I really know very little about animation and art and all that… stuff, but I’m absolutely convinced that the animation style was pretty different in this episode to any previous. Can anybody back me up on this? Maybe it’s because I haven’t watched TTGL for a while; I’ve been busy binging Tokyo Ghoul, which I loved but which I kind of stormed through so I don’t have enough intelligent thoughts about it to bother doing a review.
Anyway, I was a bit distracted during most of this episode because I just couldn’t figure out for the life of me why it all looked so… different and weird. Ultimately I decided ‘they’ve just drawn and animated it differently’, which might technically be accurate but isn’t exactly comprehensive. I… don’t think I like it. It felt more like a Western Saturday morning cartoon than what I would think of as ‘anime style’, if such a thing can be said to exist given the enormous variety of anime series out there which employ lots of different artistic techniques to build their world.
Moving on from that, this episode built on the unexpected and inexplicable combination of Gurren and Lagann in episode 3 by demonstrating that, once again, Simon’s really bad at doing stuff when he thinks about it. He was able to combine Lagann with Gurren in the heat of the moment, when their lives depended on it, but Kamina’s ‘training’ is next to pointless as far as actually teaching him how to pull off a successful combination is concerned. He does learn how to dodge stuff, though, so that’s useful. (‘You’re missing the point’, Kamina tells him exasperatedly when he thinks he’s had an epiphany about how great the training’s made him at avoiding attacks.) It was interesting to see how the show went about this: by presenting a foe who has a similar ability, which causes Team Gurren to realise how unique their own version of that ability is. I’m betting this won’t be the last time we see some variation on that trick. This time, Team Fluffy Balls (not their canon name, as far as I know) combine their sixteen-faced Gunmen into one giant thingy, which is impressive but sort of heartless. Each of the smaller parts knows where it fits into the larger whole, so they’re clearly quite capable in the mechanical sense. (Side note: Yoko didn’t seem that surprised that there were other combining Gunmen. I imagine we’ll see more of them.) What they lack, however, is the manly beauty of two combusting souls sailing through the air in a climactic combination, or something like that.
I really like that the series just doesn’t drop the whole ‘Team Gurren are the best because they’re just more awesome‘ thing. There’s no letting up on it. No matter what the situation, it can be solved through the burning of a fighting spirit and a few circular catchphrases. In this case, Gurren Lagann’s combination is better than Team Fluffy Balls’ version because… of reasons. They just have stronger, more brotherly, more generally kickass souls, and that’s perfectly good enough as a reason.
Meanwhile, we also meet a few new humans. They seem to get around by disguising themselves as Beastmen, which is an interesting strategy. It must be reeeasonably effective, since they’re still alive; not only are they not dead, but they describe themselves as ‘pro’ hunters of Beastmen and Gunmen. They certainly help Team Gurren out, although I think it’s safe to say that the Black Siblings wouldn’t have been able to take out Team Fluffy Balls on their own. This feels like an episode in isolation, in that the Black Siblings and Team Fluffy Balls both debut in this episode and seem to be off on their separate ways by its end. I suspect we’ll be seeing the Black Siblings again, though; it was fun to see another MANLY MAN who’s just as insane as Kamina. Plus there’s the potential for some interesting interaction between Yoko and the three sisters – perhaps their open admiration of Kamina might prompt her to act on her own feelings? It would be good to see more capable female input in Team Gurren, I’ve got to admit. The sisters seem pretty able to take care of themselves, but I’d like them to have stuck around and provided a bit more counterpoint to Kamina’s unapologetically manly spirit. After all, Yoko’s the only woman we spend any regular time with; she’s a decent foil to Kamina by virtue of being just as MANLY FIGHTING SPIRIT as he is, except in a feminine way. I don’t think TTGL is likely to concern itself with gender politics, but it’d be an interesting dynamic.
Finally, in ‘Did Simon Get Boobs In His Face This Episode?’, the answer is yes. Yes, he did. It seems almost compulsory for new female characters to introduce themselves via face-boob. I’m sure this won’t be the last Simon sees of Ki… yoh? Kiyal? Kibreast? (I cannot for the life of me remember their names.) Anyway, I’m sure there’ll be another meeting of his face and her chest.
Oh, and Boota pulled off his own arse and let Simon and Kamina eat it! I did notice near the beginning of the episode that he had what looked like a scar over his butt, which made me wonder whether somebody might have tried to eat him at some point, but I wasn’t expecting him to yank off his own tail quite so cleanly. The visual of Gurren’s screens displaying a full stomach in the same way that a car might show a fuel tank was pretty hilarious (as was the first moment of combination in which Lagann’s drill ever so nearly just takes Kamina’s head right off), so it was worth it for that. Wonder whether there’ll be more Boota-eating? I’ll be pretty devastated if he has to sacrifice himself to fuel Kamina’s manic energy at some point. Live on, Boota! (You delicious… mole-pig… thing.)