all the lights in the sky are stars



I think the most overused word that has lost all its meaning is “believe.” I see it everywhere. The 49ers used it as their ad campaign last season. The Warriors used it as their playoffs mantra (quite ironically, so did Utah, who eliminated them). Now Master Chief is pushing it for Halo 3. They’re all pretenders. Simon makes that word mean something, and let’s not forget that.

Believe me, I’m at a loss for words, but Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is something special. Awesome series, and I’ll miss looking forward to each and every new episode tremendously. I loved the over-the-top-action, the fantastic cast, and the whole drill plot motif. Just because it finished in a coherent way and actually seems thought out beforehand, I’m going to say that Gurren Lagann is Gainax’s masterpiece, surpassing Evangelion. As for any other anime recent and past… well… it’s tough, but very few series match up. Kenshin‘s Kyoto arc? Cowboy Bebop? Haruhi Suzumiya? They all seem not so glittering next to Gurren Lagann.


Believe how this final episode was epic in its own right, and there’s no better word for it than “epic.” How else would you describe Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann squaring off against the Anti-Spiral with a backdrop of galaxies and the Big Bang? That was a fantastic fight for all the marbles. Loved Lord Genome’s last hurrah. Loved how Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann adapted to the various pilots. Loved how the matryoshka that is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann broke apart, paying appropriate homage to each one, before delivering the final blow. Was there anything besides absolute belief and confidence in Simon after Sora Iro Days started blaring? Simon is beyond the Anti-Shinji Ikari. He’s exudes belief, and it’s not about me who believes in him or him or believes in him but he who believes in himself. But that’s the not the most epic belief.

Believe Simon’s love for Nia. They both knew that they didn’t have much time together, but they spent it the way they wanted to spend it. And, yes, very glad that they didn’t follow Gimmy’s suggestion of bringing back the dead. It’s a bittersweet end, but the characters themselves don’t feel that way. Simon didn’t brood like after Kamina passed away, instead, it wasn’t resignation either. It’s like he knew Nia was still with him, much like how he realized that Kamina was still with him as well.

And believe all the kudos for Gainax. They deserve it.

All the Lights in the Sky Are Stars


Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann… the final form… wow… made of win, awesome, and spiral energy…


… and that’s just the description of how the cockpit is arranged!

(Though did they have to pay royalties to Gonzo since Hibiki and Dita…)

(Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann looks awesome, but I’m still kinda partial to the original Gurren Lagann form. I can imagine Sunrise ripping off this idea for Gundam 00. They would if they were smart!)


Gurren Lagann also has two phrases headed to AoMM’s Phrase Pantheon… “My drill is a drill that pierces the heavens!” and “Who the fuck do you think I am?” will be joining the already inducted “I make the impossible possible,” “Men are potatoes,” and “You are just homo gay side characters.”

(Coincidentally, Gurren Lagann did feature someone who made the impossible possible… it did feature mankind as potatoes growing underground… and it did have a homo gay side character.)


And props to the Anti-Spiral. Can’t be an epic fight without an epic opponent. I still can’t get over how they used galaxies–galaxies!– as mere wrestling props.


The remaining cast is staggering considering how many people died during the series. The first half or so episodes, it was mainly the Kamina, Yoko, Simon, and Nia show… but… man, like The Simpsons, the cast grew and grew fast.


The abbreviated death list? Kamina. Huge blow, but that death was the springboard that launched this series from above average, fun, mecha action to something that spiraled out of control. Kittan? Supports the Yoko Black Widow Postulate. Lord Genome? Redemption at the end. Nia? Nia… *sob* See, that rips your heart out. She ends the past dozen episodes slowly upstaging Yoko… and then… fade to black.


At the end, Yoko fully manifested the Yoko Black Widow Postulate whereas Nia filled out her body. I’m going to have to re-run that Yoko vs. Nia poll again, and maybe toss in Darry (who took Nia’s old DFC mantle). After that swimsuit episode, Nia’s stock has been rising like gasoline prices,


Yes… Nia made me believe. Now why is Yoko wearing a man-suit?!? Gainax should have tossed us Strapless Gown Yoko. I’m upset.


The final time slip. Looking back on the series, one thing that I expected was Simon, Kamina, and Yoko going on for twenty-some episodes hunting down Lord Genome before dispatching him in the final episode. But… I didn’t count on the Spiral Plot Progression Theorem. The first time slip really kicked things up a notch, and then it really got out of hand. Fighting with Gunmen and Gurren Lagann to fighting Anti-Spiral with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann… as Ron Burgundy once said, “Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.” They could have easily made it two or three series… but somehow… the pacing, the story, the time slip, all worked to the plot’s advantage. This is what happens when a studio thinks out and properly plans a series.

(And Time Slip Again Yoko is what happens when every guy who kisses her dies. She’s more poison than the Ninja Scroll lady.)


There actually is a term for this type of storytelling. “Coital.” As in it starts slowly, and then really turns up the heat. The foreplay, of course, would be beheading Lord Genome. The climax, of course, is the squaring off against the Anti-Spiral. The waking up the next morning and realizing that your lover isn’t next to you? Well, that’ Simon.

(Yep, learned this while discussing Dune in a 300 level English class when I was an undergrad. For people taking English now, it’s a term that, when used right, can really impress your prof… maybe.)


Highly impressed by the speed at which the community updated Gurren Lagann‘s wiki page. The mecha page was spoilerrific less than 24 hours after airing. Kinda scary that I can read something like “Post-timeskip mass-produced mecha developed through research of Simon’s Gurren-Lagann” and understand that fully. Never thought, since I started watching fansubs of Macross on VHS, that one day we’d get less than twenty four hours turnaround on an episode as well as a completely updated web page to reflect it.


Enjoyed the final “Who the fuck do you think I am?” from Simon. And, yeah, he does remind me a bit of Balsa carrying that thing around. This does raise the question of what happened at the beginning of episode one since that looks very much like Boota and Simon… but… ah, shucks, I’ll let it go.


I’ll end with this final scene. Very appropriate, but still two very important people for Simon.

(And, yes, it opens nicely a door for a sequel focused around Darry’s ass Spiral Nemesis. After all, all the lights in the sky are stars.)

55 Responses to “all the lights in the sky are stars”

  1. indeed, it could definitely be considered gainax’s masterpiece – however, viewership numbers don’t seem to reflect that, which is odd to me considering the endless adrenaline rush that is this show. perhaps it was the non-generic art style, perhaps it was the fact that the 14 year old chick with the gun didn’t look 14 and all (a major downer for many people), or maybe… well, i dunno. there’s no reason why this show isn’t the biggest thing in the anime world.

  2. I wonder when the opening battleship scene from the very first ep happened.

  3. Maybe because it doesn’t have the typical sunrise design, or the generic gundam battle? I can see the general mass shy away from this show because it doesn’t have a lacus/kira type of character to go ooh and ahh. That might be the reason….

    Also no matter how great gurren lagann is, i just cant see it as a selling merchandise. Never less this show is EPIC.

  4. Great post Jason. Nothing more to say here other than it’s been a great ride, both following the series and reading your blog. It would be hard for me to enjoy other anime as much as I enjoy Gurren Lagann. (Gundam 00? Please. I bet Sunrise would trash the series after 10 or so episodes just like they did with Seed Destiny and Code Geass).

    [quote post=”1166″]however, viewership numbers don’t seem to reflect that[/quote]
    Is that true? I’ve always gets the impression that Gurren Lagann is quite a big hit among Anime fandom. Is this not also true in Japan?

    But come to think of it, Gurren Lagann maybe like other Gainax past masterpieces, like FLCL or Aim for the Top 1&2. Those series also didn’t seem to make a big splash in the mainstream, but quickly becomes a cult-favorite. But with all that said, I really, really hope Gurren Lagann becomes famous and a big hit, Gainax really deserves at least that much.

  5. [quote comment=”153453″]however, viewership numbers don’t seem to reflect that… well, i dunno. there’s no reason why this show isn’t the biggest thing in the anime world.[/quote]
    Sadly, I wonder if the Sunday 8:30 am time slot negatively affected viewership numbers. IMHO, I would’ve liked watching TTGL while growing up :x

  6. Obligatory: Epic, Win, Awesome, etc, at least until 17:45 :(

    I found Simon’s departure before the final time skip jarring, since it seemed contradictory to the themes of the series. Surely, Simon didn’t just abandon his friends and give up on life after all that, but without more elaboration there’s no real proof against that outcome.

    Perhaps will provide some answers.

    Of course, I wouldn’t mind Gainax producing an even better “End of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” new canon episode either ;)

  7. Messed up tags :(


    Perhaps this will provide some more answers.

  8. The one thing I didn’t like about the show was that every battle seemed to end with some variation of “Simon makes more spiral energy and a huge drill pops out of nowhere, crushing the enemy”. It was cute the first time, but it started to get old after a while. They never tried to outsmart the enemy or find some tactical advantage. It was always “more spiral energy” and “bigger drill”, repeated with larger and larger mechs. It just seemed like a cop out.

  9. [quote post=”1166″]I’m going to say that Gurren Lagann is Gainax’s masterpiece, surpassing Evangelion.[/quote]

    I completely agree. Simon and Kamina have redeemed Gainax for creating the biggest emo loser in the history of Anime, Shinji Ikari. Now if somebody can create a harem anime without the typical loser harem male I’ll die a happy man.

    [quote post=”1166″]This is what happens when a studio thinks out and properly plans a series.[/quote]

    To think it only took Gainax 12 years to learn how to pull that off. Perphaps there might be hope for others *cough*Sunrise*cough* yet.

    [quote post=”1166″]“My drill is a drill that pierces the heavens!” [/quote]

    Officially my new e-mail signature.

  10. Boy, I just burst out laughing when I saw the aged Rossieu… that head is just too big for his shoulders.

    This is quite officially my favorite anime of all time… I will miss this show…

  11. [quote post=”1166″]I wonder if the Sunday 8:30 am time slot negatively affected viewership numbers.[/quote]
    If memory serves, I remembers that Evangelion also aired on 8:30 am time slot.
    [quote post=”1166″]it doesn’t have a lacus/kira type of character to go ooh and ahh.[/quote]
    That might contributed more to the series popularity. In short: there is no ‘pretty boys’ to attracts the yaoi/girls crowd. But I might be wrong here. :P

  12. Pft. Nia is dead. It’s over. Too bitter for my taste.

  13. [quote comment=”153454″]I wonder when the opening battleship scene from the very first ep happened.[/quote]
    My guess; Alternate ending where either the other Spirals supported the anti-Spiral and wanted revenge after Simon’s victory or Simon simply didn’t want to be friends with the inter galactic neighbours.

    Shame Simon had to become a Hobo instead of a happily fat retired General type.

  14. Wow…
    Truly epic.
    I think I felt a bit disappointed at the epilogue after the credits because it showed another time-slip. Seeing Simon as a hobo like that really killed his image. However, at the same time, it was such an overly epic episode. I’ve heard rumors about a sequel or even multiple sequels. How will they do this? GAINAX always finds a way, don’t they?
    Without a doubt, my favorite show of the season, and probably of 2007. I was rewatching some of my favorite scenes from the earlier episodes and I cried tears of joy whenever the music picked up. The soundtrack to this show really adds that extra punch of awesome.
    Great show. I’m going to miss it. Great pick for your blog, Jason.

  15. Damn it!
    I knew it, I knew this was a superb show and yet I let it pass…
    I’ll have to redim myself when the pack is out and ready.

  16. I dropped TTGL after ep4, maybe it’s worth another look, maybe. If it can inspire an entry like this one . . .

  17. This was an epic episode. So epic, I actually organized to *cough* work from home…. too bad I didnt pre-download the raws so that I didnt have to wait to use the .ass when it was released…
    (I always feel dirty when talking about grabbing .ass files… and yet, I cant help but do it… )

    I did like when they cycled through the attacks of the members… As we all know galaxy-sized giant mecha are capable of pulling Katana’s and Sniper Rifles out of no-where….

    BTW, Physics called… Its .ass is sore after the galaxy-sized mecha battle….
    (I think im going to hell for that combination of bad jokes)

    [quote comment=”153468″]I dropped TTGL after ep4[/quote]
    And you know, not one of us will blame you…

  18. This stuff is what my anime fandom is all about. It’s series like this that would be probably impossible with live actors that always impress me the most.

  19. I have to thank Jason for giving me the impetus to watch this show (I needed some shounen-type action to counterbalance my seinen/shoujou diet for the season/slice of life, and I didn’t want the mainstream stuff). I haven’t regretted it, and to think I only jumped in at episode 7.

    Truly a great way to end the series. Bittersweet, yet still hopeful.

  20. I cried when kamina died, cried when kittan died, now and then some random manly tears, this ep, not one. It’s like, simon didn’t cry, why should i?

  21. It’s the final seconds, and Gainax hasn’t screwed it up. Eleven seconds, you’ve got ten seconds. All the lights in the sky are stars, that’s right… they’re the stars where our Spiral friends are waiting. Do you believe in miracles?


  22. You know, after following this series all the way to the end, suddenly the entire up-coming season feels so small….

  23. all i can say to this series is, Wow. there are very few words to describe how this final episode compares to others. The series itself is so over the top that it made most of the mecha series i have watched pale in comparison. Episode 27 left me with some reservations on how they portrayed simon after the last timeskip, i had honestly hoped that he would stay with the rest of the cast protecting them and not as a hobo.
    [quote comment=”153468″]I dropped TTGL after ep4[/quote]

    i almost did the same thing but i thought that there was something wrong so i checked out the next two episodes and found that they weren’t gonna stay like that…*shudders at the animation quality and style of ep 4*thankfully it didn’t.

  24. Awesome! This is just the type of all or nothing, galaxy busting, big bang blowing, drill that pierces the heavens-type ending that TTGL deserves. Sometimes a show doesn’t need an introspective final episode where everyone dances and laughs while the wind ruffles their hair. TTGL is a show like that. It is all about big battles and bigger explosions and yelling your moves out really loud and thrusting with that drill *ahem* – somethin very cliched but Gainax takes it so far it completely circles the scale and becomes awesome again. Yet TTGL manages to be much more than that, giving epic a whole new meaning. With this, Gainax has drilled their way back to my pantheon of anime gods, yelling “who the fuck do you think we are?”

  25. If the thing about the viewership number is true (I have a hard time believing it – episodes in niconico always had high counts), I bet a lot of it had to do with episodes 4-6.

    It feels like such a long time ago now, but looking back, ep 4-6 made the show seem ordinary. If anybody can get through those episodes, they’re rewarded with the most epic anime ever, but if not…

  26. Besides, viewership is only half the battle– Gurren Lagann is selling like hotcakes on DVD in Japan.

  27. Here’ to hoping they’ll redo Episode 4 for the DVD release.

  28. [quote comment=”153479″]Here’ to hoping they’ll redo Episode 4 for the DVD release.[/quote]
    It’s already out. They didn’t.

  29. yeah its already on episode six on dvd’s the scary thing is…i wonder how they will dub this in english since it already got licenced a while ago…and if it gets messed up…what will happen to the awesomeness of the show

  30. If they mess up the dub, we can always switch to the Japanese audio with English subtitles, or rewatch our fansubs. But for the time being, I prefer to believe in a final miracle: that the English voice acting will be excellent. It’s not like excellent English dubs haven’t happened before.

    I wonder, what is the correct way to pronounce “Simon” in English? The American “Simon” with a long “i” sound? The Hispanic “Simon” with the accent on the second syllable? The original Japanese “Shimon”? The long “i” sound would work for “Viral”, but what about “Simon”?

  31. Pure awesome — apart from the fast pace, great animation (no recycles yay!) and sweet characterisation, I must say the audio in this series never ever let me down.
    Hell, I can’t remember crying these many man-tears during funerals or LotR!

    Thanks jason.

    (related: WordPress ate my comment nyoro~n!)

  32. Jason: Someone posited an interesting theory about the first few moments of Episode 1, and how it contrasted with the ‘real’ ending. It’s an ending if Simon abused the spiral power he received (“All the Stars are our enemies.”), causing all the other spiral races to attack to prevent the Spiral Nemesis.

    Compare this to Simon’s parting words, where “All the Stars are our friends.” Since Simon chose not to use the spiral energy he was given as a tyrant, the ending was avoided.

  33. Could it be possible that the original visions for the ending changed as the director was replaced after episode 4?

  34. Hmm, after watching the scene in episode 1 again, I’m actually thinking that’s part of the sequel if they make one. Other than a slight blue glow in one of the veiws they never really show the hair color of the person in question, and the voice seems different from Simon’s. I could definately recognise Boota, but I think that the other person is actually Gimmy in some sort of sequel.

  35. Was the time warp really necessary. Old Yoko is fail. Old Simon is depressing. Old Viral is.. the same?

  36. Well, in the beginning, even the enemy was different. They wouldn’t mention an intergalactic government if they were really fighting the Anti-Spirals. Clearly something changed through the creation of the show. I hear from the Animesuki forums that a director interview from awhile ago mentioned the end wouldn’t be the same as the beginning.

    In any case, I think Nia dying was a little in excess. Was that really necessary? Did that really make the ending better? I never thought she was that great, but still, give me a break! Give Simon the happy ending he deserves!

  37. Is it just me, or does Old Man Simon sound just like the narrarator for all of the other eps?

  38. I was really impressed. I’m going to go back and watch this series again for sure. I agree with you, wp, that Simon should have his happy ending but this ending was the better choice. The thing that made it a masterpiece, if you will. Any series can have a happily ever after. But only a great series will leave you wishing otherwise.

  39. Productionwise, Gurren Lagann is a miracle, the first show in 12 years by Gainax that avoided the Gainax ending, was thought out, and kept getting better and better. There were some rough patches, but then they hit their stride and kept on going and going and goin, spiraling outwards.

    Final thoughts: Lord Genome redeems himself, Beamspam actually HITS something, and Gabal and Dayakka rock. “My-Wife-Is-The-Best-In-The-Universe-Swing!” Best move ever.

    Old Simon (ha, he’s only 41, my dad’s 60, 41 ain’t old) does sound like the narrator, perhaps he’s telling the story to the kid he met. Gimmy & Darry being GL’s pilots is a nice touch, and Viral as captain of Chouginga Dai-Gurren is awesome: “Show some spirit!”

    Truly, an epic ending to the show.

  40. Actually, older Simon is the narrator. They share the same seiyuu, as stated by ANN.

  41. Glad to see Darry winning the poll. I would be very dissapointed with mankind if she wasnt.

  42. Nevermind, i read it wrong… mankind deserves a big drill in the backside…

  43. Hmm…Nia’s wedding dress was pink.

    Even Yoko had a white one.

  44. Fang-tan: anyone can also arbitrarily kill off a main character just because it seems to be a better ending. The question is: does it make a better ending? It’s much too easy to make the viewers “wish otherwise” once they have such an attachment to the characters. That’s the true sign of Gurren Lagann being a great series: characters you love. Not whether or not you can make the viewers cry and wish otherwise.

    Wild Goose: you are totally right about the age. 40’s are hardly “old.” If Simon really wanted, he could have another good 25 years of fighting. The problem is how the art and voices portrayed the characters. They don’t look 40; they look 60. And they sound like 60. Of course, all that action probably outwardly ages a person, but still.

  45. Bah you guys have been suckered in by Gainax. This is no doubt their signature “Ok guys, it’s the end of the series, we’ve managed to piqued everyone’s interest, now let’s kill off the main girl and see what happens… oh wait, remember Eva and Gunbuster? I think we better use Nadia’s idea and put in some sort of Epilogue. But still we gotta kill the girl, like we did to those before her.”

  46. Lovely ending with Simon looking to the future in hopes of a new path beyond the lacking hindsight of the anti-spirals.

    In other news, ouch. Looks like Yoko still got the short end of the stick. Poll-wise anyway. With the addition of Darry, enough votes have been drawn away to allow the Nia fans to push through for what seems to be the current victory.

    Bah, the war will never be over until we get another derailing.

  47. I agree on it being a good ending. But still, there was so much stuff that you knew would happen and it wasn´t that much unexpected stuff. The only unexpected thing that happened was Kamina was killed.

    Otherwise, well not much suprised me. That Kittan would go out in a big blast was kinda obvious when all other members started dying and when he spoke at the end of the episode I kinda knew…
    same with Nia.

    One thing that though that almost demands the word “epic” is the animation and quality they put into the design, animation and everything. Even though I dislike the way the characters looked when they once again had aged…

  48. Well, I’m sure all of us know who gets my vote….

    The derailing was just a passing comment too.

    Final thoughts? I’m not sure what to say, I didn’t feel the legendary appeal that so many others have, not to say that I didn’t enjoy the series, just that I didn’t agree with its approach to certain portions of the plot at times, in that it didn’t really do what I would have preferred. Regardless, Gurren Lagann was a great revival move for Gainax – They seem to have a knack for overturning conventions every so often. It would appear that gone are the days where people joke about Gainax making a copout ending to a great series because they spent all their money on crack, and they actually stuck with one all the way through. If this is any indication of what is to come, I’ll welcome it with open arms.

  49. And yes Jason, I’m having trouble believing anything except that the 49ers will have a long uphill battle this season, especially if Frank Gore gets hurt. You heard it here first, folks.

  50. the difference between the beginning of ep 1 and the actual end is really interesting
    i wonder what the hell thats all about

  51. Damn, someone PLEASE save the image of just the drill and simon’s hand grabbing it at 1:13 in the 2nd opening
    Dying for it.

  52. Epic win, until the end…then EPIC FAIL when Nia died. Is gainax really that sexist as to ALWAYS kill the femele lead when she’s on her way to a happy ending?

  53. Well, I saw it through. :[

    All I can say is, this seems like a show that people either really like, or really dislike.

    I’m awaiting the next show this company comes out with.

  54. *sniff* *sniff* its over, but that was so epic…

  55. man i jsut wrote a lot and now i lost it, well, jsut wanted to say everyone that the series hasnt ended yet.. the clip of cap 1 shows many things yet to come, like , one, the enemy was the Dimensional Government, , 2, the subcaptain was Boota Evolved as human and was a man, and three, the main hero of the clip is not simon, as i checked how he holds the drill on his hand my best guess is gimmy, or a completely new character, also, he doesnt wear glasess. and is set way more in the future than when the series end, cuz is talking about a galactic war, i guess this developed from the meeting for galactic peace with all the other races, and the hint of the Spiral Nemesis trouble that was supposed to be stopped no matter what, after all it was part of Nias last words, was said by makim too, and also, it was simons concern too, cuz without the anti spiral, the spirals will develop and can destroy the universe one day, sooo till movie 2 is out dont think the series ended yet… either the clip is from the movie 2 orrrrr the mangaka and gainax are planing to continue the series with a completely new main hero and enemy…. being honest i cant wait.

Leave a Reply