Posted by psgels on 19 March 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




I had my problems with the original cast of Gunbuster, but that was mostly because they didn’t try hard enough to step away from the stereotypes that they would later inspire. It’s also a bit of a matter of flat characterization, but overall I would not really call any character annoying.

Enter Nono, the lead character of Diebuster.

I’ll be honest here: the first half of Diebuster was a bit of a chore to sit through. Nono is not a likable main character at all with her one-sided overacted klutziness and stupidity, and the pointless fanservice actually gets in the way of the story. The drama in this movie also didn’t really impress; the major theme of this series is characters, refusing to grow up. This leads to characters refusing to accept reality, angsting quite a bit and and making a whole lot of dumb decisions. This drama is consistent (in fact, it’s about the only consistent part of this OVA), but it also just wasn’t interesting.

Nevertheless, this was written by Yoji Enokido. He shows this in the second half (and especially the final two episodes) by just going “screw being plausible, we’re just going over 9000 here”. The final two episodes are full of nice and awesome ideas that I very much suspect ended up as the inspiration for Gurren Lagann’s finale. Unlike the first Gunbuster, Diebuster doesn’t try to be physically plausible in the slightest, but that does allow it to to go with some interesting science fiction ideas.

Ideas which ultimately are reflected best into the graphics of this show. Seriously, the graphics look awesome here and are IMO the biggest reason to check out this OVA. They’re really imaginative and make excellent use of the creativity in the plot.

Above I mentioned that this is a very inconsistent series. That’s both a good and a bad thing. I mean, you don’t want to watch this for its cohesive plot, because the story is a bit of an undirected mess, not to mention the angst not being that impressive, but on the other hand this did make this OVA evolve through its episodes, and it prevented Nono’s annoying antics to ruin the entire OVA (she really gets better as the anime goes on).

Oh, and on one final side-note: I keep seeing everywhere that you need to have seen the original Gunbuster before watching this OVA, but I don’t really think that that is the case. You can watch them in any order really.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Not the best at drama, but when it’s on fire it really entertains.
Characters: 7/10 – Nono is annoying, and none of the cast really end up making this up.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Gorgeous, full of excellent artwork and ideas.
Setting: 8/10 – Not as interesting as Gunbuster or FLCL, but still full of nice ideas and concepts.

Suggestions:
– FLCL
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Wings of Rean

17 Responses

  1. gandalf8 says:

    “Oh, and on one final side-note: I keep seeing everywhere that you need to have seen the original Gunbuster before watching this OVA, but I don’t really think that that is the case.”

    If I’m not mistaken, to really understand the ending in Diebuster, you really need to watch Gunbuster first. Although at first glance there looks to be no connection between Diebuster and Gunbuster, if you really paid attention there are a few subtle hints that pertain to their connection. So, I really advise anyone who wants to watch this, watch Gunbuster first.

  2. Watcherzero says:

    I think your belief that these people refuse to grow up and accept reality is quite poignant as their technology is based on reality distortion and self deception like the Espers in Railgun. I thought the whole humanity evoloution concept was significant too (and something you would only understand from seeing Gunbuster) but theres lots of stuff you need to have seen the first series for.

    Firstly Nono appears in Gunbuster under a different name but you wont realise that unless you saw it first.

    The ending only makes sense if you saw the ending of Gunbuster 12,000 years earlier.

    You wouldnt understand the solar system Defence system and why it was attacking unless you saw Gunbuster first.

    You wouldnt understand why the drive was removed from dix-neuf.

  3. Solaris says:

    I didn’t see Diebuster, but really this time I want to praise the review as it is as insightful as I remember your review were before.
    You just extracted the important pieces of information and presented them without spoilers too. Now I’d like to see the oav. I didn’t feel moved to watch something you reviewed since a long time. (Well except Level E for other reasons here).
    Now the last thing I yet have to understand is the meaning of the hellish rating system. As that same 80/100 given to Gunbuster looked understated, as in, ‘yeah the show is ok but all of these flaws let me lower the grade’, this time with Diebuster that 80/100 looks overrated such as in ‘uhm, the show was mah but it gained substance in the finale, so i0m praising it’.
    Did I get it right?

  4. signorRossi says:

    I agree with Gandalf and Watcherzero, Gunbuster should be watched first. Other than that, an excellent and right to the point review, Nono and the needless fanservice got on my nerves, too.
    But where does Nono appear in Gunbuster? I don’t remember seeing her.

  5. m says:

    Solaris, let me propose a toy for thinking about this, since you seem to spend a lot of time puzzling over the results of the rating system.

    Suppose that you have independent and identically distributed discrete random variables X_1,…,X_4. What is your intuition about the shape of the pmf for X_1 + … + X_4? (easy) Now suppose that the sample space is {7,8,9,10}. What do you think the expected value of X_1 + … X_4 might be?

    It’s a simplified way to look at the problem, but other than quibbling over whether the variables are actually independent, most of the changes we would make to fit our toy to reality will tend to push the curve to the left (to your dismay). For simple combinatorial reasons, the distribution would have to favor 9s and 10s for any given show you think is spectacular to achieve a particularly high score, unless there were considerable overlap between how you and psgels happen to rate things.

  6. Watcherzero says:

    @ signorRossi, Remember the charachter in Gunbuster who was left behind and said she would wait for them to return? The implication is that she volunteered to become the Cyborg so that she could live to greet them when they returned in 12,000 years.

    • DangerousK says:

      @watcherzero this is an extremely late reply and you’ll probably never see this, but what the hell? Where did you get the idea that Jung Freud volunteered to be a cyborg from? Did you make it up yourself? When she says ill be there to say welcome back in the last episode, it’s referring to when gunbuster comes back 12,000 years later and the Earth remembers them and uses lights to say “Welcome Back” meaning she kept her promise after all.

  7. Solaris says:

    Well, thank you M for clarifying. I got the score was the average of the partial ratings, but I can’t see how the review comes to down to that yet. It’s like the two, the textual review and the numerical scores are mostly unrelated.

  8. signorRossi says:

    @Watcherzero
    Ah, thanks! Will check it out in the case that I find the DVD with Gunbuster on it again. :)

  9. Da5id says:

    Already watched them both. I’m oddly glad both got the same score, because they’re both really good for different reasons. But yes, you DO need to watch Gunbuster first.

    Another thing I found odd but pleasing is Gunbuster, being directed by Anno, seems like a proto-Eva, while Diebuster, being directed by his protege Tsurumaki, seems like a post-FLCL. Those are both awesome things.

  10. tk007 says:

    “You can watch them in any order really.”

    I’ve have to disagree with you and agree with everyone else here. The ending of Diebuster WILL lose alot of impact if the viewer did not watch Gunbuster first.

  11. Watcherzero says:

    @Da5id I agree totally.

  12. yojimbo says:

    I don’t remember much about Diebuster other than I didn’t like it at all. Characters in Diebuster are annoying. The original OVA was much better. In addition, these series seem so different so I the order don’t really matter; actually just better to forget that Diebuster exist.

    • what? says:

      “I don’t remember much about Diebuster other than I didn’t like it at all. Characters in Diebuster are annoying.”

      This anime had me in tears and you thought they were “annoying?!” Wow! Wannabe critics ALWAYS SUCK!

  13. Penguin_Factory says:

    If I’m not mistaken, to really understand the ending in Diebuster, you really need to watch Gunbuster first

    That was my experience with it. In particular, the very last scene of the series was clearly meant to be a huge dramatic “wow” moment for fans of the original, but I had no idea what was happening.

  14. Da5id says:

    @yojimbo

    And so the black sheep rears it’s head…

  15. Anon says:

    Other reviewers often panned Diebuster as being inferior to Gunbuster, but I enjoyed this over-the-top screw-common-sense-and-physics science-fantasy romp just as much as the original. And I totally agree that it was definitely a template for Gurren Lagann, which took the last two episodes of this and upscaled them to a universal level.

    Klutzy Nono did not bother me, but I would’ve been happier had Nono gotten a different ending than what happened here.

    At the end of it all, the only truly negative thing for me was that we did not see Noriko at the end. After a dozen years, it wouldn’t have killed them to show us the two of them disembarking at the end. I really felt cheated out of my happy ending there, it’s like two sides eternally reaching out for each other but never touching – first we got Noriko’s perspective back around 1989 and a decade later the counter-perspective, but no contact :-(

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