Gurren Lagann’s Plot
It’s a challenge to myself. Let’s begin.
Recently, I was browsing TGWTG and came across one of JesuOtaku’s Anime reviews regarding Gurren Lagann. Her views on it are generally very well versed, and she clearly has an eye for these things, hence her very anime-geek focused gimmicks and review media, so I’ve no real beef with her directly. One of the things she pointed out in bold/underlined/italicized speech is how “DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMB” Gurren Lagann’s plot was, prompting a guest Bum Review from Doug Walker (Which is my favorite part of the review, ironically, given the context to this post). While she tried herself to explain exactly in which ways it was dumb (including pointing out “water in space”, despite it being a real-life occurrence, and it not actually being water), it came off as rather lazily done, like she was desperately trying not to spoil the show while simultaneously analyzing it on the same grounds. Which isn’t really possible to do, but who knows.
So yes, if for some reason you haven’t watched Gurren Lagann and/or the two movies, expect some spoilers ahead, below this line.
To properly explain Gurren Lagann’s plot, one needs to first explain some of the background elements that drive the story and characters, sometimes literally. First thing on my mental list of crazy shit that prompted my writing this: Spiral Energy.
Spiral Energy is explained as a sort of life force derivative of the spiral in human DNA, and used correlative to the spiral of a drill, hence the main weapon of choice revolving (BADUM-PISH) around it. Its level of power is determined by the character’s determination and willpower in any given situation, which can cause it to rise and fall dramatically depending on the hopelessness of a situation, the character’s mood, or even physical energy needs such as food and sleep. Spiral Energy is given off by all organic life forms, be they human or animal, and is generalized as both the will to live, and the will to progress.
This will to progress eventually lead mankind to progress as would be similar to our own reality, only at a much more accelerated rate due to its capabilities. They eventually learned how to harness this power as a fuel source, and a large number of interplanetary ships depicted in the show rely entirely on it at the scale of the entire crew as a means of energy. And it generally makes sense; keep everyone rallied, happy and healthy, and you can go wherever you want in the universe as you damn well please. Heck, with all this energy, it might even be possible to cross into alternate dimensions!
A large group of people realized this possibility having done so themselves, finding an alternate dimension wherein spiral energy could alter it to do their bidding. They realized the power of the spiral, and that in the wrong hands it could be used destructively. It could very well end the universe as they knew it, expanding beyond the scope of what could be handled. Life as they knew it could cease to be by the efforts of a careless, power-hungry civilization.
This group of people dedicated themselves to stop anyone else of spiral power. They harnessed this alternate dimension’s capabilities as their own, creating superior, impossible technology with its power. They relocated their home planet into this dimension, and with their capabilities, linked their planet-wide consciousness into a single avatar, to watch and dictate.
They were the Anti-Spirals.
Wars occurred. Every civilization with the capabilities to use spiral energy had to create their own method of fighting, eventually resulting in powerful humanoid mechs called Ganmen. They tapped into a power similar to the spiral dimension, and could amplify and combine machinery using spiral energy. But it was not enough. When the war ended, the Anti-Spirals had won.
To every planet was a law. Should humanity grow beyond the population of one million people on the planet’s surface, the planet would be destroyed by orbital impact of their own cathedral warships, transformed and disguised as the planet’s moon.
On one such planet, a man by the alias of Lord Genome came to a conclusive plan. He ushered all humans but himself underground, while he stayed on the surface to monitor them. He used spiral energy to extend his lifespan to the length of thousands of years to fulfill this desperate task.
Over time, his generation ended. The new generations grew curious of the surface world, and some came to experience. Lord Genome began to realize he could not govern the surface of a planet alone. So he created his own race of Beastmen.
True to their name, they were in various combinations a breed of both man and animal; however, unlike humans they did not generate spiral energy. Such a function was suppressed. They could not reproduce, and they could not tap into the full function of the many Gunman still in Lord Genome’s possession. But it would suffice. They were the police of the law of the planet, aiding in the suppression of mankind’s growth, and keeping them below the surface both through fear and death.
Once upon a time, a boy named Simon in an underground village was doing his job. He was a digger. It was his, and many others’ duty to expand the village. He was the best digger they had, but it came with no praise. He was just Simon, the digger. A muddy kid with a hand drill.
Simon liked to collect treasure he found while digging. One such treasure he found was a peculiar drill-shaped object. He fashioned it into a necklace. His friend Kamina told him it suited him, and that the drill was a great representative of Simon’s soul.
Kamina had a dream. He once stood atop the surface world with his father. He felt fear, and withdrew. But he had grown since then. It was his dream to see the surface and his father once again. He would coax Simon into using his drill to break through into the surface, but was constantly punished for this dream. They were told there was no surface. They were told there was no sky.
One day, Simon found a large face — a Mini-Ganmen. On the same day, a large, beastly Ganmen had fallen through the ceiling of the village. Simon and Kamina used this newfound Mini-Ganmen to not only destroy the larger one, but also punch through to the surface world.
They learned of the fight against the Ganmen and their Beastmen pilots, and joined the cause to survive. They fought another group of Ganmen, and this time Kamina claimed one as his own. When he did, he uncovered some earth in his clumsiness, and uncovered a skeleton adorned with the jewelery and cape his father once wore. Kamina’s Father was helpless against the Beastmen.
Donning his Father’s cape, Kamina and Simon set out to fight the Beastmen. It was their goal to stop them at their source. They learned they could combine their Ganmen, Gurren and Lagann, into an exponentially powerful mech of the combined name Gurren Lagann. They became heros to the human race, and feared by Beastmen everywhere.
One day, they fought a war. Many other humans had learned of Gurren Lagann, and joined the cause themselves, stealing Ganmen to use as their own. They called their group the Dai Gurren Brigade, and began their assault on a large mechanical transport Ganmen to call their own.
After the fight, Simon’s depression of his lost friend set in.
He found a large casket with a hole similar to his Ganmen’s. A small hole for his drill. Opening this casket he found a young woman of his own age. She claimed to be Lord Genome’s daughter. Where Simon found her, there were thousands of other caskets. It was a graveyard. Lord Genome was a fiend.
But Simon grew to love the girl, Nia. His depression came to an end when he found his own will. He was not a shadow to Kamina.
And so he now lead the Brigade. They closed in on Lord Genome. They fought.
Time passed. Simon grew to govern the planet. Nia was to be his loving wife.
And then the millionth child was born.
Nia was not a mere human. She was an avatar created by the anti-spirals to relay the message of hopelessness across the planet. The moon was falling. They were all going to die. The fault fell on Simon’s shoulders. They fought the Anti-Spirals’ vessels and learned how to stop their explosive rain of destruction, but it was not enough.
But they came up with a plan. In anticipation, Rossiu, a friend and vice president to Simon, had a project long in motion to reanimate Lord Genome and learn what his last words had meant. He learned that the moon would fall before it was broadcast to the world, but it was too late. He learned who the anti-spirals were, but it was too late. He learned that Lord Genome had a large space ship deep underground. Perhaps it wasn’t too late.
Gathering as many humans on the ship as they could, they left for space with ample supplies. When the moon collided it would raze the planet with intense heat, but after a number of years it would possibly cool enough to be inhabitable again. Humanity could live on. But the Anti-Spirals had other plans. They had countless ships in waiting.
But Simon had other plans. The Dai Gurren Brigade was there to help him. They left for space, and they fought valiantly.
It was then that Lord Genome revealed they could combine with his space ship.
It was then that Lord Genome revealed the moon was a twisted image of his cathedral warship. They entered it. Nia was waiting. Simon confronted her, and she returned to her normal self. The Anti-Spirals then recalled her back to their lair. She was an anomaly that needed to be destroyed.
It was then that Dai Gurren left into space to find the anti-spirals. Using an inter-dimensional technology, they warped directly to where Nia and the Anti-Spirals should have been. Only to find it was a trap.
Instead, they found countless other Ganmen who made it that far, twisted into hellish, devilish beasts. At the height of this war, they fell into an abyss — made of spiral energy, it was an abyssmal black tar made of pure gravitational pull. At its core was a device to transform spiral energy into this gravity. They were surely doomed.
— Okay you know what, this is becoming rather droll of me. Sort of too long, really. So from here on out I’m punching up the expression from 1 to 11.
So you know what? They said “Fuck that noise”, and dove down directly into the fucking gravity well. They fired off a friend of Kamina’s, King Kitan, in a suicide mission to destroy the core. And he fucking did it the Dai Gurren way.
With the core destroyed, the gravity well turned back into spiral energy. With this energy, the cathedral warship could now transform into its own mech. One the size of a fucking moon. Kicking all the asses of the devilish gunman above the abyss like they were nothing.
But the party was cut short. The Anti-Spirals had set a gateway they called the Multi-Dimensional Labyrinth. They were trapped in their own minds eyes, doomed to play out their own fantasies for all eternity.
So they’ve their own consciousness back, and they’re in a place where spiral energy can alter the very fabric of reality around them. They’ve saved Nia from the Anti-Spirals’ grasp. While they learn that Nia, being an avatar created by the Anti-Spirals, will cease to exist when they do, Nia is dedicated to do all she can to stop them anyway.
Final show-down time.
With the Anti-Spirals defeated, Simon and crew are greeted by the cries of all the planets in the universe. They’ve saved all of humankind from suppression. Simon is literally the savior of the damn universe.
Simon leaves his drill key in the hands of the future generation of the Dai Gurren Brigade, and makes his leave. Because he is not Simon the Savior, or Simon the Hero.
He’s only Simon the Digger.
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