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Episode 8: Later, Buddy

 

Review by Scott Richardson

July 29, 2007

 

Summary

 

As dawn breaks on the day of the final battle, Simon finds himself unable to sleep. Yoko comes to see how he's holding up, noting that he must be under a lot of stress, considering that he's the the key to their whole strategy. Volcanoes rumble in the distance, causing Yoko to explain basically how they work (having had it explained to her by Leeron). Simon remarks that they're a lot like Kamina--getting hot under the surface and then exploding in all directions. Yoko laughs and says that Kamina said the same thing. Yoko then goes to visit Leeron who has just finished some maintenance on her rifle. He remarks that it's unusual for her to ask for help with her rifle, but she tells him that she simply cannot afford to screw up today--she has to protect Kamina. She asks him if Gurren's power is really that far below Gurren-Lagann's, and Leeron informs her that Gurren is substantially weaker. Yoko finds Kamina already eating breakfast. He reminds her that while he smashes everything in front, he'll be trusting his back to her. To his surprise, Yoko suddenly grabs his head and kisses him. Noting his surprise, Yoko tells him he really is defenseless from behind. Recovering, Kamina pulls her close and kisses her properly, and then promises to give her something ten times better when he gets back. Nearby, Simon has accidentally witnessed their entire encounter. Shaken due to his own crush on Yoko, he sprints back to Lagann and curls up in its cockpit, trying to tell himself that it isn't any of his business. A few moments later, he's surprised by Kamina, who's come to see how he's holding up. Simon hides his feelings and pretends to merely be nervous due to the looming battle. Kamina calls together the Team Dai-Gurren to lay out their strategy. While their Gunmen (lead by Kamina in Gurren) attack the Dai-Gunzan from the front, Lagann will sneak up on it from behind and unite with it, at which point they will use the beastmen's own fortress against them. With that, the combined forces of the Team Dai-Gurren head out to face their destiny. Kamina notes that the brigade has grown quite a bit since he and Simon left Jiiha. 

 

The Team Dai-Gurren attacks the Dai-Gunzan, but discovers that the fortress has been playing possum--as soon as they arrive, Thymilph orders Dai-Gunzan powered back up, and uses its catapult arms to hurl Enkidu and the other Gunmen into battle. Viral goes straight for Gurren, informing Kamina that he'll be taking his helmet back today. Kamina points out that his helmet isn't here, causing Viral to realize that this attack is just a diversion. As Kamina manages to fight Viral to a complete standstill (with a little backup fire from Yoko), Lagann suddenly comes drilling out of the cliff wall and embeds itself through Dai-Gunzan's roof. Lagann successfully wrests control of the fortress from the beastmen and forces Thymilph to flee the bridge, but Simon simply can't muster enough spirit to take control of Dai-Gunzan for himself, his mind still muddled with thoughts of Yoko and Kamina. As the Dai-Gunzan begins firing at random, endangering friend and foe alike, Viral orders his Gunmen back to the fortress, but is cut short when Kamina knocks Enkidu to the ground with Gurren's sunglasses and orders his allies to keep the Gunmen occupied while he goes to help Simon. Gurren leaps onto the Dai-Gunzan, and Kamina exits and runs over to Lagann. As Simon opens Lagann's cockpit, Kamina warns him to grit his teeth and punches Simon right in the jaw. Simon is more shocked than hurt, but Kamina smiles at him and asks him if he's got his concentration back now. Kamina tells him not to worry, whenever he feels lost, Kamina will knock some sense into him--he tells Simon to believe in himself, who he believes in. Inspired once more, Simon sits back up and brings Lagann back to full power. Satisfied, Kamina returns to Gurren and prepares to get back to the battle. Suddenly, a powerful beam bursts through the deck, burning a hole vertically through Gurren and badly injuring Kamina. Before he even has a chance to react, Thymilph's personal Gunmen, Byakou, bursts through the deck and--with Enkidu's help--continues his brutal assault on Gurren. To the Team Dai-Gurren's horror, Thymilph stabs Byakou's lance into Gurren's cockpit, fatally wounding their leader. Seeing this, Simon loses himself to rage and despair. Lagann's power surges through Dai-Gunzan, ejecting its beastmen crew and piercing the earth itself. One of the catapult arms nails Enkidu, sending it and Viral flying towards the horizon as the Dai-Gunzan begins firing its guns madly in all directions and lumbering towards the volcano. Leeron and the other brigade members try to talk some sense into Simon, but he's not listening--what can possibly matter anymore if his brother is dead? Suddenly, Kamina's voice rings out over the communications link, warning Simon to clench his teeth. Gurren's severed right arm comes flying out of nowhere and punches Lagann, sending Simon bouncing all over the cockpit. The nearly crippled Gurren manages to stand itself back up and Kamina asks Simon who the hell he thinks he is and reminds Simon that his drill is a drill which will pierce the heavens, the earth, and tomorrow. Now that he has the fortress, victory belongs to him! Simon wipes away his tears, completes Lagann's take-over of Dai-Gunzan's systems, and happily tells his allies that the fortress belongs to the brigade. Enraged, Thymilph rallies the remaining Gunmen forces and charges the Dai-Gunzan, determined to either take it back or destroy it in the attempt. Kamina and Simon unite into Gurren-Lagann one last time as Kamina, in tandem with Simon, makes the following speech: "Be it impossible or absurd, we continue to follow the path of true men! If there's a wall, we'll tear it down! If there's no path, we'll make it with our own hands! The magma of the heart's Final Ignition, the perfect union, Gurren-Lagann! Who do you--all of you!--think we are?!" The enemy Gunmen rush Gurren-Lagann, which fires dozens of drills in all direction, easily destroying them. As Thymilph futilely fires blasts of energy at them, Kamina tells Simon to believe in himself--not in Simon who believes in Kamina, not in Kamina who believes in Simon--but in Simon, who believes in himself. With that, Kamina initiates their final attack, hurling Gurren's glasses at Byakou, which splits into two pairs which pierce Byakou's arms and legs, holding it in place. Gurren-Lagann grows a huge drill out of its right hand and launches itself at Byakou as Kamina dubs it the attack the Giga Drill Breaker. Byakou is easily pierced and destroyed along with Thymilph in an impressively large explosion. With the battle at an end, a gentle rain begins to fall. Kamina quietly wishes his friends farewell, and with a smile on his face, passes away... That day, the members of the Team Dai-Gurren lost someone irreplaceable... 

 

Commentary

 

As Gurren-Lagann is about Simon growing up and learning to take his fate into his own hands, it was pretty much inevitable that Kamina would wind up a noble sacrifice. As dynamic, boisterous, and fun a character as he was, there was just no way to get Simon out of his shadow otherwise. Still, I was definitely not prepared to lose him so soon--when I first watched this episode, I was rendered utterly useless for the entire evening afterwards. In seven episodes, Kamina jumped out as one of the most entertaining and likable characters in years--hot blooded and prideful, but with a fatherly streak (when it came to Simon) to balance it out. Still, if they had to kill him, this was certainly the way to do it--fatally injured by a cowardly sneak attack, he hears Simon losing himself to his sorrow and picks himself up in order to deliver one last epic speech, secure victory for his comrades by killing his murderer, and imparting one last message to Simon--believe in yourself. Kamina may be gone, but he will most certainly not be forgotten. 

 

Overall Rating

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5 out of 5 stars
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Gurren-Lagann Episode 8 Gurren-Lagann Episode 8

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