Gurren Lagann is the best possible anime featuring people piloting giant robots to fight monsters. It might even be the end evolution of the genre. You know Evangelion? It’s like Evangelion except if Shinji was hardcore and the show was fun, instead of a slow depressing slog to a confusing end.
The premise of Gurren Lagann is that there once was an ancient civilization, called the Spirals, who developed technology that was powered by fighting spirit. This allowed them to expand and become incredibly powerful. The nature of their technology threatened another civilization, called the Anti-Spiral, who lead a war against the Spirals to save the universe from their menace.
The Spirals eventually lost but only after the Anti-Spiral corrupted one of their strongest Spiral Warriors, Lordgenome. Lordgenome turned on his allies and singlehandedly ended the war. The nature of the corruption? Despair.
You see, Spirals cannot be defeated on the field of battle, since the Spiral Warriors are almost all crazy by our standards. The Gurren Lagann universe operates on a different set of physical laws, and in that universe, the more confident you are, the more powerful you become. So obviously, the most powerful Spiral Warriors are confident to the point of madness. The way to defeat Spirals is to crush their confidence, their faith in themselves.
With the defeat of the Spirals, the Spiral races were driven underground, monitored by Lordgenome who raised an army of beast-human hybrids to keep the Spirals down forever, to maintain the peace with the Anti-Spiral.
The show is initially about Gurren Lagann‘s Isaac Newton. Kamina, the Isaac Newton, whether by chance or instinct, discovers that the universe runs basically on fighting spirit. To that end, he’s basically the first Spiral Warrior. Naturally, everyone else in the world who thinks the world make sense, dismisses him as a madman. He brings along his sidekick, Simon, and after they discover an ancient Spiral robot, they launch themselves on an adventure to liberate humanity from Lordgenome.
The story continues, evolves, and escalates. And if there’s anything Gurren Lagann can do, it’s escalate. The stakes keep rising and, at every juncture, the Spiral Warriors have to attain new levels of insane confidence to propel their way to victory.
It’s a great anime. It’s wonderful. If you like giant robots punching other things, this is the anime for you.
The anime is not without it’s failings though, though the failings are partly due to the genre itself rather than Gurren Lagann. The show just kind of sidelines the women characters. In the later movies, they do get a more prominent role, but in the original run, they don’t seem to display any real capacity to be Spiral Warriors. I wish that this was not so, so I could actually show my girlfriend this show, but as it is, I really can’t expect her to like it.