12 Days of Christmas; Day Three

ho ho ho

ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE ANIME LOVE GAVE TO ME…

A PROPER THEMATIC SEQUEL, FINALLY!: Diebuster (and Gunbuster)

I’ve already written a post on Gunbuster and how it hit me in the heart more ways than one, but even then, Gunbuster/Diebuster is really a perfect duo. Since Gunbuster has already been talked about however, I’m going to talk a little more about Diebusterthe underrated GAINAX sequel.

I’ve heard that Diebuster, by some fans, isn’t a sequel to Gunbuster because it doesn’t directly tackle the themes and characters that Gunbuster formed. I personally think those fans couldn’t be any more wrong. Diebuster is a perfect example of what a sequel should try to be; a show that can stand on its own two legs, but is thematically tied to its predecessor, re-imagining those concepts and ideas in new and bold ways.  Gunbuster was more about the subtle relationships formed through space and time, whereas Diebuster‘s heart lies between the relationship of Lal’C and Nono, but also about identity and the construction of self. Gunbuster and Diebuster both focus on the growth of a young teenage girl, but the two shows take different directions as to how that development should be tackled. Gunbuster focused on Nonoriri’s ties to her father and the people around her as she tried to become a protector of the earth. Diebuster had some carefully nuanced commentary on the perception of what it means to be a hero in society, and the status of a Topless, as well as the deconstruction of a protector. Nonoriri’s power stemmed from her desire to help Lal’C, but inevitably, it’s through Lal’C’s help that she manages to defeat the giant space alien, despite turning out to be Earth’s greatest defense system molded into one cyborg girl. Whereas Gunbuster was directed by Hideaki Anno, Diebuster is done by Kazuya Tsurumaki, well-known for his legendary Fooly Cooly (which happens to be one of my all time favorite animes). Diebuster is the fiery warm to Gunbuster‘s passionate cool. Everything is over the top! There are sex jokes and phallic imagery! Hell, there’s even a scooter! In this way, it’s understandable that the Gunbuster fan would be a bit overwhelmed and confused, but Diebuster retains the themes and world of Gunbuster so well you quickly latch on and forget about the stylistic differences.

One of the best scenes in the show. Did I hear someone press the FEELS button?

Of course, you could opt for the “ditch the whole argument” route and you could watch Diebuster by itself, sure. But you wouldn’t get the extra (but very powerful and worth it) emotional kick out of it that you would get if you were to have watched Gunbuster. I was confused myself when people told me to watch Gunbuster first, but as I watched the last 5 minutes of Diebusterthe emotions just hit me right then and there, and I realized how perfect these two worked in sequence.

If you ask me which one I liked more, I’d go with Diebuster (there’s something about intergalactic mecha-piloting lesbians that just gets to me – see Rinne) but to say that one works better than the other would be like saying that yin works better than yang, or vice versa. You can’t have one without the other; they are two halves of a whole, and that’s how it should be. Considering how GAINAX has been declining since Imaishi left, Diebuster is something we should all fondly look back on. Sure, it’s not a Gunbuster replica, and it may be a sister to FLCL‘s ‘outrageousness’, but that doesn’t lessen its power or its purpose as one of the best sequels I’ve seen to an anime.

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: Day 1 | Day 2 |

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7 responses to “12 Days of Christmas; Day Three

  1. It is in reality a nice and helpful piece of information.
    I am happy that you shared this useful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. One cool thing happening is that Anno and Tsurumaki are currently working together at Studio Khara, co-directing the Evangelion Rebuild movies. Tsurumaki is obviously Anno’s protege, and it’s interesting seeing him take his mentor’s ideas and apply his own fresh twist to them. Diebuster was very much that, keeping the themes and structure of Gunbuster but adding that stylistic flair reminiscent of FLCL. And Evangelion 2.22 was too, taking the 1995 series and twisting it in a new way. Tsurumaki is not a well known name due to his very small number of releases, but I think FLCL, Diebuster, and Evangelion 2.22 prove that he is one of the best directors out there.

  3. Pingback: 12 Days of Christmas; Day 4 | Isn't It Electrifying?·

  4. So soon! Thanks for considering doing this, in the case that you weren’t already planning to. Someone needed to lay out a balanced picture.

    Like I’ve already hinted, I just feel so *eager* about engaging the world of this series. Aside from cool robots, awesome colors, and cyclical storytelling (moe-moe and panty shots didn’t do it for me here), it’s probably due to the fact that you get to excitedly peeking in on the lives of flawed individuals. A dysfunctional grouping of organizations (and, if you like reckless extrapolation, this decadent or bloated world) feeds from and feeds into a society that really has some legitimate struggles, legitimate social questions. True—in retrospect, trying to figure out the story, I’d like to have speculated less, have liked a tad more personal doggedness and terrifying subversion in the questioning (condensing middle eps or, more riskily, dashing straight to episode 4 plot/Tycho observing events/Casio focus/Nicola focus seemed appropriate)—but maybe that’s just me. After all, the story’s tone and structure is arguably not meant to be the same. Nono is a “god,” a little sister, a robot…it’s all this myth stuff. It’s complicated, no?

    Quickly looking over my own post, the last thing I want to be understood as is flippant. Refining my thoughts, my issue less the messages present than the mere gut feeling that I needed more exploration than I got. My God, “fiery warm” is the most beautiful term I’ve heard for it. It’s all about sensitivity to the human range of actions and convictions. It shows us, in some bitter detail, the man within the machine, battered and tried. Can he too reach the stars? Can he, too, rely on failed others? Must he settle for limits within a red barrier of haze? That’s why I was so desperate, even (zealously?) (over?)eager for it to show me more, more, MORE! Its tone had an addictive urgency. I wanted a losing your powers flashback with a comrade, cues to make me go, “Oh, shit, no, Nicola. Oh, God.”

    Despite what I’ve written, the experience was less intense than I’ve described…maybe I’m a Buster Machine, lol. I had serious feels…but you seem to have had FEELS.

    At the risk of being repetitious, let me say this: your reasoning is mainly why I think that, in its way, it really covers a fascinating expanse of ground that Gunbuster doesn’t—and, arguably, wasn’t meant to. Consider this: maybe one can say that Noriko was close-minded and impressionistic, which is not quite growing up. Diebuster is a world that has learned to *teach* people how to become responsible, yet not to lose the dream. This I surmise to be the gist of what Lal’C has to offer that mysterious girl of the mythic past. Responsibility wasn’t so well “taught” in the earlier show; it was sort of toss-her-into-the-pool-and-see-if-she floats. Situations and personas “forced” people to decide (of course, that’s true in the sequel, too). The world of Diebuster, however, has the overease and artificiality to make this a cogent, viable option, whereas it wasn’t really so in the predecessor. So…Noriko has a world worth returning to (in a very ironic, metaphorical sense). A world just right for someone like her.

    I’m a fool for tragedy: “Let’s make the best of it,” and “Grace and hope is enough.” What makes Diebuster a little weird for me, of course, is that Kazumi *is* an adult, who can patiently (even clumsily) work at showing Noriko that she isn’t alone, at understanding responsibility to immediate individuals again. Unless one made the argument that Kazumi is still a product of Gunbuster’s world, and needs a lesson, too; not sure how strong it would be. Interestingly enough, what happened to her records, anyway? Huh. Guess I forget.

    The point is that Noriko really does get a happy ending. Dunno how I feel about that. Since legend is a thing here, it feels kind of like an eschatological realization, in a sense. The union of entities at the end of time. New beginning. Whoa…that’s mental shoop da whoop right there.

    • No problem! I’d actually head over to Wendeego’s posts on Diebuster- his thoughts are far more well-formed and thought out than this little ramble here.

      For me, Diebuster was all about the outrageous – no doubt, Kazuya’s style – but I think that’s sort of the style I like best? I’m all about compare and contrast, and Kazuya seems to have a really good hold on this, as Diebuster is flashy and big, but under the colorful explosions is this tender and equally-powerful heart that shines only towards the end. Gunbuster is much more subtle in its development, and much more gradual. But like you said, Diebuster was also about world building and responsibility; two aspects Gunbuster didn’t fully dive into (though arguably, I could say that Gunbuster does tackle responsibility pretty well, though only in one dimension in terms of Noriko and her relationship with the people around her).

      I’m also a HUGE sucker for tragedy (heck, all the ships I ship are doomed, and that’s just for starters) so Diebuster does resonate with me a little more on that end. But ultimately, I think both shows share the same soul and spirit. They’re both about girls who reign in their despair and turn it as a reason to fight rather than let it break them down and give up. And THAT, more than anything, is a Topless; not someone who refuses to give up, but fights fully knowing what is at stake and accepting the dismal odds. Noriko and Nono sacrifice their time not for the sake of the Earth – no, it’s not even about the planet – but for the people they cherish and love. And whereas Noriko lives and Nono does not, there’s still a sort of triumphant huzzah! as you realize that these girls do become heroes, though each in their own way. And I think that is what fundamentally ties the two installments together, despite being so outwardly different in appearance and execution. That’s the sort of sequel I’ve always wanted, and Diebuster really gave it to me.

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