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Watch & Learn: Gurren Lagann #8

Kamina? No! I was just starting to like you.

  You want me, Kamina? Well, we want you back!
 You want me, Kamina? Well, we want you back!

Newten, Cowdrunk, Samjaz, Daotherkenji, Wraith, Catolf, Mediaright… you all weren’t kidding about this episode packing a wallop. Phew… after a couple of the major deaths in DEATH NOTE were spoiled for me through a combination of talkback comments and DVD cover subtitles, it was… novel (that’s the best word) to experience a surprise like this without any idea it was coming.   If you’ve been following the show with this column and you want to have the same experience I had, then stop reading right here and go watch the episode, because I’m not going to hold off on any spoilers in my discussion, here.

...done? Good. You were probably as surprised as I was.

Like I’ve said, I’ve been watching this show without any expectations, so I’m experiencing it how Gainax more or less wanted people to experience it. It’s always kind of surreal when things I wonder about in this column get answered by the show. Last time, it was in respect to that bizarre episode (number 5?) that ended up being by a guest director who did such a bad job, it actually got somebody fired. This time, the concerns I raised last episode about this show being a little too light and airheaded, as well as the questions I had about the Yoko/ Kamina/ Simon love triangle have been soundly answered, and in short order.

If this is a sign of what GURREN LAGANN is going to be for the rest of the series, then I’m definitely seeing what all the hype was about, now. This was the first episode where everything clicked. The action was more thrilling, the humor had more bite and the emotional/character/thematic stuff had a LOT more weight to it. As involving as Simon’s Shinji-esque angst and doubt about Yoko’s “rejecting” him was, the pep talks from Kamina were powerful. Like these weren’t trite platitudes - - they felt real. Even if a girl might come between them, even if Simon might just beginning to harbor some envy for Kamina… the knucklehead's still going to be his big bro.

And now he’s dead?!?! WHAT??!?! No, c’mon… he can’t be… not this early… not when I’m just starting to like him this much.   
 
Watch this episode, "Later, Buddy" below for yourself and try to fight back the tears.

 

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here.

ShadowKnight508 moderator on Aug. 3, 2010 at 9:44 p.m.
Nicely written...I really need to get back into this series. I think I gave up after Episode 5's randomness (didn't know that it was a guest director that produced that one) and I will look back into this show after I finish adding all of the info for the Kampfer manga to the Vice.
frsty13on Aug. 3, 2010 at 9:46 p.m.
 I wouldn't say this is the tone for the rest of the series, but you'll definitely be feeling it's effects for a long time.  Then just when you think it's getting old, they start to balance the two out.  The overall feel of the story mirrors whatever the current state of Simon's personality and maturity is at that point in the story really well.    
Dan_CiTion Aug. 3, 2010 at 9:49 p.m.
Just don't watch it in English. The dub's fine, but the Japanese voices are just incredible. 
Preacher747on Aug. 3, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.
A lot of the series benefits from knowing the conventions of typical mech animes over the years.
OnlyWonderBoyon Aug. 3, 2010 at 10:18 p.m.
Well I'm glad you were able to avoid spoilers on this episode, I know after I watched it I had a feeling of, "That didn't just happen? Did it?". I think the show is a little more focused from this point on, but it's still kinda wild and crazy. The only thing I don't like is Simon's emo stage for the next couple episodes, but that's just a small thing I suppose.
sotyfan16on Aug. 3, 2010 at 11:04 p.m.

I was floored when such a significant character like Kamina was killed. I didn't know how the show could go on without all the badass talk. The fighting was really good and fun to watch as taking on a walking battleship Gunman is no walk in the park. The love triangle was an interesting touch but it came and went in a flash (and man I liked how Kamina manned up to kiss Yoko). But with Kamina gone we now get to focus on other characters' skills and interaction.

SamJazon Aug. 3, 2010 at 11:10 p.m.
Don't make the same mistake me and my friend did when we watched the series. Endure until episode eleven. Episodes nine and ten will tear at your soul, but endure. 
 
Episode eleven. You will cry manly tears of pride. 
 

I am crying at the mere memory.
Count_Zeroon Aug. 3, 2010 at 11:43 p.m.
Without going into spoilers, the next couple episodes felt like they dragged a little bit, when I first watched them. However, to be fair, this episode is definitely an emotional climax of sorts. It's not the big climax, but it's a mini-climax. Consequently, we get a mini-denouement afterwards to respond to the effects episode, before we return to your regularly scheduled rising action.
SamJazon Aug. 3, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
@Count_Zero:  You mean the two effects episodes before the epic returns. Nine and ten.
Killroycantkillon Aug. 4, 2010 at 12:18 a.m.
I've never watched this series. But I always have friends creaming over it so maybe I should.
Olivawon Aug. 4, 2010 at 12:54 a.m.
Just a heads up, you really need to watch this episode in the original Japanese when you get a chance. The guy who plays Kamina does the best yelling I've ever heard.
mediarighton Aug. 4, 2010 at 1:10 a.m.
As to whether the big guy is really gone or not, I won't say anything, as you'll start to realize what is what pretty quickly on your own. 
 
Tengen Tappa Gurren Lagann is really an epic in 4 acts. This is evidenced by the changing typeface on the title and ending cards. Subtle but telling. You can think of episode 8 as the end of Act I. 
  
The changing tones of this show are one of its biggest strengths. They're nearly all unexpected, and each is executed amazingly well. You never feel like something is outside of this show's core competency. And through it all...it's still the same show. The same rules apply. It never feels like you're watching two or more separate shows. It's quite a feat.
 
As to what's next for the gang...I'll just let you imagine the kind of implications this event is going to have, especially for our little Simon. It's easy to assume certain things if you've seen Eva, but I'll say that Simon is no Shinji. The reason why just made his grand exit.  
 
What follows is an arc that trudges just a bit, but any arc that feels like that in this show...oh you can just imagine what the payoff must be like.

There are definitely more surprises to come, so please watch your step around comments and the interwebs. I'd ask the commentors to help out on that front, but I know no good will come from that. Just remember that this is a 27 episode series and big stuff always happens at the half-way marks and endings. Everything else...you'll just have to play by ear. 
 
And please...I know you see no issue with the dub, but at some point, you really should find a subbed version, if only to hear Kamina in Japanese. Oh, he's amazing. Keep moving brother. It's quite a ride. 
 
And yes...I did cry.
SamJazon Aug. 4, 2010 at 1:35 a.m.
@mediaright: Yeah, actually. I've thought of it in four acts before, and this is definitely the first end. Dunno why I didn't bring it up before now.
Gaseroon Aug. 4, 2010 at 5:33 a.m.
I hate to sound insincere, but I was actually laughing on the inside when Kamina died. He was mortally injured during the battle, and it seemed like he was out. Then, suddenly he gained the strength to do a GIGA DRILL BREAKER!!! And after that he gathered even more strength to do a mortalogue (what I call a long speech before dying), and then he finally passed from his injuries. Its so often that that cliche is used, so it was funny to me.
 
Don't get me wrong though, it was a sentimental moment for me as well. I don't usually like hotheaded characters, but Kamina managed to work.
constanzadellarosaon Aug. 4, 2010 at 6:33 a.m.
This episode proves Kamina is pure awesomeness and the heart and soul of this series.
kashif1on Aug. 4, 2010 at 7:53 a.m.
@Dan_CiTi said:
" Just don't watch it in English. The dub's fine, but the Japanese voices are just incredible.  "
I have to dissagree, it's alot easier to feel the hotbloodedness of the characters when you can understand them.
cowdrunkon Aug. 4, 2010 at 9:27 a.m.

this wont be the last time you fight back tears in this show
frsty13on Aug. 4, 2010 at 9:32 a.m.
@Gasero: You know, you do have a point, but did you really expect any different from Kamina?  Cliche, maybe.  A guy who's fueled a revolution with sheer recklessness and bravado staving off death until he's done what he feels like he has to is kinda fitting though.
Dethfishon Aug. 4, 2010 at 8:39 p.m.
The first time I watched this episode I was shocked and sad at the same time. I never thought they'd let Kamina die, well at least not this early into the show. Up until this episode I just sort of figured he was the main character. 
Catolfon Aug. 5, 2010 at 7:37 p.m.
It was a wonderful heartbreaking episode, and I'm really glad no one spoiled it for you. I watched up until episode four on youtube and the rest on syfy and I can tell you I for one was HEARTBROKEN that he passed away. I cried, I admit it, it was an epic way to let him go...
 
He went out like a man. ^^
 
But now it's time for the team to pick up the pieces. I can promise you myself you'll get swept up in this rag tag groups plight and it just get's better and better.

Dig Deeper into Gurren Lagann

In a world driven underground by the Spiral King, young Simon discovers the giant mech Gurren Lagann alongside his older friend Kamina. Together, alongside a group of rag-tag mech pilots, Simon and Kamina fight to defend their planet and their universe.

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