Tuesday, October 2, 2007

As if millions of physicists suddenly cried out in terror

Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, wherein humanity discovers the Unified Field Theory and in return, agrees to discard the laws of thermodynamics. For the sake of a pretty fight of course. A solution to the inevitable destruction of the universe continues to elude the species as a whole.

(Progress: 27/27)

Gurren-Lagann episode 27: Simon who?In an era of peace, there is little room for heroes

Old soldiers never die, but they may undergo puberty a second time. Even Yoko's jaw is squared at the end. I quite like my voice as it is right now and I'm not sure how I would feel were it to drop another octave over the course of 20 years. Perhaps this voice deepening was done to emphasize the time skip to kids, Gurren-Lagann being a kids' show and all. Right?

After seeing The Incredibles, a friend remarked that it had a foundation for children, with layers that would only be picked up by older people. It was entertaining for kids and their handlers, a very rewarding quality for those who managed to achieve that balance.

Gurren-Lagann episode 27: Subtlety
Subtlety was never a strong point of this series. Viewers are whacked over the head with the theme on at least four occasions:
  1. The encounter with the isolated village
  2. Lord Genome's stated motivations following his defeat
  3. Rossiu and his Red Star leftists (trying to pick up where Genome left off but things quickly spiraled out of control)
  4. The Anti-Spirals
It was always about population control and the problem of finite resources, played out on an increasingly larger scale. And each time the answer was to kick reason to the curb and break out of the limits imposed by others. Alone, the sentiment is inspirational and is a large factor in the feel-goodness of this series. Underneath that, though, spelled out in no uncertain terms by the Anti-Spirals on numerous occasions throughout the multi-episode battle, is how ugly breaking out can get.

Infiltrate, assimilate, consume the wreckage of the fallen, repeat. Friend or foe, it matters not and indeed we see Simon taking control of and absorbing things from either side throughout the series. It can be clever and heroic like his commandeering of the Daigenzan, but it can also border upon the horrific. Seeing Genome's head mounted to the base of a giant drill that gets consumed has hallmarks of the latter.

There's this sense of fatalism, depending on how far you want to push the symbolism. Even if all life were wiped out, entropy happens. You can try to reduce entropy in localized systems, but at cost to the larger whole. In other words, the universe, as far as we know, will burn itself out on its own. With our entropy producing ways, we would merely accelerate the process.

Gurren-Lagann episode 27: The evil eye
The eyes. Or just the eye. He's clearly half human, half Contractor. Wait, wrong series.

Is this how Simon spent his time to defending the universe? As a sage? It might not be a bad idea, for what steps should be taken to keep the resource party going for as long as possible? Forcefully take responsibility away from individuals and dictate terms? Or, as Simon advises the child, less force and more suggestion?

Gurren-Lagann is at turns cartoony, over the top, yet quite serious if you dare to venture beyond the fun factor. There's a lot to like, unless you're a physicist. Then it may just leave you in despair.

Lastly, I don't even remember what the first ED song and sequence was, but I always stick around and watch the Minna no Peace sequence in full. Loud anthemic rock, and Gurren-Lagann is definitely a better package with its own anthem.

Simon losing Nia and leaving everyone else mirrors the ED imagery. Usually the hero re-integrates into society after completing the last stages of his quest alone. Simon has always had support, and with his job done, heads out on his own. One last twist to a well-executed series.