Sunday, 11 December 2011

劇場版 天元突破グレンラガン 紅蓮篇 & 螺巌篇 / Gekijouban Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (movies)

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Gurren-Hen
Kanji: Crimson Lotus Chapter
English: Childhood's End

Impressions written: 19.5.09

Watched the first Gurren Lagann movie, which honestly I found very redundant. I enjoyed it very much, because it was manly manly Gurren Lagann, and the altered climax, now having the attacks from divine generals happening simultaneously, made for at least some new experience, but generally it was a rehash of the first half of the series with next to nothing added…and the best gag (wonky first combination) done much less amusingly. Non-fans would’ve been bewildered by major characters getting introduced in a brief montage, so I really don’t see much use in this film version other than (a) big-screen experience in Japan, (b) recap and (c) money.

Fun for me as a fan, especially since it’s been a while now since I watched the series, but really kinda pointless.

Gekijouban Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Lagann-Hen
Kanji: Spiral Stone Chapter
English: The Lights in the Sky are Stars

Impressions written 11.12.11

Having been a bit underwhelmed by the first Gurren Lagann movie adaptation, I left it two and a half years before finally getting around to watching the second one. If the second film was, like its predecessor, to be more or less a recap of what I had already seen, it was better to give it some time so that I would have half-forgotten the things I was seeing. Besides, Gurren Lagann didn’t quite change the anime landscape like I had expected it to. Imaishi Hiroyuki’s successor to Gurren Lagann turned out to be Panty and Stocking, which despite its exuberance I didn’t like at all…and now he’s off to form his own studio, Trigger – so we will have to wait and see if that is a success. To see more in the Gurren Lagann vein, one has to go back to the lacklustre Dead Leaves, or possibly be content with that one episode of The Idolm@ster.

So it was with slightly odd expectations I watched Lagann-Hen. Neither the first film nor the Parallel Works had scratched an itch for more from the excellent series, and I actually expected a tiresome rehash. Luckily, I had rather a similar experience to when I saw You Can (Not) Advance after the expectations established by You Are (Not) Alone, and there was really rather more new and awesome stuff to see in this version than anticipated – though not a whole new storyline. While the second half of Gurren Lagann – after its timeskip – is certainly the weaker part, it’s also where proceedings get truly ridiculous, with universes and big bangs being thrown about and characters slipping into fantasy worlds in their own minds. It means a slow start soon gives way to the most absurdly grandiose setpieces in any anime, with lots of shouting about the strength of manly feelings and ‘Who the Hell do you think we are?!’-ing, which is always a good thing.

While the framework is the same, obviously much-truncated, there are little changes – mostly added details to please fans, from the Spiral King getting a funny little CG sequence for when he hacks a system to individual Gurren made for characters like Nia and Yoko – as well as a fun combined Tengen Toppa for Gimmy and Darry, appropriately split left and right. For this fanservice, the early world-building for the timeskip and the interesting internal worlds of the fantasy sequences are skipped over – and, sad to say, we get no adorable humanoid Boota – but that was no loss. This is after all not a film capable of replacing the half-series it retells whatsoever, and thus is only a companion piece – so the more original content we get, and the less reuse of animation from the TV series, the better.

Essentially, this isn’t a film for people who haven’t seen the Gurren Lagann series. It’s no good just watching the two films either. But this one succeeds where the first one stumbled – it offers enough new material to work well as fanservice, and I don’t mean the Gainax Bounce kind, though there’s plenty of that too. It worked especially well for a fan watching it after a few years away from the property, and I don’t regret getting around to watching it at last one bit.

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