Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The "Yes, I still watch Anime" Series Spotlight!

You may remember when I posted about watching a baseball anime a while back. It's true. I still watch anime. I find it difficult to pass this interest on to everybody because the anime genre has been stagnating and there really aren't any original ideas. However, I still enjoy the shows that I come across. From giant robots to ridiculously over-the-top romantic stories to the end of Tokyo Tower, I will keep watching because there are anime out there that manage to really push the envelope of what I expect out of visual media. Either that, they are ridiculously entertaining. Anyway, here is a look at one recent show that I loved.

Teppen Toppan Gurren Lagann

I initially avoided this show. Upon reflection on this matter, I have no idea why. Well, I sort of do. I avoided this show because it seemed like too much energy and not enough substance. However, I was wrong. No matter what, this show will always have more energy than substance. Without getting geeky about this show, I think the best way to describe this show is through the theme itself. What's the word of the day? DRILLS. That's right.

The theme of the show is about the human ability to create and use their "own drills." This theme/motif sounds ridiculous which it is. I cannot argue with anyone about this matter. I can't take this series seriously myself at times. However, I cannot remember the last time that an anime show could be so INVOLVING despite being so unbelievably over-the-top. Usually, the over-the-top shows are loved because the shock value. In the same way, horror fans will embrace films like Hostel and Saw despite the fact how terrible the film is because it opened up a new level of gore. We will watch these series, but they don't necessarily stick with us. There are exceptions to this rule (Excel Saga for instance), but it does affect a majority of shows. Even if they stick, they may stick because we just remember how ridiculous the show is.

In this case, Gurren Lagann sticks to my "soul" because it is just ridiculously empowering. It's the kind of show that leaves you smiling and hoping that the protagonist wipes the floor with his enemies. Yes, Virginia, I know that the protagonist is going to win. Yes, the visuals are absurd and the action defies even typical cartoon physics. However, combined with the well-structured story and likable characters, this is easy to love. It's just that everything in the show is meticulously paced and plotted. Like a great story or film, a good pace and plot can keep the audience entranced. At this point, you probably want to know about the plot...I hate writing summaries. I don't want to. God, I hate you (not you! Don't want to burn that bridge).

Alright, people are forced underground by a race called Beastmen. The main character, Simon, is a 14 year old digger who keeps...uh...digging. One day, a giant Beastmen robot comes down and goes shit-crazy on the village. Along with his "aniki" (Kamina), they meet a really hot big-breasted female sniper named Yoko who ends up introducing them to the surface world. These guys end up getting robots and start fighting for the human race. This is just a snippet of the plot. Once again, it sound typical. However, the execution is top notch. In addition, there is a huge scale to everything. The show goes from being underground to going to the ends of space. EPIC. The animation is high quality (except for one specific episode which was just a black anomaly) and the music is like a hip-hop-era (hip hop + opera).

Btw, the above picture has my favorite line in the series. This is high quality s*it. I don't know why I bleeped myself that time. It just felt fitting. It is not for everyone. However, if you like robot shows or just want to have a fun time with a cartoon, you cannot go wrong with this. Easily a B for a casual fan, but an A++ for anyone who like robots and Michael Bay films. Below, is somewhat a spoiler, but it lacks subs and showcases the craziness of the series (and the hip-hop-era music).

Grade: B/A++

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