If you haven’t gotten bombarded by people spazzing out over Lagann-hen yet then where exactly have you been. You could go here, here, here, here or even here if you somehow have missed out on reading people heaping praise on this movie. Alternatively you could continue reading this post while I fanboy for an entire post.
It’s been 2 and a half years since I watched the original Gurren Lagann. That may not seem like a whole lot of time to you oldfags out there but 2 and a half years is basically my entire fandom. I don’t know when exactly I watched it but I’m pretty sure it was one of the first 10 anime I ever watched. I was such a noob back in those days that I never noticed the animation change in episode 4. Since then I’ve watched 200-odd anime series so whatever happened in Gurren Lagann, beyond the main plot, has totally left my mind. All that was left was a vague feeling of overwhelming awesomeness. The first movie didn’t really bring back those feelings and I was still left wondering how good Gurren Lagann would be if I went back to it today. The second movie managed exactly that. This is why I love Gurren Lagann!
If you were to divide the tv series of Gurren Lagann into 4, the best parts of the series would be the first and third. The first movie, which encompassed the first two arcs, failed quite badly. It skimped over the character development of Simon and Kamina so you never quite got the feel of their relationship as much as you did during the tv series but more importantly it totally skipped over the minor characters. Suddenly you were left with a bunch of people whom you had no idea what drove them or anything. That meant the second half of the movie also felt a bit lacking because you were still rather lost amongst those group of unknown characters. That part of the tv series always felt a bit of a mess and even Lagann-hen skimped a bit on the Lord Geneome fight, but this is where Lagann-hen succeeds. In the same way that movies often start off by thrusting you into an epic and highly confusing fight scene and only later do you realise the significance of that fight, that’s what Lagann-hen did. It still felt a bit messy but this time it felt intentionally messy rather than the first movie.
For the third part of the movie, the attack by the anti-spirals on Kamina city and the moon, this movie managed to streamline the whole thing much better while also achieving better characterisation. Those small scenes with characters like Kittan and Viral did a hell of a lot better at explaining what drove these characters than the entire first movie managed. The final battle is where I’m going to really heap on the praise. I’ve used that phrase ‘streamlined’ a lot in this post. I thought that you would need that full tv series, which already felt like a 300 episode series compressed into 27, to fully flesh out the characters but that movie proved that it was capable of pressing the story down even further without losing anything. Essentially, the more you can compress something without losing anything, the better it is. The final battle in the tv series did feel like a bit of a mess with lots of people running around the place and lots of shooting of giant hands and stuff. Compress that all down, take out the sheer amount of padding and what you have is raw Gurren Lagann.
I think that someone could go into this movie with no prior experience of Gurren Lagann and still love the thing. You still get that feel for the importance of Kamina. You still get that feel for the beastmen and how Lord Geneome trapped them. There’s still that ‘old-guard’ feel of the people of the Gurren Brigade. OK, it wouldn’t be the ideal way of introducing someone to Gurren Lagann but I can guarantee you they will still ‘get’ the story and will probably only serve to get them interested in the original.
So yeah, watch this movie. NOW!!!