Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 01/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
It's the single word that describes how I feel about "GURREN LAGANN SET 01 released by Bandai Entertainment.
GAINAX brings us a mecha anime series and having created so many and with so many created for so many decades, you often wonder if innovative, imaginative storylines can still be developed. Well, with "GURREN LAGANN", the creators of this anime series manages to create something unique, fun, explosive and just enjoyable.
With this first volume set, we get both vol. 1 (Episodes 1-5) and vol. 2 (Episodes 6-9) of "GURREN LAGANN". The popular anime titled "Tengen Toppai Gurren Lagann" aired on TV Tokyo back in April 2007 and completed it's 27-episodes by Sept. 2007 and centers around two characters Simon and Kamina.
Both live underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around. But one day, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.
As for Kamina, he's the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon's drill. The plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group's village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.
As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more...monster robots. It is learned that these things are called "Gunmen" and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans. The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina's leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon's robot Lagann. Kamina eventually comandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group is called Gurren Lagann.
Vol. 1 consists of episodes 1-5 and Vol. 2 consists of episodes 6-9.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
Each episode is featured in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool.
As for the audio, I've watched both episodes in Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 and as much as I enjoyed the Japanese voice track, when I watch an action-packed mecha, Digital 5.1 sountracks make a big difference for me in terms of enjoying a series and with that being said, I am very pleased with the English vocal dub. You have some quality voice talent with Kyle Herbert as Kamina (does the voice of Son Goku in "Dragon Ball Z"), Michelle Ruff as Yoko (does the voice of Rukia for "Bleach") and Yuri Lowenthal (does the voice for many video games and anime such as Sasuke Uchiha for "Naruto").
There is a lot of action, so you do get some good usage from your front channels and some surround usage. But the dialogue comes quite clear and overall, both video and audio were well done.
This is where you can find some very awesome special features. Let's start with the volume 1 DVD:
* Yoko Goes to Gainax - Voice actress for Yoko (Marina Inoue) goes to GAINAX and sees how people create "Gurren Lagann". This lengthy featurette features Marina learning the difference between "Key Animation" and "In-Between Animation" and "Composition". She actually takes part in doing in-between work for the first time and also, learning some of the jobs the staff did for "Gurren Lagann". A very fun featurette!
* GAINAX Staff Interview - A very cool featurette with director Hiroyuki Imaishi and other staff on the concept of "Gurren Lagann" and what their goal was in creating this anime series. Another cool featurette!
* Preview of Episode 6 - A preview of the upcoming interview
* Bandai Previews
With the second volume, the special features are:
* Televised Version of Episode 6 - With this episode being quite a bit sexual as Kamina and Simon try to get a peek at the women without their clothes on in the hot tubs, this version that aired on the Sci Fi Channel features more of a flashback episode and edited with less focus on the horniness of Kamina and Simon and more about them working together as a team. This is presented only in 2.0 Stereo.
* Textless Opening and Ending themes - For those who love the cool music of opening theme "Sorairo Days" by Shoko Nakagawa and ending theme "Underground" by High Voltage.
* US & Japanese Trailers
* Bandai Previews
I can't help but think how awesome this series was to watch! From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and pervertedness and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about "Gurren Lagann". I absolute found the series to be quite fantastic!
The character of Kamina is just so wild and crazy with how he is just so carefree and just doesn't plan for battle, he just does what he believes in and what he thinks is right and decides at the spur of the moment. He has a way with his words, no matter how crazy it may sound but it makes his character so cool!
As for Simon, he is simply the underdog. He is a major component to the team because he pilots Lagann but at the same time, his fear and his emotions get the best of him.
Yoko, her character is sexy and cool. Sometimes you wonder if GAINAX or the character designer Atsushi Nishigori created such a sexy character for the purpose of being sexy or for the fact that many cosplayers will try to emulate the character and not wear much clothes. Nevertheless, her character is cool as her body features somehow provide the fan service and also gets Simon distracted.
And of course, you have a group of other characters that are starting to come their own and as we become supportive human characters, you take special notice of their mecha (Gunmen). They have a sort of character themselves because they are an extension of the people that pilot them but the amount of power demonstrated by them and what is unknown about the gunmen they pilot is just amazing.
And of course, this anime series is action-packed. In fact, there is a good balance of humor and action and each episode keeps your eyes glued to your television set and when it's all done, it leaves you craving for more.
This first box set of "Gurren Lagann" is highly recommended to mecha fans, anime action fans and those who just want to experience an anime that is stylish in presentation and just enjoyable and fun with it's storyline more!
"Gurren Lagann" can be described in one word and that is "Fantastic!"
Translation a bit off, and less of an impact.
Pat Pugh | Spokane, WA USA | 03/30/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is an amazing anime. Forget what you may or may not have heard, and even if you've seen the first few episodes, you have no idea what's in store for you in the rest of the series. Every episode seems to take it up a notch into absurdity, but that is the best part about this series. It never asks for understanding, it just pushes itself over the top at every turn. It's purely fun and enjoyable and a third of the way through the series it gut checks you, and you'll finally start to understand what it is that makes Gurren Lagann stand apart from other anime.
The only problem is with the DVDs themselves, (which is the only reason I gave it 3 stars and not 5)or maybe just the production team behind the translation. Where the original Japanese version made no apologies for cussing and lude behavior, us Americans cannot be offered the same it seems. Our ways are different, and I understand why the US DVD release lacks the continued cussing that the original had so much of. But it really dents into the impact of the speeches of many of the lead characters. And it really drove over a lot of the comedic aspects of the original. I'd give you an example but even here I'm limited with my words.
Overall though, the series is still fantastic, and now your younger ones can actually enjoy it if they wish to as most of the crude stuff has been removed properly. It's still a lot of robot smashing action though, so be aware that violence does ensue at every turn. But that's the other half of what makes this anime so great: the insane over the top robot smashing action. It takes Voltron, Gundam, Macross (Robotech), and Evangelion into account but never refers backwards. The show does its own thing knowingly embarking on the continued essence of mech anime. Everything feels fresh if not mildly cliched, but everything is as it should be. It uses the best of animes before it, and will be a building block for those to come after it.
Watch it if you haven't yet, you can't possibly not be entertained."