Reviewby Theron Martin, Nov 9th 2008
Nia has become the agent of the Anti-Spiral forces, the Moon is coming to crash into the Earth and wipe everything out, and Simon has been quickly tried, convicted, and locked away awaiting execution as a scapegoat, but the worst is still yet to come. Roussieau's desperate and calculated effort to save as many people as possible by leaving the planet in a gigantic Gunmen found deep under the capital city meets with fierce resistance in space, creating a situation that only the original Team Gurren, with Simon at their lead and help from an unexpected new ally and an absent old one, can handle. The stakes and threat levels rapidly increase as Simon and crew draw upon the Spiral power to pursue the Anti-Spiral forces to their extradimensional home world, both to rescue Nia and to secure the safety of humanity. In doing so they learn the ultimate truth about the oppression of the Spiral races, but once Simon sets his mind to something, even that won't stop him.
When one describes an anime series as “speaking from the heart,” one is normally referring to some kind of romantic series. Gainax proved with Gunbuster and Gunbuster 2 that it is possible to apply that description to mecha anime series as well, and with the final third of Gurren Lagann they have done so again. This is the manly side of mushiness, the kind of content which speaks about people who truly throw everything they have – all of their passion, their hopes, their determination, and even their souls and very lives – into the crucible to challenge the heavens, to force a path to their own destinies and those that they hold dear. For some, it requires noble sacrifices; for others, it requires an acceptance of those they have long regarded as enemies or of the weight of their duties and responsibilities. For all, it is about the brash arrogance to think that, even when the universe is (literally) against you, there is still some way to triumph, and the will to make it happen. Thanks to Gainax's keen understanding of exactly how to best exploit this scenario, these final episodes repeatedly prove capable of choking up more sentimental viewers and perhaps even compelling a few manly tears. In short, these episodes bring one of the liveliest series of the decade to a rousing, rollicking good time of a finish.
Do these episodes recycle plot elements from numerous other series? Sure. Anyone who cannot at least basically predict how things are going to go down is probably an anime (and especially mecha) neophyte. Are things like literally punching a hole in space-time utterly preposterous? Sure, but that's also half the fun. Do either of those factors weigh the series down? Not at all. Despite some serious content, this is not the kind of fare that is intended to be analyzed in-depth, nor is it attempting to find any kind of credibility, subtlety, or multilayered meaning. It knows exactly what it wants to be, does not aspire to anything more, and in so doing succeeds brilliantly. Many, many other anime series out there could learn from this example.
The late episodes lose little of their punch in their visuals, maintaining the highly stylized look that has pervaded the previous series. The space vessels of the Anti-Spirals offer intriguing (though not entirely original) designs, and the Anti-Spiral avatar itself looks like a piece of abstract art that has hopped down off a museum canvas. Yoko also does not disappoint in her eventual reappearance, appearing with a properly matured look and suitably racy space outfit to follow up a reveal on where she has been for at least part of the past few years. Also watch for a startling late transformation by one long-term cast member. The animation, though not terribly impressive overall, suits the visual style well. Those that are watching the series only on Sci Fi Network should be aware that the broadcast is cutting out some great and always-changing eyecatch art.
Never a weak point, the musical score continues to do an excellent job of capturing and enhancing the changing moods and tones of the show, especially its key action sequences and high-spirited declarations. Though skipped in two late episodes, the version of the opener which accompanied the beginning of the last story arc continues through to the end, as does the most recent version of the closer. Also listen for some of the “Fight The Power” theme to creep into the actual episode content at times.
This release still includes no dub, but based on the Sci Fi Network broadcast the dub continues along just fine as it enters the series' late stages. Performers carrying over from the first two arcs continue solid characterizations and deliveries, and the new casting decisions (especially the recasting of Nia for her adult form), while not exciting, nonetheless do the job. The dub script also seems to stay surprisingly close to the original for as boisterous a show as this is.
Nine subbed-only episodes on two disks for basically the same cost as a regular DVD equates to only minimal Extras, this time including only textless renditions of the newest opener and closer.
The epilogue for the series is as much sad as joyous, yet it also feels exactly right. Everyone must ultimately answer to their true natures, and the beginning of the “seven years after” story arc showed what happens when people try to force themselves into roles that go against those natures. The ultimate fates of all the key characters are exactly the fates they should have had given their circumstances and personalities, and Gainax wisely chose not to force another path for any of them.For all its recycled plot elements and utterly preposterous nature, Gainax's paean to boisterous, macho mecha action delivers in triumphant fashion.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ Maximizes the series' potential by playing fully to its strengths, surprisingly affecting.
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