The Good, The Bad, an What The?: Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

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Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then for the characters who are dull as dishwater will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: Simon, the main character of “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.”

Kamina(Left) and Simon(Right)

Alright, so “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” follows the journey of the young boy named Simon The Digger. All of the human race lives underground in giant villages, because the world above has been taken over by the Beastmen. These Beastmen are, as you would expect, animal-like humans. Picture a gorilla looking man. The Beastmen have giant robots that are called Gunmen that they used to scare the humans underground. Our lucky hero Simon The Digger finds a small drill in the rock which turns out to be the key to a small gunmen called Lagan. After getting attacked by a Beastman in his Gunman and fighting him off with Lagann, Simon and his buddy Kamina leave for the surface. They decide they are going to defeat the Beastmen king Lordgenome.

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The Beastmen generals

In the beginning, Simon clings to Kamina like an older brother. Simon is a scared of what might happen, while Kamina is full gusto. The joke of this anime is that it is literally the embodiment of manliness and awesome. Kamina is a testosterone pumped anime character of pure manly gusto. Simon is not quite as eccentric as Kamina. Simon is younger and isn’t really ready to fight, but he follows Kamina’s lead when it comes to fighting. Now this is a mech anime like “Gundam”, so all fighting is with the Gunmen. Shortly after leaving their home with Lagann, Simon and Kamina steal a Gunman called Gurren. They fuse the two together to make Gurren Lagann. Now Simon and Kamina are brothers in battle, and Simon starts to feel Kamina’s pride and, of course, manliness.

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Gurran Lagann

The two of them go through many, many battles and work well together. They begin to learn new tricks together and fight better and better each time. This is some nice Shonen style development, but the thing is Simon doesn’t seem to grow much alone, he grows with Kamina. Simon acts like an extensions of the great Kamina, rather than his own character. This made me kind of annoyed at times, but at the same time, Kamina is an awesome character so you don’t mind much. Eventually, Kamina and Simon create a rebellion force called the Dai-Gurren Brigade. They acquire many teammates and everyone follows Kamina the great leader, not Simon. Simon is the main character of the show, but it doesn’t really feel like that’s the case. Together with their brigade, they charge an enemy stronghold.

 

 

(SPOILERS BIG TIME DEAR GOD DON’T READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS)

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Lordgenome and his Gunman

During the charge and great battle, horrible things happen; Kamina dies. Gurren Lagann is stabbed through the chest where Kamina pilots and this forces Simon to pilot alone after freaking out. With Kamina’s passing, I was very depressed but also hopeful. Simon was going to show his great manliness now. The team turns to Simon for leadership right away, but he isn’t ready. Simon becomes extremely depressed and is reduced to a husk of a human being. Now, I do understand this depression, but it is taken to such an extreme in the show that it seemed a little too far. Simon literally sat in a room carving Kamina statues. That was all he did like ever and it became kinda creepy. Eventually, Simon does man up and fight again, piloting Gurren Lagann alone. It was at this part that I really liked Simon. He became a real character in his own and began to fight like a real, well…man. (Manliness is a clear theme in “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann“.).

After the first season is over, the absolutely, over-the-top crazy nonsense of the second season starts several years in the future. The Beastmen are all jailed and taken care of, and Simon and the Dia-Gurren Brigade become the big bosses. Simon is literally called president of the world. Of course, a new enemy appears to kill the happiness. This is when things change.

By this point, Simon is his own man. He fights, he is getting married, he leads, he has become pretty awesome. But as the second season goes on, something weird happens. Simon becomes Kamina version 2.0. Many years after Kamina’s death, everyone stills talks about him and Simon basically acts as Kamina now. Even visually Simon looks like Kamina now. This bugged me a lot. Simon was actually becoming a cool main character and then suddenly, it was like he decided “Weeeeeee I’m Kamina now guys!” It was just irritating. Kamina dying was supposed to push Simon forward, not make him a Kamina clone. Simon isn’t the only one like this, either. The other major members of the Dia-Gurren Brigade starts to do the same. They take Kamina’s lines and aspire to be as awesome as he was. It’s like there was some sort of competition to see who can be the best Kamina!

There are two problems here. One: Why is everyone so obsessed with him? Two: I don’t want to see everyone copy one character. It just gets weird.

Simon never really reverts back, either. He gets more and more like Kamina. Even Simon’s goggles become very similar to Kamina’s orange shades. The scene is pretty funny, as Simon’s goggles literally just transform into star shaped shades by the power of space magic. In the end, there are giant huge epic space battles and brain bending nonsense. The villains actually break the rules of probability and make 0% chance of winning turn into a 100% chance somehow. Of course, Simon begins pulling the exact same crazy nonsense. The will power of Simon and the crew makes Gurren Lagann into Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is a Gunmen bigger than galaxies. It is totally ridiculous but also really awesome. Of course, every is still using their Kamina brain powers the whole time. When all is said and done, the heroes win and time skips forward really far in the future.

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Simon’ shades
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Kamina’s shades

 

Now everyone has moved on to do big important jobs,  like having a seat on the council of everything. I’m not joking, they have a giant council of every creature in the entire universe, ’cause, yah know, why not. So what happened to Simon, the world president? He becomes a hobo. My friend and I nearly flipped a table at this nonsense. Somehow Simon is now a homeless dude who walks around with his pet pig mole doing nothing. There wasn’t even an explanation as to why. Simon is just a freaking hobo now.

So, my verdict. Simon gets Bad. I really wanted to see something out of Simon, and he does a little bit, but then he just becomes Kamina 2.0 and any chance of him being his own character goes away. On top of what was basically no development of his own, Simon becomes a hobo for no reason. I really just wanted to see Simon become awesome on his own after Kamina’s death, but instead he becomes the new Kamina. Now with all this said, however, I would like to point something out, “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann”  is a amazing anime. The show is funny, has over-the-top action, ridiculous logic, and is just straight up the definition of testosterone. I may not have liked the main character, but I really love the anime as a whole. It is one of those shows that just makes you sit there with the feelings of laughter and masculinity. I’d recommend this anime to just about anyone, and you can buy it here.