Aim for the Simulwatch! It's Gunbuster

Neil.T

Guild Member
Originally released in Japan in 1988 as Top wo Nerae! (Aim for the Top!), Gunbuster is a six-episode anime OVA directed and co-written by Hideaki Anno, and animated by Gainax.

Gunbuster wallpaper.jpg

From MyAnimeList:

Synopsis
In the near future, humanity has taken its first steps towards journeying into the far reaches of the galaxy. Upon doing so they discover a huge race of insectoid aliens known as "Space Monsters." These aliens seem dedicated to the eradication of mankind as they near closer and closer to discovering Earth. In response, humanity develops giant fighting robots piloted by hand-picked youth from around the world.

Shortly after the discovery of the aliens, Noriko Takaya, the daughter of a famous deceased space captain, enters a training school despite her questionable talents as a pilot. There, she meets her polar opposite, the beautiful and talented Kazumi Amano, and is unexpectedly made to work together with her as they attempt to overcome the trauma of war as well as their own emotions.



The AUKN simulwatch will take in all six episodes at an easy pace, just one a day, to allow ample opportunity for discussion of topics such as the show's story and themes, its characters and setting, its visuals and animation techniques, soundtrack and voice performance, through to its contrasts and similarities to later works by Anno and Gainax, and its subsequent influence on anime as a medium generally. Basically, anything we'd talk about when we talk about Gunbuster!

The schedule for the six episodes is shown in the table below. As ever, please use the SPOILER tools if posting about anything from an episode that hasn't yet been covered by the simulwatch.

Feel free to jump in, watch and discuss. 🙂


Simulwatch schedule:
Episode #:
Date:
1​
9 Sep​
2​
10 Sep​
3​
11 Sep​
4​
12 Sep​
5​
13 Sep​
6​
14 Sep​

Join the discussion!
To jump straight to the start of the discussion of the series, starting with episode 1, go HERE.
 
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Azar

Thousand Master
I think if something's not made available legally in your country, then you shouldnt feel guilty about watching it elswhere. Just my opinion. 🤐
 

ayase

State Alchemist
Finally a simulwatch with a timetable I can cope with (in typical fashion, this time I actually wish it was a bit sooner as for the next week I have my dad’s house to myself and he has a projector). Looking forward to this, your first time watching iirc Neil?
 

ActionFaust

Thousand Master
I'd be up for it. Haven't participated in one of these before and judging from the NGE and Nadia threads it looks fun. Time for more Gainax!

To add to the legality discussion, I've been watching Precure and Macross this year so my stance on this topic is pretty clear. If it straight up ain't available then I see no problem sailing.
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
Finally a simulwatch with a timetable I can cope with (in typical fashion, this time I actually wish it was a bit sooner as for the next week I have my dad’s house to myself and he has a projector). Looking forward to this, your first time watching iirc Neil?
It is, yeah. I popped the DVD in my player after buying it, just to have a look at the picture quality, and I found myself hooked within the first few minutes. I kinda had to force myself to stop watching, so I'm looking forward to it, too.

When do you have the projector until?
 

NoSurprises

Straw Hat Pirate
Gunbuster is incredible, think I'll join in for this one!

It's easy to watch legally I don't know what you're all on about, just spend £99 on the region 0 VHS to DVD transfer.

Or like me/Prof Irony fire up your future tech and watch it there. I'm printing out the subtitles to read along using a dot matrix printer, then donning the mask that came with my format of choice.



I suppose there is also the option to watch a couple of minutes of the Blu-ray film for each of the first 5 episodes and be totally lost in the dicsussion, then actually watch all of episode 6 with everyone.
 

Buzzkillington

Combat Butler
Gunbuster is an absolute favourite of mine so I would love to join this one, I only have the US dvds though and don't have a means to play them at the moment ;_; Maybe go raking through my loft to find my old PC case with a DVD drive and pull it out...
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
Gunbuster is an absolute favourite of mine so I would love to join this one
Gunbuster is incredible, think I'll join in for this one!
The more the merrier, guys! Great to have you. 😃

(Is that a character mask and origami bento, @NoSurprises? That's brilliant! 🤣👍)

If anyone has any more input regarding the provisional starting date, by the way, feel free: the dates in the opening post are only a suggestion at this point. 🙂
 

ayase

State Alchemist
When do you have the projector until?
For my own exclusive usage, until the 10th. Beyond that date I don't imagine ayase Snr. would be particularly enamoured with the idea of being forced to watch Gunbuster so I probably wouldn't use it (but you never know, his thoughts may make for entertaining supplementary material). I did however load the files onto my tablet in anticipation of this simulwatch (Dominion too, just in case) so I'm easy with regards to the schedue.
It's easy to watch legally I don't know what you're all on about, just spend £99 on the region 0 VHS to DVD transfer.
I'm fairly sure the US Bandai Visual/Honneamise DVDs I have aren't VHS transfers... If anyone is actually willing to spend that kind of money to legally aquire Gunbuster second hand, those would probably be the ones to go for.
 

Neil.T

Guild Member
Episode 1

"I think my father is a very important man. He protects us in outer space. He says his spaceship is the fastest one in the universe. My dad is the Captain of a ship called the Lukushiyon. When I grow up I want to be a space pilot and go with my dad into space."

And so the story begins. This episode does a grand job of introducing us to our protagonist, Noriko Takaya. The characterisation overall seems pretty broadbrush, but at only six episodes the series isn't really going to have a lot of space for slow-burning subtleties. The training scenes at the start I thought were really clever and amusing; I don't think I've ever seen robots doing push-ups before! 😆

Animation-wise, there are some really well-executed cuts in this opener, like this basically static sunset shot that just makes the accompanying dialogue feel that bit more important. Mission accomplished. 👌

IMG_20190908_175157811.jpg

The following cut of Noriko running backgrounded by the low sun even used some heat shimmer for a bit of extra atmosphere, and it made me wonder how the effect was created using analogue means. 🤔

The coach pictured on the right in that above image who encourages Noriko to work hard to improve her piloting is voiced by Norio Wakamoto, who's always instantly recognisable. Other characters of significance we meet in this episode include Noriko's senior Kazumi Amano, whom she seems to idolise, and a jealous rival in Reiko Kashiwara.

For me, Noriko's fight with the latter felt like it pretty much embodied this first episode in terms of tone (and perhaps yet Gunbuster as a whole?): a challenge was issued, Noriko credulously turned up in her RX Trainer as requested, and everyone else was conveniently also there to comment from the sidelines. The very idea that Noriko could pilot her machine better with the monitor turned off is ludicrous, and all pretty dumb, silly fun, really. Plus, we got to see the Inazuma Kick @Professor Irony mentioned during the Eva simulwatch.

The character designs for this series are excellent, and are sadly something from a bygone era now. As @~AyaMachi~ showed me a few weeks ago, they're by Haruhiko Mikimoto, whose work I'm already familiar with from having seen Orguss 02. Kazumi in particular brought to mind Nataruma from that later OVA series:


Gunbuster: Kazumi Amano


Orguss 02: Nataruma


As for the mecha designs (handled by Evangelion's Ikuto Yamashita), my favourite was the design of this shuttle:

IMG_20190908_182328201.jpg

It's apparently a Japan Air Lines flight; you can even see their logo on the tail fin. I'm assuming they were a sponsor of the show. (And did anyone else notice the cheeky "Anno" and "Gainax" billboards in the background of the preceding shot as it took off?)

Otherwise, the robot designs couldn't help but remind me of Patlabor. In fact, it wasn't just the robot designs that brought Patlabor to mind:


Gunbuster: Kouichirou Oota


Patlabor: Seitarou Sakaki

What do you reckon? Patlabor dates from spring 1988, and Gunbuster from autumn of the same year.


That end-of-episode caption with つづく ("To be continued") in white text in the bottom right corner of a black screen is something very familiar: it's the exact same as the ones used in Nadia and Evangelion.

And lastly for now, I was very pleasantly surprised to find the first installment of the Gunbuster "Science Lessons" at the end of the episode:

IMG_20190908_181959266.jpg

It seems that Kiseki's DVD is a bit of an oddity when it comes to this, though, because a quick bit of chapter skipping with my remote revealed that the next one included isn't until episode 4. 🤨
@Professor Irony will know if the original VHS tapes are the same later in the series.


That post was a LOT longer than I'd intended for the first episode, and now I'm going to get no end of a ribbing from @~AyaMachi~. 😅

😬
 
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