Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
October 21, 2010 by Dennis Amith
“Gurren Lagann” is an awesome TV series, “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” is an abridged version of the final 11-episodes of the series and condensing the second half of the series into one 126-minute film. If you are a hardcore fan, then you definitely want to purchase this release for its limited edition content. Otherwise, if you have never seen the TV series before, I do recommend watching the entire anime TV series on DVD first. But overall, if you are a fan, these limited edition releases are pretty awesome!
Image courtesy of © GAINAX, KAZUKI NAKASHIMA/GURREN LAGANN-MOVIE COMMITTEE. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- Limited Edition
FILM RELEASE: 2009
DURATION: 126 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, English subtitles
RATED: 13 and Up
RELEASED: August 6, 2010
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 as Kamina
Tetsuya Kakihara as Simon
Marina Inoue as Yoko Littner
Yukari Fukui as Nia
Daiki Nakamura as Dayakka
Kana Asumi as Kiyal
Kana Ueda as Kinon
Kisho Taniyama as Kittan
Masaya Onosaka as Leeron
Mitsuki Saiga as Rossiu
Nobuyuki Hiyama as Viral
Rina Satou as Kiyoh
Shizuka Itou as Boota and Darry
“When the heavens are pierced open, the young man sees a path to the future…”
Valiantly persevering through the traumatic aftermath of previous events, Team Dai-Gurren finally reaches Teppelin, the royal capital, where Simon battles the Spiral King, Lordgenome. Seven years pass after the battle of Teppelin, and humans reclaim the surface of the earth and enjoy an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. However, humanity’s increasing population growth triggers the sudden emergence of an unknown, powerful enemy.
This limited edition includes a bonus disc of “Gurren Lagann Parallel Works” music videos Part 2 (4 videos), a 32-page booklet, a replica of the deluxe Movie Program Book sold in Japanese theaters, and a postcard.
When it comes to the animated TV series “Gurren Lagann”, I have felt that it was one of the most original and unique look anime series ever created. Awesome animation, cool characters and an awesome action-driven storyline that just pulls you in from beginning to end.
In 2008, GAINAX immediately went to work on two animated films that would capture both storyline arcs of the TV series in “Gurren Lagann The Movie ~Childhood’s End” and “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky are Stars”, two films that are being distributed in the US through Aniplex.
“Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End-” is a compilation of series of events that took place in the first 16 episodes of the popular 2007 animated TV series “Gurren Lagann”, while “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” features the final eleven episodes from the TV series.
Having reviewed the first film here, as for “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-“, of course, it would be impossible to fit 330 minutes into a 126 minute movie, so GAINAX features bits and pieces from those final 11 episodes and included new animated scenes as well to make a thorough film. And for the most part, it does work.
For those not familiar with “Gurren Lagann”, for the first half of the “Gurren Lagann” storyline, it centered around two characters Simon and Kamina. Both live 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, the life of a young driller named Simon discovers a small mini drill underground. Simon is a shy young guy. Not too confident in himself and hates how his parents were killed during an earthquake. So, he works hard in order for everyone to live but also to collect whichever treasure he can find. While continuing his digging, he discovers a small drill and not long after, he discovers a huge robotic face.
As for Kamina, he’s the cool leader of a gang. He once saw the atmosphere with his father a long time ago and dreams of making it up to the surface but no one underground believes him. He comes up with a plan to get to the surface with the help of Simon’s drill. The plan backfires and Kamina is put into a jail. Meanwhile, a big monster robot-like figure comes out of the sky and lands in the group’s village underground. A girl sporting a bikini top and tight short shorts with a large rifle starts fighting with the monster robot. Her name is Yoko and all of a sudden both Kamina and Simon try to assist her.
As the monster grows vicious, Simon introduces Kamina and Yoko to what he found underground. It happens to be a small robot that Simon takes control of and eventually the three fight the robotic monster and end up defeating it. Also, end up making it above the surface where they discover sunlight, blue skies, mountains and more…monster robots. It is learned that these things are called “Gunmen” and are piloted by Beastmen who have a hatred towards humans. The three must survive and outwit and defeat the Gunmen and with Kamina’s leadership and willing to take anything head on with his machismo ego, he calls Simon’s robot Lagann. Kamina eventually commandeers a Gunmen robot and calls it Gurren. As a duo, the group find a way to combine their own two mechs and thus Kamina and Simon form Gurren Lagann, which is also the name of the team that will fight for humanity against the Spiral King and their minions.
Throughout the film, we see how both Kamina, Simon along with Yoko leave the underground city and take on various gunmen and together with savvy, intelligent and flamboyant mechanic Leeron, along with other humans they meet along the way, one by one, Team Gurren Lagann take on the Spiral King’s Four Divine Generals: Viral, Adiane, Guame and Cytomander. And along the way, they meet with a mysterious girl named Nia and leading up to the final battle against the Spiral King.
The second half which is featured in “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” starts off with 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.
The citizens now want punishment against Simon and the only way to appease the crowd is by condemning Simon and putting him to death. Meanwhile, Rossiu seems to have more on his plate than having to worry about Simon and that is how he will be able to defend the planet from disaster. Can Rossiu even defeat the anti-spiral without Simon?
“Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- Limited Edition” is presented 16:9. The character designs by Atsushi Nishigori are fresh and very different compared to other anime series and films. I truly dig the character designs and the whole anime is quite colorful and looks stylish and pretty cool. The artist backgrounds to the animation, explosions, character designs, mecha designs and the planning that went in to this series was quite amazing and it looks great in the film. You will noticed even more detailed artistic backgrounds and animation with the additional new footage added to the film.
I really dig the age progression as well by the artists and featuring those who were once younger like Simon, becoming a young adult and eventually seeing how everyone else have changed slightly in appearance since the first half.
Similar to the first film, “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-” is vibrant, colorful and awesome looking! Of course, with that being said, it would definitely be a plus if this film was released on Blu-ray, but since it’s on DVD, you will see edge enhancement at times.
But for the most part, “Gurren Lagann” was one of the rare anime series that was unique in presentation and Gainax definitely put a lot of time and effort into the creation of this TV series and along with the new footage, “Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars” looks great on DVD and there is no doubt it would look even more spectacular on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for audio, “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- Limited Edition” is presented in Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1.
Audio is well done as we can hear the dialogue and special effects and music quite clearly through the center and front channels but also hear the various sound effects coming from the surround channels as well. Overall, a pretty awesome mix and hopefully this title is considered for Blu-ray, as I’m sure it would sound fantastic via lossless. While the English dub is featured in the TV series released by Bandai Entertainment, there is no English dub featured on both films from Aniplex.
Subtitles are in English.
The limited edition of “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- Limited Edition” includes:
- Theatrical Trailer – (1:35) The original Japanese theatrical trailer for “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars-“.
- Staff & Cast Credits – Standard text-based credits.
- Aniplex Trailers – Trailers for “Darker than Black – Gemini of Meteor”, “Durarra!!”.
- Gurren Lagann Parallel Works Part 2 – 1: RAP IS A MAN’S SOUL! DIG THE WAX OUTTA YOUR EARS AND LISTEN CLOSE – A music video directed by Shin Itagaki featuring an artistic representation of “Gurren Lagann” using simple animation along with stock cloud footage. A humorous/super-deformed presentation. (note: This video has nudity)
- Gurren Lagann Parallel Works Part 2- 2: TO HELL WITH COMBINING (Combining Insertion Song 1. C Minor Allegro K2564) – Directed by Akira Amemiya. A more hard rock video with cool animation. This story features women and female being taken away from their city and a hero comeso ut of nowhere to fight against the beasts who have raised terror in the area and this hero takes on these beast men.
- Gurren Lagann Parallel Works Part 2 – 3: “LIBERA ME” FROM HELL – Directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga. Featuring a music video that is shot in the desert (non-animation) using digital shots in the desert and effects to hip hop and opera.
- Gurren Lagann Parallel Works Part 2 – 4: MAY YOU ALL BURN! – A pretty artistic music video by You Yoshinari utilizing a fresh character design and uses a lot of sketch drawings that were then animated. This section features an alternate reality of the world that is destroyed and a war is about to take place against the Spiral and the humans. Really cool animation!
“Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- Limited Edition” comes with a slipcase and also comes with a special Japanese collectible postcard featuring a painted photo of two mecha’s battling it out. Also, included is a 32-page booklet, a replica of the deluxe program book that were sold at theaters in Japan (note: booklet is in Japanese only).
I can’t help but think how awesome the original series was to watch and then to watch it again in the film. If anything the writers did a great job in editing the second half and in some ways, you don’t feel you are missing much (although I do recommend watching the original series if possible).
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.
“Gurren Lagann” is one of the animated TV series that you have to watch in completion, all 27-episodes, to realize how unique and how awesome the series truly is. With the release of “Gurren Lagann the Movie – Childhood’s End-“, you’re essentially getting parts of the first 16-episodes including 20 minutes of new animation into one film. An abridged storyline.
This is quite common in Japan to see a popular TV series and OVA series created into an animated film and the fans look at it as an extra and additional extension to the TV series, others look at it as a less time consuming way to learn about the story of a popular series in two hours versus watching 8 hours of a series.
When it comes to films like this, I’m not a big fan of them because you are losing out important details of the storyline. This first “Gurren Lagann” film is only 112 minutes and the first 16-episodes is 320 minutes of content while the second film features the final eleven episodes and trying to condense around 230 minutes or so of footage into 126 minutes. Naturally, you are missing out on other plots, especially character development driven storylines but the creators did do a good job in focusing on the essentials for the film. Personally, I recommend watching the entire TV series because this is one series that is too good to just watch the film and not knowing the true storyline of how things developed in the series.
But by no means are the films bad. They are well-done, well-edited and for the most part, a lot of thought went into how to present the complete series into two films. And while this is common in Japan for popular series, at least GAINAX went through the effort of adding new animation to the two films.
What I do like about these films and these two releases are how they are geared to the hardcore fans of the TV series. As mentioned, you get additional/new footage in the film but also with the “Gurren Lagann the Movie -Childhood’s End- Limited Edition”, you get additional bells and whistles with the inclusion of the Japanese theatrical book, collectible postcard and also the parallel works featuring the characters of “Gurren Lagann” in an alternate world shown via music video. (note: It is important to mention that there is nudity in one of the music videos for the Parallel Works)
So, I approach this release in two different ways. As a fan of the series, I recommend watching and owning the original series because that is how this series was meant to be seen. I will say that on its own, it’s still a pretty good film but because they skip over many scenes, it’s quite noticeable to the fan of the series. Otherwise, if you have never seen the series, I’m sure this film would definitely be entertaining but at the same time, hopefully it inspires the viewer to go out and watch the complete series.
The other way I look at this film release as a fan who supports the film because of the additional animated footage and also you’re getting limited edition Japanese merchandise and the fact is that these limited edition releases didn’t receive a large print run. So, they are quite collectible for the “Gurren Lagann” fan.
Overall, “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars” is a film worth watching but only after you have watched the series or if you are the type that will probably not watch the entire series (it’s important to note that if you are new to the series, the three box sets for the “Gurren Lagann” TV series are loaded with special features and a limited edition of the final set which includes a CD soundtrack and the manga). But as far as this limited edition is concerned, you get a pretty cool postcard and the reproduction of the exact Japanese booklet that were sold in Japanese theaters.
So, If you are a hardcore fan of the series, you’ll definitely want to get the limited edition version of “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars” for its limited edition items. The booklet alone is definitely worth it!
So, “Gurren Lagann the Movie -The Lights in the Sky Are Stars- Limited Edition” is definitely recommended for the “Gurren Lagann” fan and for those who just don’t have the time to watch the complete “Gurren Lagann” anime TV series.
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