Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – E18 – ‘I’ll Make You Tell the Truth of the World’

When we left off, things were… well, pretty good over the past seven years, but – wouldn’t ya know it? – everything went to shit just as we rejoined the action. Oh, dear. The moon’s launching crazy nightmare mechs, Nia’s making pronouncements about something called an ‘Anti-Spiral’ and a ‘Humanity Annihilation System’ and, well, basically everything just seems like a really terrible situation. I’m sure everything will improve in this episode, though, right? Right?

Well, it begins with Nia still wittering on about how humanity’s about to be destroyed, so that’s not the best of starts. Simon is, for some reason, shocked to discover that Nia’s not answering her phone, so I guess some of them don’t want to believe it’s really her. Meanwhile, the new government is inundated with calls from people who are either worried about the whole ‘human annihilation’ thing (understandably) or pissed off that the fight between Gurren Lagann and the Moon Mech damaged their property (still understandable, but I think less so). Rossiu’s got all the old Team Dai-Gurren guys on phone line duty, which some of them seem to think is a deliberate consideration on his part; I’m tempted to agree, given that he really does seem to have turned into a bit of an evil genius. If you needed evidence for that, by the way, how’s the fact that HE’S GOT LORDGENOME’S FREAKING HEAD IN A VAT AND HE’S MANAGED TO WAKE IT UP. So… that’s going to be a thing.

Thinking about it, maybe resurrecting Lordgenome isn’t the worst idea of all time. After all, he’s the one who made the prophecy about the moon, so perhaps he might know how to fight against it? Seems like a long shot, though, and definitely not the kind of proportionate means a normal person would employ. I’d love to have seen him pitch that one, though: ‘oh, hey, so I’ve got this idea and what we’re going to do is *mumble* put Lordgenome’s head in a tank so everyone’s good with that? Okay, great, it’s a deal!’ I get the impression he probably doesn’t have to get a lot of agreement these days before going ahead with things, though.

On the other side of the city, Simon, who’s presumably in a bit of trouble after the destruction he inadvertently caused in the fight, tries Nia’s phone again and gets an adorable voicemail message. He’s confronted by Gimmy and Darry, the two surviving members and apparent leaders of the new Grapearl squadron, and while it seems they’re still pretty nice kids, they’re under orders from Rossiu to bring him in. It makes sense that the two young ones would be able to adjust to this new system, since they didn’t have such a long life under the old one; as I started to touch on in last episode’s post, I think this second half of the series will be making an ongoing theme out of people’s ability or willingness to adapt to change (namely, the transition from a nomadic life of constant fighting to a comfortable bureaucracy).

Poor Simon really does seem all beaten up about it, but then who should show up by the riverside but Nia herself? Except… she doesn’t look quite right. She’s talking about how she realises now that she and Simon can never be together, that the Core Drill represents something called a Spiral Nemesis that will destroy the universe… it’s ominous stuff. There also seems to be another, glowing Nia floating around somewhere, so I’m wondering two things: firstly, does she now have some sort of supernatural power thanks to this Anti-Spiral thingumebob, and secondly, will the real Nia ever return or is she just completely under their control now? For that matter, why is she the one speaking for them in the first place?

While Simon and Nia have their reunion, we also get to see Rossiu and Lordgenome’s conversation; Lordgenome explains that all living things have spirals within them in the form of DNA (so that’s why all the Beastmen are named after things like the elements of DNA or genomes) and that Spiral Power amplifies this to crazy extents, forming the underlying truth and power of the universe. I can’t believe how right I was when I was talking at the beginning of the series about what I was then calling Fighting Manly Power being a real physical phenomenon; seems as if it’s the most fundamental one there is in this reality! The former Spiral King goes on to explain that the Anti-Spirals were a group of beings who feared the Spiral Power and tried to destroy the living Spiral races, so the Spirals developed Spiral Warriors and weapons like Teppelin and the Gunmen to fight against the Anti-Spirals. Lagann was one of the most powerful weapons, a ‘Core’ machine activated by Spiral Power and capable of combining with any other machine. As for what we know happened after that, the time of human subjugation under the Beastmen, Lordgenome drove humanity underground after losing the war to the Anti-Spirals in order to ensure that they would not consider Earth a threat in terms of its Spiral Power.

So… wow. I mean, that puts the whole of the first half of the season in a bit of a different light, huh? I still have to wonder whether this planet is our Earth after a Spiral-y future, and for that matter what exactly Lordgenome is – he’s not exactly human if he’s capable of living for a thousand years. Supposedly, he restrained his own Spiral Power to ensure that the Anti-Spirals wouldn’t recognise it, but perhaps it was still able to give him long life. He wasn’t even that surprised by the human rebellion, since apparently the Spiral instinct to fight back is pretty much unstoppable, but it was enough to break him out of his own restraint.

Nia continues the explanation elsewhere, telling Simon that Spiral lifeforms are basically just too darn powerful for their own good. I had thought that seven years was too short a time to build such a large civilisation, and the series actually justifies it now by explaining that it’s all down to Spiral Power. Though Simon defiantly tells Nia that as long as they have Gurren Lagann the humans will always be able to fight back, she remains unmoved, a dispassionate messenger of the Anti-Spirals. We sort of find out (in a roundabout and not fully explained way) here that she’s had some kind of mechanism in her all along that activated once the Humanity Annihilation System began, turning her into this harbinger figure. I’m not sure whether we’re supposed to accept that this new, evil Nia is the ‘real’ her or whether we should see it as some sort of mind control, but… I really hope Simon can get her back.

As for what the Humanity Annihilation System actually is… in Nia and Lordgenome’s words: ‘in three week’s time, the moon will leave its orbit and impact the Earth, and that will be the end of it’. Well, that doesn’t sound good.

I have to wonder why the moon bothers to send out the Moon Mechs if it’s just going to smash into the planet, but it’s all pretty disturbing stuff. Nia publicly tells humanity that they’re doomed, which Rossiu was hoping to avoid, and on top of all that their space probe gets blown up too. Things really aren’t going well, I think it’s reasonable to say, particularly with Nia’s closing declaration that now her Anti-Spiral genes have activated, she can never be made human again.

More Moon Mechs appear (they’re officially named ‘Mugann’, we learn) and despite all advice to the contrary, Simon immediately jumps back in Gurren Lagann. I mean… I can understand why the government and Rossiu aren’t keen on the collateral damage potential from Simon directly engaging the Mugann, but at the same time I really don’t think they’ve got any better options. Leeron deduces that attacking the Mugann with enough force to disable their forcefields causes them to explode with catastrophic force, so it seems there really is no way of taking them out without causing more destruction.

Gimmy and Darry are mindful of the destructive capabilities, but can’t do much more than try to prevent the Mugann advancing and doing more damage. Simon, however, jumps straight in and destroys one, because he’s Simon. The two aren’t happy, but Simon orders them to destroy all the fragments of Mugann-matter before they touch anything, and… though he really doesn’t have any reason to suspect that might work, it actually does! I shouldn’t be surprised: ‘reject common sense to make the impossible possible’ and all. I think I’m going to be using that phrase a lot more for the remainder of the show, y’know.

Despite the success, the common people aren’t all that happy. I mean, I can see why; all they can see is their supposed leader just blowing shit up left, right and centre. I’m pretty sure there are actually some Beastmen among the ranks of the people, believe it or not, so I guess at least some of them must have survived and integrated with the new society.

It’s unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable: Simon gets arrested. I don’t think Rossiu’s actually too happy about it, despite last episode making it seem as if he might be considering a takeover. If I had to guess at where this is going, it’ll be Simon re-hashing the events of the first arc by breaking out and defying all odds to overcome their foe, but… what will the cost be? That’s going to be the question, I think.

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