This write-up has some minor spoilers. There’s also a bit of over-analytical rambling at the end. Spoiler-phobes and non-academics, you can stop reading now.
Just finished watching Gurren Lagann. Now I can finally understand all the endless jokes and catchphrases that I keep hearing from my friends.
You can call Gurren Lagann many things: a tale of the human spirit triumphing over impossible odds. A simple love story about two lovers bonded by faith. A repository of the most epic one-liners you will ever find in any entertainment medium. The most outrageously over-the-top battles ever conceived.
Japanator ranks Gurren Lagann at the #4 spot of their Top 50 Anime of the Decade, calling it “a flawless execution of a story”, and I can’t disagree with that statement.
To quote a line repeated several times in the anime: “Reject common sense to make the impossible possible”. By rejecting all common-sensical methods of storytelling, for bravely offing a major character so early in the series, and for being ridiculously over-the-top just for the sake of it, this is a show that will stay rooted in the halls of anime pop-culture-legend for many decades to come.
Perhaps, you could also call Gurren Lagann a scrutiny and reflection of the human race in general. Humanity is capable of many great accomplishments, fueled by desires and unquenchable spirit.
And yet, for all of our strengths, humanity is also capable of many stupid and inexplicable acts. The words of Viral in Episode 20: “Human wisdom has its moments”, resonated very deeply within me.
I wonder if the creators of Gurren Lagann were secretly trying to reference the real-world problems we have with today’s society and governments during the middle arc (Episodes 17-20). The problems of a collective bureaucracy; the impulsive need for citizens to turn on their leaders and saviours as scapegoats for their troubles; the sometimes idiotic inefficiency and fallacy of trials.
And for some reason, the themes from BioShock kept popping-up in my head as I was watching that arc. Andrew Ryan was fueled by his individualistic desires and objectives to create Rapture, a paradise where humans could be rewarded for their hardship and labour. However, the citizens and even Ryan himself grew complacent in their paradise and took it for granted. Problems were ignored, one thing lead to another, and civil unrest was started by the very people who sought paradise.
Simon and Kamina were fueled by their individual spirits and desires to reclaim the surface, a paradise where humans could be freed from their life of hardship and labour underground. However, Simon and his gang grew complacent in their paradise and took it for granted. Problems were ignored, one thing lead to another, and civil unrest was started by the very people who sought paradise.
The key difference here, is that Ryan abandoned his ideals when trying to fix the problems in his paradise. By betraying himself and his principles, Ryan ultimately caused the downfall of Rapture and eventually, his own demise.
As much as we all dislike Rossiu for being such an arse, I could sympathize with him because he was just simply following his ideals: “Protect the human race at all costs.” Even if it forced him to betray his leader, and to abandon the citizens he vowed to protect, he still held on to his ideals till the end because he simply believed it was the right thing to do.
And I’m sure many of us have tried to punish ourselves for the perceived mistakes we have made in our lives, just like what Rossiu attempted to do. Even if we did end up committing a grave mistake, what’s wrong with making that error when in our hearts, we firmly believed that it was the right thing to do and it was what we wanted to do?
We can all learn from what Gurren Lagann has taught us, and incorporate elements from the series into our daily lives. Hold on dearly to all of our ideals, dreams, and loved ones with fierce determination. And use it to pierce the heavens.