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GURREN LAGANN – SET03 LIMITED EDITION (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 5, 2009 by  



“The final DVD box set of the popular ‘GURREN LAGANN’ series features episodes 19-27.  Cool, stylish and vibrant animation with non-stop mecha action and a satisfying ending!  The Limited Edition is also packed with a 2-disc soundtrack and the first volume of the manga series!  If you are a big ‘GURREN LAGANN’ fan, this magnificent limited edition set is absolutely recommended!”

Images courtesy of (C) GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA/Aniplex, KDE-J, TV TOKYO, DENTSU

DVD TITLE: GURREN LAGANN – SET03 LIMITED EDITION

DURATION: Volume 5 (5-Episodes/125 minutes), Volume 6 (4 Episodes/100 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: English 5.1, Japanese 2.0, Full English subtitles, songs & signs, 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

RATED: Suggested 13 & 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)

Seven years have passed since the final battle against Lordgenome and the Beastmen.  Mankind is now thriving on the surface of the planet.  Lorgenome’s fallen capital has now become humanity’s new capital, Kamina City, and lead by Simon and the other members of Team Dai-Gurren.  The suffering of the people forced to live underground seems like a distant memory, instead of struggling to survive day after day, Simon now finds himself dealing with civic duties of keeping the residents of the metropolis happy.  However, true to Lordgenome’s final words, when the population of humans on the planet reaches 1,000,000 people, an even greater threat falls upon mankind.  Now, up against an unknown enemy and obstacles in every direction he turns, Simon must fight against destiny to save the woman he loves and all of mankind once again in the process!

BREAK THROUGH THE KARMIC CIRCLE OF NEVER-ENDING BATTLE WITH YOUR DRILL, GURREN LAGANN!

Fantastic!

It’s the single word that describes how I have felt about nearly episode of “GURREN LAGANN and here we are now with the final set which contains volumes 05 (Episodes 19-23) and volumes 06 (Episodes 24-27).  The Limited Edition version of Set 03 also comes with the first manga volume and the “GURREN LAGANN BEST SOUND” soundtrack.

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 a fantastic series that unique, fun, explosive, sexy and enjoyable.

Volume 4 showed us how the final battle with Lord Genome has led humanity to an era of piece and Simon became the new leader of Kamina City while Rossiu Addai became second-in-command.  The other members of Team Dai Gurren have become officers or employees of Kamina City while Yoko Littner became a school teacher.

But the seven year peace in the planet did not last as the anti-spirals wreaked havoc on the city but to make things worse, Simon along with his powerful mecha Gurren Lagann was able to defeat an anti-spiral nemesis but by doing so, when the enemy exploded, pieces of it started to shower over the city, almost like bombs and destroying cities and killing citizens.  Meanwhile, Simon’s fiance Nia is revealed to be a messenger for the anti-spiral and warns the planet that they will crash a moon and destroy mankind.

Volume 5:

Vol. 5 consists of the following five episodes:

  • Episode 19 – We Will Survive, By Any Means Necessary The public is very upset against the government because of the destruction and deaths from the Gurren Lagann attack against the Anti-Spiral and Second-in-Command Rossiu knows the only way they will appease the public is with the arrest and the execution of Simon.  But with another attack on the city by an Anti-Spiral, Rossiu has to release Simon temporarily from custody to fight the enemy.
  • Episode 20 – How Far Will God Test Us? –  Simon is put into the same prison with his cell next to Viral.  Meanwhile Kittan who is incensed that his sister is siding with Rossiu in the execution and imprisonment of Simon.
  • Episode 21 – You Are Someone Who Ought To Survive – The story shifts to Yoko as a school teacher who is stern but caring for the kids.  When she finds out what is happening with Simon, she decides that she must return back to Kamina City immediately.
  • Episode 22 – This is My Final Duty  – Rossiu must make the most difficult choice by trying to rescue as many people he can in a secret spaceship and escape the planet but knowing that many will have to perish from the moon crashing down on the planet.  But on planet, Simon and Viral team up with Gurren Lagann and Arc Gurren as both join forces to form Arc-Gurren-Lagann and stop the Human Extermination System that the Anti-Spirals have implemented.
  • Episode 23 – Let’s Go, This is the Final Battle – Team Dai Gurren prepares for the war against the anti-spirals.  Meanwhile, Rossiu who is amazed with how Simon is able to save everyone decides that his life is not worth living.  Can Simon get to Rossiu in time?

Volume 6

Volume 6 contains the final four episodes of the series.  Included are:

  • Episode 24 – I Will Never Forget This Minute, This Second – With the help of Lordgenome, while Rossiu takes command on the planet, Simon and Viral lead several members from Team Dai Gurren to transport right into the Anti-Spirals home world.  Simon had made a promise that he would save Nia and is determined to do so.  Meanwhile, the Team suffers a loss of a few team members.
  • Episode 25 – I Accept Your Last Wish – Team Dai-Gurren is caught in the ocean of despair set by the Anti-Spirals.  Meanwhile, another major team member of Team Dai Gurren sacrifices his life to save his friends.
  • Episode 26 – Let’s Go Buddy – Simon,Viral and Team Dai Gurren combine into Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann in order rescue Nia.  Meanwhile, the Anti-Spiral uses their own memories against them.  But a familiar face from the past is there to help Simon, Kyoko and Team Dai Gurren.
  • Episode 27 – The Lights In the Sky Are Stars – One of the Team Dai Gurren members decides to take a stand against the Anti-Spiral and sacrifices themself in order for Simon to gain the enemies drill.  Simon, Nia, Viral and Team Dai Gurren put everything they have on the line to become the galaxy sized Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann in the final battle against the enemy.

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.

The main difference with these final eight episodes compared to the past series is the use of CG and various effects to showcase the war against the anti-spirals.  Definitely vibrant in the various colors shown in the animation, the animators also take their time in utilizing stylish segments and making sure the final four episodes look chaotic, frantic but at the same time, colorful.

As for the audio, the Digital 5.1 effects utilized in the English dub is actually very well done.  I liked the effective use of splitting the audio of action scenes through the various speaker channels and overall, the audio track for the 5.1 English dub is well done.

The Japanese audio is featured only in 2.0 Stereo but the dialogue and action scenes also come clear through the front channels, the main difference is that the war seems to come alive on the English dub.  I have a 7.2 home theater setup, so it was great to hear the front channels utilized but also hearing the variety of sounds coming through my other two channels situated in the sides of my room.

So, overall, I was pleased that both audio tracks are included and although my preference is towards the original Japanese audio, I felt the casting of voice talent for the English dub was well selected and overall the voice acting on both the Japanese and English were well-done.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Volume 05:

Volume 05 comes with the following special features:

  • Sangizen 3D Test Footage
  • Textless Opening and Ending Theme #3
  • Bandai Previews

The Sangizen 3D Test Footage is a 15-minute featurette with various preliminary 3D features of the Anti-Spirals destroying city structures, to the combination of the mecha and various fight scenes.  Many were creatd but only selected footage were used in the final cut.

Volume 06:

Volume 06 comes with the following special features:

  • Shokotan Interview
  • Textless Opening and Ending Theme #3
  • Bandai Previews

The interview (Duration: 7:36) with Shoko Nakagawa (aka “Shokotan”) who sings the main theme song was done in the US after her appearance at Anime Expo in Los Angeles in 2008.  Shoko talks about being an otaku and also said that she wanted to become a mangaka while growing up.  Also, her happiness to perform in the US and to meet the fans and much more.

Gurren Lagann Manga Volume 001

The first manga volume (in English) of “Gurren Lagann” is included with the SET03 LIMITED EDITION.  The manga features both Simon and Kamina living underground up to the first battle between Kamina and Viral in their Laganns.  The anime adaption from the manga is pretty much spot on.  And the character designs were just pleasant to look at.  Overall, a magnificent job by Kotaro Mori and of course, GAINAX.   Also, another wonderful translation by Shoko Oono.

GURREN LAGANN BEST SOUND

“A wonderful collection of all vocal tracks and music from the popular hit anime series ‘GURREN LAGANN’.  2-Discs and a good range of music from pop, rock, hip hop and instrumental.  A wonderful soundtrack included with the ‘GURREN LAGANN – SET03 LIMITED EDITION’.”

ARTIST:  Various Artists

ALBUM:  GURREN LAGANN – SET03 LIMITED EDITION

LABEL: Bandai Entertainment

DURATION: Disc 1 [13:20] / Disc 2 [1:12:44]

Disc 1:  Theme Song Disc

  1. sorairo days (Sky Blue Days) by Shoko Nakagawa
  2. UNDERGROUND by HIGH VOLTAGE
  3. Minna No Peace by Afuromania
  4. happily ever after by Shoko Nakagawa

Disc 2: Soundtrack

  1. Rap is a Man’s Soul – Heads up and Listen in the Team Dai Gurren Theme
  2. Will a Mole Just Remain a Mole?
  3. Boobies VS Boobies
  4. Elegy for Kamina’s Father, Why Become a Skeleton
  5. The Wolf is Coming!
  6. Balbaf! Do You Love to See It…Burn?
  7. Nikopol
  8. The Moon, The Stars and I
  9. The Team-Dai Gurren Marches on in the Scorching Wastleand
  10. Rap is a Man’s Soul! Heads up and Listen to the Man Who Seeks the HEavens, Kamina’s Theme!
  11. What in the World is “Moe”?
  12. May Yo All burn!
  13. To Hell with Combining (Combining Insertion 1, C Minor Allegro K2564)
  14. Sun, Spin, Spin and Spin…
  15. Love Conservative
  16. Rap was a Man’s Soul…Right?
  17. The Blue Monday e”r”ectrical parade
  18. How Do Yo Like My Trumpet!!!
  19. “Libera me” from Hell
  20. With your XXX…
  21. Dril the Heavens with Your XXX!!!

I was very pleased to find the two disc soundtrack “GURREN LAGANN BEST SOUND” included with the Set03 Limited Edition Box Set.    For one, I have reviewed so many Japanese movie soundtracks and anime soundtracks to know that if you want a soundtrack with both vocal and instrumental tracks, you end up having to buy multiple soundtracks and CD singles.  So, it does get expensive.

But for this soundtrack, you get all the vocal tracks and the instrumentals.

On the first disc “Theme Song Disc”, you get the main theme “sorairo days”, a catchy pop song by Shoko “Shokotan” Nakagawa and was the main theme song used for the whole entire series.  You also get the ending themes “UNDERGROUND” by HIGH VOLTAGE and “Minna no Peace” by Afuromania and also the insert song used in the series titled “happily ever after” by Shoko Nakagawa.

The second disc features the soundtrack with music composed and produced by Taku Iwasaki.  A well-known composer in the anime world who did the composition for hit anime series such as “Irresponsible Captain Tailor” OAV series, “Now and Then, Here and There”, “Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen”, “R.O.D. – Read or Die-” and many more anime series.

The soundtrack utilizes plenty of orchestra instrumental but you also get a touch jazz with track like “Boobies VS Boobies”, romantic saxophone jazz with “elegy for Kamina’s Father, Who Became a Skeleton”, rock n’ roll with “Nikopol” and hip hop with “Rap is a Man’s Soul! Heads Up and Listen to the Man Who Seeks the Heavens, Kamina’s Theme!” (which many people have heard the lyrics, “Bro! Bro! Fight the Power” throughout the series) and “Libera me” from Hell which combines cool rhymes with opera, electrosynth with tracks such as “Spin, Spin, Spin and Spin…” and electronic gabber-like style music such as “The Blue monday e”r”ectrical parade” and more.

CD insert contains romanized lyrics to the tracks and production credits.

Overall, this is a pretty well-done soundtrack that features a wide variety of music. If sold on its own, I would highly recommend it but since it’s a soundtrack that comes with a DVD box set, that’s just the cherry on your favorite cake.  If you are a fan of the series, this is another incentive of why to get the “GURREN LAGANN – SET03 LIMITED EDITION”.

I can’t help but think how awesome this series was to watch!  From the stylish presentation, the wacky humor, the adult-like humor and pervertedness 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!

Just how the pacing of the anime series goes from people wanting to get out of the underground and seeking freedom, to the characters fighting to survive and eventually growing up but having to face their own insecurities and also consequence and then furthering their adventures as we see the characters start off young and right to end where they are older adults.

And of course, this anime series is action-packed but most of all well-acted (both in Japanese and English), awesome animation, great character development and well-written storyline.  Suffice to say, these last two volumes are absolutely fantastic and the way the series concludes gives wonderful closure to the viewer.

And with Bandai Entertainment giving us a Limited Edition Box Set for “SET03” is just wonderful.  It’s great to have the first volume of the manga series but to get an awesome 2-disc original soundtrack, you are definitely getting your money’s worth!

“Gurren Lagann” can be described in one word and that is “Fantastic!” but to experience the complete series from beginning to the end and to have a magnificent release with the “GURREN LAGANN – SET03 LIMITED EDITION”, this DVD box set release definitely gets an A+!

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