Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More Gurren Lagann Goodness; English version continues to hit and miss.

It's time for more on one of the greatest super robot shows to come from Japan and hit our shores: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Those of you who follow my blog may remember my previous entry on Gurren Lagann, and for those of you who have just now stumbled on it may want to check it out.

Well I've finally managed to catch more episodes of the English version, thank you Sci-Fi Channel, and was about as impressed as I was originally. The voice acting has continued to hit and miss in some areas, but for the most part it appears to be staying true to the original and doing a decent job.

I hate that I missed Gurren Lagann's first appearance/first combination, but since I'd already seen it before in the Japanese version I wasn't too disappointed. I did hate missing that first fight with Viral though. Brotherly combination? Okay I know they can't say "Kyodai gattai" but still, wouldn't "Brotherly fusion" or "Brothers united" been better?

Okay but let's get to the characters and their voice actors.

The Black Siblings- Kiyoh, Kinon, & Kiyal: Three femme fatales that are the sisters of the great Kitan. Their roles range from supporting the others in the control room to fighting in Ganmen. The youngest sibling, Kiyal (the one with long, purple hair), has a Ganmen that transforms and becomes a spear and shield for Kitan's Ganmen King Kittan. Kiyoh is the oldest, and has very big...eyes, and blonde hair. She fights in a ganmen as well, but later sits on the sidelines for a very good reason. While Kiyoh and Kiyal later sit back and watch most of the action, Kinon (the one with the glasses) becomes more deeply involved. So keep an eye on her.
The Kiyoh, Kinon, and Kiyal are voiced by three very great voice actresses with very nice voices; Karen Strassman, Stephanie Sheh, and Gina Bowles respectively. It's hard to judge them separately, but collectively they do a great job. It's also hard to compare them to the originals since it's been a while since I've heard the Japanese voices. But for what it's worth, they are doing a great job. EXCELLENT WORK LADIES. A

Leeron, aka Ron: A character that is bound to cause some controversy here stateside is Ron. Why? If the mascara isn't a big enough clue for you, Ron is a guy with a feminine touch. It's hard to say if he's gay or a cross dresser, but his mannerisms are definitely not that of a regular guy. Ron is supposed to be an okama type character ("okama" roughly means crossdresser), or one that is clearly a man but with feminine mannerisms or characteristics. Think Mr. 2 Bon Clay from One Piece. I'll admit that these kinds of characters some times make me a little...uncomfortable...but after seeing Mr. 2 in One Piece and because I was loving Gurren Lagann so much I kept watching, and, wouldn't you know it, Ron became one of my favorite characters. While other characters of Ron's type may be confined to be nothing more then the stereotypical gay guy in other anime, Ron is much much more than that. He is the brains of the Gurren Brigade, with knowledge and expertise equal to the collective might of the entire Brigade. On more than one occasion Ron manages to pull off scientific miracles that even the most manly of men would kiss him for, me included. Unlike other omake or gay characters in anime, Ron's feminine ways quickly become a secondary issue, at least for me, making him stand out more for his brains than what some of his personal preferences may be. This is what makes him one of the best characters in Gurren Lagann and one of the most unique anime characters I have ever seen.
Saddly this is where Ron's greatness ends, at least in the English version. Despite hiring Steven Blum, a very talented and legendary voice actor worthy of such a complex character, he just doesn't seem to work. While he provides a lisp that is somewhat stereotypical, it seems to fit Ron and the over-the-top feel of Gurren Lagann, and in all honesty is something I kind of expected and wanted for his english version's voice (because he rises above this stereotype). While Steven Blum is one of my favorite voice actors, as Ron he sounds like a gay Orochi Maru; not what I would have expected or liked for this character. The original Japanese voice actor gave Ron more charm, while now he just sounds gay. Despite the great Steven Blum's efforts, I have to say I'm a little disappointed. COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER. C+

Rossiu: One of the most complex characters of the series is Rossiu, the young alter boy like character introduced in episode 5. He is a very intelligent person, and really rises beyond his initial role in the series to become one of its most important characters as the series progresses. I can't reveal too much without spoiling things, but what I can tell you is that you should keep an eye on him. Rossiu is voiced by a very accomplished voice actor named Johnny Yong Bosch. Some of you may remember him as the second Black Ranger from the original Power Rangers, as well as the Green Zeo Ranger, but he's also made quite a name for himself as a voice actor for some very popular anime characters: Vash the Stampede (Trigun), Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach), Renton Thurston (Eureka 7), and many others. I wasn't quite sure who or what kind of voice would suit Rossiu. Frankly his Japanese voice didn't sound quite right to me. But I think a good choice was made with Johnny Young Bosch, especially if he continues to provide the voice. GREAT CHOICE. A+

Gimmy and Darry: While at present Gimmy and Darry don't play much more than the role of kids following the heroes, the voice actors are doing a good job and fit the characters well. I wish I could identify the voice actors, but I can't find any info on who does their voices at the moment. It'll be interesting to see how well they do when Gimmy and Darry are older and contribute more to the story. Any more info and I'd be spoiling things. REALLY GOOD. A

I'll have more when I get to hear more of Kittan, Viral, Lord Genome, the generals, and others.

I say again, if you aren't watching this show by now you are missing out on something great.

"Kick logic and reason to the kirb to achieve the impossible! Pierce the heavens with your soul! We are the Gurren Brigade! Who the hell do you think we are?"

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