So I just finished watching the old-school Gainax robot anime, Gunbuster, for the first time. I’m not usually one to look into the old stuff, 1995 is pretty much my cutoff year (I will henceforth refer to it as the ‘Absolute Terror Field’), but I decided to take a chance and venture off into the unknown to experience a classic Gainax anime. (Why do I have an AT field? Not really intentional, I just seem to have more of an affinity to the more modern anime.) Gunbuster was a 6-episode OVA released in 1988 (before I was born!), and it was the first of their acclaimed line of Mecha Anime (one of their first works ever). Unfortunately I’m still a young sprout, so I can’t really speak with any kind of certainty, but I’d imagine Gunbuster must have been a huge influence on the Mecha genre at the time. Gainax sure like revolutionizing that Mecha genre don’t they. Hah. So anyway, Gunbuster’s setting is that of the DISTANT FUTURE OF 2023, where Earth is filled with giant robots who aim to protect the planet from the evil space monsters. Strangely enough the setting of the first episode revolves around an all-girls school who are training to become candidates for the job of protecting the Earth. Our protagonist, Noriko Takaya, is the one selected to do this job, against all expectations. In all the drills and training with the mecha, she was shown to be by far the most clumsiest of all the students. However, the moral of the story is that hard work and guts pay off more than any natural talent, and she boasts those two qualities in truckloads. The following episode we see Noriko travel into space and board the starship Exelion with her partner, and she learns to better fight and defend herself against the aliens by her coach. The OVAs progress by putting more pressure onto Noriko as the threat of the aliens becomes more and more significant, and she is the one called to protect humanity. At first she has a very weak heart, but with the trials thrown her way, she eventually awakens her true potential; becoming the destined pilot of humanity’s greatest weapon: the titanic Mecha ‘Gunbuster’.
One interesting theme I keep see recuring in Gainax Mecha Anime is that they use the elements of science fiction to portray much more human messages. In the case of Gunbuster, one very prominent example is how they use Einstein’s theory of relativity. In making up their own science, it can get really deep and confusing, but at the bare bones is a message they’re trying to get across. One of the things said in the story was that Noriko’s father used to always arrive home for her birthday every year, saying that he “travelled faster than the speed of light to see her” (not sure if that’s correct word for word), which is no exaggeration. When Noriko comes aboard the starship Exelion, she spends a good 6 months on the ship, travelling across the Milky Way before returning to Earth. However, when she returns to Earth, she discovers that more than 10 years have passed on Earth since she left. I don’t have the brain to get my head around it, but the idea is that when travelling across the galaxy, the voyagers are pulled into a different flow of time than Earth, and so much time is lost in the depths of space. This makes the statement that Noriko’s father came back for her birthday every year that much more profound, and paints a picture of how much of a burden space travel and saving the world can be. There were numerous occasions when Noriko was forced to leave Earth with the knowledge that she may never see some of her loved ones ever again, and that had an interesting impact on me. I think that’s the biggest message that stuck out to me during my viewing. Sure there’s the hard work and guts ethic, but that’s been overdone in just about all of their mecha anime (not to mention Gurren Lagann owns it in a godlike fashion). But it’s still pretty damn good in it’s own right, and the ending even got me really teary. For a show about giant robots, it’s certainly a very human story. And I can really see how it set the precedent for not only Gainax, but many other mecha animes to come. I’d definitely recommend Gunbuster to any otakus out there, even if you’re not that interested in the really old stuff. I still think Gunbuster is a classic that everyone should see at least once.Sometimes it’s nice to travel back in time and pay homage to the progenitors of modern anime~
Oh, but one more thing before I conclude this post.
I just watched the first episode of Diebuster…WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN