Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gurren Lagann vol. 5

So I finally bought, and the days later finally got around to reading, volume 5 of the Gurren Lagann manga. It is probably my least favorite volume just because it saddled me with a wide range of negative emotions, though it finished off with a really cute chapter.

This volume brought with it the end of the remaining 3 of the Big Four, which means we lost Adiane. Anyone who's hung around for a while, or knows me and my relation to this series, knows I adore Adiane. I cry every time I re-encounter her death. The whole reason I put off buying volume 5 was because I had once flipped through it in the comic shop, read her death, and cried in the store for about fifteen minutes.

Of course, reading it now, I cried again. In the anime, there is a lot of implied character development that the manga takes and expands on. But since giant robot battles are pretty faced paced, and therefore only take up a small amount of the manga they use the extra space to expand upon implications made in the anime. A significant one to note is the relationship between Adiane and Thymilph. The anime keeps this very vague, because there's no time to cover it. It's really only hinted at by Cytomander very briefly.

The manga really takes this and makes it into something. There is a short bonus chapter after chapter 7 that is about Adiane and Thymilph right before he goes to fight Kamina. Thymilph gives her a flower and tells her to protect the capital while he's away. Adiane demands a better gift, and Thymilph promises to return with Kamina's head for her, and then leaves.

We then get a brief glimpse at a softer Adiane, saying she'll look forward to his return. We see her briefly in chapter 15, as Thymilph and Kamina kill each other, seeing the explosion and realizing something may have happened to him, and then in the beginning of 16, enraged that Thymilph is dead. Skip ahead to chapter 22, when we come to Adiane's own death. She's fired upon by the whole of Dai-Gurren's artillery. As Sayrune is destroyed, we see Adiane reaching for the flower, encased in some sort of crystal, that she brought with her in memory of Thymilph. Thymiph's spirit grabs her hand, she looks back at him, starts to cry, and thanks him as she dies.

Viewed this way, through the manga, with a closer look at her, Adiane's death -- and her life for that matter, but that is a post for another day -- becomes so much more tragic, and completely heartbreaking. I am pretty sure that the manga is what convinced me that Adiane is easily the most tragic character in this whole series.

Of course with Adiane's (and also Cytomander's) death, the story moves forward into fighting Guame. This was significantly different in the anime, but still leads to a village full of girls being trained as servants/whores for the Spiral King. But the manga introduces another abandoned princess, Straea, who escaped death like Nia, but was caught and forced to be the matriarch of the village. She tries to convince Nia to be her successor on threat of killing the rest of Dai-Gurren, but Nia refuses.

Yoko steps in to be Yoko and pretend to play here, giving Nia words of encouragement when she almost gives in, but this is pretty unnecessary because as she's doing this, Simon regains control of Lagann and breaks out with the rest of the group. Then Guame shows up and the battle between him and Dai-Gurren begins, as does another round of me being completely fed up with Yoko and the unnecessary attention she gets.

Guame has seized control of all of Dai-Gurren's ganmen, so Simon can't combine Lagann with Gurren. Oh no. Why the hell isn't the rest of Dai-Gurren going to get them back while Simon holds off Guame? Y'know? Logical thing to do?

Of COURSE it's because Yoko has to seize a ganmen from some beastman so Simon can combine with THAT so that Yoko can give a speech about her "pride as a woman" and a lot of stuff about her feelings due to Kamina's death. This really really bothered me, you guys. More than I know words to express.

Yoko does not deserve to have a monologue like Simon got.

Simon's overcoming of his grief over Kamina is not the same as Yoko's. Disagree if you will. It doesn't much matter to me what your opinion on Yoko is, so long as you have good reasons that are something aside from "But she's really hot!". But I dislike her, and I hate that she was given this moment.

Simon's grief was over the loss of someone who was like a brother to him. Someone who, over may years, had become the only thing even close to family Simon still had. Someone who has supported him for years, and had been the only one to show Simon respect or have any confidence in him. Simon's confidence, his pride in himself, and his ability to fight for a future where he would be happy, all came from Kamina.

Losing that destroyed Simon. He was suddenly without guidance. He had the power to be great on his own, but he didn't know how to use it. Simon suddenly had nothing to fight for because the only person who believed in him up until that point was suddenly gone. The only person who had loved him for the past handful of years of his life had been taken by the very people Kamina had promised they would defeat.

Yoko had known Kamina for about a week. Maybe two? Long enough to form an attachment and become infatuated with him (which is, again, a subject for another post), but not nearly long enough to form the sort of relationship with him that would warrant her being allowed to judge how Simon grieved, or getting to have a similar monologue, as if she had overcome the same grief and pain Simon had.

Straea eventually sacrifices herself to save Nia, and there's a very sad scene between she and Old Coco (who's name is actually Theives?)and it's very sweet. Then she dies, and Nia cuts off her hair and leaves it on Straea's grave. Then there's the Nia and Yoko haircutting scene, over which Simon comments that girls are hard to understand.

The book finishes off with a chapter about Kittan and Kiyal, which was adorable. Kiyal wants a ganmen and Kittan won't let her pilot one. So she tries to form her own team within Dai-Gurren and no one takes her seriously. She then tries to hijack the King Kittan, fails, and then in an argument with Kittan, falls out. Kittan sustains a head injury in saving her.

Kiyal is afraid to face him until Yoko shows her the Ganmen that Kittan has been restoring for her and tells her what Kittan said about why he was afraid to let her pilot it. Kiyal then goes to Kittan and hugs him and apologizes, then says she's going to start piloting it and they have a cute sibling moment.

It was a very cute chapter, and I'd love to see Gainax animate it as an OVA episode, unlikely as that is to happen. This chapter was a good way to end the book, and kept me from leaving the volume enraged about Yoko, and reminded me why I love Kittan and his sisters.

Enhanced by Zemanta