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Gurren Lagann Double Feature Blu Ray Set ‘Childhood’s End’ & ‘The Lights In The Sky Are Stars’ Anime Review

6 min read

Gurren Lagann double FeatureWhat They Say:
Childhood’s End
This is the story of a man who has yet to realize what destiny holds in store for him… Far in the future, humans have lived underground, quietly and restlessly, for hundreds of years, suffering from frequent earthquake and land subsidence. In Giha Village, one such underground community, live two young men. Simon is shy and naive, while Kamina believes in existence of a “surface” world above their heads.

Their destinies start moving drastically when the ceiling falls and a gigantic “Gunmen” and a beautiful girl named Yoko with a superconductive rifle come from the surface. Kamina, Simon and Yoko get on the “Lagann” that Simon digs out from the ground, and jump out to the surface! However, the surface is not such a dreamland as Kamina imagined. The world is reined by the Spiral King and his army. Kamina and Simon, along with their comrades challenge the Spiral King to change the desperate world to the one with hope for the future by Gurren Lagann!

The Lights in the Sky Are Stars
“When the heavens are pierced open, the young man sees a path to the future…”

Valiantly persevering through the traumatic aftermath of previous events, Team Dai-Gurren finally reaches Teppelin, the royal capital, where Simon battles the Spiral King, Lordgenome. Seven years pass after the battle of Teppelin, and humans reclaim the surface of the earth and enjoy an unprecedented period of peace and PROSPERITY. However, humanity’s increasing population growth triggers the sudden emergence of an unknown, powerful enemy.

The Review:
Audio: 
There are two audio tracks present on these discs, both in Japanese. One is DTS HD Master Audio 5.1; the other is Linear PCM Stereo. Both came out very strong on my audio system.

Video:
This is some gorgeous animation, particularly in the second film. The footage is taken primarily from the TV series but looks slick for the movies here. The hues are very bold and there’s no artifacting anywhere. All in all, this makes for a great presentation of the material

Packaging:
There’s a box here with black on the front. The symbol for Team Gurren is in grey, and the title masthead is metallic red with extra white text at the bottom. On the back there’s an impressive poster-style picture of all the characters. In addition, there’s a detachable sliding white paper with the name of the movie, features, bar code and other official data. Inside are two separate blu ray cases, one for each film. Both have inserts with even more artwork and the names of the respective films. It’s all very pretty, but no where on the packaging is ther any description of the films in question. Whoever designed this probably assumed the buyer would instantly know what these movies are about. However if they didn’t, they’d get no real information prior to purchase here.

Menu:
There are multiple screens of different clips from the films being run on a wall that rotates in various directions continuously with music from the films playing in the background. Menu options are listed horizontally across the bottom.

Extras:
Textless Ending for both films. They look nice but, there’s really nothing else here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The two movies in this set cover the events of the Gurren Lagann TV series but ast a quicker pace with a bit better structure for feature length storytelling. “Childhood’s End” covers the first half of the series. On a futuristic Earth, humanity has been driven underground by a set of aliens who look like giant faced living mecha, ruled by the Spiral King Lordgenome. Humans make their way drilling from one area of the Earth to the next while living in constant fear of earthquakes naturally. One young boy named Simon digs his way around while being shunned by fellow villagers. The only real friend he has is his boisterous brother Kamina, who is determined to see the surface world no matter what anyone says. Simon drills his way around and encounters a strange drill bit called the Core Drill, as well as a peculiar mecha that also looks like a giant face.

At nearly the same time, surface aliens attack and Simon learns that his newfound mecha, called a Gunmen can fight off these creatures, especially when combined Kamina’s equally strange mecha which he captures on the surface. Kamina invites Simon to be part of his Team Gurren, and they eventually come to call their combined mecha Gurren Lagann. Together with a lovely rifle-wielding warrior girl named Yoko, they set out on a multi-year quest to lead humanity to reclaim the Earth from the invaders.

This movie brings together many folks who wind up driving seemingly living mecha of sort in hopes of driving the invaders away. The screenplay moves along at a brisk pace and feels like a lot of fun, which resonates even more when the group suffers a devastating loss. It’s a powerful, poignant moment that sees even the Gurren Lagann mecha itself crying in the rain. Soon after a young girl named Nia appears and changes the course of the story as the group winds up battling Lordgenome himself.

The events of the second film entitled “The Lights In The Sky Are Stars” take up seven years after the initial battles as humanity is once again a prosperous industrial society living on the surface of the earth. Many of the team have gone on to marry and / or pursue their life dreams. However, when the world’s population reaches one million, a new program created by the “Anti Spiral” race activates, sending the moon hurtling toward Earth and utilizing Nia as a powerful medium. The team reunites to take on this menace as well as sentiments of anger at Simon eventually for failing to protect humanity. The story gets grander and more cosmic as we see stars, planets, and even galaxies hurled at each other in the name of freedom…. And really big drills.

Direction by Hiroyuki Imaishi . (Kill La Kill) gets as crazy hell on this series, with hyper-kinetic energy depicted by outlandish amounts of sketch lines and implied motion. If you’ve seen his previous work on the series Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (or heck if you grew up watching some aspects of the Powerpuff Girls) you may have an idea what the show is like. You could add in influences from giant robot shows by Go Nagai (Mazinkaiser) and Ken Ishikawa (Getter Robo) considering how wild the mecha designs get. The enemy monsters in particular remind me of the living enemy Mikene Beasts from the Great Mazinger TV series. I’d though I’d seen it all during Getter Robo Armageddon which had planetary conflicts, but the Gurren Lagann crew were determined to top that. The story is both funny and epic, with some poignant moment every so often for good pacing. Several years are covered and if almost feels like a tale of two anime considering how many events are covered in the story. There’s also Imashi’s addiction to drills which pops up throughout the series. In one of the extras segments, producer Yasuhiro Takeda notes ‘the director’s love of drills is almost child-like.’

In Summary:
If you don’t have a vivid imagination, nothing I say here will likely convince you to try these films. The events depicted here are too fantastic for conventional suspension of disbelief. But, if you have within you a taste for adventure (as well as a need for hot blooded passion required for super robot shows since the 70s), give this set a try. I believe you won’t be disappointed.

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade:  A
Video Grade:  A+
Packaging Grade:  B+
Menu Grade:  A
Extras Grade:  C

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date:  July 15th, 2014
MSRP: $79.98
Running Time: Movie 1: 112 minutes Movie 2, 126 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio:   1.78:! Widescreen

Review Equipment: Panasonic 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3

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