Many years ago (it seems) I used to stay up late and watch random anime on Adult Swim. Often, I would only catch bits and pieces of random episodes in a series which would sometimes spoil the anime if I ever went to watch it again. One such anime was “Gurren Lagann.” The first episode I ever saw was the last episode of the series and, even completely out of context, it was awesome!
Over the years I have seen more and more of the series and just recently, I finally saw the beginning. And I’m going to tell you something; do not watch anime in this fashion. In most of the shorter anime series, every episode is given at least one important piece of plot information whether it is the introduction of a new character, the explanation of past question or the discovery of something that will take the story in a new direction. Why? Well because the series is short. Many anime never make it past 12 episodes (like “Another” from a few weeks ago or “FLCL” and “Blue Submarine No. 6” which have even fewer episodes) so all the story needs to be crammed into those few episodes. Now if an anime does well and is able to continue, it usually has more wiggle room for less or all together non-important filler episodes.
“Gurren Lagann” has 26 episodes, so it is slightly longer than the examples I gave earlier, but it still is not anywhere near the “Bleach,” “Naruto” and “One Piece” crowds, which extended into the triple digits long ago.
“Gurren Lagann” takes place in a seemingly post apocalyptic Earth where humans live underground in isolated villages. One day a young boy named Simon finds a small mecha (called a Gunmen) and uses it to fight off a large Gunmen (with the help of his blood brother Kamina and mysterious girl from the surface named Yoko) that attacks his village. Upon victory over the enemy Gunmen, Simon and Kamina join Yoko on the surface where they discover that Gunmen piloted by humanoid beings known as Beastmen attack human settlements on a regular basis. Kamina hijacks a Gunmen and decides that the best course of action is to find out where the enemy Gunmen and Beastmen are coming from and stop them. And so, as predictable as it is, Kamina, Simon and Yoko take their two Gunmen (which they have named Gurren and Lagann) and set off on their noble quest!
Now you may be saying “Christian, you seem to have a pretty good grasp of this anime, why the lesson in watching a series in such strict order?” And you are right; I do seem to have a decent understanding of the first few episodes, of course that is because I saw them recently in order. From where I left off on to the final episode I’ve seen probably 10 other episodes out of order throughout the series including the finale, and let me tell you, it is like watching “FLCL” backwards. I’m not saying that “Gurren Lagann” is a bad anime, I have not seen enough of it in order to make that judgment; what I am saying is that like many other anime it is difficult to get a firm grasp of what is going on without having seen all of it in order first.
“Christian, why exactly are you so adamant on explaining this really simple concept to us readers? I mean, we can pretty much figure that out on our own, it isn’t an alien notion to have to watch a series of events in order, why the strong conviction?” Well my humble reader, remember how I told you I saw the last episode of “Gurren Lagann” first? Well that episode consists of *SPOILER ALERT* two galaxy-sized (not exaggerating, they even throw galaxies at each other) Gunmen fighting it out for the ultimate fate of humanity, and I have not the slightest idea how that particular event is arrived at.
“Oh, well that seems reasonable but I have one more question, it is the week of Halloween, why are not you reviewing a horror anime?” Ummm, well, yeah.