The most popular anime series of 2007, Gurren Lagann was Gainax's send-up of/homage to science fiction shounen anime classics like Getter Robo and Mazinger Z. A studio founded by fans, Gainax had previously channeled its unabashed enthusiasm for anime to produce such groundbreaking works as Gunbuster and Evangelion, which exceeded their inspirations to become classics in their own right. While playfully self-conscious, Gurren Lagann is nowhere near as subversive as those titles. A more genuine celebration of old-school spirit and convention, it ironically strives to take anime back to the golden times before Evangelion changed everything.
I practically slept through the first half, which accomplished little as it indulged in lowbrow humor and machismo, but one of the more appealing aspects of anime is that the stories are usually finite, with series lengths typically twenty-six episodes or fewer, meaning that a) it's not too much of an investment on my part to stick with a show, and b) there is real pressure on the storytellers to progress the narrative. Sure enough, the second half won me over with its infectiously sincere exuberance and retro-cosmic grandness, culminating in a spectacular finale that was downright inspirational. While I maintain that the series could have been more evenly-paced, it nevertheless comes highly recommended as one of the greatest anime shows of recent years. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the movie versions.