Gurren Lagann: A Reflection on Gainax’s Endings
Gainax, known for its unconventional storytelling, often struggled with delivering satisfying endings. The term “Gainax Ending” became synonymous with nonsensical and unsatisfying conclusions. The irony lies in the fact that Anno Hideaki tried to remake the ending of Evangelion, only to receive mixed receptions compared to the original. Endings, as we have always believed, are challenging to execute skillfully. Gainax, with its surreal and trippy narratives, faced an even greater hurdle in providing a satisfactory conclusion.
The Decade-Long View
Reflecting on the ending of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann after a decade, I found it necessary to reassess my initial feelings of dissatisfaction. Although the original ending was highly acclaimed, its theatrical counterpart amplified the presentation without altering the core substance. In hindsight, emotional investment and bias clouded my judgment at the time. Several years have passed, allowing me to appreciate Nakashima Kazuki’s intended message.
Elegance and Poetry in the Narrative
Despite its bombastic nature and scientific jargon, Gurren Lagann possesses a certain elegance and poetic quality within its narrative. The intricate weaving of its storylines demonstrates meticulous planning without improvisation. Nakashima masterfully captures the essence of impactful moments, infusing them with deep pathos. The animation team, led by Imaishi, consistently delivers visually stunning scenes, such as the final battle. Even seemingly simple lines like “We don’t need to understand, we know” hold profound meaning. Gurren Lagann stands out as a show that combines philosophy and romance, a rare blend in the world of anime.
A Symbolic Evolutionary Imperative
The image of a spinning drill, incessantly advancing, parallels the double-helix structure representing human ingenuity and relentless determination. Every element falls into place, culminating in Simon’s solo triumph in Lagann, stripped of the increasingly elaborate gattai. Spiral life emerges victorious by embracing the willingness to sacrifice for progress, representing a fundamental evolutionary drive. The overarching message—that life is unstoppable, forever tunneling forward regardless of wisdom—evokes a sense of both awe and fear.
The Personal Touch
More than anything, Gurren Lagann resonates on a personal level, a trait shared by many successful epic series. The standout character is undoubtedly Simon, one of the most remarkable protagonists in anime. His character arc spans a long and intricate journey, filled with subtlety and nuance. Simon’s story unfolds both beautifully and tragically, prompting a sense of unfulfillment or, in my recollection, dissatisfaction. Witnessing the immense sacrifices he makes while receiving little reward tugs at the heartstrings. Poetically and thematically appropriate as it may be, the ending still leaves room for yearning.
The Inevitable Farewell
The audience was already aware that Nia, being an anti-spiral being, would eventually vanish. Gurren Lagann’s underlying message lies in the recognition that love cannot triumph over all obstacles. Fate follows its own course, impervious to human intervention. Only through sacrifice can progress be achieved, and Simon pays an incredibly high price. Observing him age into solitude, nearing middle age, is a poignant development that aligns with Nakashima’s intended narrative. While Simon and Yoko may not have been in love, they share a deeper connection than any other surviving humans. Perhaps part of me hoped this bond would be enough to unite them and alleviate their burdensome regrets.
The Digger’s Last Chapter
And so, Simon remains a digger until the very end, recognizing that others are better suited to follow the paths he has cleared. With his duties fulfilled, he passes on his drill to Gimmy and fades into the background, watching his children forge their own paths from a distance. This tale was retold in movie format, which offers an even more epic interpretation of these events. However, Gainax’s decision to conclude the story as it is showcases their commitment to Nakashima’s vision. Though painful initially, any other ending may have felt like a betrayal.
A Bittersweet Reflection
Revisiting Gurren Lagann after all these years evokes a bittersweet experience. It serves as a reminder of Gainax’s greatness, acting as their final flourish before the studio’s decline. It also forces us to acknowledge how Trigger, Imaishi, and Nakashima have fallen short in comparison to the quality set by Gurren Lagann. Unfortunately, time prohibits us from unknowing what we now know, and the magic of experiencing beloved anime for the first time can only be preserved once. Nevertheless, it remains a joy to relive this series and reminisce about a bygone era when anime’s creative brilliance was at its peak.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann’s conclusion, despite initial mixed emotions, showcases the mastery of Nakashima Kazuki’s storytelling and the unparalleled animation prowess of Gainax. The series leaves a lasting impression with its philosophical depth, poetic narrative, and the profound personal journey of its protagonist, Simon. It serves as a testament to the creative glory of a bygone era in anime. Gurren Lagann reminds us that even endings that may not fully satisfy can still resonate, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts and minds.
1. Why is the ending of Gurren Lagann considered a “Gainax Ending”?
The term “Gainax Ending” refers to nonsensical and unsatisfying conclusions often found in works produced by Gainax, a renowned animation studio. Gurren Lagann, despite its overall excellence, exemplifies this trope.
2. Does the ending of Gurren Lagann deliver a clear message?
Yes, Gurren Lagann conveys a powerful message about the unstoppable nature of life’s progression. It emphasizes the importance of sacrifice and the relentless pursuit of advancement, even in the face of uncertainties.
3. How does Gurren Lagann compare to Gainax’s other works?
Gurren Lagann stands as one of Gainax’s most remarkable productions, showcasing its exceptional storytelling and animation prowess. While Gainax has faced criticism for other works’ endings, Gurren Lagann remains a shining example of their creative brilliance.
4. What makes Simon a memorable protagonist in Gurren Lagann?
Simon’s character arc, spanning from humble beginnings to immense growth, captivates audiences through its subtlety and depth. His journey is filled with sacrifice and inner turmoil, making him one of anime’s most compelling protagonists.
5. Why does revisiting Gurren Lagann evoke bittersweet emotions?
Revisiting Gurren Lagann serves as a poignant reminder of Gainax’s former glory, as it marked one of their last standout productions. It also highlights the decline seen in subsequent works from Imaishi, Nakashima, and Trigger, making it a bittersweet experience for fans of the studio.