Series Recommendation: Top wo Nerae 2! Diebuster

After one of the most insane endings in Gunbuster, Gainax launched themselves as one of the more unique studios where they do not many works but many of them left an impact on the industry, most notably Evangelion and FLCL. For their 20th Anniversary, Gainax decided to revisit one of their core OVAs that gave them the popularity boost they needed but with a more “modern” vibe to it. And that is none other than Top wo Nerae 2! aka Diebuster – the “sequel” to Gunbuster.

Diebuster takes place an absurdly long time after Gunbuster – and coincided with the final event of Gunbuster (if you know what I mean). The events that happen in-between Gunbuster and Diebuster OVA are covered in Gunbuster – Next Generation manga (which is quite obscure). Long story short, humanity have “abandoned” the technology they gained during the first conflicts with the Space Monsters – namely Buster Machines. They now live in their own system without trying to explore space. Our main heroine, Nono, is a cheerful and energetic country girl that dream of becoming a space pilot just like her idol “Nonoriri”. And one day, a “happy” incident leads to her meeting with Lal’C, a Topless with a giant robot called Dix-Neuf. From there, her adventure to become her idol begins!

+ Plot: Diebuster’s tone is much more “colorful” and less-militaristic than Gunbuster. The characters aren’t quite dead serious on saving the human race but rather concerned with their own issue. Nonoriri’s growth is different compared to what Noriko went through, yet they arrived at the same destination: become a heroic Topless that saved mankind. By this point, you can see the new “style” for Gainax’s characterisation, much like in FLCL or the later Gurren Lagann. Diebuster is also 6-episode just like Gunbuster, so the feeling is much more condensed and to the point, which is a very nice touch. Much like its predecessor, Diebuster also managed to invoke many emotion during its runtime, with most of its focus on the self-evolving potential within all of us.

+ Animation:Well, this time Gainax has ample resources for their OVAs so the animation was very well done. The Buster Machines are much more “organic” compared to Gunbuster, so their actions are quite fluid (imagine Canti from FLCL but HUGE). The Buster Machines also have quite unique “quirks” so the animation style looks quite colorful and extravagant. The “Space Monsters” are pretty much similar to what we saw in Gunsbuter, but in HD. Overall, Diebuster have some really nice scenes that evoke the “final big boss battle” style. And of course, the cross-arm pose is definitely present and well-done.

+ Mecha Design: By Shigeto Koyama and Yoshitsune Izuna. The design is super different from Gunbuster as the Buster Machine gained unique features and quirks since they are “living” beings of their own. There are some pretty interesting designs in the series that seems completely impractical and random as well. But well, this is the pre-Trigger stage so they are beginning to break out the absurdity of it. The “banchou” look of Dix-neuf, the “tennis player” Quatre-Vingt-Dix, and many more.

+ Music: Not just more colorful in visuals, Diebuster is also more “colorful” in terms of its OST as well. The opening “Groovin’ Magic” is a really happy-go-lucky song. Even the ending as well. The battle BGM are as heroic as ever, but with a touch of modernization. Overall, the audio team did a very great job.

Overall, Diebuster feels more like a series that is set in the same universe rather than a sequel to Gunbuster (which is true anyway). Its overall tone is very different compared to Gainax’s more classic series and begin to shape the “modern” Trigger studio. However, it’s not completely detached from the classics since Diebuster still carry the legacy of the original Buster Machines in its heart, and it is no less heroic than Noriko and Kazumi’s battle in Gunbuster. A quite fitting series for the studio’s 20th Anniversary with quite a history, which is kinda a shame considering what Gainax became. But we got Studio Trigger and Khara from it so I’d consider that a win.