The 12 Days of Anime project is the closest the aniblogsphere has to a tradition. Started by CCY and now on it’s fourth year, anime bloggers recount 12 anime related moments of the year that affected them in some way. This is my second year doing this and you can read all last years posts in this newly created category if you so wish. But this is 2010 and I’m kicking this session off with some modern super robot loving.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was classed as a glorious return to the super robot genre. A love letter by Gaianx to the older super robot fans. They sat there, streams of manly tears pouring down their face, clutching a Mazinger Z gunpla in one hand and a Nia figurene in the other, as Gainax poured out exactly what they had though anime had lost. But it did more than that. If Gurren Lagann was just a love letter to older fans, it would have barely been noticed by the majority of anime fandom, much like the Shin Mazinger Z anime that came out a year or so back. Gurren Lagann also was a hit with the modern day fans. Sucked in by the atmosphere, it still kept in touch with what made modern anime so enthralling to these fans.
Both of these points were largely lost on me. The original Gurren Lagann TV series was one of the first anime I watched, and the very first mecha series I watched. Even without the prior knowledge and experience that older fans had, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. But time moves quicker when you’re a newer fan. Reading reviews and impressions of the series 2-3 years after I’d watched it had me confused. Did I get this rush of manly energy as Simon and Kamina performed their daring feats? I don’t remember feeling that at all. What was it I liked about Gurren Lagann in the first place?
I had a similar experience with Gainas’s other powerhouse, Evangelion. I was starting to forget what it was I loved about the series, combined with a steady realisation that I never understood the plot to Evangelion had me wondering whether it was really any good in the first place. The first EVA movie both re-jigged my memory and reminded me why I held Evangelion in such high regard. The first Gurren Lagann movie, Gurren-hen, didn’t achieve this at all, which just amplified my worries that maybe my younger self had just thought any anime that wasn’t a ecchi-fest was amazing. Oddly, Lagann-hen didn’t achieve that either. It didn’t re-jig my memory of the key events, nor did it rekindle my old love for the series. What it did was far greater than that.
Lagann-hen made an entirely new fan. It didn’t rekindle any old feelings at all. It didn’t make me fall in love ‘all over again’. I fell in love with Lagann-hen and Lagann-hen alone. And the way I fell in love was the very same way those other fans claimed to feel for the original TV series. I felt the rush of sheer awesomeness and epicness. The overwhelming energy won me over. It kep building up, gradually becoming more and more epic and the movie went on. It was during the final battle that I finally remembered something about the original series. Not something I liked though. The final battle kept trying to out-epic itself by simply making everything larger. The climax of the final battle, if had went the same way the rest of the movie had, would have had two universes fighting each other. It started to lose its effect as it went on in the TV series and it was looking like the movie was going to go the same way.
But no. The most epic fight scene you could have possibly imagined was not achieved by simply making everything bigger. It was done by creating the simplest battle of all. Nothing more than a fist fight. And it worked. Oh boy did it work. I don’t think I breathed once during the entire scene, my body consumed by how epic the scene was. That’s my moment in anime #12. The fist fight between Simon and the Anti-Spiral.