The V-Day Sci-Fi Special Returns for 2020!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

It’s that joyous time of the year again, a season of love and spending time with the one you cherish most—or in my case, locking myself in my room and binging anime until the wee hours of the morning!

The mecha gods also bless the cycle with back-to-back giant robot franchises for this annual celebration. Can’t remember what we’ve done in the past? Here’s a refresher for ya!

2013 ~ Steins;Gate

2014 ~ Kokoro Connect (I think . . . )

2015 ~ Neon Genesis Evangelion

2016 ~ The Rose of Versailles

2017 ~ Ghost in the Shell

2018 ~ Haikyuu!!

2019 ~ RahXephon

And for this year, the big 20-20, we’ve got an extra special title on the menu. Give it up for . . . *drumroll~~~~~*

2020 ~ Gunbuster

YAY!!! There it is, my next adventure awaiting me ahead!! Guys, I’ve been holding off on this precious piece of Gainax history ever since watching the groundbreaking Evangelion as the V-Day feature for 2015. FIVE years later, Gainax takes the stage once again with a classic mecha title that I’m sure to enjoy with all my heart.

This year’s V-Day special will actually take place during next weekend, February 21-23, on account of the fact that I am busy performing at a Valentine’s Concert this weekend!

In terms of watching methods, fear not! I recently picked up all of the DVDs and Blu-rays I’ll need to marathon the Gunbuster franchise in the RightStuf holiday sale (with exception to the 1988 series, which I’ll hopefully find online) so everything will be viewed in the best quality that I could get a hold of. Oh yeah, we’re ready for this one.

So until next weekend, spend these next couple of days with the ones you love most. And if you’re rockin’ it single like many of us are, TREAT YO SELF, and use this holiday for some self-care—you deserve it!

Much love and chocolates from me~!

– Takuto

Gurren Lagann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Us | Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 27-episode spring 2007 anime “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” or simply “Gurren Lagann,” produced by Gainax, based on original story by Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima.


Imagine your whole world being contained within a shabby cardboard box. There are no cracks, so light doesn’t penetrate through the sides, and inside the box is nothing but a floor of dirt. This is life, and it the only time-waster is digging deeper in hope of discovery.

Then one day, *chink!* “What is this?” You find a key buried fantastically deep under your feet. Perhaps you confused your increased heart rate with the rumbling of the box, but suddenly, the cardboard flaps burst open and a giant face gazes down on you. So what now?? With possibility erupting with every new experience, you rise to your feet and step outside the box. Is this a room? You run out the door. So this is a building? You flee to the street where an unimaginable light floods your vision. Shocked yet determined, the sun, the stars, and the ever-expanding universe await your exploring spirit.

Breaking the Surface

Such is the story that Gurren Lagann tells, and it does so marvelously. In a world where people are forced to eke out a living underground for fear of what roams above, we hone in on a little boy named Simon who, among his grungy village neighbors and peers, is pitied as a quiet loner with no real dreams. He is just another digger, though quite skilled, who spends his youth drilling deep beneath the crust for artifacts long-lost. Any excitement in Simon’s life stems directly from his boisterous “bro” Kamina, a defiant ruffian with cool shades who remains hell-bent on leaving behind the village and scouting the wondrous surface.

And excitement is just what Simon gets when he uncovers a drill-shaped key and a giant robot head. Putting two and two together, Simon and Kamina activate the newly dubbed machine “Lagann” to fight against an even larger robot that falls from the surface. Amidst the chaos, the guys meet the red-headed rifle-wielding Yoko Littner, a girl who roams the upper lands.

Tossed into the sky by an enormous EXPLOSION, the vastness world above becomes clear to Simon and Kamina. Teaming up with Yoko and her gang, the grand struggle between the Gunman-wielding “Beastmen” and the renegade humans only intensifies until their rancor reaches the edge of the galaxy — and beyond.

Inspiration, Purpose, and Fate

Carving their names in history, the squad is always breathing on the edge of tomorrow. Their determination to live free lives under the sun, fueled primarily by Kamina’s leadership, allows them to stand such a miraculous chance against an enemy who has conquered basically the known universe. It’s an inspiring tale, that’s for certain, and watching Kamina take a shit on the “ignorance is bliss” message is half the fun. If you don’t know what it is, KICK ITS ASS. If it’s hot on your trail and stealing your women, KICK ITS ASS. Let nothing stand in your way of learning and growing as a human.  

There’s not much else I can say about the story other than what I covered in the intro. I mean, it starts as a small quarrel in the bar, then gets moved out into the streets. Soon blocks are all fighting each other before it becomes dueling towns, kingdoms, continents, planets, galaxies — I think you get the picture. Each enemy is tenfold stronger than the one that came before it. The world’s energy, known as Spiral Power, can be seen as a metaphysical embodiment of inspiration, drive, purpose, intention — Whatever you want to call it, it’s about overcoming any obstacle, no matter the size. And I like that a lot. Gurren Lagann wants fate to be left in our hands, not in those of a third party observer.

The Gurren Crew

The characters all range from as gentle and quirky as Simon to the bombastic Kamina to Yoko’s tech junkie (and rather gay friend) Leeron (who is, yes, my favorite character). Like its ever-expanding story, we’ll watch Simon go from boy on the sideline to a man in the front. He’ll borrow traits from the foes he faces and the allies he makes, but more prominently, Simon will not only step outside of Kamina’s brazen shadow, but cast his own in due course.

I want to say a lot about Kamina, but the only words I can use are “WHO THE HELL DO YOU TH–” okay fine, he’s simply a badass. Same is arguably to be said about Yoko, though I found the series’ latter half portrayal of her much stronger and less of a girl-with-a-big-gun fan-service token. I also forget Rossiu, a young religious boy, and Viral, a renegade with a Gunman, two chumps who’ll eventually cause a lot of trouble despite them having their own motives and ideologies. I didn’t care much for these two, but they were interesting to watch develop.

Rossiu in particular is an interesting case, in where he, like Simon, was forced underground not because their village leader was a power-hungry dick, however, but because it was the will of God. His actions in the second half will unfortunately reveal the toll his origins have taken on him, even though it’s far too late to call it justice. Considering its trigger happy mood, it was a dark part of the series that I basically wish didn’t even exist.

Meanwhile, Leeron is always being Leeron: a big, gay-ass time.

The money-maker:

The Bold Presentation

Both the animation and the music are very hit or miss this time around. As a fan, this was spectacularly animated (episode 4 tho?), and it was just as explosive as I wanted it to be considering KILL la KILL is its “spiritual successor.” Even though I think the Gunmen are pretty goofy looking, the colors are rich and bold to match its cast. I still believe that Lagann’s first episode is one of the most fluid and best-looking ones I’ve ever seen!

I do have to speak as a reviewer, however, and that voice of concern is in the character designs and movement. It’s very cartoony, so for people who only leech off of studios P.A. Works, Ufotable, and KyoAni (just to name a few), you’ll probably be quite turned off by the somewhat grotesque and angular designs. A side note: high quality is kept pretty constant throughout.

Favorites from Taku Iwasaki’s OST include the emotionally-charged anthem “With Your Drill, Pierce The Heavens!!,” the military-ready “BafBaf! Do You Like… Burning With Such Passion,” the operatic yet ruined-by-rap “Libera Me From Hell,” and my number one (which I believe best represents Gurren Lagann), “Fleeing the Hot desert, Team Dai-Gurren Can Continue.” The rest of the soundtrack is pretty skippable on its own.

Final Thoughts

Gurren Lagann can be viewed in two ways:

  1. It’s a crazy adventure about a boy who grows up into a man by following his brother’s footsteps in liberating the world of evil beings and conquering its trials.
  2. It’s the story of raw motivation — the idea of controlling possibility — and expanding your view of the universe through conquest.

While it can be seen in two entirely different lights, both objects cast shadows that intersect at the crossroads of EXPANSION. It encourages us heartily to find the drill within ourselves — To reach deep down and just turn it on! If you want something, dammit, “Kick logic to the curb, do the impossible,” and just GO DO IT!! After all, “A frog in a well knows not of the great ocean (Negima!?).”

Lastly, I found Kamina’s signature advice to provide a nice peace of mind.  He constantly shouts, “Believe in the me that believes in you,” and even though he’ll later preach to just believe in yourself, I think it’s still a good temporary fail-safe for last-minute faith. In unsure times, relying on a friend who knows you’ll be okay is quite calming. All this and more is why I’ll recommend Gurren Lagann to anyone who doesn’t mind outlandish art styles and the mecha genre. While they won’t ruin the experience, per se, they are heavy plot devices. Have fun with that huge plot twist midway! Gurren Lagann is badass and tons of fun. And best of all, it puts possibility in YOUR hands. Go out and explore what this beautiful world has to offer.

“We evolve beyond the person we were a minute before. Little by little, we advance a little further with each turn. That’s how a drill works!” – Simon, just another digger

Final Assessment

+ Ideas of crushing fate and owning your own future are explored thoroughly; ultimate antagonist should also prove thought-provoking

+ Absurd and bombastic journey with an incredible cast of colorful characters; Simon, Kamina, Yoko, and Leeron are just awesome

+ Explosive animation with fluidity despite the rough designs

– Art style is not for everyone

– Wish there were more standalone tracks, even though what we got was great

– Some actions in the second half add unnecessary negative tone


While Gurren Lagann is obviously a “Caffe Mocha” for me, what did you guys think of it? Also, man, it is hard to write a review about a show that has already +1,000 reviews in circulation! I tried, though, haha! What you thought about Lagann and/or the universe? Were you turned off by its quirkiness, or did you embrace it? And hey, if you enjoyed my thoughts, drop me a ‘like’ to let me know! I’ll totally be buying Aniplex’s DVD box of it . . . whenever my wallet pierces heavens. Until next time everyone, this has been

– Takuto, your host

When does a man die? When he is hit by a bullet? No. When he suffers a disease? No. When he eats a soup made out of a poisonous mushroom? No! A man dies when he is forgotten.

Evangelion’s Rebirth isn’t so Sweet after this Disposable Death | Review

A review of the spring 1997 anime movie “Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth,” produced by Gainax and Production I.G, based on the original story and series by Hideaki Anno.

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I knew I would be disappointed with this film just by hearing all of the negative feedback it received. Now, would I have sent Hideaki Anno death threats? Lord, no, but I can understand why Death & Rebirth, despite its critically-acclaimed impact on the series, is often – and should be – skipped. To those who haven’t seen it, you’re probably thinking, “Why pass up more information to a series that lacks much explanation as is?” That’s because Death & Rebirth offers absolutely nothing new. Zilch, save for interspersed musical quartet scenes, a one-minute firsthand account of the Katsuragi Mission, and pretty half-way credits moment.

The following song just reminds me of all of the sh*t these poor kids went through. It’s sad, really:

The “movie” is actually two episodes: one 70-ish minutes and the other 30-ish minutes. Part one, Death, is a shotty recap of the first 26 episodes of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Instead of taking the typical approach of sequential order used by most recap episodes, Death jumbles all of the scenes up and attempts to sort them out by characters. That’d be like saying, here’s 20 minutes of Asuka, followed by 10 minutes of Rei, then 20 minutes of Misato, etc. It fails incredibly, however, due to having inconsistent rhythm, nonsensical ordering, and honestly, all of the “meh” scenes from the original series. While I understand going for a psychological approach to sort of line everyone’s emotional patterns, flaws, and triumphs up, that doesn’t mean you cut out all of the quality combat scenes that made Evangelion a fan-favorite.

I always thought this was going to be Death & Rebirth. WHAT IS THIS ARTWORK FROM?? That Angel looks B.A.

By the way, over 90% of the film is REUSED ANIMATON from the series. Wait, what?? The only new thing Death brings to the table is those lackluster quartet scenes mentioned above. Kaworu on first violin, Asuka on second, Rei on viola, and Shinji behind the cello. Even though we don’t get to see them play (cue typical Evangelion black screen and text), the film merely putting classics like the “Canon in D” or “Air” in the background, the assigning of their instruments speaks for itself. Don’t get it? Here:

Shinji Ikari, cello. First to arrive, set up, tune, and practice Bach’s “Cello Suite #1,” a soothing piece which weaves notes on all four strings together; arpeggio (yes I’ve played it, often overhead in media, but whatever). The cello is the closest string instrument to the human voice. Specifically, some say it was modeled after a woman’s — a mother’s voice. Shinji pilots Unit-01, which we all know by now contains the essence of his lost mother. The cello is a mirror to Shinji’s desire to be with his mother again. Also, it’s the only instrument in a traditional quartet that you can hide your chest behind.

Asuka Langley Soryu, second violin. Second to arrive, cheerfully giving Shinji a “good morning call,” unpack, tune, and burst out the first few bars of Bach’s “Gavotte in Rondo,” a busty and springy song full of independence and repeated melody. Want to know why they’re called “second violins?” Simple. It’s because they’re not first; that is what Asuka has been struggling with since the beginning – Always trampling over the competition with a fierce façade, yet falling so short in the last second.

Rei Ayanami, viola. Third to arrive, set up, tune, and wait patiently to start. I can’t remember what she practices (if she even did so), but she plays the viola, an instrument that has been joked about for centuries because it’s nearly impossible to hear. It’s shaped like the violin – an imitation, a clone, much like Rei herself – but it harbors the same strings as the cello. Remember that warm and fuzzy mother feeling I was talking about? Yeah. Starting to see the connection?

Kaworu Nagisa, first violin. Fourth and last to arrive, set up, tune, and become ready to play. I also can’t recall what he practiced, but the instrument speaks for itself. It’s the first violin: It guides the group, provides cues, gets all of the high licks, and impresses us most upon first glance. Kaworu was only around for an episode or two toward the very end, yet his impression not only on Shinji but the audience as well enraptured viewers. SPOILER: Kaworu is not only the last to show up in the film and to quartet practice, but is also the last angel. He’ll literally fly higher than everyone else, whether that’s over the planet or in the music. It is through his death (his final cue) that the show can ascend into its final stage.

Then there’s a 5-minute intermission which plays “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” on acoustic guitar and another track from the original series . . . Yep, a real freakin’ intermission. That sh*t just made me laugh.

Rebirth, the second half (last third), is actually the first half of the film The End of Evangelion. As such, you should skip this copout and head straight on over to that masterpiece following your Evangelion experience!!

Supposedly, the animation and sound quality in Death & Rebirth is a huge improvement over the original series. I neither saw nor heard a difference, SOOOO, for those interested in my thoughts in those areas, please check out my review of the original series!

I get what Death & Rebirth was supposed to be: a grand compilation of the psychological sides of the main characters meant to “butter you up” for the true end. But it FAILS MISERABLY, and as such I only recommend it to EXTREME fans of the franchise. The content was great, but its presentation just doesn’t do the original series a bit of justice. The playing of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” by our favorite quartet of psychologically-scarred NERV-lings was a nice end to Death, but since they aren’t actually animated performing (and it’s a crappy compilation), I’m not even going to personally rate it. Instead, I’ll be leaving Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth in the “Breads” section of the café NOT because it’s necessarily bad, just disposable for non-fans. Did I like it?

Let’s just say that in my case, more Eva is a good thing. A wonderful thing.

As always, I hope you found my thoughts interesting! Until the next part of Eva-Week, this has been

– Takuto, your host