a.k.a. Gunbuster: Top wo Nerae!
Takaya Noriko is a cadet training to be a space pilot, just like her late father, Captain Takaya. He was the commander in charge of a space crew attacked and destroyed by alien forces. Because of this, many of Noriko’s classmates believe she’s chosen as a potential Gunbuster pilot out of pity. Noriko, however, has every intention of proving to her detractors that she deserves all of her recognition.
summary by Kain
Highs: Ambitious story; beautiful music; Anno direction
Lows: Too compressed; no background on most characters
Only director Anno Hideaki could possibly hope to make an entire story that takes place in the span of 12,000 years. And make it funny. And make it dramatic. And fit it all into six OVAs.
Well, I’m still questioning that last part. And while Anno did successfully manage to squeeze in the biggest, most important parts of the story, it’s all the “inconsequential” moments (like dialogue that would have provided needed character background) that should have been given time. Because of their absence, this series feels fairly rushed.
But no matter. As is, Gunbuster is a superbly directed anime that, when dissected and its parts examined, has no business being this good. This is, of course, a testament to the director for getting the most out of what was handed him. It doesn’t hurt that he was aided by a wonderful soundtrack that mixes catchy ’80s pop with inspiring orchestral compositions rife with booming drum beats.
Being a parody of the ’70s coming-of-age anime Aim for the Ace!, Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! also borrows much of its space opera plot from Macross, which shouldn’t be surprising since Anno lent his skills to both Macross and Macross: Do You Remember Love?. And despite being a parody, I found quite a few of the dramatic moments to be near got-me-all-choked-up quality.
This anime should find itself on every anime fan’s shelves, especially for Gainax fans who want to be a part of one of the company’s first anime.
Highs: Good spoof of mecha genre; consistent theme; creative designs
Lows: Briefness hampers story and characters
Gunbuster is a classic Gainax series directed by none other than Anno Hideaki. Just watching the first five minutes will probably be more than enough to give some people the hint as to where elements of Neon Genesis Evangelion originated.
First and foremost, Gunbuster is a spoof of the mecha genre; without a doubt, it will remind many people of Gundam and others from the ’70s and ’80s. While the spoofing is clear, there is also a consistent theme that some may not quite catch. Much like Wings of Honneamise, the theme is simply saying that you should have confidence and believe in yourself, which will ultimately lead to having the ability to do anything that you set your mind to. This is shown time and time again throughout when Noriko is forced into battle against alien forces. All of this would not look as good if it were not for the creative designs in every aspect ranging from spaceships to plot direction. Even mecha designs, although a bit bland, show some creativity in their use and function from training to combat.
Some stories and characters can be fit into one OVA without a problem (Voices of a Distant Star), but this one cannot. As time flies by at light speed, only Noriko and Kazumi receive anything that could be considered background while almost everyone else is stuck being a name. Characters come and go just as fast, and there is hardly time to become attached to anyone else besides the main characters. The story never stops for a breather, thus leaving out crucial information that would have allowed me to swallow what little information is provided. You definitely know that the story is too compressed when the final battle ends up being a lot of still shots bound together by only an orchestral piece.
Undoubtedly, Gunbuster will catch the attention of many otaku simply with its style and direction, as well as showing many people the origins of the “Gainax bounce”.
Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.