphere. Anyone who hasn’t experienced Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Italianized Breaking Heaven Gurren Lagann, will hardly be able to understand the enthusiasm and affection with which we will talk about the series here. However, we are still talking about a shonen with recurring themes, big robots who punch each other and a certain amount of humor at times small. However, this is only the surface, the veil of dust that covers something much deeper. And above all, epic. Let’s talk about.
Boobies vs Boobies
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (we’ll shorten it to Gurren Lagann from now on, have mercy on us) was born in 2007, when it was broadcast for the first time in Japan. It arrived in Italy only in 2009, when Dynit bought the rights, with a first broadcast always on television (on Rai 4 to be precise, good times). It was born, as we said at the beginning, from the Gainax studio, to be precise from the extravagant direction of Hiroyuki Imaishi and from the designers Atsusji Nishigori and Yoh Yoshinari. Imaishi himself, a few years later, broke away from Gainax to found, together with other collaborators, the Trigger studio (and yes, Kill la Kill will definitely have its episode of Anime Breakfast).
Without wanting to give any kind of spoiler, considering how important narrative actually is in Gurren Lagann, the series follows Simon, a young orphan who lives in an underground village. That of the underground villages is a well-established reality for the humanity of this era, realities that go on thanks to the work of the excavators. And Simon is really a digger, even a fairly good one, not very well liked by his peers. His life changes drastically when Simon meets Kamina.
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Kamina is another young orphan, albeit slightly older than Simon, head of the Gurren Brigade, a group whose only dream is to be able to return to the surface again. However, a perspective that is not well seen by the rulers of a society that wants to keep its inhabitants literally locked up underground, for reasons and pretexts that will be revealed as the series continues. And could that ever stop someone like Kamina? Absolutely not.
We stop here, exclusively because the narration in Gurren Lagann is not something that has to mesh and takes its time. In this case, events are fast, tight and, in some cases, terribly dramatic. So we don’t want to risk ruining anything for you: chi sa, sa. Those who don’t know, can and must take advantage of what we are about to analyze, in the following paragraphs, to understand if the Gainax and Imaishi series is something that could be of interest.
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Anyone who knows Imaishi knows it: the director often hides important and deeply empathetic messages behind scenes tending to ridicule and exaggeration. However, everything is hidden behind a series of stereotyped and typical re-propositions of the genre. The swashbuckling hero Kamina and sidekick Simon are the two pilots by accident ready to face an adventure that will gradually take on ever more (literally) epochal dimensions. Two characters who at first seem to be confined to their role, without any possibility of growth in the absolute sense. After a few episodes, however, it will immediately become clear to the viewer that Imaishi’s intention is quite different.
During the 27 episodes that make up the narrative, Gurren Lagann deals with a long series of issues in an increasing and, from a certain point of view, even cyclical way. Freedom, for example, is one of the foundations of the struggle that Kamina and Simon undertake against an oppressive and authoritarian society, which prevents the inhabitants of the underworld from being able to see the light of the sun again, at least once. A slavery dictated by an external ideology and which not everyone is able or willing to respect.
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Simon and Kamina are therefore chariots of a determination that is gradually spreading and that leads them to overcome obstacles, battles, mourning and difficulties. They are the bearers of a non-corrupt power, which aims to protect and override those barriers imposed by an unjust society. Persevere and believe in yourself it therefore becomes the key to fighting for what you believe in, even when all seems lost, even when the fight is unequal. Even when it seems impossible.
In this Kamina is Simon’s teacher of life. In fact, the two exchange a few years of difference, but there is no doubt that the first is definitely many steps ahead of the young excavator. However, Simon will embark on an incredibly interesting personal growth path for a protagonist of a shonen, facing his own inner demons and fears. To become what Kamina has always seen in him.
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Again: Hope. Although it may not seem like it from the first few episodes, Gurren Lagann is a series imbued with profound optimism that encourages its characters, but also the viewers themselves, to never lose hope even when life presents adversities and difficulties of all kinds. Gurren Lagann’s protagonists have a future in front of them, it’s up to them to decide how to shape it: fight for freedom or succumb to the hegemony of slave-owning autocrats. As for Kamina and Simon, the viewer is also called to choose his own future, beyond any kind of social, family or, even worse, personal imposition.
Finally: mourning. A theme that lies at the foundation of the whole series, all the characters of Gurren Lagann are called to face mourning of various kinds and entities. Imaishi faced it all in a realistic and respectful way, leaving aside his usual antics, and returning for a moment with his feet on the ground. Loss is always a trauma, and the pain is deep, long-lasting, and hard to deal with. Nonetheless, however, it is necessary to know how to face every mourning with dignity, collect any remaining energy to heal wounds that will never really heal and look forward. Towards that future we have talked about so much and which, in some moments, seems truly unattainable.
The Moon, The Stars and I
We close this little special dedicated to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann here, and we close this new episode of Anime Breakfast here. We recommend everyone to watch the series of Gainax and Imaishi, simply because behind a facade of epic fights, space drills and extravagant characters hides a beating and penetrating heart. So penetrating that it can directly break through the sky. See you next week, with a new episode of Anime Breakfast!
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Let us know what you think of the series in the comments below and stay tuned with us at TechGameWorld.com for all the news on the subject of cinema and TV series!
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