GGG/TTGL Rebuttal written article version/followup

Clawshrimpy here again.

some people had asked me to produce a transcript for my audio commentary a post ago, which I can understand folks not wanting to listen to all of it as it’s nearly an hour long, so I’ve decided to do a different take on it in text format. this will not be a straight transcript though, I’ll be changing stuff around. So treat this more as my first written article. Click and read on…

So over at a blog called TheRossman, there was a very negative review of GaoGaiGar (It’s the first review you will see) and as an avid fan of GaoGaiGar, I feel I must voice my opinion and defend it given the content of his “review” that I don’t agree with, especially given the references made to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann which I am known to hate, after all, if you check, AppliedPhlebotinum was created for me to vent at TTGL but grew into the reviewing which I’ve really grown to enjoy.

I’d like to start off by focusing on his inaccuracies about GaoGaiGar before we bring Gurren Lagann into this (don’t worry, I will, but I’d rather point out some stuff first)

Was this really that bad for 1997? Digimon Adventure was from 1999 and that aged way worse.

I do not agree with anything he said about the characters, plot, or any aspect of GaoGaiGar, I think that he is mistaken and I’m beginning to wonder if he was paying attention or even WANTED to pay attention. So let’s start by his criticism of the stock sequences and the budgetary concerns. Firstly, GaoGaiGar was part of Sunrise’s Brave Series, and the funding came from Takara, who would hamper the attempts by the writers to make the shows good by tryng to increase the market value of the toys, and even with that, I don’t think it’s a long stretch to say a good number of Brave shows are actually hidden little gems of shows! (going by GGG and what I’ve seen of Dagwon, Fighbird, and J-Decker) Sunrise even biting Takara’s hand a bit in the latter half of Might Gaine. and budget was just a problem Sunrise faced in the 1990s, even Gundam nearly died in the 1990s as they had to invest the Alternate Universes at the time after UC was throughly staked through the heart with Victory Gundam. GaoGaiGar was given a bigger budget than Sunrise expected at the time, and if you consider what an average 90’s Sunrise production looked like, GaoGaiGar actually holds up pretty well. It’s also kinda silly to say GaoGaiGar has bad presentation when trying to hold up Gurren Lagann, which came a whole 10 years later and had a absolutely titantic budget. (but I’m of the belief that budget and production values do not make a show great, but I’ll get to that in a bit.)

A show having Stock Footage does not make it bad. Like all things, it depends on how it’s used. Most of the Brave Series used it for launch and transformation sequences in order to save budget. If you want to know when it’s done poorly, look no further than Gundam SEED. because that show used it almost completely for padding and telling viewers the same information and characterization over and over again, and GaoGaiGar did not do that at all.

It pays to know your stock footage fundamentals (click to enlarge)

Now let’s get into what he had to say about the plot and characters, there’s so much wrong here I don’t know where to begin. I don’t like how he wrote off both the Goldion Hammer’s reveal and what it meant in the plot (the “Hell and Heaven being dangerous to Guy’s cybernetics” was a really well-done plot point.) and like the harping about how “kids can’t handle death” Look, a show does not need a high death toll to be dramatic, and I get that “he was not paying attention” feeling. Since in one of the earlier episodes, during the post-Zonder cleanup, there were scenes of relief crews tending to the injured and dying, making the Zonder a more cridible threat and blowing that argument out of the water.

Man, screw Kamina, if you actually paid attention to Mamoru's development throughout GGG TV, and then you see this in FINAL 02........

Probably the most heinous case in terms of the heroes was Mamoru. in which he really got a lot wrong/ignored about him. he isn’t just a tagalong kid to appeal to that demographic, he is the main character. He was one of the most well done very young mecha protagnists I’ve ever seen, the myth arc of his finding who he is and coming to terms with his dead civilization was amazing. Which is another hole in the “Kids can’t handle death” argument. In fact, that subtle development over time is what makes FINAL episode 02 as powerful as it is in terms of emotion.

It doesn't matter about the characterization of the lonely kid victim of the Zondarians, EI-25 is a toy water-plane monster, and is therefore and bland and uninspired fight of the week. /sarcasm

Then there were the arguments about the villains and the plot in general. Firstly, let’s talk about the concept of Zonder Metal and the “monster of the week” he harps about. GaoGaiGar took MOTW in a really interesting direction in the beginning with the absorbing humans and using their negative emotions and the thoughts in their mind to determine the shape of the robot. Admittedly some were goofy or just fun, other times it was played in a much more meaningful way, like EI-25. This Zonder could have just been reduced to a goofy gimmick when reduced to it’s core concept, a sea-hovercraft-plane with missiles that can trap things in a nega dimension where it lurks and teleport to and fro. but when you look at the human behind it, it done for more dramatic effect, EI-25 was a boy named Tohru, a kid who’s father died at sea, and the hovercraft plane was a toy of his, the reason for the alternate dimension and the kidnapping is he simply didn’t want to be lonely anymore, and it turns out there was not even much of a battle after the alternate universe was dealt with, rather than be purified, Tohru turned back on his own, as he didn’t have the emotional energy to sustain the Zonder Metal because he knew now he was not alone. so, no “Monster of the week” does not mean these kinds of episodic stories can not have a solid script and great execution.

The Primevals are so awesome with those purple cloak things, way better than those beast-people and that shadow puppet guy from that other show.

He’s also wrong about the Primevals, who had generally more effective plans for world domination, even a basic ZX-numbers Zonder of the week could make massive life-threatening changes to the earth. You see the Primevals didn’t not care much for Zonderizing humans that much at first, settling instead to make earth a Machine World after they won the war, since the humans have proved to be too dangerous by defeating Pasder. the Magnificent Seven Machine World Primevals were the really great, threatening villains of the show, Arm single handed defeating J and leading to his induction as “Pizza” was amazing and the confrontation between the “Magnificent Seven” and 3G and J at Orbit Base shook everything up, as that also where Mamoru learned he wasn’t human, and then proceeded to save everyone from the Ear and Nail Primevals.

the Primeval arc had a lot of “Myth” things
going on, such as Cain and Abel’s efforts as well. The Zonders were just a good minded effort from the Purple Planet to deal with negative emotions…. gone horribly wrong, deciding the only way to solve the problem was absorb all life into itself, destroying the Trinary Solar System, Mamoru and Kaidou’s home worlds. I don’t see how any of this is “bland and uninspired monster of the week.” especially given the great ending and fantastic follow up OVA.

So now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…..

Let’s talk about Gurren Lagann

Okay, I’m going to focus mostly on the problems with the plot and stuff and save characters outside of villains for a little exercise at the end.

So the only way they could make the Beastmen seem like a threat is to have the hero at the time make incredibly dumb decisions?

The plot is a mess. We don’t know anything about what’s going on for quite a while, we just get a bunch of angry Beastmen who make Team Rocket seem like a serious threat, and they get beat back by Gurren and Lagann, and eventually Gurren-Lagann, because Spiral Power does everything. the only time the Beastmen see like a threat at all in when Lordgenome’s Generals come around, and that’s only because Tymilph killed Kamina. (and that’s arguably due to Kamina’s own stupidity.) the rest of the generals (Guame, Adiane, and Cytomander) go down like a sack of potatoes after Simon instantly becomes a badass (more on this later.)

I must reiterate we don’t know anything about what’s going on in terms of the actual plot in these early episodes, we just hear the Gurren Brigade preach their gospel and see them do incredibly dumb things until Teppelin is attacked. to quote Mr. Plinkett, “If we don’t know why they are our enemies, then we don’t know why, and then we don’t care!”

The climax of the first arc is where the writers thought it was a good idea to finally explain what's going on?

Finally, after Lordgenome goes down, We finally get SOME information. keeping in mind this happens in Episode 15 of 27 Outside of character development, episode 15, the final episode of the first arc of a 27 episode series, is when we finally learn a little bit of what’s going on, that the Beastmen were trying to control the human population so the “Anti-Spirals” wouldn’t drop the moon on Earth. Only made worse that the next episode is a clip show, and a pointless one that adds nothing.

Yep, use Spiral Power too much and the universe dies. Trust me, I'm not like Lordgenome.

then we get a timeskip, and a bunch of other inane crap happens, as we learn the REAL big bad guy. the Anti-Spiral, is trying to snuff out earth. The Anti-Spiral is a thorny subject because it ties into a major plot hole. by itself though, it’s not that impressive, it tries to be deep at first, but then it all devolves into inane screaming in the final battle.

Wrap your head around this!

As for the major plot hole, we learn the Anti-Spiral is doing all of this because of “Spiral Nemesis”, a doomsday scenario where using too much Spiral Power will destroy the universe or something. And there is no proof in the entire show that it’s really a thing and the Anti-Spiral isn’t just lying or is crazy, in the ending, though, Simon believes him and tells Gimmy that using Spiral Power to bring back the dead “would only cause problems”. Why does Simon trust the Anti-Spiral? He blew off Lordgenome’s statement about the moon and didn’t care about what Rossiu was trying to accomplish with the census and population control, so why trust the doomsday scenario that the show itself is vague on at best?

Worse, after the credits, not only do we see Kamina city even MORE developed and advanced than before (how illiterate cavemen got such a technological wonder in 7 years is hard enough, but expanding like this?) but we ALSO see new ships and the Graperl squads and a bunch of new Gurren Laganns goes exploring the cosmos…. and both of these things don’t count as “abuses” of Spiral Power? So much inconsistancy, at least the G-Stone and stuff was kept simple.

But what about the characters themselves? my little experiment is just to take the main characters of GaoGaiGar and Gurren Lagann and do a comparison, from least important to most important.

Renee Cardiff Shishioh v.s. Yoko:

I will freely admit that in the FINAL OVA, Renee was….. a tremendous afterthought and a un-needed addition, especially considering she was there pretty much to be humiliated and made fanservice fodder. However, at least the writers tried to give her a compelling backstory with being forced to become a cyborg because of BioNet and she gets paired up in the OVA with J, a well-established character from the TV series, so at least she had some…. semblance of development and actually didn’t drag FINAL down to much and was still an amazing OVA.

Yoko on the other hand, though? I can’t even say that about her. In fact, what am I supposed to say? the only development she gets is the whole “teacher” thing, and even then, that episode felt more like filler than an honest development episode. There just wasn’t a whole lot to her other than “that hot chick with the sniper rifle” or “that girl with the cursed kiss that gets people killed”

Nia v.s. Mikoto

Nia is cringe worthy. There is nothing that Gainax loves more than a character like this, some monotone perfect girlfriend who is used as a plot device, Nia is so bland as a character that she’s difficult to say anything about. Nia is just whatever the plot requires her to be at the time, from being a glorified Cheerleader early on, to being the Anti-Spiral talking head.

Mikoto in comparison might have a similar deal (because she turned out to be the final boss of the TV series) at the very least she wasn’t some monotone mysterious waif, and she actually HAD a character.

Viral v.s. Soldat J

Viral was a huge missed opportunity in Gurren Lagann, a lot more could have been done with him, but he was not given proper development. He joins up with Simon a bit too readily, and we don’t even have him reflect or go introspective at all, other than one line to the resurrected Lordgenome before the final battle. He’s just sort of there because Gurren needs a pilot.

Where, let’s compare him to J. J was given plenty of development, and he often did a lot of introspection about how much his time as Pizza effected him, although he made as effort to distance himself from the Pizza persona. J was incredibly untrusting of 3G for quite a while, seeing them as a raodblock to his goal of destroying the Master Program, it wasn’t until much later that he saw they shared a common goal.

Kamina v.s. Guy

I don’t see Kamina’s appeal. He makes stupid decisions, spouts catch-phrases and his “speeches” are hardly inspiring when he acts like a jerk most of the time. He and Simon don’t have the chemistry they should have had. Kamina seems like he’s bullying and pushing Simon most of the time. That’s not how brother figures and teamwork should work. and what’s worse is he dies NOT because Tymilph is a powerful threat, but due to his own stupidity for going on an enemy battleship without any backup just to punch Simon.

Where, if we compare him with Guy, Guy as least doesn’t yell outside of battle, is actually somewhat intelligent (He was an astronaut) and he and Mamoru really have the chemistry for a more supportive team environment, the way the two work together is a lot better than Simon and Kamina’s lack of chemistry. And it’s what makes FINAL 02 as powerful as it is.

And now the main event…..

Simon the Digger v.s. Mamoru Amami

Simon’s development is very weird, after Kamina dies and he’s depressed, in a short time he meets Nia and magically becomes the hero again in too short a period of time. only compounded with how he acts towards Rossiu in the second arc. To make matters even more awkward, his characterization is inconsistent. at one point before the timeskip he says “Bro, I could never be like you.” but then, after the timeskip, he’s starts to look and act just like Kamina, and then becomes just as unlikable. Made worse that he completely trusts the Anti-Spiral on Spiral Nemesis, when he didn’t take Lordgenome’s warning seriously, but he DID listen to the Anti-Spiral?

Now, let’s compare him to Mamoru. Mamoru, I personally feel, and I know this is gonna be all controversial and russtle some TTGL fans jimmies, but Mamoru’s coming of age tale was done better than Simon’s because we get to see him subtly develop over time, and a timeskip isn’t used. Mamoru had more depth to his character, via the fate of his civilization and him coming to terms with not being human.

And like I said he and Guy had much better chemistry than Simon did with Kamina. Mamoru over time eventually accepts the legacy of his heritage and grows into the Guardian of the Blue Planet, juding from how he really takes responsibility in FINAL. and our attachment to Mamoru is what makes the second episode so emotionally moving, and then again at FINAL’s ending. It’s a real shame Project Z never saw the light of day, but I still hold out hope Sunrise might pull out the concept stuff and do something with it one day.

Now I feel is a good place to wrap it up, I was gonna talk about Rossiu…. but I could do an entire article just talking about that so I decided to leave him out. Thanks for reading, and well, whether you agree or disagree, feel free to comment or E-mail me, I’d love to hear from you.

Just please, I don’t care if you like Gurren Lagann. Please don’t marginalise good shows by not paying attention and expecting it to be all about explosions? good science-fiction like GaoGaiGar deserves more respect than that.

E-mail: appliedphlebotinum@gmail.com

5 Responses to “GGG/TTGL Rebuttal written article version/followup”

  1. 1 Robert
    April 8, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I still maintain that the first seven or eight episodes of Gurren Lagann are pretty good- it’s not Gunbuster, true, but it’s at least better than Shin Mazinger.

    • 2 clawshrimpy
      April 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      It’s okay if you’re just looking for something for spectacle style over substance value, I just didn’t like the way the characters were done and how the story was told. GaoGaiGar might have had less budget, but it had a strong story, good character development, and feels like a better science-fiction piece all around.

  2. 3 Steve?
    December 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Why can’t we just like different things and leave it at that? I mean you seemingly go outta your way to prove that GaoGaiGar is superior to Gurren Lagann, and I’m not saying it is or isn’t here. What you’ve written here is nearly as bad as what the guy who was bashing GaoGaiGar wrote. The only difference is you put some intelligent thought in your response. So I ask again why can’t EVERYONE just like what they like and stop arguing with people who like different things?! It’s madness! You like GaoGaiGar, and I like Fujimora Pantsu & Me. One’s awesome and the other is the definition of suck, but we don’t need to fight over it and “hate” the one we don’t like or bash it.

    • 4 Joong Kim
      December 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Don’t you know that passing off yourself as a reviewer when in reality you are a pretentious asshole is big in the net?

  3. 5 Anonymous
    July 31, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I think a lot of people take Gurren Lagann WAY too seriously. It’s meant to be a parody of the mecha genre, not a serious super robot anime. Of course a show like GaoGaiGar is better in terms of story and characters.

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