In the long annals of anime deaths, there have been some real standouts. Arguably, Kamina’s death in Episode 8 is one of the most famous in the history of anime demises. But for me it’s not even the best death scene in Gurren-Lagann – certainly not as far as GAR is concerned. Gainax pretty much had the trademark on GAR, but they really topped themselves with the conclusion to this episode. They were so good at what they did and no one else (certainly not Trigger) has ever managed to do it quite the same way – I’ll always mourn the loss of Gainax as an anime fan.
Certainly the “science” involved here is pretty much mumbo-jumbo, but I still admire the way Nakashima managed to tie everything together. A giant “death spiral” generator at the heart of the anti-matter defenses, turning spiral energy into mass – which in turn creates a “sea” of super-sense space? That’s elegant as hell – especially when you consider that this sea is the graveyard of all the spirals that have trekked here trying to fight for their future (“a sea filled with the tears of spirals” as Leeron eloquently puts it).
Kittan being the one to emerge as the savior of humanity is an interesting twist in a series full of them. Simon is too of course – he’s tirelessly generating spiral energy trying to create the weapons that can destroy the death spiral machine. Heck, even Boota gets into the act – providing the spiral energy Viral can’t in order to allow the beastman to fight at Simon’s side. But this is Kittan’s show here, make no mistake. His conversation with little Gimmy and Darry is quite moving, especially considering that they’re children dealing with the reality of certain death – all the more so, not less, for Kittan’s lack of verbal dexterity.
“This is all I’m good at.” It’s a fitting epitaph for Kittan, a memorable way to go out. He was never the great man – not the inspirational fool Kamina was, or the relentless and resourceful leader Simon is. Just a loudmouthed mecha jockey who treasured his friends, knew when to defer to greater men than he, and never gave in to fear no matter the odds (which were “zero percent” in this case, according to Lordgenome). His most ostentatious move was that farewell kiss with Yoko – admitting his true feelings in the end, when there was literally nothing left to lose.
Truly it was a great, great way to go out – “blaze of glory” doesn’t even begin to cover it. The stakes couldn’t have been higher, Kittan wrote his own epitaph and kissed the girl, and “Libera Me From Hell” was the indelible soundtrack of his end. It’s funny, in my memory that and “Rap is a Man’s Soul” are all over the anime – but this was in fact the first time it (and I believer either version in fact) was used in its entirety. TTGL has no sacred cows – anything can happen, and that’s one of the things that makes it so powerful.