the gainax resurrection

More spoilers than you can shake a manly Gurren-Lagann drill at.


I’ve been racking my brain the past week trying to think of a more crushing death than Kamina… and I failed. Most “last episode” deaths are kinda throwaway since the series ends and… well… what’s the impact for the remainder of the episodes if there aren’t any more? For example, Spike dies. Okay… so what? I just don’t think there’s much of an impact because we weren’t going to see him the next week anyway.

I think, for me, the most crushing death prior to Kamina was Gai’s, and I wrote a post about it a while ago, so maybe it’s time I revisited that one. In that post, I presented four guidelines for that great anime death, and I’ll repeat them here:

1. The death must alter the personalities of the cast for the rest of the series.

Let me toss this one over to the readers:

DeathToZippermouth: I’m with you in hoping the rest of the series can keep this up. Fortunately, if the Simon from the great space battle is any indication, Simon WILL be carrying that Great Gurren Brigade flag as Kamina once did. Although I’m hoping even more that Simon becomes even greater than Kamina, rather than merely becoming like him. That’d be a truly great story.

TGMC: Exactly! Just like Kamina’s father motivated Kamina to newer and better heights (quite literally, actually), Kamina’s memory and death will set in motion the badassitude of Simon.

bluerogue: As the story progresses we’re going to see simon change remarkably. Like tbh, I was expecting kamina to die from the start of about episode 3-4 because his sense of pride, justice, and “man can do whatever he sets his mind to” lifestyle would drive the series ahead too quickly. Good anime almost always portrays some growth in the characters, and tengen toppa gurren laggan needed the plot device to push simon forward, a breaking point; kamina, his idol and polar opposite, the kamina we love, is just that. I can’t wait to see simon come of age and mature as the show progresses. The premise is already set, all that’s left is to sit and enjoy.

Can’t say it better myself. The way is paved for Simon to take over Kamina’s role (kinda like how Bocca turned into Kurofune)… and that’s going to be the biggest storyline for Gurren Lagann. Whether or not Simon takes Kamina’s mantle (what the viewers want) or fail at it (what would be riveting… horrible, but still riveting) is the big question. I can see it going either way. For example, at the beginning of this NBA season, LeBron James had the chance to be really special and show that he could be the next super-duper star like what everyone wants. Only for the first 60 games, he coasted and mailed it in so badly, a German with bad hair who couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs won the MVP instead. Beginning of the season LBJ is Simon right now. He can either strive for greatness or disappoint. There’s no in-between.

While I hope that Simon does become the next Kamina, I can’t say that watching Simon self-destruct a la Shinji to be a bad thing either. Remember, Evangelion is still talked about and relevant today. You can make memorable anime either way– we tend to remember both the good and the bad.

2. The character must be significant, and the loss has to be significant.

Can’t think of a more crushing loss to a cast. Kamina was going to the pantheon. There’s no question a first-class ticket was waiting him. I’m trying to think of a sports analogy, and I can’t. The closest hypothetical case is if Durant turns into the next MJ in Seattle, wins three titles in his first three seasons, and then gets killed by a hit and run by Paris Hilton. The closest anime example is killing off Mikuru and her epic melonpan by episode five.

3. The death has to be sudden rather than melodramatic and drawn on.

Let’s see– Kamina gets totally blindsided as everyone stares in shock (including myself). Then he goes out the only manly way to die: all guns (or drills) blazing. Now that, my friends, is how an anime character needs to go down. If everything else were equal, I’d rank Kamina above Gai just because Gai gets lamely shot in the back whereas Kamina goes to another level. It reminded me a lot of watching game six of the 1988 NBA finals. Pistons/Lakers. Pistons win, they force game 7. Lose, they go home. Right after halftime, Isiah Thomas lands awkwardly on Cooper’s foot, sprains his ankle, leaves the floor. Everyone in the Palace and the metro Detroit area is catatonic. He returns, almost miraculously and heroically a few minutes later and guts out an NBA record 25 points in the third quarter and 43 overall in single-handed bringing the Pistons to victory. I remember that he kept running around on the sidelines during timeouts because he didn’t want to stop moving to prevent the ankle from swelling. I still haven’t forgotten watching that as a little kid. Now that’s the way to go out.

4. Finally, the dead must stay dead.

Gainax does bring characters back from the dead occasionally, but they’re all somewhat defensible moves in the context of their series. For example, the whole premise behind Abenobashi was to save someone from dying. Rei-chan kept coming back because she was a clone. Mahoro came back in the manga, and I’m sad to say that the “Cowboy Bebop” ending for Mahoromatic wasn’t a Gainax manufacture. I don’t think Kamina is coming back just because of Gainax’s track record… although the new Evangelion movies could prove me wrong.


And a few final thoughts:

Toph: The patterns were definitely there for Kanima’s eventual exeunt. Especially when the character is just so awesome and not the main character, I guess they can’t be allowed to live.

Yes, I am including this comment because it uses “exeunt”… but “exeuntmeans more than one actors leaving the scene… so is someone else going to die? Oh man, if Yoko dies in episode ten, then that would be tremendously epic– no, not just epic: legendary.

moo: predictions, episode 26: Yoko gets shot, kisses Simon, then push him into his mecha, promising ‘more when he gets back’. Then she teh dies. Simon goes to sob quietly in a corner while Leeron, piloting the Gurren, gets pwned by mass-production beastmen with bigass swords. The second half will be a brainfuck nobody understands and there will be a flame war to end all flame wars in 2chan. Ultimately, the series will be remembered mainly for that one scene in ep 25 when Simon faps over Leeron’s unconscious body.

If we’re going for the worst case scenario, that’s not it. I think it’ll be Yoko and Simon having sex in episode 17 and then turning the remainder of the series into a slow, painful shoujo drama when it should be fun giant mecha. I still think Kare Kano was Gainax’s worst ending. At least Eva‘s kinda stayed true to the series and was watchable if just for the WTF factor. But I doubt we’ll get either just because of the initial space war scene.

Taitos: Yeah…unfortunately I saw this coming a few episodes ago, with the climax approaching much too quickly. Heck, there was even clues from the very beginning with the space war intro. I kept hoping that they wouldn’t kill him off, but it was inevitable. Still, he went out honorably, throwing the spotlight to Simon in an epic fashion. I can only hope now that the series will keep up the pace and not let Kamina’s death be in vain.

I went back and rewatched that scene, and, yes, it had many good, delicious clues. Maybe we should get Gainax on the Higurashi and Higurashi Nii-Pah! remake project. In that space battle, the main guy had the little drill, so he’s most likely Simon. Then he was the solo pilot of the giant battleship that could morph into Galactic Icon Gurren Lagann, but he behaved like Kamina. And you could hear Yoko’s voice in the background. So I think we’ll get an okay ending, but then again, it could be like MoO where they just kill off all the hot chix0rs.

Xeifa: I’m moderately sure that Kamina will be back… if not then we would probably be getting a new OP.

I think it will be fantastic if they didn’t change the OP. Every week, we’d get reminded of Kamina… and if Simon starts stinking up the joint, it would be even more fantastic/tragic. Whatever happens, Gainax did what I didn’t think they could do anymore: they made themselves relevant again with Gurren Lagann. People are talking about them, much like their earlier works. It’s been a long time since anyone could have a decent discussion about a Gainax series, and it’s definitely long overdue. I think, as fans, we really want Gurren to just keep up the pace for the remainder of the series. It’s been a fantastic ride so far, and we’d hate to see it end. And, of course, Yoko fanservice, please.

Turambar: Well now that you think about it, Kamina’s death was inevitable from another direction. “I’ll give you something 10 times better after this.” The obvious sexual connotation means that if Kamina lived, either Gurren Lagann goes H, or skip/censor it and half of us never forgive Gainax ever again.

Yep, these are my readers.

(And, yes, there’s no doubt that Kamina and Yoko would have been more, uh, explosive than Dirk Diggler and Amber Waves.)

30 Responses to “the gainax resurrection”

  1. “I think it’ll be Yoko and Simon having sex in episode 17”

    One can only hope…. But then again, it was ep 18, I think, since I remember raising hell when that episode was spoiled to me.

  2. I still haven’t watched ep 8, and don’t think i ever will, because nothing van be as epic as the boards have made it to be in my head.

  3. “The death has to be sudden rather than melodramatic and drawn on.”
    Actually, technically Kamina’s death wasn’t sudden. His death blow was sudden, but afterwards he kept living on for ten more minutes to remind everyone that his death won’t be the end of the world.

  4. “I’ve been racking my brain the past week trying to think of a more crushing death than Kamina”


    You been Warn

    Watch Ep8 of Claymore.


    yeah, well, that series of episodes were flashbacks anyways.

  6. But did you predict as a first time anime watcher or when you first read about it in the manga? I certainly wasn’t expecting how it went down when i first read the manga.

  7. Ep 8 of Claymore… man, that’s not how you’d want a cool character to die (although the shock/impact rating does blow through the roof)

  8. Argh… that shot of Kamina at “moshimo sekai da” was my favorite part of the OP…


    There is a rather large difference between the deaths of Teresa and Kamina though. The impact (on the viewer, not the rest of the series) is very different between the two deaths because Teresa’s death scene shares its room with the emergence of what can be seen as the first true antagonist of the series. However, Kamina’s death scene was all about Kamina. Yes, it brings up the question of what would happen to Simon and Yoko, but the last 10 minutes of episode 8 was just Kamina goodness (as feel good and kickass as the last fight scene for TSR)

  10. No mention of Touch?

    Somewhat sad about that.

  11. I agree with the title of this blog post; Gainax has truly redeemed itself with Gurren Lagann. It is the best show from them since… many years. During initial episodes I wasn’t sure what to make of over-the-top hyper action but then figured that I was sucked in by the relentless pace, absurd shout-them-out-loud attacks and GATTAI and liked it. And of course, Kamina’s larger than life drive and attitude made the first eight episodes.

    If they ever arrange SaiGAR 07 contest, it will be an absolute disgrace if Kamina doesn’t win. Move over Guts, the new manliest of men has arrived!


    Teresa, even though she is my favorite Claymore, only had 3 eps to establish herself. But her death was still highly unsatisfactory compared to Kamina’s. It was sudden, terribly undramatic, and I was thinking “WTF just happened?” for about 5 sec after the fact. From what I hear, it was pretty true to the manga, though.

    The animators should have improved it. To parallel Kamina and Yoko, Teresa and Claire should have at least had some quality yuri-loli fondling moment.

  13. “The animators should have improved it. To parallel Kamina and Yoko, Teresa and Claire should have at least had some quality yuri-loli fondling moment.”

    Uh…. Agree.

    As for everything else, I’m not feeling the impact that everyone else is, but maybe that’s because I never thought of Kamina as a main character at all, for me that spot has always belonged to Simon, since he indeed IS the first character we are introduced to in the series. He’s the first one that gets his hands on real power and strength, and a lot of Kamina’s actions just seemed like foolish bravado instead of manly heroism. Because of that, I’m not feeling the same amount of ‘omgzor tragic loss’ that everyone else is talking about. To me, he was more of a means to an end, and that’s it.

    … Time for the flames, I guess.

  14. I would say that Kamina has the most significant death I’ve seen in an anime, but not the most crushing. To me, a crushing death in a series is one that has an emotional impact on the viewer. The most crushing death I remember seeing in an anime literally upset me, and that’s saying a lot given that it’s hard to get me emotional about fiction. So a crushing death is very viewer dependent.

    Kamina’s death didn’t upset me. It is, however, very significant, for all the reasons you mention, which I think was the point you were trying to make.

  15. Well, Kamina’s out of the opening, and in his place is this new strange girl, Nia. We’ll see where this goes, but it’s looking interesting.

    However, your comments on a self-destructing Simon seem to have come true as well. If you’ve watched the episode, it’s clear Simon is going about everything the wrong way. From what I can tell, he’s not actually resolved to emulating Kamina.

    Instead, he wants others to be Kamina.

    Simon is still a coward, albeit with new self-destructive and dangerous violent streak going on. And he’s starting to talk about dangerous things like Vengeance and Self-Sacrifice. And what’s worse, while he is blaming himself a little, he’s taking out his anger on his friends, pointlessly. (Case in point, his uncalled for outburst towards Rossiu)

    I’m quite certain that Kamina is NOT pleased with Simon, wherever he ended up.

    Simon won’t stay like this for the rest of the series… he’s not even halfway to the point where we see him at the beginning. Hopefully, his true growth will begin soon. His response is not unexpected, but I don’t think I can tolerate an asshole Simon for too much longer.

  16. I know Simon is being an asshole, but I much rather prefer that to Shinji the spineless, self-pitying coward or the archetypal goody-goody who overcomes all diversity through his sheer strength of will (a perfect character with no flaws).

  17. “But her death was still highly unsatisfactory compared to Kamina’s. It was sudden, terribly undramatic, and I was thinking “WTF just happened?” for about 5 sec after the fact. From what I hear, it was pretty true to the manga, though.”

    Spoilers, obv.

    It happens pretty much -exactly- from the manga. It’s sudden, vicious and brutal. The death partially resonates with people, because it’s a complete reversal of what you’ve seen up to this point of Claymore’s and the Yoma.

    Not only did Teressa eat it, but the entire upper echelon of that generation of Claymore’s died. It helps show the major rift between the organization’s power and the monsters they’re fighting/creating in the Claymores themselves.

  18. “I know Simon is being an asshole, but I much rather prefer that to Shinji the spineless, self-pitying coward or the archetypal goody-goody who overcomes all diversity through his sheer strength of will (a perfect character with no flaws).”

    Very true, very true. It would be MOST unlike Simon to be the goody-goody overcome everything type, so there obviously can’t be that, and being a total wimp about everything would imply he missed EVERYTHING Kamina was trying to drill into his head.

  19. I meant “adversity,” not “diversity.” Eheheh…

  20. Didn’t they reveal at the beginning of ep 8 that the Beastman are created by the “Rasenou”? So what are the chances of Kamina returning as a villanous Beastman?

    If it was an anime made by any other studio I’d say it’s pretty high- not so sure with Gainax, but you never know…

  21. No, its hinted in episode 9 they are created by the “Spiral King”.

    Kamina is dead, only if Gaimax goes in Sunrise mode in the end (after they spend all the money and have to make stuff up) he is coming back.

  22. What return from the dead in Mahoromatic? There was no return from the dead. The last episode was the one where Mahoro died, and obviously they couldn’t have her come back in the same episode, nope. I might have once had a bad dream where they made another episode and tried to retroactivly tarnish everything I had liked about the show, but luckily that was just a dream and not reality.

    But yeah, I initially stopped watching Gurren Lagen when I saw how silly the OP looked, but then I saw this post and realized it was worth another look. How glad I am that I did.

  23. I’ve been racking my brain the past week trying to think of a more crushing death than Kamina… and I failed.

    Kamina’s death wasn’t as sudden as Hughes’, probably because I was a) expecting it from episode 7’s “next week” segment a b) spoiled by people telling me what happened in IRC.

    Actually, it wasn’t so much Hughes’ death that left a mark on me, but the funeral, so I guess you’re right.

  24. Oh, as for crushing deaths the one that affected me most was probably the one at the end of Alien 9. For a long time I would tear up whenever I heard that ending theme.

  25. Looking at your 4 requirements Kamina and Teresa of Claymore are the only obvious choices. Gai from Nadesico is nowhere near those 2.

    Teresa will also 100% stay dead for the claymore anime, can’t say the same thing about Kamina at this stage.

  26. Gai > Teresa. It was pretty damn obvious that she was going to die, the only question (and reason the death maintained its shock value IMO) was how, when during her short time in the series she was so effectively built up into an invincible god of battle that’d make Kratos wet his loincloth.

    >>In that space battle, the main guy had the little drill, so he’s most likely Simon.

    When I first saw that scene I assumed it was a prologue, and the war being fought was the reason humans were initially forced underground and surrounded by buried ultratech artifacts. Seems unlikely now, but it might still be so. “History repeating itself” kind of deal.

  27. Ironic that you mentioned LBJ, especially after the Chosen One’s recent performance…

    …bodes well for Simon, perhaps?

  28. High-impact anime deaths?

    Gai, episode 2 of Nadesico.
    Roy Fokker, Macross.

    Those two come to mind, but the single most wtf death is probably Joe in Ashita no Joe. You don’t expect the protagonist of a moderately popular boxing anime to keel over dead in the ring.

    But to get back to the point, Kamina dying is like Dumbledore getting killed. As long as they are around, the main protagonists can’t grow up.

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