Gunbuster is the anime that made Gainax famous. Before Nadia, before the Wings of Honneamise, before Evangelion, there was Gunbuster, "Aim for the Top!".

Gunbuster alternates between a neat hard sci-fi flavor and a sometimes-silly "giant robots" flavor. Relativistic effects figure heavily in the story, particularly time dialation, and the bad guys are like something out of an E. E. "Doc" Smith novel. Really quite cool.

However, the show's namesake, the "Gunbuster" (what does it do? Bust guns?) which is (bet you didn't see this coming) humanity's last hope against the alien menace, is clearly an homage to the campy giant robot shows that were so common in 1970s Japan. Gunbuster itself was animated in 1988.

The noted character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto did the character designs, and it shows -- the characters have a significantly different look from any of Gainax's other titles, helping make Gunbuster more memorable still.

Noriko Sakai sang the opening theme, and it can be found on Rhino Record's The Best of Anime compilation CD.

The series really transcends its genre's conventions at the end, and even now when I watch it I find myself shedding a tear - it's that good. It was directed by Hideaki Anno, so how could it be anything but epic? He is indeed one of the best directors the human race can lay claim to.

This is full of in-jokes and parodies on other anime series. The entire "Aim for the Top" attitude and the science classes at the end are a parody on the school girl genre. Gainax went on to indulge their love of parody even more in the Mockumentary "Otaku No Video".

In the fifth episode when they give a close up of the Eltrium being constructed in orbit the construction gantry is actually sprue from polystyrene models (you can see gun turrets etc. attached to it if you look).

All the named moves and weapons used by the RX trainers and the GunBuster itself are pastiches on simliar things from series like Ultraman.

In the third episode Noriko teams up with a loner called Smith Toren. He is based on Toren Smith (Japanese put the family name first), an American who has been instrumental in bringing anime and manga to the US. I am informed this happened because Toren was staying with some of the people at Gainax at the time and they thought it would be cool to kill him off. Toren Smith also wrote the first few stories of the US Dirty Pair comic before the artist Adam Warren took over all the duties.

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