Gurren Lagann – 17
It has been seven years since the fall of Teppelin, and the new human capital is called Kamina City. Though Lord Genome was defeated long ago and mankind came above ground, some mysteries remain about why he tried to force humanity underground and what the spiral power is. The one mystery they were able to solve was the true identity of old man Coco – he’s a beastman butler who takes care of Nia. They have been enjoying peace for seven years, but Lord Genome’s last words are slowly digging into their chests, and they pretend not to notice. On this particular day, Simon’s new job is as the commander-in-chief is giving him tons of paperwork to sign off on, including citizen complaints about taxes and the sewage. Rossiu considers these selfish things and comments on how the people have completely forgotten their underground lives, but Simon thinks that that’s okay. Nia then shows up at Simon’s office with a boxed lunch, giving Rossiu bad memories of her cooking, but luckily for him, she forgot his share.
Science Bureau Chief Leeron later reports the successful launch of a rocket into space towards the moon, but Legal Affairs Bureau Chief Kittan questions if there really is something on the moon. Simon is of course worried about the one million population warning that Lord Genome left, so he feels that they have to investigate. Rossiu then asks the People’s Bureau Chief Jougan about the population study, but they haven’t made much progress, so Rossiu gets permission from Simon to give orders to that bureau. Dayakka later is feeling down about the one million number, though his concern is more about his own child. His wife, Kiyoh, is near the end of her pregnancy and is currently living at home with the help of Kiyal when Nia pops in for a visit to tell the sisters about Simon proposing to her. Earlier, Simon had talked to her about seeing the same things, hearing the same sounds, and laughing the same way, and he had given her a ring to ask for her hand in marriage. Nia, however, had turned him down because she didn’t think that two people could become the same person. Hearing this, Kiyoh explains to Nia that what’s important is not the meaning of the words, but rather the feelings at the time. She then gives Nia a phone to call Simon and convey her feelings to him.
At that moment, Simon is staring up at the large Kamina monument thinking about back when it was still under construction. Back then, Yoko had left because she felt she wasn’t fit for government or politics, and the last thing she had told Simon was to protect Nia well. Simon now gets a phone call from Nia, and she tells him that she thinks they can live together since they’re different people. After she thanks him for the ring and says how happy she is, Simon hangs up and cheers to the statue. Rossiu, however, interrupts his celebration to report an attack by anti-government guerrillas in the south and shows Simon video of the Enkidu. Realizing that it’s Viral, Simon wants to go out on the Gurren Lagann, but Rossiu refuses to let him because Simon’s job to be the commander-in-chief of the new government. Instead, Viral has to face the Grapal corps that includes pilots Gimmy and Darry, and the Enkidu is quickly overwhelmed and brought down. Afterwards, Simon questions via hologram why Viral is going that far in opposing them, so Viral shows him the trail of humans that he’s protecting. These people want to live underground because they feel it is their home, and Viral is supporting them.
Simon is angry at Rossiu for not telling him about these people that they are bringing above ground by force, but Rossiu says that it’s for the sake of determining the population. He believes that if there are places that their eyes cannot see, then they cannot get an accurate count of the number of people, meaning that the one million mark could be passed right under their noses. Avoiding that is the duty of the government. Hearing this, Simon questions what Rossiu intends to do when they reach that number and if they’re going to kick people off the planet, an act that reminds him of the village Rossiu came from. Rossiu, however, feels that Simon doesn’t understand anything and returns to his own base of operations where his subordinate reports that the Spiral Power Laboratory has succeeded in starting the biocomputer. Rossiu feels that they can know the secrets of the world with this, and when his subordinate claims that Rossiu alone is holding up the government, Rossiu says that it’s not just him, but also all of those in the younger generation working for him. Everyone in the room then salutes him, causing Rossiu to smile a little.
That night, Simon gets a phone call from Nia telling him about Kiyoh giving birth to a baby girl. Unbeknownst to him, this marks the one millionth person on the planet, and a rift in the sky suddenly opens up to reveal a mecha that no one has seen before. It immediately starts destroying the city, so Simon hangs up the phone to deal with the situation. In front of the hospital, Nia notices the moon getting closer, and her body soon becomes covered in reddish markings. Kiyal exits the hospital looking for Nia a little later, but finds only her cell phone on the ground. Meanwhile, the Grapal corps has been sent out to combat the new threat, but their weapons can’t seem to damage it. At the command center, Kittan, Barinbou, and Jougan wish they had their Gunmen, but they are promptly informed by Kinon and Rossiu’s other subordinate that Gunmen are relics of the Helix King that have all been scrapped in this new age. The Grapals are mass production models specialized for combat based on research of the Gurren Lagann. They are, however, having a lot of trouble with the new enemy, and Darry would have gotten hit by a powerful beam if not for Simon arriving in the Gurren Lagann to save her.
Rossiu immediately tries to tell Simon how dangerous it is and how this isn’t his job, but Simon yells back that their number one job protecting the citizens and the town. Simon succeeds in using the Gurren Lagann’s drill to break through the enemy, but when it blows up, it breaks into tiny shapes that fall down and promptly explode on contact, covering the city in destruction. Right as a frustrated Rossiu is talking about how Simon recklessly attacked the enemy without knowing its true identity, Nia appears on all the video screens across the city. In a message to the people of the planet, she says that they, the Anti-Spirals, have determined that the people have reached the second stage of the spiral power’s danger level. Because of this, she announces that the humanity extermination system has been put into operation.
ED: 「みんなのピース」 (Minna no Peace) byアフロマニア (afromania)
Watch the ED!: Mirror 1, Mirror 2
The new opening sequence, which uses a different verse of Sorairo Days, had me giggling with glee and anticipation when I first saw it, much of it due to the appearance of dark Nia. The shot of someone who appears to be Kamina also made me wonder if he’ll be making some sort of a comeback this season. As for the new ED, the animation is done in a similar black and white style as the first one. Minna no Pace is a little easier on the ears than Underground and quite a bit more upbeat, so I started liking it immediately.
After how incredible episode 15 was, I had my worries that this show wouldn’t be able to get up to being that good again. Boy was I wrong. In terms of story and adrenaline, this episode picked up right where we left off, and there’s a ton of new stuff to consider. Simon is actually the character I have the least to say about since little about him has changed in these seven years aside from physical appearance and maturity. Nia’s new role, on the other hand, surprised me quite a bit. I had originally agreed with the theory that she would die at the end of the last story arc, but when that didn’t happen, I assumed she was safe. Instead, Nia has become the face of the Anti-Spirals that have come to exterminate humanity. It’s not clear to me yet why she was chosen, but I suspect it might have something to do with how Lord Genome originally created her.
A bigger part of this episode is focused on Rossiu, who used to be a supporting character and has now become somewhat of an antagonist with his own group of supporters. Antagonist may be too strong a word, but I’m not sure if I should be more worried about the new enemy or about what Rossiu will do. At the very least, there will probably be a lot of friction between him and Simon from now on because of their conflicting approaches to doing things. It also appears that Rossiu has a biocomputer in the works, and in terms of knowing the secrets of the world, it would make sense if that computer were the preserved head and mind of Lord Genome like the preview and OP shot hint at.
And then there’s Viral who has become somewhat of a noble outlaw kind of character, which makes me think that he’ll be joining Simon in the near future (as opposed to being the final boss), especially if Rossiu turns against Simon at some point or if the situation becomes really dire. Yoko is another character who will probably show up again when the going gets really tough, but for now, it’s sad to see her in a minor role that’s basically gone from this episode. At least grown-up Darry made up for it a little. In any case, I see tons of potential in this story, and if they keep delivering these kinds of exciting episodes, then Gurren Lagann will easily remain my favorite show that’s currently airing. I eagerly await next week’s episode.