Gurren Lagann, known in Japan as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, is a Japanese mecha anime television series animated by Gainax and co-produced by Aniplex and Konami. It ran for 27 episodes on Japan’s TV Tokyo between April 1, 2007, and September 30, 2007. It was directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, written by veteran playwright Kazuki Nakashima, both of whom would later collaborate on two more projects, Kill la Kill in 2013 and Promare in 2019, and had been in development since the participation of the famed animator in the Abenobashi mecha-themed episodes by the same studio. Gurren Lagann takes place in a fictional future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, who forces mankind to live in isolated subterranean villages. The plot focuses on two teenagers, Simon and Kamina, who live in a subterranean village and wish to go to the surface. Using a mecha known as Lagann, Simon and Kamina reach the surface and start fighting alongside other humans against Lordgenome’s forces, before fighting the forces of their true enemy.
In North America, although initially announced to be licensed by ADV Films in 2007, the license was transferred to Bandai Entertainment in 2008 and then transferred to Aniplex of America in 2013. In the United Kingdom, it was licensed by Manga Entertainment in 2007, then transferred to Beez Entertainment in 2008, and then transferred to Anime Limited in 2013. The Sci Fi Channel acquired the broadcasting rights of Gurren Lagann and began airing the anime on July 28, 2008, as part of Sci Fi’s Ani-Monday anime block. The anime won several awards at the Tokyo International Anime Fair and the Animation Kobe and Japan Media Arts Festivals.
A manga adaptation was published by ASCII Media Works between 2007 and 2013. Bandai Entertainment licensed the manga and released it in English in North America. A series of four light novels was published by Shogakukan between 2007 and 2008. A Nintendo DS video game was released in October 2007, bundled with a special episode of the anime series. Two animated film versions were produced; the first premiered in Japanese theaters on September 6, 2008, and the second premiered on April 25, 2009.
Produced by the animation studio Gainax and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, Gurren Lagann aired in Japan on TXN stations between April 1 and September 30, 2007. The anime has 27 episodes plus two specials, the first being the uncensored version of the sixth episode, and the second is episode 5.5, a bonus that came with the Nintendo DS game.
The English version had been previously licensed by ADV Films, but was later acquired by Bandai Entertainment. A subtitle-only version was released in three volumes in July 2008, and an official English dub with the first two volumes released on November 18, 2008 called “Gurren Lagann Set 01”. The show premiered on the Sci Fi Channel on July 28, 2008 as part of Sci Fi’s Ani-Monday anime block, airing two episodes each week (and three the final week). The European distribution branch of Bandai, Beez Entertainment, distributed the series in the UK and Europe but has gone out of print since January, 2012. In 2013, Anime Limited announced that they have the distribution license for Gurren Lagann on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK. In 2014, they released a limited Blu-ray Ultimate Edition on October 20, 2014, featuring the entire series, both film adaptations and the complete Parallel Works series, as well as a hardcover artbook. A standard edition Blu-ray containing the complete series was also released on the same day with the DVD release following later that year. The English version also aired on Animax across its English-language networks in Southeast Asia and South Asia starting on May 22, 2009. It was broadcast in Italy on Rai 4 between September 24, 2009 and April 1, 2010. Aniplex of America re-released the series in a limited edition DVD box set on May 9, 2013. A Blu-ray Disc box set, which includes both the television series and the two film adaptations, was released on June 26, 2013. Adult Swim began airing the series in English as part of the Toonami block on August 16, 2014.
Taku Iwasaki composed the show’s main background music. Four theme songs are used for the episodes; one opening theme and three ending themes. The opening theme is “Sorairo Days” by Shoko Nakagawa. Starting from episode 17, the second verse and chorus was used, as compared to the first verse and chorus used in the previous episodes. For episodes 1 through 15 the ending theme is “Underground” by High Voltage. “Happily Ever After” by Shoko Nakagawa was used in episode 16. “Minna no Peace” by Afromania was used for episodes 17 to 27.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Character Song was released on July 25, 2007, by Aniplex, including image songs by the main voice cast, with songs sung by Tetsuya Kakihara (Simon), Katsuyuki Konishi (Kamina), and Marina Inoue (Yoko), the latter of which is a playable song in Dance Dance Revolution SuperNOVA 2. In addition, several music compilation albums have been released, most consisting of background music.
- is the main protagonist of Gurren Lagann. He is introduced as a fourteen-year-old digger from Giha village who is looked down upon by many of his peers for his timid and weak character. He greatly admires Kamina, one of his few friends in the village, and refers to him as his brother despite them not being related by blood. Simon spends much of the first quarter of the series following after Kamina, but gradually acquires his own fighting spirit and determination over the course of the series, acting on his own more often until his personality mirrors that of Kamina. His discovery of the Core Drill and the Gunmen Lagann are what set the events of the series in motion. Throughout the series, Simon primarily pilots Lagann (Japanese for “head/face”), which is capable of producing drills from any part of his body when he reacts to Simon’s Spiral energy. He uses this ability to combine with Kamina’s Gunmen, Gurren, to form Gurren Lagann. He can also take control of other Gunmen using this ability.
- is a refractory youth from Giha village who dreams of leaving his underground home and going to the surface world, which he saw as a child. His extremely passionate and self-confident personality causes him to act as a foil for the more timid and weak-willed Simon, and serves to instill courage within Simon. He is known for wearing sunglasses along with a tattered cape that had belonged to his late father. He wields a nodachi he stole from the chief of Giha village and his catchphrase of “just who the hell do you think I/we am/are?!” becomes the battle cry of his group. Although Kamina is killed significantly early in the show, his actions greatly influence the entire series, as he founds Team Gurren (later renaming it Team Dai-Gurren) and acts as its leader to combat the threat of Lordgenome and the beastmen. Early in the series, Kamina hijacks a Gunmen he names Gurren (Japanese for “scarlet”), which he pilots while combined with Simon’s Lagann to form Gurren Lagann.
- Yoko Littner
- is a young woman from Littner, a village neighboring Giha, and is introduced as a member of a small resistance against the beastmen. She helps introduce Simon and Kamina to the surface world, and becomes a member of Team Gurren soon after. She falls in love with Kamina early in the series, and thinks little of Simon until he begins showing signs of self-confidence. After Kamina’s death, she tries to help Simon cope and forms a sisterly relationship with him. Instead of piloting a Gunmen, she wields a high-powered energy rifle and uses her superb marksmanship and wise counsel to help her teammates.
- Nia Teppelin
- is a major character introduced later on in the series. Having lived a sheltered life as the daughter of Lordgenome, the main antagonist of the first half of the series, she is ignorant of the war between the humans and Lordgenome until she is abandoned by her father and discovered by Simon. She is a very polite and naive girl who is curious about the world, and acts as a soothing influence for Simon following his depression caused by Kamina’s death. The two fall in love and become engaged at the start of the second half of the series, after which she is discovered to be an agent of the Anti-Spirals. During this time, Nia is taken over by a cold and uncaring personality called “Messenger Nia” and forced to fight Simon against her will until Simon rescues her. Because her existence is tied with that of the Anti-Spirals, however, she fades away with them after they are defeated, but keeps herself alive long enough to marry Simon.