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GURREN LAGANN SET 02 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

February 1, 2009 by  



“’A mecha anime series from the folks at GAINAX that is imaginative, sexy and explosive.   Volume 2 continues what I loved about the first volume and again, only one word to describe this series… Fantastic!”

DVD TITLE: GURREN LAGANN SET 02

DURATION: 225 minutes (9 episodes/ disc 1 – 5 episodes / disc 2 – 4 episodes)

DVD INFORMATION: Original Uncut Episodes, English 5.1, Japanese 2.0, 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Bilingual (Japanese and English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Created by GAINAX

Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi

Assistant Director: Masahiko Ohtsuka

Series Directors: Kazuki Nakashima

Character Designs: Atsushi Nishigori

Mecha Designs: You Yoshinari

Design Works: Shigeto Koyama

Art Director: Yuka Hirama (BIHOU)

Color Design: Harumi Takahoshi

Director of Photography: Toyonori Yamada

Editing: Junichi Uematsu

Sound Director: Tohru Nakano

Music: Taku Iwasaki

Produced by TV Tokyo, DENTSU, Aniplex

Featuring the following voice talent:

Katsuyuki Konishi/Kyle Herbert (as Kamina)

Marina Inoue/Michelle Ruff (as Yoko Littner)

Tetsuya Kakihara/Yuri Lowenthal (as Simon)

Yukari Fukui/Bridget Hoffman, Hynden Walch (as Nia)

Daiki Nakamura/Doug Stone (as Dayakka)

Kana Asumi (as Kiyal)

Kana Ueda/Stephanie Sheh (as Kinon)

Kisho Taniyama (as Kittan)

Masaya Onosaka/Steven Blum (as Leeron)

Mitsuki Saiga/Johnny Yong Bosch (as Rossiu)

Nobuyuki Hiyama/Sam Ergal (as Viral)

Rina Satou/Karen Strassman (as Kiyoh)

Shizuka Itou/Julie Ann Taylor (as Boota and Darry)

From GAINAX, the studio that brought you Neon Genes Evangelion and FLCL, comes a series that revives the spirit of the classic robot anime show for fans of all ages!

In their battle against the armies of Lordgenome, Team Dai-Gurren has suffered a crippling blow with the death of Kamina.  Simon must now pull himself together and emerge from the depths of depression in which he finds himself wallowing.  Will a chance meeting with a beautiful Nia, found inside a discarded crate, be the key to getting Simon back on his feet?  And who is the mysterious girl and what is her connection to Lordgenome?  Get ready for the final battle of the human race against the beastmen and prepare to glimpse into the future that team Dai-Gurren is creating for mankind.

Fantastic!

I said it with confidence when reviewing volume 01 and I’m saying it again for “GURREN LAGANN SET 02” released by Bandai Entertainment.

GAINAX brings us a mecha anime series and having created so many and with so many created for so many decades, you often wonder if innovative, imaginative storylines can still be developed. Well, with “GURREN LAGANN”, the creators of this anime series manages to create something unique, fun, explosive and just enjoyable.

With this first volume set, we get both vol. 3 (Episodes 10-14) and vol. 4 (Episodes 15-18) of “GURREN LAGANN”. The popular anime titled “Tengen Toppai Gurren Lagann” aired on TV Tokyo back in April 2007 and completed it’s 27-episodes by Sept. 2007.

Just to preface of what happened so far in volume 1. The first volume started of featuring two characters Simon and Kamina. Both lived underground with a bunch of orphans and due to earthquakes, they developed a system of people using manual drilling holes in order to move around. But one day, both Simon, Kamina and a girl from another village named Kyoko made it out together.

With episode after episode, the three would gain more people to ally with them and take on the Beast men.  These animal like beings who worked for Lord Genome and would try to kill the humans with these huge mecha robots known as Gunmen.

Kamina, Simon and others in the alliance known as Team Dai-Gurren have been successful in taking control of Gunmen and make their way towards the Beastman Empire in order to take on the Spiral King.  But the King orders  Thymilph, the first of the four divine Generals of the the Spiral King was the first to go onto battle and thus the battle ensued with Team Dai-Gurren winning but losing their leader Kamina in battle.

With the death of Kamina, Simon has regressed into a severe depression.  One day, he discovers a discarded box and inside is a girl namd Nia.  He brings Nia back to headquarters.  And Vol. 2 picks up after episode 9.

Vol. 3 consists of the following episodes:

  1. Episode 10 – Who Is This Bro? The group comes head to head against Adiane, the second of the Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  But retreats when she sees Nia.  It appears Nia is the daughter of the Spiral King.  Nia appears to be very naive about humans, their emotions, etc.  She doesn’t understand why Simon would be depressed over someone who’s dead.
  2. Episode 11 – Simon, Hands-off – The team meets Guame, the third of Spiral Kings Four Divine Generals.  He uses Beastmen disguised as women to fool the crew and ends up taking over their ship and putting the crew underground in prison.  Only Simon and his drilling can save the day and for Nia, she learns why she was discarded by her father.
  3. Episode 12 – Yoko, Will You Do Me a Favor? – Team Dai-Gurren’s fortress needs to be refitted to travel in the water.  So, the crew goes through a little R&R and becomes too friendly with Nia and favoring her over Kyoko.  Kyoko is not sure he can trust her and sure enough, the crew goes into battle against Adiane.
  4. Episode 13 – Eat Up, Everyone – Nia really wants to fit in, so she found a job for herself, to become a cook.  Meanwhile, Cytomander, the fourth of Spiral King’s Divine Four Generals makes his attack on the crew and with Rossiu sick, Kyoko must fill in and be Simon’s co-pilot for Gurren Lagann.
  5. Episode 14 -Well, Met Everyone – The crew arrives near the Beastman Empire but must take on the last two of Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals – Cytomander and Guame to the death.

For Volume 4, we get the following episodes:

  1. Episode 15 – I Will Head Towards Tomorrow – Team Dai-Gurren now has one final battle left and that’s against the Spiral King.  It’s all or nothing!
  2. Episode 16 – Compilation Episode – This episode serves as a bridge for between the first arc and the second arc of the series.  It’s literally a special episode condensing major scenes from the first 15 episodes to one episode.  Mainly focusing on Kamina, Simon, Kyoko and Nia.
  3. Episode 17 – You Don’t Know Anything – With Team Dai-Gurren successful against the Spiral King, the series flash forwards seven years later.  The planet has flourished with cities and vehicles, Simon, Rossiue and everyone else has grown up.  People own homes and have their own jobs.  Simon is in his early 20’s and is the Supreme Commander and is bored doing paper work.  Rossiu is the Chief who does all of the work but unlike Simon, holds an iron fist on how the city should be ran and for some members of Team Dai-Gurren are just head employees who answer phones.   They wonder what Lord Genome meant by his final words before he died of a new emanating threat and sure enough, that threat has materialized on the planet.  Meanwhile, something has happened to Nia.
  4. Episode 18 – Tell Me the Secrets of the World – A new evil has appeared on the planet and says that because Earth has reached 1,000,000 people and has used Spiral technology to further their growth, they will now be exterminated.  Simon goes to battle against one of the enemies and succeeds in defeating it but since the enemy is composed of energy, that energy becomes like bombs and when Simon defeated the enemy and it exploded, in essence many people have died, buildings and structures destroyed and people want blood…Simon’s blood.    Nia’s true purpose is revealed and Rossiu keeps a secret.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

Each episode is featured in 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool.

As for the audio, I’ve watched both episodes in Japanese 2.0 and English 5.1 and as much as I enjoyed the Japanese voice track, when I watch an action-packed mecha, Digital 5.1 soundtracks make a big difference for me in terms of enjoying a series and with that being said, I am very pleased with the English vocal dub. You have some quality voice talent with Michelle Ruff as Yoko (does the voice of Rukia for “Bleach”) and Yuri Lowenthal (does the voice for many video games and anime such as Sasuke Uchiha for “Naruto”).  Everyone does a fantastic job on both Japanese and English voice acting.

There is a lot of action, so you do get some good usage from your front channels and some surround usage. But the dialogue comes quite clear and overall, both video and audio were well done.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Unfortunately, unlike volume 1 and volume 2, there really aren’t any major special features for volume 3 and 4.  Both come with the textless opening and ending songs and Bandai previews.

I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch! From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor and the imaginative mecha Gunmen robots and attack modes, the battles and the fun characters and the music, there is just too much to like about “GURREN LAGANN”. I absolute found the series to be quite fantastic!

If there are any major difference from the last set, there is much less perverseness.  Granted, the series becomes a bit more dark and dramatic because of the death of Kamina, Simon’s worsening depression and the introduction of Nia.  But eventually, the series works itself out and volumes 3 and 4 literally becomes mecha porn because it’s all non-stop action.  I have no doubt that fans who enjoyed the first two volumes will definitely enjoy these next two.  The series has been nothing short of fantastic.

I have to admit that I was pretty impressed with how the first arc ended but the second arc, definitely surprised of how things have changed in the planet and with the characters.  Really good planning and screenwriting.  Volume 4 leaves with such an intense cliffhanger that I definitely look forward in seeing how this is going to play out.  I want more!  With only nine episodes left in the series, I can’t wait for the final two volumes in “GURREN LAGANN SET 03”.

“GURREN LAGANN SET 02” is highly recommended!

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