It’s quite illuminating to watch Gunbuster and recognize things that I’ve seen before scattered throughout so many shows just because they decided to pay an homage to this. The obvious case is Gurren Lagann, where certain little things are straight up ripped out from this show. Another case would be Lucky Star’s Bun Guster track. At many of these points, it was like a light flipped on in my head and I went ohhhhhhhhhhhh.
What’s more impressive is that even though this is one of the oldest shows I’ve watched, it still felt new. It was kind of like when I watched Utena for the first time. In this case, the time dilation stuff added a really interesting dimension to the entire plot. While Gurren Lagann relies on physical size alone to give it that grand sense of scale, here, time and distance are used as well. It’s not on the same scale physically, but it definitely matches in the sort of awe you feel when you watch it.
This all makes Diebuster quite interesting as well. While it’s a “sequel”, it feels very different. There are some callbacks and some of the same themes, but it’s largely doing its own thing. I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out and how it connected to Gunbuster but it just ended up giving me all the answers I was looking for. I don’t think there was the same sort of awe as when I watched Gunbuster, but it was more like ‘wow, that’s pretty neat’.
But comparing these two to Gurren Lagann makes their similarities a lot more apparent. Both are about a girl who look up to a girl who’s very successful as their role model. Both of them eventually surpass their role model and achieve their dreams through hard work and guts. And then both of them save the world together with the mentor they’ve surpassed.
Watching these was kind of exciting because everyone loves Gurren Lagann and the question is whether Gainax will be able to top it. I imagine everyone who watched Gunbuster and Diebuster must’ve thought the same thing, that surely they can’t top THIS. I’m glad that they’ve proven us wrong twice now.