Picking up immediately from where we left off last time, it’s Viral! Viral’s back, everybody! Being a sporting type, he gives everybody a chance to get dressed, which is nice. I laughed almost as hard as I did when Gurren and Lagann first combined at the moment Viral’s monologue comes to an end and the camera cuts back to reveal Team Gurren just stood there butt-naked (including a great shot of Kamina’s butt, his crotch still covered by Boota, and Gimmy – or Darry, I can’t remember which one’s which – pointing angrily with his willy fully exposed).
I found it interesting that while Viral certainly fared better against Gurren Lagann this time around – you’d expect him to be better-prepared, since the element of surprise was the main point in Team Gurren’s favour when they first battled – he still couldn’t overcome them on his own. Before Dai-Gunzan showed up (we’ll talk about that in a mo), he’d fought hard against Kamina and Simon but was, I think, pretty clearly on the losing side. Viral’s obviously a really competent dude at human-hunting, so it’s got to sting that he’s finding himself constantly thwarted by something he can’t explain. I mean, let’s imagine I’m Viral. I’m great at your job, which happens to be murdering people, but suddenly these guys show up in a stolen mech (which would piss me off in itself – that’s my men’s equipment you’re piloting, douchebags) and totally overwhelm me using weird anti-logic to spontaneously fix all the damage I’ve done, grow drills from nowhere and just generally blast me. Poor Viral, getting his ass handed to him by what must seem to him like two absolute nonsense-spouting idiots.
Adding to Viral’s shame is the fact that one of the Spiral King’s generals suddenly shows up to witness him getting wailed on.
Oh, yeah, there’s a Spiral King. Turns out the Beastmen’s HQ is actually a giant Gunmen which also serves as their Capital, and the whole thing’s run by some guy called the Spiral King.
General Thymilph seems to be the one in charge of Dai-Gunzan, the Beastmen’s walking, extremely well-armed capital city. He also seems to be Viral’s direct superior, so I’m intrigued to see how the Beastmen hierarchy deals with its soldiers’ failure. Specifically, I want to see how Viral reacts to his own inability to overcome Kamina, since I think it could lead to some seriously interesting story arcs.
Side note: what’s up with Thymilph’s name? I vaguely remember thymine being an element of DNA from watching Cosmos or something, but I don’t know whether that’s got any bearing on why he’s called that. It’s got to be a bit of a bitch to spell in Romaji, though; from my very limited knowledge of Japanese phonology, I guess it might be Fi-ru-mi-ru-fu? I would Google it to find out, but I don’t want to risk spoilers, so I’ll just leave my probably inaccurate and ignorant guess there.
Anyhoo, Kamina’s pretty ticked off at the arrival of Thymilph, since anything that casts a big shadow over him is something he just instantly wants to take down. It is a very big shadow, by the way, and it just so happens to be oh-so-slightly phallic, which I’m sure isn’t symbolic or relevant at all. Kamina’s determination reaches new heights in this episode, his fighting spirit proving powerful enough to magically fix one of Gurren’s legs after it’s been almost totally destroyed (though only until Lagann separates, ending the combining). Even that isn’t enough to match the power of Dai-Gunzan to start with, since Gurren Lagann very nearly ends up being ripped apart by the crotch.
Luckily, a couple of characters we haven’t seen for a while return to make the save. Kittan (the male one of the Black Siblings) triumphantly returns in a stolen Gunmen to save the rest of Team Gurren while Kamina and Simon are otherwise occupied, and Dayakka from Yoko’s village shows up in a less stylish but still pretty handy Gunmen of his own. I don’t know how I feel about Team Gurren needing to be saved; they get surrounded by a few Gunmen, which Yoko can’t take out because she doesn’t have her rifle on her. I get that even one Gunmen is a force to be reckoned with if you don’t have one of your own, but casting Yoko and the Black Sisters in the damsel-in-distress role doesn’t really fit their asskicking temperaments (I know Rossiu and Leeron and, for some reason, the old guy from the bathhouse are there too, but they’re much less action-y than the four women with them, who’ve proven themselves in combat before.)
It is kinda nice to see Kittan and Dayakka back, though, if only to see what Kittan looks like when he’s not in an episode that for some reason was just terribly animated. Kamina doesn’t recognise him, possibly for that exact reason. It seems as if Kamina’s act of badassery in being perhaps the first human to successfully hijack a Gunmen has sparked a wave of fighting spirit among the others, which means Team Gurren’s firepower just increased exponentially. Not only are Dayakka and Kittan back, but by the end of the episode a whole load of other freedom fighters who’ve heard the tale of the morons in a stolen Gunmen have harkened to the call.
Despite the extra help, Simon’s pretty freaked out by the possibility that they might all get killed by Dai-Gunzan. As he’s done before, he suggests retreat to Kamina, but Kamina won’t have it. This time, though, it’s not his sheer inability to back down that’s causing his refusal to turn away from the fight, but an actual reasoned, logical argument: given the power of Dai-Gunzan’s cannons, trying to get away from it is just asking to be blown up from behind. The only way they’re getting out of this one is to stay close and pin down the colossal battleship, which suits Kamina fine. Except he doesn’t have a clue how to actually achieve that.
For once, Simon takes over. He asks Kamina to trust that he has a plan, and what with believing in the Kamina who believes in Simon who believes in… you know, Kamina hands over control. It’s interesting to note that Simon can evidently control the entire Gurren Lagann assembly from the head, in case he should ever need to pilot it solo. Simon’s plan, harkening back to Kamina’s early advice that digging is what he does best, involves a ton of drills obliterating the ground underneath Dai-Gunzan, thus blowing it right down a massive hole. It’s a big success, which ticks Viral off no end. Again, I’m interested to see how Viral’s story plays out, since he’s obviously taking a very personal stake in trying to bring about the end of Team Gurren. Each time he fails, he’s only going to get more desperate to destroy them, and desperation can be an interesting motivator.
Once the battle’s over, a few of the new recruits introduce themselves, and Kamina decides that the next logical step in Team Gurren’s evolution is to… steal Dai-Gunzan. Somehow, I wasn’t surprised that this was his plan. I mean, all these people have only showed up to join Team Gurren because of how darn ridiculous it is that anyone would try to steal a Gunmen at all, so stealing the entire Beastmen capital can only be a smart move from there. He’s even actually got an idea of how to accomplish this, astonishingly: Lagann can combine with it, in the same way that it does with Gurren. I wonder whether Lagann is unique among Gunmen, since it seems to be able to hijack any other Gunmen’s systems, or whether there are others with this ability. Anyway, as long as Simon’s fighting spirit and vital energy manifest strongly enough, Lagann can theoretically access pretty much infinite power to take over other systems. I don’t think it’s irrelevant that Simon gets distracted by Yoko’s chest at just around the moment that Leeron’s explaining how this might work; remember a few episodes ago, when Simon couldn’t even get Lagann to start until Yoko was
arousing around? It’s probably not insignificant that Simon seems to be around adolescence; Kill La Kill, a show created by several of the same people behind TTGL, deals heavily with female coming-of-age, and perhaps I’ve been missing that this show has been doing a similar thing with Simon’s maturing into an adult male. I’ll be keeping more of an eye out to see if that theme persists.
We end with a heart-to-heart between Kamina and Yoko – long overdue, I think. Kamina, who’s uncharacteristically solemn, explains a bit about his motivation for fighting the Beastmen: he came to the surface just to see it, but now he wants to make sure that it’s a safe place where everyone (whether Gimmy, or Darry, or
Forehead Boy Rossiu, or the kids yet to be born) can look up at the sun without fear. He’s talking about building a better world, basically, one in which people don’t have to suffer underground the way he did, or lose people to the dangerous surface as his father was lost. Yoko’s understandably impressed by this, but warns him that his previously method-y madness is devolving into pure recklessness, and she doesn’t want him to die because… well… SUDDEN EXPLOSION
Yeah, so Yoko was totally about to admit her feelings for Kamina, but the battle calls, and Kamina can never turn it down. Coming out of this, I have a few questions that I expect to be answered very soon:
- How much longer can Kamina really survive, the way he’s going?
- Will Yoko manage to admit her feelings for him before the worst happens, or will she forever have to regret not spitting it out?
- What lengths will Viral have to go to in order to redeem himself to his superiors?
- Who’s next in line to be the leader of the newly christened Team Dai-Gurren, and why is it definitely Boota?