Wednesday 3 February 2010

Movie REVIEW: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann the Movie: Lagann-Hen

FINALLY released on DVD in Japan, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann the Movie: Lagann-Hen is the direct follow on from the previous movie Guren-Hen and covers episodes 15 to 27 of the Gurren Lagann series, thus concluding the story arc. It chronicles the Dai Gurren Dan's defeat of the Spiral King Lordgenome and his ominous warning, then moves onto the 7 year timeskip when the team must reunite and travel the depths of space to battle the Anti-Spirals and rescue Nia, who became the enemy's messenger of destruction.

While Guren-Hen followed the plot of the first half of the series fairly faithfully (until Kamina's death that is), Lagann-Hen, while following the same basic premise, contains far more divergences, meaning that it is almost entirely made up of new footage and has a far more unique feel than its predecessor. Most of these (ie the ones that I can remember/stood out the most) new movie version changes are listed below.

* The movie opens with the concluding fistfight between Lagann and Lordgenome, with the Lazengann battle being shown quickly through a black and white flashback sequence. This scene takes up all of 5 minutes, which is a pity because it is such a prominent moment in the tv series. This is one of my few faults with Lagann-Hen. Oh, and Lordgenome's prophecy is slightly different, its now when the monkeys reach the moon that the Anti-Spirals will appear, rather than when 1000000 inhabit the surface.
* Following this, we are treated to a great montage of the building of Kamina city, and Simon singlehandedly building its monumental statue.
* Nia opens the main movie writing a letter to Kamina, bringing the audience up to the speed with events. The proposal scene has also been slightly altered, with a touching conversation between Simon and Nia in a ganmen memorial park. Nia also becomes the anti spiral messenger in front of Simon.
* The prison is now underground rather than on an island, and there are some great exchanges between Simon and Viral. Viral even gets into a fistfight with anti spiral Nia.
* The moon now becomes the Cathedral Lazengann to destroy the Earth, with Lordgenome (humourously) hacking into its systems to locate how the huge mecha can be reclaimed. This results in Arc Gurren Lagann feeling far more prominent than it did in the series.
* Rossiu's struggle is far more condensed, and it is now Kinon that snaps him out of his sucidal tendencies rather than Simon.
* Kittan is brought more centre stage, and his relationship with Yoko feels more fleshed out. This is especially shown in a great scene with the Gurren-dan drinking in preparation for their final battle. In the movie he is the only member to die in battle, making his sacrifice all the more important. It is also concluded with his sisters mourning his loss on the team's return to Earth.
* The final battle lasts around 30 minutes, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is no longer the star of the show. This time, we are treated to all the member's ganmen going "Tengen Toppa" (say hello to TT Lagann, TT Enkidulga, TT Yoko W Tank, TT Dai-Gurren and a whole lot more) and Nia FINALLY being given her own mecha (the TT Solvernia). The climax cultivates in the formation of the Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a collossal giant who's more a Kamina-esque being of pure energy rather than a mech.
* This leads into an epic fist fight between Simon and the Anti-Spiral with Simon TURNING HIS OWN BLOOD into a drill. Yes, Gainax took the epic finale of the TV series and blatently jacked it up to 11.
* The after credits "20 years later" scene has been changed to see Simon carrying out Nia's wish for the world. AWWWW....

The pacing is a bit rushed admittedly, but anyone who's looking for a more in depth version of events would be better off watching the TV series. What I went in expecting was to see the action scenes jacked up to monumental proportions, and I was far from disappointed. Nia, my favourite anime character period, is by far the standout character of the movie, Yukari Fukui's voicework is astounding, especially as Anti-Spiral Nia. The movie is far more about the relationship between Simon and Nia, and its tragic end really tugs at your heartstrings.

I really hope this isn't the end of Gurren Lagann (well, Parallel Works 2 is still coming, but I meant main storywise) but if it is, its gone out with one HELL of a bang.


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