My brother had been telling me to watch it for a while, and allsunday recommended it as well, so she let me borrow her DVDs in exchange for 100 Bullets. Coincidentally, the last anime she lent me, Last Exile, I watched with my brother, so clearly there is something going on here. And luckily, I loved Gurren Lagann much more than Last Exile.
Gurren Lagann begins in an underground village where the people are told never to go to the surface. Naturally, there is one ruffian, Kamina, who is just crazy enough to try to go to the surface. He enlists the help of Simon, an expert driller but just a young teenager. Then they're attacked by giant robots and saved by Yoko, a hot redhead with a big gun who basically drops out of the sky (as it were). Together, they reach the surface...only to discover that it's a wasteland plagued by giant robots called Gunmen piloted by creatures called Beastmen. Kamina will have none of this, and he and Simon team up and lead the resistance. I have not watched many classic mecha series, but I gather it's a fairly standard set-up: rag-tag group of humans fight against oppression with giant robots. Gurren Lagann, however, takes this basic plot and multiplies it over and over. About a third of the way through the series, there's a paradigm shift, and then another third of the way, there's an even bigger paradigm shift, so that it ends up being a lot more than it seems from its first few episodes. The stakes keeping getting raised, and the scope rises to the occasion. And, as usual, I hesitate to expound in more detail because part of the appeal of anime, to me, is that it's so much about discovering what the fuck is going on, and I normally go into each series having little idea what the fuck is going on. Which is great fun when, two-thirds of the way through basically any anime, they pull the rug out from under you.
The characters are quite likable and fun to root for. Kamina, for all his bluster and obsession with boobs, is fiercely loyal and has a big heart. He's charismatic enough for his team to buy into his motto of "Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!" His awesome catchphrase is "Who the hell do you think I am?!" (usually preceded or followed by a litany of awesome names he made up for his awesome self), and it's picked up by other characters as the supreme embodiment of "Do you know who the fuck you're messing with?!" Every single time someone said it, I thought it was awesome; it never got old. I love when characters find their inner strength. Which is what Simon needs to do when we first meet him. He's insecure and looks up to Kamina; they're both orphans, and Kamina takes him under his wing. Kamina believes in Simon when he doesn't believe in himself, and it's totally sweet and adorable. Yoko, despite her impractical, fanservice-y outfit, is totally badass. Not only does she constantly rail on the men who perv at her jiggly boobs, but she single-handedly takes down giant robots with a gun that's bigger than she is. She's agile and a great shot, and she frequently saves Kamina and Simon's asses. She really is a great character, and I cringed at the various boob shots because she deserves better than that. (She explains that she wears a bikini and short shorts because she doesn't want clothing that restricts her movement in combat situations. Clearly, she doesn't care about, you know, protecting herself.) There are a great many lively supporting characters that join the team, and, goshdarnit, I couldn't help falling in love with these underdogs fighting for the fate of humanity!
Gurren Lagann is notable for being awesome in ridiculous ways. For instance, in Gurren-Lagann's signature move, the GIGA DRILL BREAKER, the mecha conjures up a ginormous drill that is BIGGER THAN ITSELF. Truly, the law of conservation of matter does not hold in this show. This show hates physics (and it hates astrophysics even more). But mecha is much more fun when it's completely over-the-top, given that piloting a mecha involves screaming a lot. The battles in this show are pretty damn awesome, even though in some cases I couldn't figure out what was going on because it was just so nuts and drills were appearing out of nowhere and things were being thrown around and everything was exploding and yeah.
But in the end, it's a show about, quite literally, the human spirit. Our drive to progress, our refusal to stagnate, our ability to reject common sense to make the impossible possible. It's a rather inspiring story, in a way.
As usual, my penchant not to give away too much has led to an ineffective pimping. Gurren Lagann is about dudes and dudettes in giant robots engaging in awesome battles with other giant robots, and then they save the world. It's funny, it's sad, it's ludicrous, it's surprising, it's addictive, it's good times. And I say you should watch it! Is my recommendation not good enough for you? WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM?!