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Episode 4: Having Lots of Faces Doesn't Make You Great!

 

Review by Scott Richardson

July 29, 2007

 

Summary

 

As the four members of the Team Gurren make the long trek towards the beastmen base, Kamina decides to stop for a while for special training. He tells Simon that their last transformation into Gurren-Lagann was a bit clumsy, and orders Simon to jump onto his shoulders. Simon protests, saying that doing that without their mechs would be pointless. He looks back up just in time to dodge a huge boulder thrown at him by Kamina who is suddenly piloting Gurren. Back at their camp, Leeron takes this opportunity to examine Lagann with several small disk-shaped robots of his own design. Examining the results, he remarks that while he's seen plenty of Gunmen in his day, he's never seen one like this. Cryptically he tells Yoko that the Lagann might be special. Suddenly, a boulder touches down right where Leeron's robots are doing their work, destroying them. Kamina apologizes for hitting so close, but continues "training" with Simon by hurling a few more boulders at him while yelling 'union!' Overcome by hunger, Kamina eventually decides to take a break. At that moment, four hooded riders charge at them and begin throwing small explosive devices at Gurren. Three of the riders split off and surround Simon, 'saving' him from the evil Gunmen. Kamina tries to fight back, but Gurren powers down due to Kamina's hunger. Annoyed with the constant bombardment, Kamina opens the cockpit to confront his attacker. Surprised to find a human piloting a Gunmen, the riders break off their attack as Kamina introduces himself as the great Kamina, leader of the infamous Team Gurren. Three of the riders turn out to be women, who completely fall for Kamina's bravado. They introduce themselves as the Black Brethren--in order of seniority, the sisters Kiyoh, Kinon, Kiyal, and their older brother Kittan. They ride around destroying Gunmen with their grenades. 

 

Now that they've all gotten acquainted, the three sisters and Yoko are sent out to find lunch. Yoko wonders why they've been forced to do this, and Kiyoh explains that it's because a hungry man is so useless he can't even stand. The stumble upon an oasis and a pink, fuzzy human-shaped thing which seems to have passed out due to the heat. For some reason, they decide that it looks delicious and decide to drag it back to camp. Meanwhile, Kamina tells Kittan that they're on a journey to find and destroy the beastmen base. Kittan thinks they're crazy, but Kamina wonders if he's just scared. Kittan won't take that lying down, but before they can get too far, hunger brings both Kamina and Kittan down for the count. Kittan explains that they've been chasing a 16-face Gunmen all morning and haven't had a chance to eat yet. The girls return with their catch, and though the guys are rather dubious about eating the strange fuzzy creature (which has been broken into sixteen smaller fuzz-balls), Simon takes the plunge and takes a bite out of it. The pink thing screams and sprouts some arms and legs, demanding to know who's trying to eat him. The fifteen other pieces do the same, as they realize that they've run into humans. Before Kamina and the rest are able to get a grip on the situation, the pink things make a break for their Gunmen. The Black siblings are the first to react, jumping on their mounts and charging off in hot pursuit. Kamina runs towards Gurren, but a couple of the enemy Gunmen roll after him in hot pursuit. Fortunately, Kittan arrives and throws the Gunmen off-course with a couple well-placed grenades. Activating Gurren, Kamina calls for Simon to combine with him. Simon has Lagann begin clumsily crawling up Gurren's body, which causes an annoyed Kamina to swat him back down the ground and asks Simon what happened to their special training. Suddenly, the enemy Gunmen combine into one large, 16-face Gunmen. Kamina decries this as a a false union--a real union should be beautiful and burning with soul. Realizing what Kamina meant by his odd training method, Simon rushes toward Gurren, but is knocked away by the constantly detaching and recombining Gunmen. Yoko hitches a ride with Kittan and has him throw a few more grenades, which she shoots mid-air, creating a make-shift barrage. Dodging the remaining Gunmen, Lagann is launched into the air. Seeing the opportunity for a proper union, Kamina hurls Gurren into the air, connecting with Lagann to form Gurren-Lagann in mid-air. At first, the 16-face Gunmen is no match at all for Gurren-Lagann, but Kamina and Simon's stomach starts growling, and Gurren-Lagann begins to lose power. Seeing his friends in danger, Boota (Simon's tiny mole-pig), bites of his own hind-quarters and offers the meat to Simon and Kamina. Finding the raw meat delicious, Kamina and Simon are revived, and Gurren-Lagann follows suit. Kamina tells the 16-face Gunmen that the number of faces means nothing without a true bond, and extends dozens of Gurren-Lagann's drills all at once, skewering all sixteen Gunmen, destroying them. Later that day, the Black Brethren and the Team Gurren prepare to part ways. Kittan insults Kamina one last time, but tells him that if he ever wants to join the Black Brethren, he can come anytime--he'll have to be the youngest sibling, though. Kamina retorts and tells Kittan he can join the Team Gurren instead. 

 

Commentary

 

The animation took a well publicized nose-dive in this episode--the character designs are off, the art is overly flat, and the framerate seems a bit lower than usual. Gainax claims they were just experimenting with a new style, but it really doesn't mesh with the previous episodes at all (which was all very fluid and rounded). Fortunately, due to public outcry, Gainax has already decided that they won't be messing with the animation style again. Plot-wise, this episode is more comedy than anything else, featuring an odd enemy made up of a bunch of anthropomorphic pink fuzz-balls. It isn't a bad episode, overall, but coming down from the epic battles of the last three episodes, it does feel a little jarring (the new animation certainly doesn't help in that respect, either). Still, we're introduced to the Black siblings in this episode, who, judging by the opening sequence, won't be gone for long. Also, Boota proves to be just as dedicated as the rest of the Team Gurren--biting off his own ass to save his friends. Rock on, little guy, rock on. 

 

Overall Rating

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2.5 out of 5 stars
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Gurren-Lagann Episode 4 Gurren-Lagann Episode 4

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