In a shock twist, this episode starts in… you guessed it, it’s the Teppelin – which is apparently the name of the Beastmen capital, not sure whether I knew that already – Segment! It sounds as if Guame is the longest-standing of the Four (well, Three these days) Generals, and he hits Cytomander with a pretty sweet put-down about how the latter’s done basically nothing so far. It’s a fair comment, though knowing how these things usually go makes me suspect that Cytomander is probably likely to be the strongest of the four.
Back to Team Dai-Gurren, they’ve discovered… the sea, of all things! Most of them have either never seen the sea or never even heard of it, which isn’t that surprising given that they’ve spent most of their lives underground. How Kittan knows so much about it is a bit of an unanswered mystery, but I guess he just heard about it on his many adventures, and – oh, heck, why am I even bothering to be surprised that the Black Sisters want to turn this into a beach episode?
Generally, in beach episodes, the cast all just sort of head off for a party for no good reason. It’s pretty much just an excuse for fanservice. Yoko, however, who provides ample fanservice just as part of business as usual, isn’t particularly eager to stop and goof off. I actually liked this; not only would it not fit her character if she was okay with just taking a break from the main plot in order to have a bit of a swimmy-swim, but it’s pretty cool to see the person expected to be the main feature of a skimpy-outfit-focused trope be resistant to just dive right into it. Fortunately for the male cast, and the doubtless very high proportion of male viewers who would be all too happy to succumb to baseless excuses for fanservice, Leeron’s around to provide an excuse: they can’t exactly go around the sea, and while he’s prepared to convert Dai-Gurren into an amphibious wondermachine it won’t be instant, so they’ve got plenty of time for beachy larks.
Naturally, everyone dashes off to get changed into their swimsuits, leading me to wonder why they all even have swimsuits if they’ve never seen the sea and we haven’t really seen them encounter many bodies of water. The Black Sisters were already in their bikinis from the get-go, so the only two women left to reveal their beach outfits (writing that made me realise how enormous the proportion of men to women in Team Dai-Gurren is) are Yoko and Nia. Yoko’s outfit shows less than her normal one does, which is both hilarious and awesome but puts the guys off a bit. One of them even says something about her being nothing more than a big-ass rifle if she isn’t going to show any skin; I’m pretty sure that statement’s in there to be vehemently disagreed with, but it still makes whoever said it seem like a bit of a tosser. Nia’s outfit is also pretty modest, but everyone seems to think that’s just the most beautiful thing. Yoko’s not too happy about the double standard.
I was wondering as this was going on what it was that was actually making Yoko so angry, as all the men fawned over Nia. Was it jealousy that Nia was getting more attention, or that the guys seemed to be considering Nia more attractive than Yoko? Or was it that Yoko was upset about being reduced to a sex object, something that she usually either ignored or went along with but couldn’t help but notice once she covered her cleavage up a bit? I think the episode eventually clears up that it was pretty much just simple jealousy, but it’s still an interesting point. Yoko doesn’t seem like she gives too much of a shit about what anyone thinks of her, whether they consider her sexy or not; her outfit is just what she likes to wear, regardless of whether it endears her to people (or men specifically). Perhaps, though, there is a little bit of an attention-seeker in there, or perhaps an approval-seeker; perhaps part of the reason for her revealing choice in clothes is that she hopes it’ll win her some favour because she’s insecure about being able to be liked on her own merits? Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
On a more text-rather-than-subtext level, I’m totally unsurprised that Nia turns out to be pretty strong. She was raised by Beastmen, after all. This part, at least, I can understand Yoko’s jealousy of; she’s always been the ace, but Nia seems to be striking out to replace her. Of course, she’ll later come to realise that it’s not a replacement at all, just a whole new addition to the team.
About halfway through the episode, Leeron announces that the aqua-gear for Dai-Gurren is ready, and I found it funnier than I probably should have when it turned out that what was being sold as a mechanical conversion basically amounted to turning the thing into a self-paddling canoe. I was a bit surprised that this didn’t take until at least the end of the episode, given that I’ve been expecting filler with this show and a beach episode usually fulfils exactly that purpose. The ship launches – Simon gives the command, and with surprise I realised that I’d pretty much forgotten he was there for the first half of this episode – and things… start going wrong basically straight away. Adiane’s back, y’all, and not only does she have her personal custom Gunmen, Sayrune, and Viral as an apparent second-in-command, but it turns out she has an aquatic fortress to boot.
Of course there are more fortress-type Gunmen besides just Dai-Gurren (formerly Gunzan). I wonder whether Dai-Gunkai, the swimming fortress, is associated with Adiane similarly to how Thymilph considered Dai-Gunzan to be his own personal property? Based on a comment one of the other Generals made at the beginning of the episode, and the fact that Adiane hasn’t returned to Teppelin, I’m guessing Dai-Gunkai is her own, which begs the question of whether Guame and Cytomander have fortresses of their own too. (The Spiral King’s is probably Teppelin itself; I’ll be wholly unsurprised if the entire city turns out to be a ginormous Gunmen.) It’s nice to see Viral back, too, after a lengthy absence during which he and Adiane presumably just sort of mooched around and grumbled about those frickin’ humans for a bit. Dai-Gunkai attacks the merrily paddling Dai-Gurren from below with dolphin-guided torpedoes (are the dolphins Beastmen?), doing some hefty damage. I don’t think the team were expecting Dai-Gurren to be attacked in water; it’s more of a problem than a similar attack on land would be, what with the additional risk of drowning and whatnot, but it doesn’t seem like the aqua gear’s done anything to make the ship any more protected. It’s just a regular car that’s able to sit on top of the water, basically; unlike a true battleship, it’s got no real protection from marine attacks and no means of survival if it happens to fall under the surface, a fact that the Beastmen exploit.
Most of the Team Dai-Gurren Gunmen aren’t water-adapted, which makes sense, but Simon and Leeron reason that Gurren Lagann will probably be okay. Dai-Gurren launches it into the water; I was reminded of similar launch scenes in other mecha anime, though those usually aren’t done by another bigger mecha just throwing them. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that yes, Gurren Lagann is indeed waterproof, but just as unsurprisingly it’s a giant person-shaped robot which isn’t at all optimised to being in the water. Sayrune, which seems to be able to change shape from human to stingray/ manta-like form, very much is optimised to marine combat, which leads to Gurren Lagann taking a pretty thorough beating for a while. Meanwhile, Dai-Gunkai starts dragging Dai-Gurren underwater, which is a pretty big problem. Nia isn’t fazed, though, as she believes in Simon in much the same way that everyone else used to believe in Kamina. She’s carrying on that same tradition of stubborn, not blind, faith, I think. Her belief is, of course, well-placed, as Simon powers up Gurren Lagann with MOAR DRILLS. It even uses a single drill to turn itself into a submarine of sorts! I do really like the ongoing ‘what insane thing will be achieved purely with drills next?’ saga, which keeps one-upping itself.
Dai-Gurren returns to the surface, but the troubles aren’t over: Adiane captures Nia. Yoko, whom pretty much everyone seems to have forgotten about, steps forward and aims her rifle at Nia, causing Adiane to wonder whether her plan is to kill Nia and destroy Adiane’s leverage. Seems as if most of Team Dai-Gurren are concerned that she’d actually do it, as well! The first shot does… nothing, as far as I can tell, so I really hope she wasn’t aiming for Nia; the second takes out Sayrune’s shoulder and causes it to drop Nia, who falls a stupid distance only to be saved by GOD AMONG MEN, Old Coco himself. I’m starting to wonder whether it’s only a matter of time before Old Coco turns out to be a god in human form, the amount of crazy shit he pulls off just by virtue of being Old Coco. If anything, he’s the closest successor to Kamina the group has!
Dai-Gurren then aims at Sayrune; Adiane points out that firing its guns at her while she’s on board would destroy both Sayrune and Dai-Gurren, and asks whether humans are really that stupid. Yoko confirms that yes, humans are really that stupid, and the weird big-lip feller who seems to be in charge of the guns fires. Sayrune’s destroyed, killing Adiane and doing no damage at all to Dai-Gurren as far as I can tell, which maybe makes Yoko’s defiance ring a bit hollow. Then again, maybe it just means that humans are indeed stupid but not so stupid that they can’t succeed without killing themselves if there’s any way. At almost the same time, Simon and Rossiu (I’m starting to suspect he’s just there because Simon can’t pilot Gurren Lagann on his own, even though that’s effectively exactly what he’s doing) obliterate the floating fortress Dai-Gunkai. Seems a shame; they could probably have made use of that, especially since Dai-Gurren’s aquatic capabilities have been disabled.
Viral, who wanted to destroy Gurren Lagann himself but was willing to allow his general to take the glory, finds himself somehow not dead and in the rather sad position of having twice now been fighting alongside a general who’s been immediately murdered by Team Dai-Gurren. I actually feel bad for the guy! I hope whichever of Guame and Cytomander he tries to ally with next just goes ‘NOPE’ and kicks him the heck out, since he does have a pretty bad track record of keeping generals alive thus far.
Wrapping it up, Nia, whose hair was all messed up by Yoko’s close-shave bullets, asks Yoko to give her a haircut. Weirdly, she demonstrates the same sort of faith in Yoko’s hair-cutting abilities as she did in Simon’s world-saving abilities, which warmed my little heart. It’s funny, but I think there’s a theme coming ever closer to the fore in this show, and it’s to do with the uniqueness of people. Simon saves the world, so Nia has faith in that; Yoko… isn’t a hairdresser, but Nia has faith in that anyway. What Yoko is is a brilliant shot, and I think she realises that she doesn’t need to be jealous of Nia when she realises that nobody else could have made the shot she did and saved Nia’s life. Everybody’s different; there’s no competition between any member of the team, none can replace another and each can do something nobody else can. It’s like how Simon only regained his mojo once he finally learned that being Simon, whoever that was, could only be more valuable than trying to be Kamina. You can only be yourself, and nobody can expect anything more of you – and not only that, but you’ll only realise what it is that makes you unique when you stop trying to be anything other than just who you are.
It’s a nice lesson, especially for what I thought would be a total filler episode.