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AICN Anime-Fav Mecha Series Gurren Lagann Back on Track For US Release

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green
Bandai Entertainment Inc. announced today that it will distribute Aniplex’s release of GURREN LAGANN which was created by anime powerhouse studio GAINAX (Evangelion, Gunbuster, The Wings of Honneamise). The 27-episode science fiction, comedy action series centers on Simon, Kamina and Yoko, youths who live in an underground village on a future earth. They become embroiled in a conflict with surface “Beastmen” who pilot mech known as Gunmen, one of which they take for themselves and name GURREN, and lead the battle against the Beastmen. Recently the series won “best television series” and “best character design” at the 2008 Tokyo Animation Fair (TAF) Because of the overwhelming desire by fans to have this title released, Bandai Entertainment Inc. will create a subtitle only initial release of the series in three parts. Vol. 1 of the sub only release will contain episodes 1-9 and be released on July 8 th for $29.98 with a pre-sale occurring the weekend of Anime Expo 2008. Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 of the subtitled only version will be released in August and September respectively. In early 2009, an all new English dub version will be released with Japanese audio and English subtitles with both a regular and special editions. More details on the 2009 release pattern and spec will be announced later this year. The series had previously been licensed by ADV Films, the first three episodes were streamed through The Anime Network, and the title was scheduled for release in March. When ADV put their new releases on moratorium, Gurren Lagann was removed from their schedule.

The following is a repost of AICN Anime Gurren Lagann preview...

Anime Spotlight: Gurren Lagann
Bear with me, apparently this is going to be long... Neon Genesis Evangelion is still a contentious topic. Its detractors can argue that it's hollow, that it's overrated, that it's pretentious. But, can anyone make a case that the scenes like the bloody birth image of the demonic looking robot ripping its way out of the Direc Sea aren’t stunning visuals? Gurren Lagann takes that potential for striking images that still lingers in giant robot anime and applies it to an exciting, in spirit back to basics, maelstrom. One of the hallmarks of high minded giant robot anime in the last decade or so has been its reliance on mystery. There is no a real twist to Gurren Lagann the way that there is in the opening episodes of Rahxephon and there are no real "Soylent Green is people" revelations the way that there are in Neon Genesis Evangelion, but Gurren Lagann is the kindof story that you don't want spoiled. If you can make it through the series without catching images from later episodes or reading too much about the plot, you'll come to appreciate your self-imposed information blackout. That said, the series starts with a Star Wars (New Hope) open. Curtains part to unveil an epic prologue, with galaxies literally exploding. In updated Leiji Matsumoto fashion, banners furl in space as the captain of a battle ship walks onto his bridge, wearing a cape with the insignia of a flaming, shades wearing skull. One of his officers informs him that all the lights they can see crowding the heavens are enemies ready to stand in opposition. This captain spits back a "damn the torpedoes" style response, and... The anime dissolves to the narrow holes of the diggers. Every day, these anonymous workers burrow with small hand drills hoping to expand their subterranean village and earn a "pig-mole steak" as their reward. Beyond the endless rock and endless work, young, unimpressive Simon has a notion that someday he might find a treasure buried in the rock, and that personal hope drives him to dig further. And, one day he finds a small glowing drill-bit like spiral that pleases him, if no one else. The other dream to which Simon is party is his elder friend/mentor/"brother" Kamina's wish to rebel against the village's slovenly task master as a first step in the ultimate ambition of moving from their enclosed cavern to the surface. Kamina, a bit of a braggart with tribal tattoos and an oversized sword, refuses to listen to the stubborn insistences that humans need to stay where they belong, off the beastman controlled surface. Except in the wake of one of Kamina's rebellions, a beastman's giant minotaur-esque robot gunman brakes through into the village, with the sniper rifle wielding, bikini wearing hottie Yoko in pursuit. In the midst of this battle, Simon manages to dig up his own gunman: a rather unimpressive machine that's pretty much just a person-tall head with arms and legs.
What's really glorious about Gurren Lagann or Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann ("Heaven Shattering Gurren Lagann") is that there is nothing to wade through. Unlike the (this review or)Sunrise giant robot anime from Ideon to GaoGaiGar to Gundam, and the anime that have followed in their footsteps like Eureka Seven, there is no slog to get to the good part. While Gurren Lagann's scope leaves an impression, it doesn't feel like an accomplishment to get through it because there aren't 12 or 24 trial episodes to open the anime, then random, later foot dragging. The lesson that the series picks up from the past... the relatively far past of Mazinger Z (if you've watched too much TV and have a good memory, Tranzor Z ) to the relatively recent past of FLCL... is how to create a vicariously thrilling experience. It takes something as old as the hero's journey, it lavishes it with Gunbuster 2/Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi expressive designs, and it lights the rule book on fire. It starts small, then it gets larger, then dwarfs its previous scope, so that it is never possible to know the series' ceiling. Newtonian physics is tossed out. Einsteinian physics is tossed out. It is the axiom of shounen action that there's always a more dangerous adversary coming up next, but nothing has approached that law of fiction the way that Gurren Lagann has. It works with and bests the old standards enough to reignite the passion in long time mecha fans and enough to capture the interest of the disinterested.
This fiery boldness marks a return to form for the animators at Gainax. A poll answered by 2 million Japanese fans selected the following as their favorite anime of 2007 1 - sola a fantasy romance written by Naoki Hisaya of Kanon 2 - Lucky Star - based on a four panel gag strip, following cutely designed, uber-geek girls 3 - Katei Kyoshi Hitman Reborn - a Shounen Jump action comedy 4 - Ookiku Furi Kabutte - based on a seinen baseball manga 5 - Higurashi (When They Cry) - murder mystery with cute girls, based on a series of visual novels 6 - Gintama - a Shounen Jump action comedy 7 - Nanoha StrikerS - cute, military magic girls for an older audience 8 - Nanatsuiro Drops - magic girl, based on an eroge visual novel 9 - Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei - an absurdist, and somewhat literate comedy about a suicidal highschool teacher and his female students (by far this reviewer's favorite of the list) 10 - Hidamari Sketch - based on a seinen four panel manga about cute girls living in an artists' haunt In this list, Hitman Reborn, Ookiku Furi Kabutte and Gintama stand out as the subset that does not, at least to some extent, rely on cute girls, presented for a slightly older, male audience. What this marks is that the geek cult has rallied behind a passion for a certain type of character, and anime production has fallen into step. The proliferation of moe characters and a geek-friendly, cute girl aesthetic look like evidence of an echo chamber between fans and creators. This is relevant to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in that in the current landscape, anime explicitly for anime fans, made by creators who are or were anime fans now tiles the landscape.
Gainax, Gurren Lagann's production studio, was once THE anime studio comprised of passionate fans made good. If you've never seen it before, check out their early work on the animated sequence used to open the Daicon IV sci-fi convention. The creators of Macross (the first part of Robotech) demonstrated an appreciation for the sci-fi anime that had come before them (Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers and Gundam), but for Gainx, enthusiasm was plainly their raison d'être. That passion resulted in the crafted brilliance of Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, which would later be the face of the geek-manufacturing conspiracy in Welcome to the NHK, the titanic sci-fi epic Gunbuster, and, of course, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Except, by the time 2000 hit, there was no shortage of geek-knowledgeable, geek-baiting anime, and Gainax joined the herd. The studio rang in the new millennium with the robot maid anime Mahoromatic. Since then, they've done magical girl series, Petite Princess Yucie, and manic parody, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. By the time they were putting out mid-quality works like Melody of Oblivion and This Ugly Yet Beautiful World , newly announced titles could no longer be greeted with a rush of excitement just because Gainax's name was attached. And, they were the studio that put the cap stone on fanservice with He Is My Master. In that story of a fabulously wealthy, lecherous teenager and his teenage girl maid-servants, they failed to establish sufficient irony that would safeguard the anime against the question as to whether it was a work of a grossly regressive perspective or a work of calculated pandering. From its opening onward, Gurren Lagann is almost explicitly demanding more than just a second chance. The proclamation "who do you think I am?!? announces that Gurren Lagann and Gainax are going to seize new recognition. These giant robot series have certain operating principles, and the principals are to a large extent interchangeable. Personally, Gurren Lagann's gets crossed with Eureka 7's "do it for yourself." Once you get them straightened out, Gurren Lagann's motto, "believe in me, who believes in you" does hold true for the macro-narrative. Yet, the series doesn't require too much faith, because the speed of the action and the charisma of the characters like Kamina kicks in early. The magnitude and sometimes wackiness proves to be hard evidence of Gainax's zeal. It is convincing, not just to a genre-reluctant or a genre-weary audience, but also anyone who would accept the operating tropes of a boy and his robot challenging the universe. How does one rip moe, the almost fetishisization of youthful innocence, or maids, or the other notions of virtual, idealized female forms, while defending and promoting mecha anime? Well, it's not easy to rationalize, especially considering that if you think about it, the appeal of mecha anime isn't that dissimilar to a child's fascination with fire engines and the like. From am artistic vantage, it doesn't work. Taken from an animation/production standpoint, even Petite Princess Yucie has some marvelous sequences. And, the juvenile power fantasies invoked by giant robots don't exactly reflect a progressive mindset. Yet, while it is unquestionably an escapist pleasure, there is something inherently satisfying about seeing a giant machine destroying things in the name of a lofty ideal. It's mental junk food, but at least it isn't hard drugs. And, maybe when the mecha anime is as creatively frenetic as Gurren Lagann, it's worth the indulgence. The creative staff working on Gurren Lagann wasn't some of the better known names in anime, even among relatively well informed North American fans, but quickly, they establish themselves as artists worth remembering. As a series that spins the conventional in an unconventional direction, Gurren Lagann benefits from a staff that is passionate about the past that informs their work, but who are also passionate about establishing their own interpretation.
The anime was scripted by Kazuki Nakashima, who has an interesting history as a playwright. See this interview for a bit about his stage work. Anime fans may also know of Nakashima from his work on Oh! Edo Rocket, a play performed by the Gekidan Shinkansen theater troupe adapted into a Madhouse anime concerning the bizarre adventures of a firework maker who is asked to build a rocket to the moon under the watchful eyes of the government, which had banned all arts and luxuries, including fireworks. While one can poke holes in the thesis, there is a not entirely unconvincing theory that the progression over the course of Gurren Lagann reflects the evolution of piloted mecha anime from the 70's to the current time frame. Even if the notion is incorrect / incomplete, it's useful because it demonstrates how Gurren Lagann doesn't fall into lock step with one template for how to run a super robot mecha series. Simon is neither Shinji Ikari nor Kouji Kabuto. He starts off a generally dull kid; hard working with an underlying optimism. Unlike some Go Nagai heroes, he has no innate knowledge that his side will be victorious no matter what and unlike other Nagai heroes, he doesn't have the pathological sense of ego to automatically push through overwhelming odds. What he obtains is hard earned and Gurren Lagann does demonstrate an Anno-like eye for depression and overwhelming bleakness. While Gurren Lagann is more of a re-exploration of the genre than it is a character study, Simon is a dynamic personality and an aspect of the anime series' expanding nature is Simon's metamorphosis into an epic hero. It fosters the desire to see this scrub turn into the legend introduced in the first scene of the first episode. Throughout the process, the series makes it a point to accentuate the high spots of the genre. Entering into the cockpit of a robot, the "gattai" or combination of component mecha, the heralding of an upcoming attack, the Gurren Lagann team know that these tropes are exhausted to the point where many are seldom used outside parody, but Gainax still puts enough ingenuity and thrust into each that the excitement is renewed. Of course, there is a metaphysical element to Gurren Lagann, but it's more about keeping the tone energized and the conflict engaging than it is exploring anything close to a relevant concern. Gurren Lagann is about something to the extent that 300 is about something. You can glean an insight from the narrative if you want to, but if that's more than excited zeal, it's an ancillary effect. There are some exercises in politics throughout the series, and the anime is effective in building political dilemmas, but again, this is more in service to the drama than it is in establishing a useful philosophy. To build that tension, the conflict does touch on recognizable, real concerns, but the anime is working off pulp science and pulp ideology. While the conflicts are more sophisticated and engaging than good rebels versus evil empire, Gurren Lagann isn't in the business of lofty intensions beyond presenting good mecha anime. Many of Gurren Lagann's catch phrases could easily be taken as statements directed at the audience, but in the case of "don't take me lightly!", really, it should be saying "enjoy the ride."
Judging the anime by whether Gurren Lagann is a thrilling adventure, if there's a flaw in Nakashima's approach, it's that the heroes fight and fight and fight, then they break through and win. Gurren Lagann is a super robot show where there is not a single ritualized formula or "Blazing Sword" by which enemies are defeated. That's perfect for making the series more dynamic and more involving. The problem is that the anime still waits for the hero or heroes to get charged up to some critical point that allows them to overcome anything (maybe at the cost of some sacrifice). That point is authorially dictated and conforms to the arc of an episode or the arc of the series. At times, it feels like the characters are fighting off the enemies, waiting for an external meta-mechanism. As much as Gurren Lagann insists on crediting its protagonists' fight to the last breathe heroic fervor and know no boundaries attitude in their victories, and as contagious as the series' engagement of that attitude is, the point where the push leads to victory feels like it is set by the script. The anime is almost like a sport in that respect. The team (heroes or adversaries), with the most momentum/points at the end of the allotted time, takes the victory. In that scheme, the script/author plays the role of referee, judge and time keeper. By the same token, it is amusing to think of Simon's allies as almost a rugby team. They're sufficiently crazy and eager to engage in violence. For all the interesting potential and the head-down dedication he displays, Simon belongs to the long tradition of young heroes, ready to initiate their quest into the wider world. That said, Kamina is a rather x-treme Obi-Won. He and Yoko start a precedent for fiercely independent people who volunteer their strength to Simon's cause. At every leg of the journey, there is a tremendous leap of self-assurance that comes as a requisite for fighting with Simon. It's like running for president . Certain endeavors require an almost egomaniacal degree of self confidence; that regardless of the odds or the probability of the outcome, the person entering the ring is convinced that they have a shot. That's the attitude that makes up the cast of Gurren Lagann. This produces a crazy, eager to fight pantheon of legends. As much as the script sets the stage for this bunch of very disparate people, united by, and driven by lofty ideals, for much of the series, for much of the lower tier cast, the anime relies on character designer Atsushi Nishigori. There's almost a 2D video game approach to making the character stand out. Other than Simon, Kamina, Yoko and a few other primary characters, these people don't stand in the middle of the shot, waiting to be captured in full view. Like a platformer or a fighting game with a huge cast (Street Fighter Alpha or King of Fighters), there are a lot of very colorful, very appealing individuals moving around. The Boba Fett mystery effect is in play for a large set of the cast for most of the series, with open credits shots and glimpses at characters such as a hot tinkerer with long blonde hair and an oral fixation or the like.
On the animation side of the equation, Gurren Lagann was Hiroyuki Imaishi's chance to step into the limelight. If you're an anime watcher, Imaishi might not be a name you know, but you probably remember his work. Memorable sequences he contributed to include the paper-cut/manga piece of KareKano/His and Her Circumstances, episode 5 of FLCL, the climax of action lover favorite Lupin III movie Walther P38, the opening of Cromartie High, and parts of the last stretch of episodes in the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series. In super robot anime, there is an opportunity to use design and ritual in the place of elaborate choreography. You have a gargantuan, totemic robot. It's colorful. It looks powerful. It just has to stand and unleash its ritualized super attack. Rocket punch? Getter beam? Blazing sword? Are any of these that far divorced from the chambara standard of the samurai who looks imposing, then ends the battle with one, decisive slash. If you look back for early "real robot" shows that had something approaching genuine constraints, such as limited ammunition or power supply, Gundam or Macross had their conceits and routines, but they also had to suggest some notion of strategy and ability through their choreography. For Gurren Lagann, Imaishi's role is to put personality center stage. The series toes the Shonen Jump formula of weird people, in a weird place, with weird things; think early Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure), or Naruto. The weird "who" of this formula is Gurren Lagann's colorful characters and, as long as they're kept lively, engaged, and natural rather than action-figure stiff, they are doing what Imaishi needs. The weird "what" is the series' mecha, and they are quite weird. From a for the kids, merchandising perspective, a transforming locomotive or a robot with a plane for shoulders and tanks for legs, makes some sense. Gurren Lagann offers up platypus mecha, that are more in line with urban vinyls or graffiti than something from the toy store shelf. These hot-rod mecha, with mid-chest faces or Kustom Kulture flair, seems ill-suited for motion, but Imaishi gets them to fly like bumble bees. While it probably isn't especially easy to figure out how to build an action scene around a walking battleship or fill the charge-up periods of the script, Imaishi makes is look effortless by following the central tenant of mecha anime: make the robot an extension of its pilot.
The characters like to tussle, so in Gurren Lagann, the robots frequently engage each other physically, with a sense of weight and collision established. The characters like to blow things up, and wow does Gurren Lagann have explosions. There are no Gundam puffs of pink and teal smoke here. As far back as the Wings of Honneamise, Gainax has displayed a real skill for explosive bursts. With Gurren Lagann's torrents of dust, flecks of light and stages: white light, then flames, then air blast, then debris, the animators make an art of it. The characters like to let loose, and in turn, the anime demonstrates a capacity for snake-bite quickness. There's something like a knife fight early on in the series, and its fast intricacies are staggering. It's probably an understatement to say that anime has its share of things to be discouraged about. That's true of any medium, but anime is definitely not lacking in things with which to be concerned, either in North America or Japan. One of the acute symptoms is the reaction to episode 4 of Gurren Lagann. Kindof like the rejection of the Hiroyuki Okuno directed seventh episode of Samurai 7, viewers didn't exactly take to Osamu Kobayashi's guest stint on Gurren Lagann episode four (perhaps intended to be a more extensive involvement, or a template for continuing work). Trouble spilled over into the internet, specifically the message board 2Channel. After a harsh condemnation, Takami Akai, who had been with Gainax since their Daicon days, and who created their Princess Maker game series, step down as Gurren Lagann's producer and from Gainax's board. Osamu Kobayashi's name has been attached to a number of anime series that AICN Anime has and will continue to tout as overlooked gems, including Beck, Gad Guard and Paradise Kiss. To say that episode four of Gurren Lagann is a drop and quality is to mistake a change in aesthetics for a break down in production. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, and maybe Akai got sniffy in his dismissive response, but episode four marks the type of risk taking experimentation that anime needs to remain a vibrant form. Kobayashi takes off the restrictor plate on the animation. Not that it was static and uninteresting before or after, but Kobayashi loosens the bindings on the characters and allows them to be more dynamic. He employs a technique which is like that of manga with concrete background and abstract characters. It's "cartoonishness" equates to a looser definition to the character models. There is more emotiveness and more willingness to relax the idealization. The individuality of the characters and the magnitude of their expressions become amplified. They don't look like they are coming straight off the design sheet in every frame, so they aren't as pretty as some might prefer, but, they are also less generic. The episode isn't without problems. Some of the physical interaction needs work. For example, a punch thrown sends the recipient reeling without ever really seeming to connect. In some of the mecha scenes, especially in ones that don't accentuate movement, there is a plastic wall look to the robots that lacks presence. There is a discernable creative joy in the episode. Most of the criticisms probably come from the issue that the episode doesn't always use the most frames and isn't the smoothest animation, but in how it is conceived and storyboarded, it plainly isn't route or economical. Often the difference is in the effort spent on behalf of small things, like the complex swooning dance as a spider robot activates and leaps out of its holster or the oddly gap toothed teddy bears and misshapen stars that pop up for a split second when a character is hit on the head. And it's in the effects not typically used in anime, such as the Ren and Stimpy popularized gag of hyper detailed close-ups. As a one-off episode that introduces some reoccurring secondary characters, that is not far outside the repertoire of anime situation comedy Kobayashi's working off a pretty bare scripted framework. Imaishi handles speed and wackiness brilliantly. Kobayashi handles a quiet moment of characters lounging on the rocks, talking about their hunger, then bickering over a haunch of meet shaped cloud, and in his expressions and in the thorough designs of the parade of clouds passing through the sky, he makes it an endearing moment. Gurren Lagann's production doesn't look strictly gun-shy after the costly episode four ordeal. The following, subterranean episode is almost all gray toned with an interesting handling of light sources. The effects, the fight choreography and the design aesthetic remain distinctively Gurren Lagann. The majority of watchers will probably disagree, but a fan of adventurous animation could've hoped that the series would've gone off script on expected animation style again. If you're someone who would expect the episode to be re-animated for its DVD release, consider that it's the kind of tinkering by animators like Kobayashi that keeps anime dynamic. Gurren Lagann recalls Gunbuster, a genuine tribute, coupled with a vision that rocketed the work to unexpected heights. We know where Hideaki Anno has gone since Gunbuster: to hell and back with Evangelion and his serious live action works Love & Pop and Shiki-Jitsu, then getting the last laugh by marrying Moyoco Anno (the Hideaki stand-in in Moyoco's Flowers & Bees implied that despite his unkempt shagginess, he's a cool lady's man) and directing the live action Cutie Honey. Gurren Lagann leaves a lingering desire for more. Not more Gurren Lagann specifically, though it might be interesting to see what would happen if they attempted a compilation movie. The provoked desire is for more anime that is thrilled to be working in a popular tradition while experimenting with its boundaries. Hopefully, more of Hiroyuki Imaishi's dynamic animation will be featured prominently an anime. And hopefully Kazuki Nakashima will work directly in the medium again.
The unfortunate irony is that as fun as Gurren Lagann is, it's bound to get stuck in its place. The plot of Gurren Lagann, as well as its production is so concerned with surpassing limitations that one has to rein in their external hopes for the series. While it stands as a immensely satisfying anime, from a marginally pessimistic standpoint, it's hard to believe that it is going to rock the heavens. Gurren Lagann is the next evolution in giant robot anime. Yet, there is more than a preponderance of evidence to suggest that the genre has hit something close to terminal velocity. Especially factoring in that the broad interests of anime fans on both sides of the Pacific is not on mecha, Gurren Lagann is clearly not going to shake anime in general or mecha anime specifically the way that Neon Genesis Evangelion did, or Mobile Suit Gundam, or Getter Robo or Mazinger Z. As distinctive as the anime is, it is not going to provoke copycats or a movement. If it did, because Gurren Lagann is an advancement by degrees, set apart by the specific artists involved, unless a creator explicitly named Gurren Lagann as an influence or the anime copied its exponential growth in the plot's scale, it would be highly debatable to differentiate traits of a post-Gurren Lagann giant robot anime from pre-Gurren Lagann super robot revival shows like Godannar and Gravion. As far as North America is concerned, Gurren Lagann might be a cross over for non-mecha fans, but what audience is going to latch on outside the anime faithful? GaoGaiGar is a colorful, energetic super robot show, invocative of Transformers, that aired on Japanese TV around the time that Evangelion did. Recently, Media Blasters attempted to release the series in North America, and its sales performance was such that the better-regarded second half is in unreleased-limbo and the distributor has publicly sworn off giant robot titles. One would think that if there was a good time to release GaoGaiGar, Media Blasters had it. But, GaoGaiGar's difficulties look like evidence that not even a live action Transformers could bump the needle of giant robot interest. Is there even room for live action Voltron or Robotech movies? The first couple of episodes of Gurren Lagann are streaming online through Anime Network's online service. If the full series was available would it be a killer app for a new model of online anime delivery? The series has the potential to grab some geek attention, but even if it's far easier to acquire, how broadly can it reach in the face of competition from other media. In terms of failing to be the next vanguard, the problem doesn't seem to be that the series isn't another Evangelion. The problem seems to be that Gurren Lagann doesn't have the confluence of conditions that Eva had. Eva was a well produced, longer anime series with depth available at a time when, between Ghost in the Shell in theatres and Sailor Moon on TV, people were both ready for it, and for the most part, had not previously seen anything like it. And, at the time, the then-next-gen video games had a sufficiently slim library of quality releases, that game fandom could support the argument that Wild Arms was as good as or better than Final Fantasy VII. The shape of the current market looks like; at the lower age bracket it is possible to trade off something like Naruto for what ever is next. Looking at older ages, maybe a properly promoted Black Lagoon could have the cross-over appeal to pull interest in from elsewhere, but games seem to be the top draw for time consumption. While gamers seem willing to experiment with unusual games (Portal, Bioshock), in an entirely unscientific survey, even lapsed anime fan-turned gamers seem reluctant to spend time trying out anime. In light of the fact that relatively inexpensive guy manga (seinen) isn't exactly lighting up the sales charts, well handled, digitally distributed anime might curb piracy among anime fans, but there is little to suggest that it will be a road by which something like Gurren Lagann will pull in scores of new or lapsed fans. Maybe a push could take a series with the exuberance of Gurren Lagann and convince the mildly interested outside the core audience that the anime is worth seeking out, but that would take more than a gushing AICN Anime columnist and a few billboards in the anime enthusiast press to accomplish.

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