Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – E5 – ‘I Don’t Understand It At All’

On this week’s thrilling instalment of Gurren Lagann:

  • Wilful murder of children!
  • A thinly veiled criticism of blind religiosity!
  • Yoko’s boobs! (but less of those than most weeks, to be fair)
  • Kamina getting angry at a guy about a thing!
  • Boota!

This week’s episode opens with Team Gurren taking a leisurely stroll along the wastelands, wondering why they haven’t seen any Gunmen in a while. I’m beginning to feel as if we might have a few filler episodes before they actually manage to reach the Beastmen headquarters; at that point, I’m sure everything will go utterly batshit again, but the pace sure has slowed in the last week or so. Also, this episode definitely looks more normal to me, as contrasted to E4’s art style, which I still maintain was somehow different and weird.

Anyway, Yoko and Kamina are bickering, as seems to be becoming standard. She’s just sorta hangin’ out, he’s insulting her butt, normal stuff. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Yoko and Kamina are going to be the will-they-won’t-they aw-look-they-fight-but-they-love-each-other-really flagship couple of TTGL, although I’m not sure how long I’m expecting it to take before that’s all out in the open. For her part, Yoko tells Simon he shouldn’t pick up Kamina’s habits, but there’s clearly some passion in her arguing with The Big K; for his part, Kamina thinks Yoko’s brains must be in her ass, but he’s fairly open about thinking that she’s pretty hot. Stick a frumpy robe on her, though, and she ain’t got nothin’ goin’ on.

As an aside, I rather liked that Yoko got called out on her dress sense, with the city-dwellers (did we get an official name for the place?) considering her outfit indecent. Her defence is that she doesn’t like having her movements restricted. Given how active she is, it’s a valid concern, but I don’t see that a bikini top and short shorts were the only way of achieving that, and my suspicions that she doesn’t reaaaally need to be so exposed are only furthered when we get egregious shots of… well, jiggle.

Back to the story, and Yoko and Kamina’s lover’s tiff winds them in a bit of trouble, sending Gurren Lagann right down through the ground and into an underground village. Kamina, naturally, thinks they’re super backwards for not knowing what Gunmen are, despite the fact that he was equally ignorant only a few short episodes ago. They do have some slightly… odd practices, such as worship of the old, rickety Gunmen (or ‘Face God’) that just sort of hangs out at the edge of their territory, belief that the surface is a ‘Celestial Land’, and, oh yeah, a rigid adherence to managing their population by throwing out any surplus villagers once they’ve got more than fifty citizens. It’s actually not super unbelievable that one of these small underground homesteads would be pretty vigilant about keeping their numbers down, since their space and resources are presumably pretty limited. What’s not so cool is the fact that those unfortunate enough to draw the marked straw are immediately exiled to the surface. It’s a bit like the old Spartan tradition of throwing deformed babies out into the wild to be devoured by crows or whatever, except somehow less reasonable.

What do ya know, but almost as soon as Team Gurren (revered as angels from the Celestial Lands) touch down, Udom’s wife has triplets. To be honest, I’d be pretty cautious about getting preggo if I knew that I was about to tip the scales in favour of someone being thrown up to the surface. People gonna bang, I guess. The two lucky winners are Gimmy and Darry, a couple of orphaned kids who are pretty hyped about getting to go and live with the Face Gods. Rossiu, one of the village people (not the band) – and a dude that I feel might turn out to be kind of a dick or kind of okay, still not sure – and High Priest Father Dictator (I forget his actual name) ask Team Gurren to take the kids up to the surface with them, which leads me to wonder what they do with exiles when there aren’t surface people around. Just… throw them up a hole? I mean, if they had immediate access to the surface, you’d think more people would be leaving, what with believing that the surface is some sort of heavenly paradise and all.

After a bit of manly banter between Kamina and Father Totalitarian, and a weird scene in which Rossiu somehow becomes the first person in generations to notice a giant switch sticking out of the banged-up Gunmen’s nose, High Priest Involuntary Euthanasia pilots the Face God and battles Gurren Lagann. Naturally, he gets his ass kicked. In the process, the villagers’ beliefs about the Face Gods are shaken a bit, which is probably a good thing. Hopefully they’ll be more free now, and less exile-y.

I did find it interesting seeing the interplay between Kamina’s total brickheadedness and Simon and Yoko’s attempts to be more sensitive to established tradition. (Leeron was there too, but I can’t remember him saying anything this week.) They might not think that the villagers’ worship of Gunmen and practice of kicking out excess citizens is particularly civilised, but they seem to have some sort of awareness of cultural relativity. Kamina, meanwhile, is firmly of the opinion that a belief that doesn’t match up with his own, even an ingrained and traditional one, should be violently challenged. Ultimately, Father Thingy is forced to resort to copying the fighting spirit of Gurren Lagann in order to defend the beliefs he feels are important to maintaining his people’s way of life. Kamina doesn’t get it, at all, but Simon convinces him that people should be left to maintain the way of life they want to keep. Rossiu decides that the beliefs of his village might be a bit misguided after all, especially once he discovers that the High Priest deliberately got Gimmy and Darry picked because nobody would miss them, what with them being orphans and all. Plus he reasons that making the surface a truly free land is the best way to ensure that harsh practices like, I dunno, exiling kids don’t have to continue; it does seem as if the High Priest kept to that tradition because he truly felt it necessary for his home’s survival. In the end, while Gimmy, Darry and Rossiu leave, the village is left to keep to the way of life it’s decided upon. Kamina might not respect that way of life, but the team don’t interfere.

It seems as if Gurren and Lagann are pretty solid at combining at will now, which is nice. I’m still waiting for the moment Kamina leans just a little bit to the left as Lagann’s drill comes right down next to his head, but it certainly seems as if full-power Combined Gurren Lagann should be more than a match for the Beastmen. After all, Viral was meant to be a pretty high-level soldier, right? I’m betting it won’t be that easy, of course. We’ll see next time (or maybe not next time, depending how much more filler there is), when the newly-bolstered Team Gurren – now including Rossiu, Gimmy and Darry! – might finally reach Beastmen HQ!

And finally, this week on ‘Kamina Says Something Foreboding’ Watch: ‘Who the hell do you think I am?! I’m the great Kamina, who would rather die than do something I didn’t want to do!’

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