Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann starts off with an extremely quick pace basically running full speed without ever truly slowing down. The series is packed with action that progressively escalates in intensity throughout the entire series. Needless to say that if you’re looking for an anime that has a lot of action, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann would fit.
While action is a staple for many shounen anime, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann handles its fights in an over-the-top fashion that makes it stand out from most action anime. The battles are extremely fast paced and the amazing animation finds a way to exaggerate each motion just enough to make the every fight scene seem wild without actually overdoing it. The pacing of all the battles are handled exceptionally as these fights don’t ever feel drawn out.
The art style that Studio Gainax uses perfectly complements the over-the-top battles seen throughout the show. While the exagerrated contrast of colors might be off-putting when seen outside of the show, it is that very same style that elevates each scene of the anime making it stand out in a very positive way.
Aside from the colors, the designs of the mecha units called Gunmen are really quite impressive. In particular, the titular unit Lagann progressively increases in both size and power. At the beginning, the Lagann is a small gunman that simply pales in comparison to other gunmen. Simon, the series protagonist, quickly manages to discover a means of taking the unit beyond its capabilities by utilizing its drill to merge with other gunmen. This ability eventually allows the Lagann’s power to escalate. The unit that was discovered underground merges with other units until ultimately becoming planetary in size. By the end of the anime, the unit is literally the size of an entire universe and is capable of throwing punches that transcend both space and time. While this jump in power does admittedly sound extremely absurd, the anime manages the growth of power in such a way that it feels natural.
With the emphasis put on the action, the story initially seems very simple; but as the series progresses, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to the series than just massive robots fighting. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann brings quite a number of themes into focus. The main theme that the show covers is the idea of growth and evolution commonly represented as either a spiral or a drill. The series opens with Simon the Digger discovering a special drill that he later discovers, serves as the key to a special mecha unit called the Lagann. This drill and the Lagann both serve as a representation of Simon and his evolution as a character. Simon is initially a young boy with an inferiority complex who is always seen following in the wake of Kamina, a loud mouth who takes on the mentor and leader role. We see him as he transitions from a typical weakling to a brooding man struggling to come to terms with the effects of war to ultimately becoming a reliable leader.
The first set of antagonists were also amazing characters. Lordgenome was a character that resorted to extreme means to prevent the annihilation of humans or spiral beings. A spiral being himself, Lordgenome spent his lifetime preventing humans from emerging from their underground habitats to prevent the rise of the an even stronger antagonist. Lordgenome is an antagonist that isn’t inherently evil. His intentions are solely to protect the human race from extinction and his actions are a reflection of his belief that humans, as spiral beings, naturally aim for evolution. The interesting aspect of this is that viewers eventually realize that Simon’s Team Gurren and Lordgenome both ultimately want the same thing. The conflict between the two exists to determine whose methods – Lordgenome’s avoidance or Simon’s determination – will prevail.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann takes a common anime genre and takes it a step further. The exaggerated art, the fast pacing, and the loud and quirky characters all come together nicely resulting in a mecha that stands out from the rest.