“Coachy!” Gunbuster tells you to aim for the top! But you won’t believe what you find there! (gunbuster)

There are some legendary shows that you’re just not going to avoid. Shows that though you may have never seen a screenshot, have been engrained into your psyche simply through reference and word of mouth. That show for me was the famed GUNBUSTER. Once I finally got hold of the show, I had but one question. “Would it live up to the hype?”

Well… YES! Gunbuster is a lesson in the unexpected. The show captured my heart not just with the mecha, the titular beast doesn’t show up for awhile, but with the guts of these girls as they fight ludicrous odds to save Earth, their loved ones, theirselves. Who could imagine such small dainty girls could be as GAR as any muscle bound man you’ll ever see? The show constantly grows bigger and bolder. The stakes go from very small and homegrown, with dreams of stars dancing through the heads of our travelers, to the very crushing reality that the universe where those stars reside is not a beautiful, peaceful place. Instead, it seems that humanity’s very existence in the universe is a smear and annoyance to whatever is living out there now.

The fact may very well be enough to crush the hopes of our protagonists, if it weren’t for “Coachy”. Okay, “Coachy” isn’t his real name, or even how this nickname is spelled. He’s really just “Coach”. It’s just one of those strange things about how the Japanese pronounce english words. “Coachy’s” real name is Ota Koichiro. And he is the one driving constant in this show. Always professional, always driving his pupils forward. He is the backbone of humanity through these girls.

At first, I found the show embarrassingly dated, embarrassingly 80’s. It was obviously inspired in one way or another by Top Gun. Coachy with his aviator glasses, the female trainees with their headbands and Flashdance inspired gear. But soon I was drawn in, an underlying theme was creeping into the show. Time and distance. As these girls fought harder and harder for what they loved, it drew them farther and farther from who and what they loved. One of those things was Coachy.

Mind you, the show is intensely surreal. Not only is time manipulated, but somehow humanity manages to compress and transport Jupiter in a ploy to blow up the center of the universe. Even someone like me who has seen some fantastic and ridiculous things in anime and media had to stand up and say, “bullsh*t!” To think that there is something this old that competed with the scale and awe of TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN itself. To think, these two girls, no, WOMEN would hold the torch for GAINAX for so long. Before the show was completed, I understood why the show was so revered and legendary.

All this is culminated by one of the most bittersweet, beautiful endings you will EVER see in an anime. That is high praise! I have to say GAINAX, congratulations! If Coachy were still here, he would be very proud!

Anyone out there who hasn’t seen this, get off your ass and find it by any means necessary! See a piece of GAINAX, mecha and anime history!

Further Reading

A glimpse into the future of Gunbuster.

“Breaking into the super robot genre has proven difficult for me..”  http://superfani.com/2009/06/04/of-diebuster-structure-and-the-parents-of-gods/

Somebody else who I think gets it.

“The desolation of time and space are the heart breaking truths at the centre of Gunbuster’s moving drama.”  http://www.bateszi.me/2007/03/27/gunbuster-i-love-you-but-ive-chosen-darkness/

One Year Ago…

WRL published the first of two posts on Ghost in the Shell, which had a remastered release with new CG [->]

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23 Responses to “Coachy!” Gunbuster tells you to aim for the top! But you won’t believe what you find there! (gunbuster)

    • Raiga says:

      … nasai, though unfortunately the “i” (イ) at the end ended up written backwards; I didn’t even notice the first time I watched the ending. Not sure how that slipped past the folks at Gainax; ah well.

      While transporting Jupiter is kinda… yeah, only Gainax… the time dilation thing is actually a real life effect. It’s a consequence of relativity; because the speed of light stays the same no matter how fast you are moving, the flow of time slows down at high speeds to compensate. They kind of picked and chose the parts of science they’d obey and the parts they’d ignore, but time dilation was one of the more accurate bits.

      Anyway, Gunbuster was indeed amazing, and one of the most emotional endings I’ve ever seen in anime. True classic that every anime fan should see at some point.

      • donkangoljones says:

        Glad to hear that someone else had a similar “suspension of disbelief” shattering moment like me when it came to Jupiter. I didn’t notice so much how much they picked & chose what scientific rules to adhere to, so much as I had a “Matrix” moment. A moment so outstanding (you can a apply a positive or negative connotation if you wish), that it even took me out of the moment. I give Gainax credit for being able to put me right back in the moment with amazing battle/vignettes that followed.

      • Chrisco says:

        “… nasai, though unfortunately the “i” (イ) at the end ended up written backwards; I didn’t even notice the first time I watched the ending. Not sure how that slipped past the folks at Gainax; ah well.”

        I’ve always wondered about the backwards “i”. I seriously doubt it’s due to production error. I believe that the message was a direct quote from Jung, who’d misspelled it 12K years prior. She was Russian, after all…

  1. Zyl says:

    You certainly hit the spot when describing the initial impression as "embarrassingly dated" and then explain why it stands the test of time so well – but it’s also not unlikely that enough time has passed for its dated look to acquire retro chic.

    The romantic aspect of Gunbuster was, for me, an unnecessary distraction but understandable and even expected given how the premise was set uppu. Another thing that irritated me slightly – much like it did in Gurren Lagaan – was how ANYTHING CAN BE OVERCOME IF WE SHOUT LOUDLY ENOUGH WHILE CLENCHING OUR SPHINCTER MUSCLES TO THE MAX!!!! – but in this genre it’s par for the course and certainly it does this much better (like TTGL) than many other pretenders to the throne.

    All that said I still prefer Diebuster for its prettiness, wackiness, plot twist, link back and, of course, Oneesama-ness – one of those rare creatures i.e. a superior sequel!

    • donkangoljones says:

      “Embarrassingly Dated” that was almost title for this post, but I thought it may be too negative a way to introduce it. I’ve watched quite a few “dated” series, & by that I mean (arbitrarily) before 1990. You have those initial moments of “soaking in” and acclimating, before the story really gets a chance to grab you. Rose of Versailles and Mobile Suit Gundam 0079 are prime examples of how very dated animation is overlooked by virtue of excellent characterization, atmosphere and plot.

      As for your other point, my reaction at first was a little more sexist at first to sphincter tightening, teeth clenching power boost the characters receive in critical moments. But that too subsided with the immersion into the show’s atmosphere and love of characters. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Listen to what everyone is saying and watch Diebuster! nao. If you enjoyed this as much as you have, that one will kill you dead.

    • DonKangolJones says:

      I’m going to be stoned for this, but I’ve watched Diebuster. And while it is beautifully animated enough to make me “O” during the 1st 5 minutes, I didn’t love it as much as Gunbuster. *puts up flame shield* Matter of fact, I put it below FLCL, EVA, TTGL & Gunbuster among my favorite GAINAX productions.

  3. chii says:

    i love this show and the part where she is training in her mecha while pulling a TIRE will forever be hilarious to me. imo the first 4 episodes were slow but the last 2 totally made the series awesome. same thing happened with S2

    • DonKangolJones says:

      I was just tired of seeing Earthlings getting space raeped by those damn aliens! We did all this training & upgraded our technology to nth power & we’re still getting space raeped?! Man I was happy to see Gunbuster show up & spray “ownage” across those aliens’ ugly faces!

  4. Rakuen says:

    Damn, ghost! Leave this to me! But I can’t hate you because it’s a really good show. Mine will be on the 22nd. Oh by the way, I’ll be rooting for your Binchou-tan post— teehee!~

  5. Gotta train train train and run run run so I can sit in a cockpit to pilot my mecha while it spams missiles and explosions. GUNBUSTER!

    Gets me thinking that we are really overdue for another larger than life mecha series. Hell I don’t think I’ve seen any new mecha series since Sora Kake Girl and that wasn’t even really a mecha show.

    ……One month and ten days to zero hour……

    • DonKangolJones says:

      …nor was Sora Kake Girl a good show. I’m hoping we’ll be buried to our eyeballs in mecha soon enough. Some animation studio has got to have something up their sleeve. I’m just hoping it doesn’t get entangled in the moe/kawaii trend that has dominated the past few years. I love Strike Witches, but it’s not mecha enough for me. We need more manly men anime!

  6. Martin says:

    This is one of those ‘more than the sum of its parts’ shows. Yes, it’s dated (pretty good artwork for its time though) and it’s often tongue-in-cheek. What amazes me is how those little references and homages work to gether and transform it into something so tear-jerking by the end.

    The ending is indeed epic, and it stays with you. You need to suspend your disbelief in its more over-the-top moments and bear with the Engrish battle cries because it really does deserve its classic status.

    Dare I say it? I find it to be more enjoyable than Evangelion, and see it as the main reason why I think Hideaki Anno is a genius. There, I said it. Load up the flamethrowers, folks…

    • As to it being more enjoyable than Eva, there’s little to argue about that. The show is shorter, and quicker to resolve. The highs are sustained until the end, once it started picking up it never slowed down. Also, being an OVA the quality is even. I don’t think bad of the black and white episode. I think it was a brilliant compromise should it be true that they ran out of money to color them.

      Eva love is a different kind of monster I think, and it is always with me… always with you?

      • DonKangolJones says:

        I always found Eva to be a somewhat separate beast from other mecha shows. Eva’s a strange parody of the super robot and real robot genres. The only show I know really coming close to its style being RahXephon. But that’s another post for another time.

  7. Pingback: Check-in Station: 500 posts Special | the Check-in Station

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