Gunbuster 2: Diebuster – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Top o Nerae 2! Diebuster

 

Related: Gunbuster (prequel)

Similar: Gurren Lagann

FLCL

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Mecha Science Fiction Action Comedy

Length: 6 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Vibrant art.

Negatives:

  • Incoherent structure.
  • Empty characters.
  • Not many jokes for a comedy.

Despite destroying the alien galaxy in Gunbuster, the war with the aliens continues in the distant future. How any aliens remain after a galactic nuke is beyond me, but go with it. This time around, we follow Nono, a bubbly girl confined to the dull life of a bar maid, a clumsy maid at that. When an elite pilot known as a TOPLESS (more literal than you think) helps her with some rowdy patrons, her life is thrown into the space conflict against the aliens.

If you expect more of Gunbuster, you will be disappointed with Diebuster – they may as well have no link. The team took a comedic, over-the-top direction this time, akin to their later and better-known anime Gurren Lagann. I commend them for trying something different. Gunbuster wrapped all threads and simply reviving it for more of the same would seem like a wasted effort. However, that is where my commendation ends, for Diebuster is rather a mess of plotting and characters.

If I were to liken a story to a tree with the central trunk as a story’s core and the branches representing the extras, the little details, the side events – the smaller the branch, the more inconsequential the event – then Diebuster is all branches and no trunk. I imagine the planning meeting went something like this:

“Alright, team, I have this great idea for an anime. It has giant robots, a girl with hair of fire inside an asteroid, and aliens!”

“Understood, sir. What about the cor—”

“Oh, and pilots tear their tops off to gain power in battle!”

“But, Mr Okada, how does that even wo—”

“Doesn’t matter, put it in! (That’s what she said.) Oh, and make the pilots sit on these!”

“But, sir, that looks like a phallu—”

“Doesn’t matter, put it in! Oh, and make sure a girl suplexes a giant alien at some point!”

“Yes, sir…”

It seems they had ideas for moments in the story, but never got around to setting a concrete trunk to attach them to. It would be Lord of the Rings with the Balrog fight, Boromir’s death, and escaping the Ringwraiths – awesome moments – yet without the quest to destroy the ring or any character arcs. (Don’t think I am saying Diebuster has any moments that match Lord of the Rings.) Diebuster is a series of decent spectacle moments rendered in colourful, well-animated art with an occasional joke in the mix, nothing more. By the end, I knew so little of these characters that they left no impact.

Gunbuster had its share of egregious problems, most of them worse than Diebuster’s errors, but at least they tried to tell a story. No amount of flashing and spectacle in the world could have made me interested in this anime. With no characters or plot to connect to, I was bored throughout.

Art – High

Vibrant art and energetic animation are Diebuster’s strengths. However, the alien designs leave a little to be desired – they looked better in Gunbuster.

Sound – Medium

Great voice actors brought to a bland script accompanied by forgettable music outside of the opening song.

Story – Low

A bubbly girl tags along with an elite pilot to fight the aliens. Diebuster has no concrete story to speak of, though some moments look cool.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Even if you enjoyed Gunbuster, I find it hard to recommend Diebuster. This is a poor man’s Gurren Lagann; watch that instead.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative:

Hollow World BuildingIncoherentNo DevelopmentShallow

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