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The movement of a female character's womanly attributes, often referred to as the 'bounce', and which is becoming more prevalent in anime today, was a trademark first introduced to us in the first episode of Top O Nerae! Gunbuster. It is often referred to as the 'Gainax bounce'.
The character of Smith Toren is actually named for a real person, Toren Smith. He also provided the voice of an anonymous bridge operator during one episode of the OVA. He was once the owner of Studio Proteus, which has now been absorbed by the publishing company Dark Horse Comics.
The main title of Gunbuster, Top O Nerae! (Aim for the Top!), is a humorous reference to the 1970's anime series Ace O Nerae! (Aim for the Ace!)
The character of Jung-Freud was named after two famed psychologists: Carl Jung of Switzerland, and Sigmund Freud of Austria.
In episode five, the small ship seen floating over the hull of the decommissioned Exelion is the one used in the 20th Century-Fox movie "Fantastic Voyage".
The use of the Tannhauser Gate, or starbow as it's more commonly called, created by the ficticious Dr. Tannhauser as explained in the first of the science lessons, is a direct reference to a remark made by the Nexus 6 replicant Roy Batty at the end of the film "Blade Runner".
The head of the Sizzler combat robot is based off of the evil bird-like monsters Gyaos as seen in the Gamera movies.
Noriko Takaya is a fan of anime in general and of the movie Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In this tidbit of trivia it should be pointed out that the background designer for that movie happened to be named Noriko Takaya.
Writer Rick Sternbach of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" is such a professed fan of Aim for the Top! that he created a race of sentient whales which served aboard all Galaxy-Class vessels. They were known as Takaya's Whales (Orcinus orca takayai), named for Gunbuster's lead female character, Noriko Takaya. Sternbach apparently liked the idea of sentient whales and porpoises used aboard the Exelion in episode six of Gunbuster. While never officially written into an episode due to budgetary constraints, they are hinted at in the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" when an intercom call was heard asking Dr. Joshua Kim to report to Cetacean Ops. It should also be known that Sternbach also references the Exelion in the TNG Technical Manual in the compound "excelion-infused carbonitrium.
Contrary to popular belief, the name of the Sizzler mecha is not derived from the famous chain of steak houses, but comes from a toy car made by Mattel for the Japanese market.
Hiroyuki Yamaga, who is one of the uncredited writers of "Aim for the Top!' and is now the current president of Gainax, was named by Kazumi Amano as a little boy who wrote in a letter in the science lessons.
In episode five of Gunbuster, the Eltreum is seen being constructed from an orbital gantry resembling a large sprue tree, such as those used by plastic model producers. This was an inside joke as Gainax used to co-produce high quality resin garage kits along with model producers General Products before absorbing the company in 1990.
All of the named moves and weapons used by the RX-7 Machine Weapons and the Gunbuster itself are pastiches on simliar things from noted science-fiction series such as "Ultraman".
Amano Kazumi is the maiden name of Okada Kazuma, the wife of Okada Toshio, one of the founders of Gainax and its first president. She also worked on the show.
On the original video release of episode 1, Noriko's training montage was accompanied by music composer Kouhei Tanaka's rendition of Vangelis' theme from Chariots of Fire. Due to copyright reasons, the background music was changed to a different track for the U.S. DVD release.
On the final chapter of the New Science Lesson, "The True Sol System" (featured on disc 3 of the DVD), as Noriko recites the planets of the Solar System, planets Mercury to Jupiter are accompanied by her cosplaying as a Sailor Senshi (from Sailor Moon) representing each planet. For Earth, she cosplays as Tuxedo Mask. (Only the Inner Senshi are featured, as the Outer Senshi (Sailor Saturn, Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune and Sailor Pluto) had not yet been introduced in the Sailor Moon series; hence Noriko's clueless look while reciting the planets beyond Jupiter.) When Coach appears and gives his usual lecture, Noriko cosplays as Sailor Moon and declares herself the "Pretty Soldier of Hard Work and Guts."
The New Science Lesson clips mark the directorial debut of Kazuya Tsurumaki, who went on to direct FLCL and Gunbuster 2.
Winner at the 1990 Seiun Awards for Best Media of the Year.
In the scene where Noriko boards the Luxion to look for her father, 2 of the red guages inside the Machine Weapon's cockpit are labeled "CHINCHIN" and "KINTAMA." These sound just like Japanese slang words for "penis" and "testicles" respectively.
In a locker-room scene, there is a female pilot in the front of a shot getting dressed. She looks almost exactly like Lynn Minmay of Macross; Macross features character designs by Haruhiko Mikimoto, who also did the character designs for Gunbuster.
Jung Freud's usual hairstyle is identical to that of Haman Karn from Zeta Gundam and Double Zeta Gundam.
In the latter part of the first OAV, there is a scene where Kazumi Amano, Noriko Takaya are entering the space shuttle destined for "The Top". The insignia on said shuttle is that of Japan Airlines (JAL) and is feature in numerous other anime, including the original Lupin III television series.
In episode one [at 12:58.00], the text of an on-screen letter states that the principal of the Okinawa Girl's High School is "Hiroaki Inoue", after one of the Gainax co-founders.
Spot the Shameless Plug: In episode 1, in the scene where Noriko, Kazumi and Coach board a Japan Airlines shuttle, you can see billboards in the background that say "Anno" (in reference to director Hideaki Anno) and GAINAX (the production company behind the series).
If you pay close attention to the backgrounds, you will notice posters of anime & sci-fi titles and music artists on the walls. In episode 4, while Noriko is crying in the women's quarters, a poster of award-winning blues artist Tracy Chapman hangs on the wall by her bunk bed. In episode 5, Noriko's apartment has posters of My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Space Battleship Yamato, as well as a calendar featuring the legendary rock band Van Halen. In episode 6, posters for Thunderbirds and the Japanese sci-fi film Message from Space, as well as a promo ad for Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies, can be seen in Noriko's room aboard the battleship Eltreum.
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