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Gurren-Lagann: Lagann Chapter
(U.S. title: The Lights in the Sky Are Stars)

 

Review by Scott Richardson

September 21, 2010

 

Summary

 

On the seventh day of the Battle for Teppelin, an exhausted Simon in his battered Lagann battle Lordgenome in the ruins of his throne room. Lordgenome rips the battered Lagann's arms off and lifts up it's utterly exhausted pilot by his head. But to his surprise, Simon suddenly plunges his core drill into Lordgenome's chest, unleashing enough energy to mortally wound the Spiral King. Before he passes, he leaves Simon with one final warning--when humans reach space, the moon will become the Messenger of Hell and the spiral planet will meet its doom.

 

Seven years pass, and the site of the Battle for Teppelin slowly becomes the modern metropolis of Kamina City with Simon and Team Dai-Gurren in charge of a new government. Though their hearts are in the right place, Kittan and the other Team Dai-Gurren pilots have not taken very well to their administrative roles, and the burden generally falls on Rossiu to keep things running smoothly. Only Yoko decided she wouldn't make a good politician and left years prior to become a school teacher. One night, as Simon and Nia stare up at the moon together, Nia tells him that her dream is to cover the world with flowers. The two of them are different people, she insists, and as such, she'd like to spend the rest of her life learning more about him, and accepts his marriage proposal. As Simon and Nia embrace, suddenly red circuit board-like lines begin to appear on Nia's skin. Nia's scream is cut short, as she suddenly takes over all the screens in the city to make a declaration: the Anti-Spirals have determined that humankind has reached the moon, and achieved Spiral power danger level two--the human extermination system will now be activated. As Simon looks on in horror, the suddenly unfamiliar Nia announces that in three weeks, the moon will crash into the Earth, and it is all Simon's fault for leading humans above ground. Nia remarks that it is ironic that the one born with hidden Anti-Spiral genes would be Lordgenome's daughter--and now that those genes have been activated, she can never return to being human. A portal opens up behind her, revealing a pair of strange, geometric mechs, which begin laying waste to the city. Rossiu orders the Grapearl squads, lead by Gimmy and Darry to defend the city. Unfortunately, the quickly dubbed 'Mugann' seem to feature an energy shield that repeals anything the Grapearls can throw at it. Fortunately, before Gimmy and Darry can be overwhelmed, Simon appears in Gurren-Lagann. Rossiu yells at him that they can't have their leader on the front lines, but Simon fires back that his most important job is to protect the city and its people. Gurren-Lagann's drill manages to absorb the Mugann's beams, allowing Simon to throw the energy back at them. The two Mugann explode in a rain of geometric objects, which unfortunately detonate on the city below, causing massive devastation, much to Simon's horror. As Simon returns to the government building, the people of Kamina City begin to riot, blaming Simon for the destruction of the city and the Anti-Spiral threat. In response, Simon is arrested in order to calm the populous. A trial is held almost immediately, and Rossiu sentences Simon to be executed. Betrayed by those he cared about, Simon seems to resign himself to his fate. In prison, he offers little resistance to the abuse heaped upon him by the other inmates. Oddly, it is Viral who eventually comes to his aid, stating that he can't stand to see the man who defeated the Spiral King in such a pathetic state. Simon tells him that there is simply nothing left for him to do--Rossiu will take care of the rest.

 

Meanwhile, Rossiu has succeeded in creating a bio-computer centered around Lordgenome's head in order to find out what the Spiral King knew about the current threat. He discovers that the Anti-Spirals were once Spirals who eventually came to the conclusion that Spiral power would lead to the death of the universe, and thus rejected their own nature and went to war with the other Spiral races. Lordgenome eventually surrendered to the Anti-Spirals, and took on the task of limiting humanity's Spiral power. Armed with this knowledge, Rossiu issues a declaration to the world. The majority of humanity will take shelter in huge underground shelters, but the residents of Kamina City will flee into space via the newly discovered Arc-Gurren--a giant space dreadnought. Sometime later, with the evacuation nearly complete, a huge fleet of Mugann appear in the sky over Kamina City, and begin attacking the government building, under which the Arc-Gurren prepares for departure. Meanwhile, in prison, Viral and Simon note that they seem to have been left behind. Simon doesn't seem upset by this, however, noting that following Rossiu is the best way for humanity to survive. At that moment, Nia suddenly appears outside of their cells, and informs Simon that Rossiu cannot save humanity--the underground shelters will not withstand the moon's impact, and the Arc-Gurren is flying into a trap. Simon then reveals that, when the people pulled down Kamina's statue during the riots, he began to feel a massive power building up inside of him. He didn't fight back all this time because he was worried about losing control and becoming like Lordgenome. He was ready to die for humanity, but thanks to what Nia has told him he has changed his mind. Just as Nia prepares to kill Simon, she is forced to flee due to the sudden reappearance of Yoko and the remaining members of Team Dai-Gurren. Together again, and with Viral taking Rossiu's place in Gurren, Team Dai-Gurren sets off to save Arc-Gurren and the Earth itself. In space, despite new anti-Mugann weaponry, the Grapearl squad protecting Arc-Gurren is being overrun. As Spiral power in Arc-Gurren drops, Rossiu begins to despair that all he did was for nothing. At that moment, Simon suddenly chimes in that it's all over if he gives up.

 

Team Dai-Gurren appears on the scene and immediately takes control of the battlefield, destroying hundreds of Mugann and lifting the morale of the civilians on Arc-Gurren. As the Mugann fleet regroups, the two largest Mugann split themselves up and surround Gurren-Lagann and Arc-Gurren, separating the two. Simon, however, has an idea, and forcefully pulls the Mugann that has caged him toward the Arc-Gurren. Turning the entire bottom half of Gurren-Lagann into a massive drill, he embeds it in Arc-Gurren and begins the combination process--forming the aptly named, Arc-Gurren-Lagann. Seemingly unperturbed, the two large Mugann perform a combination of their own. The two new mechs rush each other, but a massive, Spiral energy-infused uppercut from Arc-Gurren-Lagann hits the Mugann so hard it smashes through the fabric of the universe, never to be seen again. With its protectors defeated, the falling moon suddenly transforms into a massive Gunman and attempts to punch the Earth. Arc-Gurren-Lagann attempts to push the huge fist away, but is barely able to hold it back. Lordgenome's head suggests that he attempt to hack Cathedral Lazengann (the moon)--as it was once his flagship. A brief pixelated journey later, Lordgenome informs Simon that if he inserts a large amount of Spiral energy into a chamber at the heart of Cathedral Lazengann, he will be able to control it. Arc-Gurren-Lagann Giga Drills its way into Cathedral Lazengann's core drill chamber, but comes to a sudden halt when Nia appears in the Giga Drill's path. Nia taunts Simon, telling him that his hesitation will lead to humanity's end. Simon tells her that she is actually the one who is hesitating, as she continues to wear her engagement ring. This seems to surprise the previously unflappable Nia. Simon tells her that the real her is still crying out for help, and begs her to move as he plunges Arc-Gurren-Lagann's drill into Cathedral Lazengann. Arc-Gurren-Lagann successfully takes control of Cathedral Lazengann and moves it back to its previous orbit, as a shaken, but still defiant Nia tells Simon that their fate still won't change. With the extermination system terminated, the Anti-Spirals themselves will come for humanity and will recall her for examination. The probability of them ever being together again is practically zero. Simon says that's fine--as long as it isn't zero, it may as well be 100%. Nia suddenly dips back into her old mannerisms and asks if he will come for her even as she is teleported away.

 

Thanks to the link between Simon and Nia, Lordgenome is able to track Nia back to the Anti-Spiral homeworld, and tells Team Dai-Gurren that they can use Cathedral Lazengann--now renamed Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann--to jump there. As preparations are made to take the fight to the Anti-Spirals, the pilots of Team Dai-Gurren admire their new Arc-Gurren-sized Space Gunmen in the hanger. They admit that they should have never bothered trying to be government officials in the first place--this is what they were made for. Meanwhile, Rossiu locks himself in his office and prepares to shot himself to take responsibility for what he's done. Simon isn't having it, however, and drills his way through the door. Rossiu tells him that he has to take responsibility for playing right into the hands of the Anti-Spirals and nearly losing the Earth entirely, but before he can kill himself, Kinon marches in and slaps him in the face, reminding him that all he did was trying to do everything he could to save the human race. Rossiu reflects on this, and Simon tells him that he still believes in him. With Rossiu agreeing to stay behind and manage Earth, Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann activates its teleportation systems and heads for the final battle.

 

When they warp out into the pocket universe the Anti-Spirals hide in, they are immediately greeted by a huge fleet of Anti-Spiral ships riding in on what seems to be a black tidal wave in space. Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann is almost immediately swallowed up by the wave, which Lordgenome identifies as a Death Spiral Field--a super-dense liquid that absorbs Spiral energy and converts it into matter--thus, the more Spiral energy they use, the denser space gets. The pressure forces Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann back into ship-mode as they sink further and further into the field. As they get closer to the center of the field, they see a graveyard of Lagann-type mechs, which Lordgenome identifies as belonging to the Spiral warriors who perished here long ago. Suddenly, the voice of the Anti-Spiral echoes through the ship, telling them that this area is a living history of Spiral defeat and failure. As Team Dai-Gurren sinks further into the abyss, their sensors detect the Death Spiral Machine at the center of the field. If they can destroy it, the field will be no more. However, they may not have the power to reach it before the pressure crushes them. Simon, with unexpected help from Boota, taps into his own Spiral energy to drive the ship further down. Their first attempt to destroy the Death Spiral Machine ends in failure when the massive pressure at the center of the field destroys their missile. Simon is at his limit and water begins pouring into the ship via dozens of hull breaches. In the hanger, Yoko asks to have the last Spiral missile installed on her Gunman, but Kittan overrides her, noting that Space King Kittan can withstand more pressure than any other Gunman there. Gimmy protests that Kittan is just looking for a place to die, but Kittan tells him that he's doing it because he wants to see how far the next generation can go--like anyone else, he fears death, but this is all he can do now. With that, he suddenly kisses Yoko, who accepts and kisses him back.

 

Kittan launches in Space King Kittan, promising that he'll be back. His Spiral missile manages to break down the field surrounding the Death Spiral Machine, but before he can destroy the machine itself, the pressure crushes Space King Kittan. Team Dai-Gurren, assembled on the bridge to monitor his progress, despair, but suddenly notice a small energy reaction still heading for the Death Spiral Machine. King Kittan, having escaped the destruction of the larger unit and carrying a broken bit of Simon's Giga Drill, flies straight at the Death Spiral Machine. Kittan announces a King Kittan Giga Drill Break and slams the drill home, destroying the Death Spiral Machine even as King Kittan breaks apart. The dark sea begins converting back to Spiral energy, which Simon uses to transform the ship back into mech form and to completely overwhelm the Anti-Spiral fleet waiting for them when they break the surface. In desperation, the remaining Anti-Spiral capital ship begins throwing planets at Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann, but to no effect--Team Dai-Gurren emerges victorious. Suddenly, the Anti-Spiral himself makes an appearance, and tells them that when a person uses enough Spiral energy, they can create a galaxy. When this process begins, countless galaxies will be born across the universe and as they begin to collapse in on themselves, they will form a massive black hole which will destroy the universe--that is the Spiral Nemesis the Anti-Spirals are trying to prevent. With that, the Anti-Spiral sends Team Dai-Gurren into the Multiverse Labyrinth--intending to trap them all there for the rest of their lives...

 

A young Simon drills into a jewelry store at the behest of Kamina. With the money they steal, they are able to make a living under the beastmen capital. Kamina says they can't change anything, but they can at least live comfortably. Later, the pair are cornered by beastmen police, and Kamina gets down on his knees and begs for forgiveness. Confused, Simon absentmindedly reaches for his core drill, but it isn't there. A familiar voice behind him asks him if he's lost his drill. Simon turns around and sees a second Kamina, standing defiantly and declaring that he won't stand for more than one Kamina. He reminds Simon that Simon was the method to Kamina's madness. As he tries to remind Simon what his drill is for, the groveling Kamina grabs Simon and pushes his head down, telling him to apologize so they can get out of this. Simon, rejecting such a life, punches the fake Kamina and declares that the drill is his soul. As the dream begins to melt away, Kamina tells Simon not to be drawn in by 'what ifs'. With that, Simon goes flying off to wake up the rest of Team Dai-Gurren. In the Anti-Spiral's lair, the Anti-Spiral is attempting to discover how to prevent Spiral rebellion by analyzing Nia's data, which is gradually destroying what remains of her body. Suddenly, however, her ring begins to pulse with green energy. Nia strains against her restraints and points the ring at the Anti-Spiral just as a massive drill followed by Gurren-Lagann and the members of Team Dai-Gurren emerge. The Anti-Spiral responds with shock--nothing can escape the Multiverse Labyrinth, but Simon tells him that Team Dai-Gurren will pierce his plans regardless of his methods. With that, Gurren-Lagann is taken into Arc-Gurren-Lagann, which is eaten by Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann, which then absorbs the entirety of the Multiverse Labyrinth, forming Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, which emerges from the heart of the galaxy, standing on top of it like a massive arena in space. The Anti-Spiral is impressed, and decides to fight with them on the same level, generating his own massive mech: Grand Zamboa. The two impossibly large mechs begin to fight, on the same level at first, but Grand Zamboa eventually gains the upper hand, forcing Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann to pull back across a few galaxies. Yoko generates a sniper rifle for the mech and takes a shot at the sphere above Grand Zamboa's head, breaking away the outer layer and revealing a planet within which Nia identifies as the Anti-Spiral homeworld. The Anti-Spiral explains that they were once Spirals as well, but upon realizing that evolution would eventually lead to the destruction of the universe, they began to hunt down the other Spiral races and put themselves into hibernation to prevent their own evolution. As Grand Zamboa presses his advantage, he tells Simon that Nia is nothing more than a virtual being now--if the Anti-Spirals are destroyed, she disappears with them. This revelation causes Team Dai-Gurren to hesitate, supplying the Anti-Spiral with the opening he needs to drive Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann into a galaxy and begin tearing it apart as he berates them for not having even the determination to kill one virtual being.

 

Grand Zamboa shatters Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, and notices that a portal has opened up to Earth. Using this to his advantage, he prepares to pierce the severed head of Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann (with Simon inside) in full view of humanity. His plan is thwarted, however, when another mech forms out of nowhere--Tengen Toppa Solvernia, piloted by Nia--and frees the head, which sprouts arms and legs to form Tengen Toppa Lagann. Nia vows to resist to the very end, and manages to get in close and stab Grand Zamboa in the chest. Unfortunately, the Anti-Spiral manages to knock her away, shattering one of Solvernia's arms. Before he can finish her off with a barrage of drills, each one is suddenly grabbed by a separate hand of Tengen Toppa Enkidulga, piloted by Viral, who is thrilled to be able to protect the Spiral Princess in the depths of space. Viral attacks with a dozen swords, but they are quickly shattered by Grand Zamboa. Viral takes advantage of the situation by kicking one of the broken blades into Grand Zamboa's head, which is promptly driven in further by a well placed shot from Tengen Toppa Yoko W Tank, sniping from a distance. Grand Zamboa is only off-balance for a moment before its counter attack knocks Yoko over, requiring her to be rescued by Tengen Toppa Twin Vulcan, piloted by Jorgen and Balinbow, while the attack is carried on by Tengen Toppa versions of all the other Team Dai-Gurren mechs. Forced on the defensive, Grand Zamboa accidentally backs into Tengen Toppa Dai-Gurren, captained by Dayakka, who captures Grand Zamboa in drill anchors and swings it around in full view of the Earth. As the combined Tengen Toppa forces of Team Dai-Gurren ask the Anti-Spiral who the hell he thinks they are, Grand Zamboa grabs two galaxies and forces them together, unleashing the Infinity Big Bang Storm. Team Dai-Gurren are pushed back by the overwhelming energy output, but their spirits do not waiver. Suddenly, Lordgenome walks out in front of the mechs and tells them it's not over yet. He generates Lazengann Overload and takes on the brunt of the beam himself. He tells Nia that his soul, which once sank into despair can now be satisfied by creating a future of Spiral beings. The Anti-Spiral strengthens his attack, causing Lazengann to begin to break apart, but Lordgenome is nonplussed, claiming this is what he was waiting for. Lordgenome sacrifices himself to absorb the energy from the Infinity Big Bang Storm and transform it into a massive drill pointed right at Tengen Toppa Lagann, which devours it. Lagann pulls in all the other Tengen Toppa mechs and forms Super Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, an energy-based mech so large, Grand Zamboa only comes as high as its foot.

 

The Anti-Spiral rages that this is the kind of energy that will see the end of the universe, and grows Grand Zamboa into Super Grand Zamboa to continue fighting at the same level as Team Dai-Gurren. Simon creates a Super Tengen Toppa Giga Drill Break which the Anti-Spiral answers with an Anti-Spiral Giga Drill Break. The two impossible drills meet and seem to suck in the universe itself before Team Dai-Gurren's drill begins to fracture. Before the Anti-Spiral's drill reaches them, however, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann emerges and meets it with another Giga Drill, and when that one breaks, Super Galaxy Gurren-Lagann meets it again, and then again with Arc-Gurren-Lagann, until finally only Gurren-Lagann stands before Super Grand Zamboa. Impossibly, Gurren-Lagann's drill breaks through Super Grand Zamboa's, clearing a path for Gurren-Lagann to rush for the Anti-Spiral homeworld. The Anti-Spiral sends up a barrage of drills to stop them, but even as Gurren-Lagann is torn apart, Viral has Gurren uncouple Lagann and hurl it towards the surface. As Lagann recklessly plunges downward, even it is finally hit by the Anti-Spiral's drills, and Lagann itself grabs Simon and hurls him out of the cockpit. Simon reaches the surface and drives his fist into the Anti-Spiral's face. The two trade blows until both stand in a cloud of their own blood, and Simon raises his hand toward the heavens. Simon tells the Anti-Spiral that he will believe in himself who believes in human beings and the future, and forms a drill around his fist which he uses to pierce the Anti-Spiral through the chest. With his last breath, the Anti-Spiral asks Simon to protect the universe. With the Anti-Spiral dead, the space between dimensions collapses, and Team Dai-Gurren is forced out of the portal to Earth. As Simon and Nia float together in the remains of Lagann, Rossiu contacts them, telling them that planets across the galaxy are contacting them with messages of joy--all the Spiral races across the universe are now free. Several days later, the wedding of Simon and Nia is held. After the newlyweds kiss, Simon tells her he will never forget her, and Nia begins to fade away. The crowd sits in stunned silence as Simon thanks them, telling them the two of them were really happy. Gimmy can't take it anymore and asks Simon why he doesn't use Spiral power to bring her back. Yoko reminds him that Simon isn't god, and Simon admits that bringing back the dead would just hinder those who come after. Simon turns over his core drill to Gimmy and asks Rossiu to take care of the rest--there are others more qualified to go through the holes he digs. With that, Simon throws on his cape and walks into the sunset.

 

Twenty years later, a new well is dug in a poor village by a mysterious stranger who seems to be able to drill through solid bedrock. In return, all he asks is that the village grow flowers. On the radio, a report comes in announcing that the Galaxy Spiral Nations will finally come into existence later that night. The stranger comes across a young boy struggling to drill open a coconut, and offers some advice which splits the coconut almost instantly. The boy is impressed, but only for a moment. In the distance, Gurren-Lagann and its escorts blast into space, and the boy asks if it's going to fight again. The stranger says no--they are going in peace. The boy wonders if he can go out there one day, and the stranger says of course, all the lights in the sky are planets--planets where their Spiral friends await.

 

Commentary

 

Lagann Chapter is mostly old footage, but does seem to have more new stuff sprinkled around than Gurren-hen did. Unfortunately, it still suffers from being a compilation movie--the pacing feels weird, though not quite as bad as Gurren-hen's. They skipped over the majority of the Battle for Teppelin, which is a shame, as that was one of the series' greatest bits, but it does make a good starting point for the movie. There are a few extra scenes for the time skip, and the Rossiu-is-a-bastard sequence was toned down considerably. I also really liked the extra explanation Simon gives about why he allowed himself to be arrested and sentenced to death. The battle against the moon is improved by having the moon transform into Cathedral Lazengann rather than just being a moon with a face--and Lordgenome's hacking sequence is pretty hilarious. I suppose the biggest change would be that the majority of Team Dai-Gurren survives this time around--probably mostly because there was simply no time to kill them off (even in the series their deaths felt a little rushed). As for the final battle, the majority of the new animation was used for it, and to great effect. I would have never guessed that they would actually succeed in making that fight even more over-the-top than it originally was, but there you go--spectacular stuff. Ultimately, the movies are well worth watching if you enjoyed the series and want more, but they'll never replace the series.

 

Overall Rating

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3.5 out of 5 stars
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