Friday, May 24, 2013

The After-Effects of Watching the Gurren Laggan Movie

So, I watched the first Gurren Laggan movie, and I didn't like it, at all. Previous to me wathcing this movie, I had a generally positive opinion of Gurren Laggan. I had watched around 10 episodes of the anime, and seen some of the latter action in spurts, and my opinion then was: I may not like the characters, but the action is amazing, and this may be the best looking anime out there. However, after watching the first GL movie, I've come to realize some things about the series and the animation studio, as well as come to experience and appreciate other series.

First, I'll say what I think of GL and Gainax (specifically, director Hiroyuki Imaishi) after watching the movie. Basically, I have come to have almost zero interest in this series, and where I used to really appreciate and anticipate works from Gainax, and now Trigger, I know have much less appreciation, and, dare I say, respect for the studio. While a lot of this harsh criticism comes from how intense the fanboyism of this series is (including my own brother), most comes from the series content. First of all, and most importantly, the characters of GL are terrible, just terrible. Simon is boring and his story couldn't feel more by-the-books, Kamina is an unlikable idiot who may talk big, but rarely ever backs up his grand words with actions. Yoko might as well be named "Girl", as she does nothing but what a child would expect a girl to do in a manly story like GL, stand around, be sexy, and become the hero's girlfriend. Nia is only present to be a plot device as well as be a girlfriend for Simon. And the supporting cast is forgettable, however, I'd say a few of them are more likable than the main cast.

Now, the reason I bring up the characters is because they are the main reason for me not liking what everyone loves about GL: the over-the-top action. I've realized something after watching the GL movie, and that is that action, no matter how intense or "big", completely lacks impact if the characters behind those actions are terrible. And, I've come to realize that this is a big reason why I don't like any of Gainax's works, because I simply don't like the characters. And, well, that's that. There are other reasons I really didn't like GL, such as the poorly executed setting, poorly developed villains, and the over-excessiveness of "manly" visuals (I hate that Dai-Gurren's bow is basically a giant penis). But, honestly, its the poor characters that always stick out the most to me.

And, after I realized that, I'd come to another realization: the only reason I wanted to like GL so much, even after disliking it before, was because of all the hype around the anime, and the fact that it was in a genre I really liked and the animation style was unique. It was this pressure that made me feel like I had to like anime. And that's why I watched the GL movie. However, after watching the movie I came to many realizations:

1) Gurren Laggan is basically trying to be Getter Robo (the 90s OVAs to be specific), and failing hard at it. Getter Robo has much better characters, a much better realized setting, and the visual style has much more "oomph" thanks to the strong manga-like animation. The action in Getter Robo is also much better thanks to the great characters backing up that action. Still, I think it's a shame things turned out the way they did in GL, as Imaishi is a fan of Getter Robo, and GL was to be his homage to the series.

2) Gainax's animation isn't nearly as impressive as it once was; mainly due to the Getter Robo OVAs looking much better, and they were made long before GL. I will admit that the first 5-minute sequence of the GL movie was beautiful, and I wish the whole movie looked like that, but alas it didn't. And, that's another thing, I've noticed that GL really only looks good at certain parts, specifically, the action scenes, but other anime like Shin Getter Robo Armageddon, Nichijou, Madoka Magica, and Katanagatari look great throughout their entire lengths rather than at certain scenes. The bottom-line is that I gave Gainax far too much credit before. Their work can still be impressive at times, but its really not that impressive.

3) Gurren Laggan is a poor coming-of-age story. It even pales in comparison to FLCL, which was a decent coming-of-age story, even if it has far too much innuendo. However, I've experienced far, far superior coming-of-age stories before, specifically the manga Eyeshield 21, which I've been re-reading lately. After reading Eyehshield 21 again, I've come to realize how poor GL's writing is, and that if Gainax would stop trying to be so over-the-top and immature about their stories, they could actually tell some good ones.

All-in-all, watching the GL movie has come to make me appreciate what I had before, and that I really don't need to like Gurren Laggan despite what my friends, family, and the internet have to say. Because, I simply don't like it, for many reasons, and I have much, much better alternatives to GL, such as Getter Robo, Astro Boy, Eyeshield 21, and One Piece. Gainax used to hold a special place in my heart when it came to anime, despite me not really liking any of their series; it stood upon a pedestal that it could not be moved from, but no longer. And I'm happy about that, as it's allowed me to place other manga and anime upon that pedestal position it once held, and thus allowed me appreciate the strengths of other anime and manga, specifically, Shin Getter Robo Armageddon, which is a series that I really didn't appreciate enough.

1 comment: