Gurren Lagann Part 2 (also w/Limited Edition) (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Remember when giant robot shows were packed with action and simply fun to watch?  Gainax shows us they do, as Gurren Lagann closes one story arc and opens another.

What They Say
In their battle against the armies of Lordgenome, Team Dai-Gurren has suffered a crippling blow with the death of Kamina. Simon must now pull himself together and emerge from the depths of depression in which he finds himself wallowing. Will a chance meeting with a beautiful Nia, found inside a discarded crate, be the key to getting Simon back on his feet? And who is the mysterious girl and what is her connection to Lordgenome? Get ready for the final battle of the human race against the beastmen and prepare to glimpse into the future that Team Dai-Gurren is creating for mankind. DO THE IMPOSSIBLE. SEE THE INVISIBLE. RAW! RAW! FIGHT THE POWER!

The Review!
Audio:
Bandai provides a solid stereo track for the Japanese language and an equally solid 5.1 track for the English language.  The Japanese stereo track provides plenty of decent effects across the speakers to match the frenetic dialogue and action on screen.  No noticeable defects were present making for a great sounding experience.

Video:
Originally airing in 2007, Gurren Lagann is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, enhanced for anamorphic playback.  The transfer is simply gorgeous and free from any discernible defects.  Rich colors accentuate every scene from the dark depths of the pit colonies to the desert landscape above.

Packaging:
Two ordinary DVD cases are contained in a cardboard sleeve.  The front of the sleeve bears the Team Gurren logo with the reverse containing a clean, readable outline of the contents of the two discs.  The individual DVDs use the same cover art as the single releases.

Menu:
The main menu mimics the cockpit of the mechas used in the series.  Animated clips play in the viewport screens, while a snippet of the theme music loops in the background.  Transition delays between menus are negligible allowing for a quick setup and entry into the content.

Extras:
Both discs only feature clean versions of the opening and ending sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Gurren Lagann is quickly becoming my guilty pleasure for this year.  It does nothing new, nothing extraordinary with the giant robot genre.  What it does is simply provide an infectious, consistent fun story and cast.  The story continues with Team Dai-Gurren still pressing on to a showdown with Lordgenome and the forces of Teppelin, but Simon is still an emotional wreck.  Nia provides Simon some sage but harsh advice; however, it is not until he and the crew are trapped in a physical pit that he finds the resolve to dig himself out of his mental pit.

There is no overwrought introspection, no lengthy monologues preceding this newfound confidence.  He simply begins digging to save himself and his friends and unearths the Simon Kamina believed in.  Simon will never be like Kamina, as it should be; Simon has his own unique strength that can drill through to the heavens.  The remainder of the first act is the battle to and for Teppelin broken up by the occasional swimsuit show.  Gainax has the knack for seamlessly blending comedy into the flow of the story.  Having the male Gurren team members chastise Yoko for showing less skin in her bathing suit was priceless.  The climatic battle ends with Simon victorious but with an ominous warning from Lordgenome hanging over his head.

The second act leaps ahead seven years and finds Simon the leader of the new Earth government, a job he does not enjoy much.  Humanity has settled into peace unaware that Lordgenome has warned calamity will befall them if their population hits one million.  When that milestone is reached, strange machines sent by the Master Control Program rez above the city bringing massive destruction.

Simon leaps into action, and we soon learn that they represent the Anti-Spirals, powerful aliens who feel those that have the potential for great Spiral Energy should be wiped from the universe.  So, they plan to send the moon crashing into the Earth and wipe out humanity.  Toss in Nia being taken over by the Anti-Spirals along with a coup by his closest advisor, and Simon has his hands full.

While the plot may not be revolutionary, Gurren Lagann does do the unusual and leave many of the plot points to be connected by the audience.  We gain hints about what the Beastmen are but never learn their origins.  However, there is enough information given to allow you to form your own theory.  We may never learn the full answer to mysteries like this, but the story and characters provide enough entertainment to keep you coming back to see if they do.

In Summary:
The second set of Gurren Lagann closes out the first act and opens the second with its unique blend of humor, frenzied action, and lovable characters.  What was most enjoyable was seeing the characters and humanity seven years after their major victory to reclaim the Earth.  Mankind settles into its typical squabbles, and the heroes of the past are the incompetent government officials they blame for their petty problems.  While formulaic, the series remembers that a show does not have to have a message or agenda.  It can just be about sitting back, having some fun, and still having a story that keeps you engaged.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean ClosingLimited Edition: Team Dai Gurren backpack

Review Equipment
Sony Bravia KDL-46S4100, Panasonic RP-82 via component video cable, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B-
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 39.98/49.9
Running time: 225
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gurren Lagann