Gurren Lagann Vol. #03 Blu-ray Anime Review

Gurren Lagann Vol. #03 Blu-ray Anime Review Simon’s going to shake this world to its foundations.

What They Say:
Kamina’s death hits all the members of Team Dai-Gurren hard, but nobody is more devastated about his Bro’s death than Simon. But this does not stop Guame the Immoveable, one of the Spiral King’s Four Generals, from setting a cunning trap for them. While the other members can’t stand against Guame’s onslaught, Simon refuses to be defeated. With Kamina’s words beating deep inside of his heart, Simon succeeds in countering Guame’s sneaky trap and proudly assumes the position as the new leader of Team Dai-Gurren!

With Simon completely out of his funk, the team sets their sights on Teppelin, the Royal Capital. But the road to Teppelin will surely be no easy task, as the rest of the generals await their chances to strike them down with their powerful flagships. Will Simon be able to defeat the ruthless Spiral King and lead humanity to a new era?!

Contains episodes 11-16 plus a double-sided poster and a 16-page booklet featuring creator interviews and an illustration gallery!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty good as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the English language adaptation, both of which are done with the uncompressed PCM design. The show is one that has a good bit of action about it throughout, and some good music as well, which gives it a pretty lively forward soundstage mix. The action covers it well throughout with the back and forth of the action and the impact of the manly machines hitting each other and there’s a decent bit of bass to it to give it a bit more oomph. The dialogue works in a similar manner as there’s a good bit of yelling and intense vocal material that definitely helps to elevate it in a way that completely fits the material. Both tracks are pretty good and the sound design overall is spot on for this series with what it’s trying to accomplish.

Video:
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This portion of the series has six episodes to it that are spread across a single disc. Animated by Gainax, the show is one that definitely has a great design to it even as it works a kind of flat color design. There’s a lot of wild takes and loose animation in a sense where it’s not tied to being spot on realistic in its mechanical sense, but it has a very vibrant and strong look overall. Having watched this in the movie form previously in high definition, a lot of what we get here matches that, though there’s simply more lulls and quieter time here rather than the condensed features. That gives us a more variable bit rate throughout which in the end has us looking at a pretty solid show that really shines in the high impact scenes the most. Colors are strong and solid throughout with nothing in the way of problems such as cross coloration and line noise or anything else of note.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises when it comes to the artwork or design, though they do try to class it up a little bit since we’ve seen the overall look before a few times with prior releases. The show comes in a standard Blu-ray case with a slipcover for it that also holds the couple of extras packed in. The front of the slipcover uses the familiar image of Nia laying on her side with her clothes and hair flowing around her, which certainly looks great with its detail and color while being set against a pretty standard background with nothing to it. The wraparound on it has the discs information and details with it all done cleanly on the front through text while the back side has the technical information. The back cover gives us another good image with Simon in his two forms, younger and older, though this batch of episodes features only his younger self. The case itself inside does pretty much the same thing with the front wrapping around the back while the reverse side has Simon’s images on it underneath the disc. Inside the box, we get a pretty good booklet that does a breakdown of the episodes in full color and then has a multi-page interview with the director and some of the designers that really goes into the show and its concepts well. We also get a few great images of the cast and a look at some of the Japanese promotional artwork. Also included is a great doublesided poster where one side gives us Team Dai-Gurren as a whole while the other goes for a rough illustration of a very intense Lordgenome alongside a serious Simon and Nia set against Teppelin.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is kind of standard in a way but it also hews a bit towards the Nightjar menus we saw before as we get an angled piece with the red and black spiral stripes moving across the screen while between them we get various images from the series. It does start up with Kamina’s symbol in red against a black background with the volume number on it and it has a slick and polished look to it that definitely fits, but it also feels too familiar in a way. The navigation along the bottom is a small black strip that has the basic selections and individual episode access and it all loads quickly and easily during startup and as a pop-up menu during playback.

Extras:
The only extra included this time around is the clean version of the ending for the sixteenth special episode.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The series has done fairly well with its episode blocking in the first two sets by doing five each as it covered a good bit of ground and expanded the foundations of the series for viewers to get into. This set brings us up to six episodes, but for all intents and purposes this is another five episode set because the last episode is a recap. While it does a little bit of fun stuff with it in how it presents it, it is largely easy to ignore if you’ve either been marathoning the show or have been picking up these releases as quickly as they come out and have just seen a lot of it. Heck, a third of the events are in this set alone. Recap episodes aren’t easy and they’re sometimes a necessary evil, but they don’t often deserve more than a few lines worth of mention.

With this batch of episodes, things are moving fast towards the conclusion of a major arc as they race towards Teppelin as quickly as they can to face off against the Spiral King. Once the team got an idea of who the real opponent and enemy in this world is that’s been keeping mankind down, they ended up refocusing quickly. Simon even more so since he was still reeling from the loss of Kamina and then gained something with the arrival of Nia and his understanding of her life under his rule. That’s something that actually comes into play in a deep, if brief, way during this set. When the group as a whole ends up in the area where the cases of past “children” of his have been sent once he tired of them, they realize the scale of just how many lives he’s played with in a very personal way and it sets their resolve in a big way. The show actually undercuts itself here a bit by not showing more of the cases or the graves that are dug, but depending on your imagination it might work in the shows favor that they don’t.

The race to Teppelin itself has the team facing a couple of the Four Generals, as you’d expect. Gaume is a rather fun turtle-like guy that actually gets the upper hand at first on them and is set to execute everyone after capturing them, but it naturally turns around in a bad way. We also get him playing a bigger role in defending Teppelin further in as his particular powerset provides a pretty good kind of defense. There’s also the arrival of Cytomander into the game. He’s just two hundred years young, which is like a pup to some of the others, and he’s more brash. His approach is all about the air power when it comes to going against the team and that provides them with some serious challenges as well. It also helps to expand Gurren’s abilities since once Simon can bond with it during fighting, he gets the ability to fly. And that’s a game changer for them that they need in order to deal with the bigger opponents coming up. The show works the chaos of the action beautifully though and even as it barrels forward, you just love being a part of the ride.

When we do get the full on battle of Teppelin though, as Lordgenome makes his larger appearance here and commands attention as the man that rules over the world, it has the proper air of importance to it. Like a lot of characters in this position, he’s not had a serious fight in a long time and as the battle goes on he realizes that Simon really does present him with something rare, which he thrives on. He doesn’t exactly make the usual kinds of mistakes as he goes all out against him, but Simon’s spiral abilities are simply superior. Whether it’s what’s driving him, which is the dreams and hopes of all those that have lifted him to this point, or if it’s the drill that he has which is something even more unique, what it comes down to is that he has the real drive and perseverance to go at it until he accomplishes his goal. We’ve seen this since the beginning for the most part and it gets revisited in the first episode of this set as well as some talk about Kamina’s view of Simon as well. Simon’s grown in his own way, but his core personality is most assuredly this.

In Summary:
This set brings us to a concluding point where most shows would have this around episode twelve or thirteen to separate the seasons and build a proper halfway mark. The events here go quite big, but it’s all still grounded in the events of the world as these underground dwellers can comprehend. It’s gone big and crazy, but they’re all still who they’ve always been, just more of them on the surface. There’s hints of what’s to come from the Spiral King to be sure, but the show has just worked hard and fast for the first fifteen episodes to get to this point and made it an amazingly fun journey. Both in the action and the character development side. These episodes in particular, even with its goofy fanservice fun of the beach material, really pushes forward in a great way that just commands attention with its power and intensity, especially in the final fight. Very, very good stuff here.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Textless Ending

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: January 6th, 2014
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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