The Other Shelf: Gunbuster


I’ve only recently begun to dip into pre-90’s anime, and this was an easy series to pick after already seeing Diebuster.  For those worried that going backwards might be a waste of time, it’s really worth the time.  The original 6 episode OVA is really seperate plot-wise from what you see in Diebuster, and only makes you want to go back and watch Diebuster again to catch all the little Gunbuster references.


There are main influential characters in this series but Noriko and Kazumi (who is usually called Onee-san) are the cornerstones of the story.  They live in a time where humankind is being threatened by an imminent battle with aliens.  These huge monsters are more like space’s “antibodies” and they see humans as being detrimental to the universe.  Noriko’s father was aboard the first ship that was attacked by the aliens, so she decides to become a space pilot in his honor.  She’s not all that great at handing her robot, but inspiration from Kazumi helps her go on.

Noriko and Kazumi’s relationship felt kind of lacking after seeing what Nono and Lark had in Diebuster.  I mean they even had the sparkly shoujo “fated meeting” kind of scene that is usually a prequel to yuri satisfaction.  In fact, Kazumi went a step further in the opposite direction by giving this on and off bitch attitude to Noriko because she felt so high and mighty.


Coach is one of those typical mystery figures who always knows how to get the heroine to get her shit together to save the day.  He was aboard the same spaceship as Noriko’s father so he feels entitled to help her reach her full potential.


When Noriko, Kazumi and Coach get up to space, the girls meet a new comrade from Russia name Jung Freud.  She can only pull off name because the only thing manly about her is her crazy fighting attitude.  Jung and Kazumi have a bizzare rivalry right off the bat which extends to Jung’s affections for Coach.  I liked her because she added spunk when Noriko was too busy being emo or Kazumi was all snooty.



It was surprising that half of the episodes don’t actively involve the robot Gunbuster.  Diebuster brings them out right from the start (although the best is left for last) and even shows like Evangelion start with the main robots in the spotlight.  But this series is more about how the normal process of becoming a pilot is.  Another thing that felt awkward was seeing the controls of the lower level robots and the fact that the pilots don’t wear space helmets.  You’d think that they’d have that in the highly likely event that the machine could get sliced open.  Oh well, blame my views on too many episodes of Gundam 00.


This was pretty ridiculous though.  When are you going to need, let alone physically be able, to get in a pyramid in space?



In any case, Gunbuster is about mechas kicking ass and the series doesn’t fail to deliver.  I practically squeeled at the first INAZUMA KICK, and Gunbuster’s entrance on to the battlefield was pretty epic.  Noriko is badass when she can get her fighting spirit going and it’s no wonder that she was Nono’s hero in Diebuster.


That’s not to say Noriko doesn’t have faults, like her tendency to cry.


And cry and cry and cry.


Of course, a lot of that was this guy’s fault.  Mr. Smith Toren or as Noriko’s Japanese VA wails, SMIIIIIISUUUUUU.   Jesus Christ, she met him for one day, developed a minor crush and acts like her childhood friend was taken from her after his death.  This is where the Noriko/Kazumi pairing would have been a lot more bearable.  His hair is also probably fueling my distate.


I did, however, laugh when Noriko accidently walked in on his friends who were mourning.  It’s like a hybrid of a sad puppy look and a “GOOD JOB BITCH” face.


Stepping over to another minor character, let’s have Kashiwara’s wonderful features grace us.


No really, take it all in~


If I were Noriko, I would have rather fought with the monitor off, too.  I think the issue was that Kashiwara had an old woman’s face even when she was young.  Her future self didn’t look as mismatched.


Kazumi and Coach’s weird love seemed like a mismatch too.  It’d be one thing if there was some backstory behind it, but all we ever see is them bitching each other out.  You could say it’s mutual tsundere behavior, but that seems like a cop out.



The opening credits kind of fool you into thinking that Noriko’s friend, Kimiko, would also become a pilot.  Instead she just pops up to keep viewers in line with the amount of time that’s passing on Earth.  I think they made her look at lot older than 27, though.


And we can’t forget that Gainax loves women and their boobies.  I actually prefer the 90’s and prior years style of portraying people when they’re naked.  These days the characters are either so shiny that you’d think that the air is made of baby oil or there’s things like fog or cover crows to block the naughty bits.  I understand that they have to do the latter for TV but then you get into the realm of huge disproportionate boobs.  So I applaud the Gunbuster girls for keepin’ it real (or at least more real than you usually see these days).


Plus, you can’t get more patriotic than this.  I think that this is the first time I’ve seen an anime girl with pubic hair outside of hentai.  It’s as rare as guys keeping their penises (Kurokami lol).  And yes, you’re looking at Freud’s pubes.  Names can be so fun.



The final episode was pretty interesting, but it felt seperate from the first five episodes.  It’s really not because of the time jump, but because of the sudden change from color animation to monochrome.  It works well and kind of made me think of Metropolis (the old live action, not the anime).  The inside of Buster Machine #3 looked hauntingly cool and I don’t think it would have come across the same if the episode had been done in color.


Older Kazumi and Meryl from Trigun look alike, y/n?


And I want one of these flying disks.


Episode five had such a wham bam ending that made the final episode just feel like an add-on.  That’s not to say episode six is bad, but Diebuster did a better job of keeping a steady plot.  Plus we wouldn’t have Diebuster if it weren’t for Noriko’s final battle.  It’s still kind of “lol ridiculous” that Noriko retained her youth all these years.  Shouldn’t she have succumbed to space radiation like Coach?  I assume that from now on Noriko, Kazumi and Lark will have origami swan making parties and chat about what it’s like to be the most powerful women alive.


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