I have no idea if anyone is reading these posts, but I may as well stick with them. Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann is a very good anime, and it’s at this point where it starts to get really good, I think. Episode 17 is the second full-on reset button (#16 was a recap episode, for the record, though I guess you can’t complain with an episode count of 27). Every time you thought you had a handle on what this show was, it moved the goalposts – and it managed to get more interesting every time it did so.
The block of episodes in the first timeframe had many great moments, but I could see where they might come off a bit dated at times. But the stuff after this seven-year timeskip is another matter. It’s much more cerebral and frankly complex, almost like an in-series switch from shounen to seinen. That Nakashima Kazuki is capable of writing this sort of material just makes it that much more frustrating that he doesn’t do it more often (for anime at least). He’s playing with some very interesting ideas here, stuff you’d have no way to see coming based on the first two major arcs.
One of those themes that’s quite relevant to the real world is the whole idea of what happens after insurgencies win. Transitioning from revolutionary to government is historically difficult to say the least, and history is littered with tragic examples. Simon isn’t really cut out for it – his heart is in the battlefield and in a tunnel. Another option is to go full-on treacherous cad like Rossiu, who’s unfortunately cut out for this life all too well. Looking back the seeds of this were already planted during the first two arcs – there were clues that Rossiu was capable of taking this path. But this is only a sampler of what’s to come in that department.
There are other problems to worry about, though – namely the Spiral King’s dying warning about what will happen when one million apes are on the surface. Rossiu has been terrorizing anyone who wants to keep living underground so that no one escapes his attention (they’ve turned to Viral as their savior, ironically), but he hasn’t managed to do a very good job keeping track. Admittedly humanity has colonized the surface unrealistically quickly, but Kiyoh and Dayakka’s new baby is apparently the millionth. And then all hell breaks loose, just like Lordgenome said it would.
It would be interesting to watch this stretch of episodes again not knowing how things turn out – impossible of course, but interesting. I feel like I can see the direction things in every twist, but that could just be because I know what I know. It’s a really fascinating process this – almost like a relationship drama devoting the third act to what happens after the main couple actually get together, and their relationship turns sour. It’s really sophisticated and smart writing, and fundamentally different from the first two arcs in both tone and substance.