Gunbuster Review

23 03 2008


Genre: Action, Space, Robots, Boob-jiggles
Main Studio: Gainax
Episodes: 6

Sometimes it’s good to go back and see what shows started trends, though this has resulted in my reviewing a show twenty years too late but lets ignore that for now. Gainax started something with Gunbuster that eventually led Gainax to create shows such as Evangelion, FLCL, and TTGL, so it can definitely can be considered a good thing, and unless I am horribly mistaken, this was their first attempt to create something which featured robots, giant or otherwise. Although I feel obligated to mention that at no point do any robots burst out of anyone’s head, so don’t get your hopes up.

Noriko Takaya, daughter of a dead Space Admiral, is the worst robot pilot in the whole space robot academy which is a shame as it turns out she’s the last hope of the human race. Everyone assumes she is just there because she is daughter of a space admiral, until a coach named Coach Ohta takes an interest in her and starts training her properly.  Although, now that I think about it, the reason Ohta takes an interest in her is actually because she is the daughter of an admiral, thus proving everyone correct. Oh well.

Noriko dancing around in the intro
Last hope for the human race…

The show, at least initially, is overwhelmingly 80s. I heard it described as a combination Top Gun and some tennis anime I’ve never seen. Actually I’ve never seen Top Gun either now that I think about it. Whatever. It’s identifiably 80s nonetheless. The introduction music sounds like a forgotten 80s classic, and yes, there is a training montage. All it’s missing is Eye of the Tiger playing in the background.

The first half of the show is kind of uneventful, and the story only really picks up in the second half when a million billion space monsters show up to destroy Earth. The titular Gunbuster doesn’t make an appearance till the end of episode 4 where it is revealed to be a giant gundam looking thing with absolutely ridiculous weaponry. Of course Noriko has gotten good at piloting robots at this point, so she is more than capable of destroying the aforementioned million billion space monsters.

Oh no! Time!
They probably shouldn’t of installed that distacting earth-time clock.

Possibly the most interesting thing about this show for me was the inclusion of time dilation as a concept for driving the characters plot along. I am going to make the rash assumption that you are an idiot who doesn’t know what time dilation is, so I will now explain it like a patronising cunt. When moving, the faster you go the slower time passes for you relative to the people not moving. So if you are travelling near the speed of light then a minute can pass for you while a month passes for everyone not moving at that speed. What this means in the show is that whenever Noriko goes into space to kill some monsters, many years have passed on Earth by the time she gets back.

Time dilation is a real phenomenon in case you were wondering, and would actually be a problem with large scale space exploration, unless we can use some trickery like Sub-Space to get around it. What the hell is sub-space anyway? It’s like regular space, but lower? Anyway, in the show when Noriko first makes it back to earth, 10 years have passed in her absence even though she’s only been gone for 4 months, so she gets to meet her old school friend all grown up an married. This aspect of the show works extremely well and its great to see it addressed for once. It makes the whole thing seem a lot grander in scale, especially considering the amount of time that has passed by the end of the show which I will not spoil.

Anatomically correct animation, or needless fanservice?

The animation is very good for an 80s show, although a large amount of time seems to of been spent animating Noriko’s breasts bouncing around. According to wikipedia this show basically invented the animated boob bounce, which I will have to accept as true, not being bothered to do any further research. What this means is that whenever Noriko does anything, you’ll probably see a breast poking out of her clothing somewhere. The final episode is for some reason in black and white, and in wide screen. It looks like it is made out of animated concept art, which has finally made me realise what inspired the animation style that they used in 1999 RTS classic Homeworld.

While the robots that they use for the majority of the show are quite realistic, the Gunbuster is a preposterously powerful death machine. It isn’t sprouting enormous drills like the robots from TTGL of course, but it does seem to have an improbably large number of missile and laser cannons on it. It is also capable of kicking an enemy ship in half, and has been granted the power to fire lasers from it’s head. Noriko bellows the name of each attack at the top of her voice as she performs each move, which was the style at the time.

Please could you stop yelling?
Homing…lasers? Really?

As I said, the first half of the show is a bit slow as there is very little action going on, but it does have a payoff in the second half which wouldn’t feel as meaningful if we hadn’t spent as much time with the characters. The conclusion is most satisfactory, and sort of seems to lead into the sequel Diebuster which I am probably going to watch soon. Expect a review of that at some point I guess.

Arbitrary Rating: 8 – Space Admiral.