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Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: Gurren-hen

Title: Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: Gurren-hen aka Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann the Movie: Crimson Lotus Chapter
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Gainax
Format: Movie, 112 minutes.
Dates: 6 Sep 2008

Synopsis: Simon is a timid boy who has no special abilities except for a knack of drilling underground. Kamina is the polar opposite – reckless and bold and with an incredible sense of self-confidence, he strives to go to a place where there is no ceiling and freedom truly awaits. As they toil in an underground village oppressed by a village chief who disregards anyone who challenges his authority, a gargantuan Gunmen piloted by a Beastman invades the village from the surface. Kamina sees this as his big break to reach the surface. However, what else will he and Simon encounter up there in a world where mankind is under the iron fist of the Beastmen and their Gunmen, led by the mysterious Lord Genome?

The Highlights
First three-quarters: Basically material recycled from the original series.
Last quarter: A blitzkrieg of biblical proportions.
Nostalgia: For those who have seen the series before.
Empowerment: For those who haven’t seen the series before.

According to some, Gurren-hen is supposedly a compilation of the original series, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. I am not too sure about that, because while a lot of the material in the movie is reused from the series, there is a considerable amount which is all-original, thus making Gurren-hen eventually different from the series. While I am a little disappointed that this movie doesn’t turn out to be completely different on its own, it does make an effort to offer something more to those who have seen the series before, and something of a comprehensive yet hastened summary of what makes the series so great for those who haven’t.

The viewers of Gurren-hen can be categorized in two ways: those who have seen TTGL before and those who haven’t, and this movie serves each category both in a good and bad way. For TTGL fans and those familiar with the series, Gurren-hen will envelope them in a sense of nolstagia as the movie takes them through the important events of the first quarter of TTGL. They will reminisce in the sense of empowerment, heartbreak and elation as Simon and his brigade faces the hardships and triumphs in these events. Nostalgic as it is, rewatching scenes identical to the original can be weary, since a number of scenes are lifted straight from the series in Gurren-hen. Ironically, the sense of nolstagia is both good and bad to acquainted viewers, as they recall the great moments of TTGL and at the same time, painstakingly going through the familiar scenes.

For those who are unfamiliar with TTGL, Gurren-hen may serve as a detailed annals of what makes TTGL such an entertaining series. However, detailed as it may be, there are some important events in TTGL that are not included in Gurren-hen. Evidently, Gurren-hen tries hard to squeeze the first quarter of the series’ content into a two-hour movie, rendering its pace hasty and its plot convoluted. As a result, Gurren-hen forgoes some events which are vital to the plot development, and a handful of plot holes result from their absence. Fortunately, the musical score is greeted with the inclusion of a new single “Tsuzuku Sekai” by Nakagawa Shouko, who has contributed much to TTGL with her hit singles “Sorairo Days” and “Happily Ever After”.

Gurren-hen is very much a mixed bag to different viewers. For those new to TTGL, it may serve as an action-packed and entertaining movie that sacrifices a few important events that are present in the series; to those who are familiar with TTGL, it serves as a trip down memory lane past almost everything nolstagic that the series has to offer as well as a few new scenes, but it comes at the cost of revisiting numerous laborious recycled scenes from the series. Whichever way this movie is perceived, it’s still packed with that familiar “Roh, Roh, Fight dah Powah!” entertainment encapsulated in a two-hour movie. It’s just a shame that the movie apparently tries hard to showcase the true greatness of the original TTGL, but eventually leaves a bit to be desired.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: AC

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