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Recently, a rather large step forward was made in symbolism and meaning in anime. That step, from the same studio that created Evangelion and FLCL, is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Notable for its coherent and graspable symbolism and messages and a well-written three-pronged Hero’s Journey, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann may be one of the most impressive attempts at meaning in anime to date.

Spiralling Symbolism

The most prominent symbol throughout Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is that of the spiral. Not only is the main character’s weapon a spiral-style drill, but numerous other spiral shaped objects are brought up and linked through their shape. What is shaped like a spiral? Our DNA. What else is shaped like a spiral? Our Galaxy. What is so special about our DNA? Well, we HAVE evolved into a species that is distinct in that it has rational thought beyond instinct. And in the space of the Gurren Lagann universe, spiral shaped galaxies and spiral shaped DNA bring about this phenomenon.