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 Diebuster, the 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.
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 Diebuster, the 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.