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Episode 11: Simon, Hands-Off

 

Review by Scott Richardson

July 29, 2007

 

Summary

 

At the royal capital, Teppelin, Cytomander and Guame discuss the disappearance of Adiane, did not return after her last defeat. Guame wonders if he should go next, surprising Cytomander, and even Lordgenome to an extent. Guame explains that the small Gunmen he's heard about has caught his interest--as it may be using long-lost technology. Lordgenome writes it off as the humans getting lucky and digging up something unnecessary. Guame tells Lordgenome to allow him to go after it, causing Lordgenome to glare at him and ask him if he's trying to give him orders now. Afterwards, Cytomander admits to being quite impressed at how Guame can stand up to Lordgenome like that. Guame simply tells him that he and the king go way back. On the Dai-Gurren, Nia asks Kittan why Simon's Lagann is in the garbage heap. Kittan tells her that Simon is useless now--a messed up kid only capable of digging. Nia protests, but Yoko tells her that they've no place for people who don't take care of themselves, and warns Nia not to pamper him--if he doesn't pull out of his depression by himself, it will mean nothing. Concerned, Nia goes to see Simon, who has taken to sitting in his room, carving countless busts of Kamina. Impressed at his work, she tells him that she can tell by looking at them that he really loved that person. Continuing with his work, Simon flatly tells her that he was only ever good at digging holes. Everyone used to call him creepy and smelly--Kamina was the only person who was always there for him. Simon wanted to become just like him, but now he knows that it's impossible for him. Nia simply compliments him on his carving and asks if she can stay and watch for a while. Meanwhile, the Dai-Gurren receives a transmission from a group of beautiful young girls who unconvincingly report that their village is under attack and ask for help. Kittan wants to go save them immediately, but Dayakka and Leeron point out that it's probably a trap--bad acting aside, nobody underground has the equipment to contact them like that. Kittan declares these details meaningless, and reminds them that Kamina would never hesitate! When they arrive, they find five Gunmen hanging around the village's entrance. Dayakka recommends that they do some reconnaissance before attacking, but the ship's odd-looking gunner decides that he wants to fire the guns now. Luckily, after one volley, the remaining Gunmen flee. To Kittan and most of the male members of the crew's delight, they discover that the entire village is made up of beautiful young women. They are less thrilled, however, to discover that the women are in league with the beastmen, who swarm all over the Dai-Gurren as soon as they drop their guard. Guame's troops comb the ship, rounding up the Team Dai-Gurren members and finally coming for Nia, who Guame wants to talk with. Before she's taken away, she reassures Simon that she'll be fine, and tells him that he is not his brother, but she thinks he's fine as himself. Guame has the brigade members handcuffed and imprisoned in the village, informing them that as soon as the preparations are complete, they will all be publicly executed to serve as an example to anyone else who would go against Lordgenome. Later, Guame meets with Nia, and informs her that her father has ordered her execution--after all, she was supposed to have died quietly sleeping in that ravine. Nia can't believe it, but Guame explains that Lordgenome doesn't age--he's already over one thousand years old--and every now and then for fun he creates a child and raises it until he gets bored with the child, at which point he discards them. Realizing that she was nothing more than a doll to him, Nia is horrified. Guame goes on to say that when Nia recently asked him why she was born, she reminded him of human consciousness, which he hates more than anything. But, Guame believes that she is too beautiful to kill, so he wants her to become chief of this village. Nia asks what this village is, and with a sneer, Guame explains that beautiful girls from other villages are gathered here before they are sent to the king. Nia would be in charge of teaching them what they need to know before they're sent for. Realizing that these girls will also be discarded after a time, Nia slaps Guame, who simply laughs. 

 

Locked in a cave and shackled at the wrists, the members of the Team Dai-Gurren use everything at their disposal--their heads, their teeth, each other--to attempt to tunnel through the rock. Unfortunately, all their efforts prove useless. As they collapse in the middle of the cave, exhausted, Yoko looks over and notices that Simon is hard at work on one wall. Core drill in hand, Simon is slowly and silently making progress. The other brigade members begin to take notice as Yoko tells them that this reminds her of something Kamina once told her--that Simon was always there to save him, never giving up until the end. Kamina was always restless, angry at himself for not going with his father when he was a kid. Though he always acting fearless and boastful, it was nothing more than an act which even he himself didn't believe in. But once he and some others, including Simon, were trapped in a tunnel after an earthquake. All Kamina could do was put on his act, but Simon actually believed in it and wound up digging them all out. From then on, whenever Kamina felt weak or lacked confidence, he would remember seeing Simon's back as he steadily dug them out. He promised himself that he would become the kind of man who would never laugh at that back. With Kamina's last words echoing in his mind, urging him to believe in himself, Simon finally understands what he has to do. Regaining his self-confidence and self-worth, his core drill begins to glow, and shortly thereafter, Lagann bursts through the ground, intersecting with Simon's freshly dug tunnel. At the same time, on the bridge of the Dai-Gurren, Guame is informed that no one has been able to locate the small Gunmen. Guame angrily orders his troops to check again, and Nia asks him if he's getting nervous and suggests that he's afraid of Simon. Guame asks who that is, and Nia tells him that he's the first one that saved her right after she got here--the one who always saves her--and there's no way he'll lose to him. Unfazed, Guame asks if the preparations for the executions are finished, and decides that Simon will be the first to die. Seeing Nia's worried reaction, Guame suggests that if she doesn't like it then she should be a good girl and do what he tells her to. Upon her refusal, Guame puts a gun to her head and tells her that in that case they don't need her anymore and then pulls the trigger. To everyone's surprise, Old Coco pops up and calmly pushes Guame's gun away at the last second, saving Nia. Before she can react, Simon suddenly drills straight up through the floor and into the ceiling in Lagann, and announces that he's here to save her. Nia begins to tear up and jumps into his arms. Before they leave, Nia looks for Old Coco, but he is no where to be found. Lagann shoots through Dai-Gurren's roof and into the air, where Simon apologizes for being late and tells her that he understands it now, Lagann told him, too! Nia happily thanks him, and noticing his dirty, bruised hands, asks him to remove them from Lagann's controls. When he does, she grabs them in his place. Below, the Team Dai-Gurren has succeed (with help from the rebelling villagers) in retaking most of the ship. Guame barely manages to avoid them and gets into his personal Gunmen, Gember. Annoyed, Guame tells them that he'll execute them himself and turns on some cameras, which are set up to broadcast live to the other human villages. Rossiu comes out to stop him in Gurren, but quickly finds himself totally out-matched by Gember's power. Just as Gurren is about to be eaten, Lagann comes plunging out of the sky and unites with it, once again forming Gurren-Lagann. Simon opens his cockpit and stands tall, telling everyone, "Brother has died--he's not here anymore! But, in my back and in my chest, he lives on as part of me! I will dig a hole to pierce the heavens. Even if that hole becomes my grave, as long as I break through, it's my victory! Who the hell do you think I am? I am Simon. I'm not just Kamina's brother--I am me! Simon the Digger!" With that, Gurren-Lagann effortlessly knocks Gember away and in front of all the human villages watching the broadcast, performs the Giga Drill Breaker, utterly destroying Gember (but not Guame, who manages to eject just before it hits). With the remaining beastmen retreating, Nia requests a favor from the brigade. She takes them back to the ravine where she was found and asks that all the other abandoned princesses be buried in a bright place. Afterwards, while looking out over the graves of all her sisters, Nia wonders why they were born. Simon approaches her and gives her a green gem he found while digging. He tells her that he doesn't think her background matters--the Nia in front of him is the true Nia--so she should live as herself, and he will do the same. Kittan tells him that that is exactly how a leader should act, and turns over command of the Team Dai-Gurren to him--he's the one Kamina chose, after all. 

 

Commentary

 

It took him two and a half episodes, but Simon has finally come to terms with the death of Kamina and become a man unto himself--delivering a Kamina-class speech in the heat of battle and performing the Giga Drill Breaker on his own. They did an awesome job with that scene--the animation, the dialogue and the music are all perfect. Yoko's story about Kamina was rather illuminating--as Simon told it in the last episode, Kamina kept his cool while everyone else panicked, which reassured Simon and allowed him to dig them out. But as Kamina told it, he had no confidence at all and was merely putting on an act. The fact that Simon believed in him and dug them out inspired Kamina to really try to become the kind of man he pretended to be. In a very real sense, Kamina believed in Simon, who believed in Kamina; while Simon believed in Kamina, who believed in Simon. On a side note, I'd really like to know what the deal is with Old Coco--he first showed up working for the bath house Gunmen and has since popped up almost randomly, never having any lines and only rarely being acknowledged by the other characters. 

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

5 out of 5 stars
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Gurren-Lagann Episode 11 Gurren-Lagann Episode 11

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