Monday, September 24, 2007

Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: This surreal moment brought to you by the letter J

Gurren-Lagann episode 26: PBS logo plus Anti-Spiral figure
(Progress: Episode 26)

Some people have a fear of clowns. Me? I get weirded out when seeing the PBS logo, especially when set against a black background like in the above. I don't have any bad childhood memories of PBS programming, although I can't say the same for the National Film Board of Canada (and Boards of Canada seem to agree); it's just the logo that I have always found disconcerting.

Maybe it's the notion that I was bearing witness to a severed human head, or rather, the suggestion of one. At the age of 4 or so, it was hard enough trying to deal with the latest virus or bacterial infection, and now I was multi-tasking trying to make sense of vaguely humanoid outlines. It had the components of a face, but it lacked emotion. Having only seen human faces with expression up till then, it was something that I struggled to reconcile. I may or may not have curled up into a ball and started muttering to myself.

The Anti-Spiral figure elicits a similar response. Instead of muttering to myself, I'm writing, which is basically the same thing. Its design is generic, yes, but just like the PBS logo, I find its genericness to be disturbing. There's something sinister, not elegant, in the simplistic design of both.

Animated as a sketchy outline, the Anti-Spiral goes one better, hinting at an unknowable, unseeable, pulsing chaos. It is an entropy that defies current understanding, the same random movement that gives rise to quantum mechanics.

Emotions that are unknown, a form that is unknown, and mastery of the unknown. Anti-Spirals keep me awake at night.

On a marginally related note

The entire last half of episode 27 was quite surreal. Seeing the first channel surfing scene, I thought I might have been watching an episode of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Of the several references Gainax got in, I only picked up on one, much to my chagrin.

Yoko Bebop

Who knew that Yoko dreamed of being a bounty hunter with a jazz background?

Channel surfing part two, the drastic shift in dress and scenery, Yoko's discarding of her alternate reality was wonderfully wtf. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, but I get the sense that what she wanted was avoiding coming to grips with Kamina's death, so it was necessarily Kamina that held the TV showing her all these happy scenes. The one scene that she finally returns to, though, is not bright and clear, but the muted and smoky site of Kamina's death. This is her reality, the one that she accepts before rejoining the fight.

Simon's scene was much more straightforward, with a weak Kamina targeting Simon's insecurities. A parallel is drawn between a fictional outcome of the earlier war and the battle going on now. It's okay to stop fighting, as long as a simple life can be made out of view of the ruling class. Beastmen and Anti-Spirals alike are merciful so long as their power is not challenged.

In the end, Simon reaffirms that he does things not for Kamina, but for himself. Problem solved, for the second time. He then proceeds to turn into Megaman, assimilating all of his surviving comrades. When the next episode preview features a familiar looking sniper rifle, what other explanation is there?

Gurren-Lagann episode 26: Mega-Lagann

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The entire last half of episode 27 was quite surre

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