Let me make a point on why Gurren-Lagann showcases "clever" writing.
I'm not claiming it to be intellectual, full of revolutionary ideas or the such. It just excels some at being fairly well-planned, and focuses its efforts on a theme delivery that takes away almost all of the unnecessary fluff from the content. Gurren-Lagann states from the first episode everything they want to accomplish with their storytelling. And they do it naturally, without clumsiness and resourcing to only dialogs and characterizations. Gurren-Lagann is a tale about progress, honoring your legacy, change, breaking traditions and the burden of responsibility. These are the basic ideas that drive the entire plot and everything comes across fairly strongly from before we even know what a "beastman" is.
From a history of failure, Jeeha village came to the belief that no future was possible for them in the surface. Imagine the Middle Ages and their belief of a flat world. The way the dialogs deliver this idea is pretty neat. Characterization is delivered on two levels: the character and the idea behind the character. The village elder forbids Kamina from trying to break through the surface, but only because it is "his responsibility as leader of the village". Kamina's rebellion is not in defiance to authority, but him trying to fulfil a promise with his father. All of these ideas become the core to the narrative as it progresses. Doing the impossible was not so much doing the impossible as it was doing what was believed DUE TO FAILURE to be impossible. Progess was not so much a trying to destroy tradition but rather tying togheter the past with the future. Opression was not so much the desire for power but rather a responsability from those in power, from those that came before.