Posted by psgels on 17 March 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews



Okay, so I ended up liking Gunbuster for a whole different reason than I thought I would. From one of Hideaki Anno’s earliest works, I expected this fun homage OVA to the giant robot genre with excellent action scenes, but that’s probably not going to be what I’ll end up remembering about this thing.

Now, Gunbuster is definitely a homage, but it doesn’t really do much for the giant robot genre. It’s got a very typical set-up with a lot of cliches and fanservice, but ends up playing a lot of them a bit too straight at times. The result is yet another teenager who ends up saving the world multiple times on a giant robot that she somehow ends up piloting. There also is quite a bit of romance, but that also doesn’t really get anywhere beyond your average cheese shop.

Instead, this IOVA is all about the science fiction. Instead of coming with your usual explanations and backstories, Gunbuster interestingly weaves pseudo quantum science with fantasy into a time travelling epic. It’s also one of those stories that changes significantly with every airing episode, making good use of its unpredictability to spiral out of control, despite the large amount of cliches that are in the story and characters.

If you’re wondering where the science fiction is when you start to watch it: the best episode of this OVA does remain the sixth and final one. It’s here where the creators say “screw it” and abandon the cliches in favor of its neat ideas, setting and background, and yet another proof of how Hideaki Anno is in his element when he goes over-budget.

Speaking of the guy, of course Gunbuster is very well animated. I can’t fault this show for looking pretty, and especially for its time it has detailed animation and a pretty nice direction. I can imagine how this movie was a big trendsetter, but it’s just a shame that half of the trends it set ended up horribly abused during the past decade. Overall I don’t think that Gunbuster is anything amazing, but it definitely has its good points and I still enjoyed watching it despite its cliches.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Makes up for its cliches pretty nicely with its good direction and constantly changing story.
Characters: 7/10 – A bit too many cliches and cheese, though it does have interesting character development.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Pretty impressive, though nothing amazing.
Setting: 9/10 – Great background stories and ideas.

Suggestions:
Noein
Macross Frontier
Soukou no Strain

19 Responses

  1. Souther says:

    I’d say you have given higher ratings to worse shows but well…at least you found one way to enjoy it. That’s good enough for me.

    I’d say the science fiction elements in Gunbuster weren’t just for showing off, however, but they served as a key part of the development -as stereotypical as it may ultimately be in general terms- of the characters, particularly Noriko herself.

    I don’t think the last episode was a sudden change born out of the desire to “abandon” anything but rather a logical or at least natural progression of what had already been established before. Time dilation was important from the beginning of the story.

    Incidentally, I think Gunbuster still has one of my favorite anime endings. It combines a sense of permanent loss with a lot of hope for the future and thus finds a great point of equilibrium between conflicting emotions.

  2. Watcherzero says:

    Now the ending partially by accident has an epic and grandiose feeling, however you know this series has great potential for an Evangelion style remake to fix the black and white stills.

    Are you going to watch Diebuster while this series is fresh in your mind Psgels? I really suggest you do to get some of the references. Plus you would never have thought they could top the final weapon of Gunbuster but they do decades before Gurren Lagaan.

  3. Alael says:

    The whole time dilatation effect due to near-light speed travels is where’s the meat of this anime. A really interesting setting.

  4. ultama121 says:

    You know, I kinda have to say this:

    GUN BUSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

  5. ultama121 says:

    Er… I didn’t think that had that effect on the page. My apologies. D:

    (It turned out kinda epic though :3 )

  6. gandalf8 says:

    The main draw of the show for me was the way they incorporated the science fiction aspect to drive the story. Although nowadays the other aspects of the show has been done to death already, the way they used relatively sound scientific principles concerning travel at light speed elevates it in my opinion as a unique anime that any anime lover worth his salt would do well to watch at least once.

  7. Kiavik says:

    Oh please, Gunbuster is one of the best and most influential anime ever released. You must show respect. Remember this was made in 1988, way before Evangelion; weak characters like Noriko were unheard of at the time, especially in the Giant Robot genre. She doesnt even pilot the titular robot until after half the series!
    The series also brought pseudo-real science fiction into the genre, something nobody even attempted before; the time travel plot remains unique to this very day.
    Also the ending will be remembered forever as the best ending in the history of anime. You can’t top that.
    So please, stop reviewing vintage anime and giving these low grades; you clearly don’t know the historical importance of what you’re reviewing, and you end up making a fool out of yourself.
    What’s next? You reviewing the original ghost in the shell and akira movies and giving them a grade in the low 70s? I dare you :)

  8. ultama121 says:

    ^Wow there’s a lot of buttmad there. What the hell happened to subjectivity? Sorry bro, but not everyone has an inherent “respect” (more like worship in a normal person’s terms) of classic anime just because they’re classic anime.

    Anyway I loved the anime enough to give it a 10 on MAL (more like somewhere in the 90s), but realistically, I can see why anyone wouldn’t give it that high of a rating. This anime has some seriously glaring flaws that in all honesty, really hurt it. Psgels writes his reviews out of his honest opinions and you have no right to call him a fool for conflicting with his opinions. :/

  9. Solaris says:

    Kyavik, as long as Psgels’ grades make no sense at all, I urge to notice 80 is still a very good mark.
    The blogger is two generations younger than this, so he has different standards to judge such classic animations: He’d rather compare classic animation to today animation than the opposite way around, which is pretty much wrong.
    I pointed out this before. Look at Slayers and Casshern Sins review for reference. Just be happy he rated it ‘good’.

  10. m says:

    With the simplest assumptions it’s not a surprise when a final score for a show you like isn’t high when using this methodology. Even when his bias toward the high end is taken into account, he would still have to doll out 10s like pharmaceutical companies doll out pens to placate the demands of shows’ fans. That’s without touching the issue of whether one should bias scores based upon historical significance or bias scores in favor of contemporary enjoyability.

  11. Solaris says:

    M, If you take in account History here, then all of the ‘clichés’ Psgels failed to evaluate here are indeed proof of originality and key elements that have been so much overused in later animation they eventually became clichés. That is the real bias.
    And still I still have to find a show that used real implications of relativity so proficiently as Gunbuster did 22 years ago.

  12. psgels psgels says:

    Um, just a note: when I review an old anime, I do so with today’s standards. The reason for this is that I’ve seen enough older series (which were much older than Gunbuster, by the way) that I absolutely loved, so I see no reason to give them special treatment.

  13. Wetter says:

    Gunbuster is epic by Gainax :3.

    I love the Details in the Animation.

  14. Cerrian says:

    Isn’t this where we first see the “Gainax Bounce”?

    And yes, the ending is definitely one the of the best in the entire anime medium.

  15. Watcherzero says:

    Gainax bounce indeed….. That reminds me psgels should review the Daicon 3 and 4 convention shorts that they did as amateurs before they founded Gainax!

    Truly legendary!

    (make sure you grab the digitally remastered versinos)

    Also while talking of suggestions do SD Gundam MkIV, the parody of wacky races!

  16. Hunter-Wolf says:

    Alael said ….
    “The whole time dilatation effect due to near-light speed travels is where’s the meat of this anime. A really interesting setting.”

    THIS .. this is one of the main reasons this show is so impressive .. also .. the attention to detail and superb animation courtesy of Gainax.

    @psgels
    It isn’t about special treatment .. it’s about the fact that the so called cliches you mentioned weren’t cliches when the show first aired .. i can understand rating the art/animation using today’s standards (even it that’s a little harsh) but these things you called cliches actually were pretty much started/popularized by this anime .. this is a fact that doesn’t change no matter how much time passes .. and IMO you can’t wrong the show becasue you watched it a dozen or more years late.

    Oh .. and watch Die Buster … can’t say it’s a sequel .. but it is a must watch for anyone who enjoyed Gun Buster .. you will understand why when you watch it.

  17. Will says:

    Gunbuster is really the anime I always recommend for everyone who is looking for a good science-fiction anime.

    I am not a fan of Diebuster. The way they wanted to create the same kind of ending was simply way over the top.

  18. Dekion says:

    Okies. I had to post a comment about this. I watched Gunbuster shortly after it came out back in the day. I was totally blown away by the detail, the science fiction aspects, and the stories of the main characters. As the story progresses, I believe the characters mature. This is something I haven’t seen in too many animes nowadays. The animation is still great in today’s standard imo. Gunbuster is one of those anime’s that got me hooked on anime for then on.

    Anyhow, I also just wanted to disagree with the reviewing process. Obviously, I respect someone elses opinion. But I feel that the anime should be rated based on when it came out. Not compared to today’s standards. The cliches mentioned in the show was new for back then. It is overused nowadays, but I don’t think it was back then. Anyways, keep up the good work.

  19. Aeralure says:

    One of my favorite all-time anime. Such a beautiful thing.

    I agree if its looked at only from today’s point of view then one’s opinion of it might be lessened, but not if one keeps things in context. While this is my favorite anime blog and I come here often to get second opinions on things I havent seen yet before I do, I suppose I err on the side of those that might review older titles differently. Its a small point though, as it happens often on other sites too and I always take lower scores on older titles with a grain of salt.

    So anyhow, thanks psgels for all the work done here. I love the site and your reviews.

    Ultraman121: that was indeed epic! Thank you lol. I was going to try and compete but alas, I cannot.

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  • K-Off
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:11 PM)
    But I agree with Bam in that the show has lots of moments where it shines, namely in the action and the entertaining character interactions. If I was interested more so in a character story rather than an overall plot, I’m sure I’d like Eva a lot more. Certain shows work really well purely off that principle like Phantasia, but by the time I got to Eva I’d gotten relatively desensitized to those character tropes. Shinji didn’t help much either.
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:07 PM)
    There’s no narrative thrusts throughout the show, it’s just scenes happening to get from one action set piece to the next all the while shoving blatant symbolism in your face. The little plot there is feels incredibly weak, aside from the world building there’s no clear objective besides a vague idea of defeating angels and something about Gendo that’s almost background noise with how little it affects the story.
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 09:03 PM)
    Having started watching anime only in the mid 2000s despite occasionally seeing them on TV during the 90s, I come from a school of thought that emphasizes coherence more than anything else, basically I want the story to have focus. And while Eva’s influence on character archetypes and animation cannot be argued, I still think the story in Eva is pretty bad.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 07:56 PM)
    Judging purely visually I agree some leeway must be given due to the technical limitations of the time but all of my issues with the series is not visual related but story.
    I have admitted that I don’t hate Eva and I do like aspects of it. But do you really need me to give it praise? There is plenty giving it praise. I see no reason to join the choir.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 07:51 PM)
    Now you are just flying off the hook.
    I understand Eva’s cultural significance, and it’s effect on the medium. I just deem it irrelevant when judging the anime itself. For you see dear boy, if you are going to place EVA above modern anime then you must judge it by modern standards. If it falls short you can’t just bring up historic significance to wave away it’s problems.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 05:46 PM)
    I praised Fate/Zero for its story, pacing and charismatic protagonist. UBW I agreed to its superb battle animation and overall quality of first cour. Now when someone watches EoE or Eva Rebuild 2.2 and comments on nothing of quality, then who is the biased one here really?
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 05:34 PM)
    If anything at least call Shinji a shitty annoying character- cuz even I won’t deny that.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 05:25 PM)
    When I mean discussion I don’t mean a series of personal likes and dislikes- but judging objective elements: plot consistency, animation quality, restrain in fan-service and pandering, over reliance on tropes and cliches, etc. Otherwise we all have our different preferences.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 05:20 PM)
    I agree with the cons of Eva, as well as its strengths. Same with Fate. Being pessimistic is a stance, not inherently a flaw. The setting of Eva predicates that tone. If anything I have a bias towards Berserk, and that’s mostly all out of nostalgia.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jun 26. 2016 05:16 PM)
    Also what ladies? Even the “gentlemen” part is stretching it. It’s very easy for someone who didn’t follow anime 20 years ago to criticize one of its most historic moments. At least this Tenka Seiha fella doesn’t talk smack about what he doesn’t really understand.

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