All I Need to Know, I Learned from Gurren Lagann

gurren lagann

It’s high time for post about the spectacularly exhilarating masterpiece of the mecha anime genre, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. If you haven’t noticed from past posts or the Facebook page, I’m a huge fan. The very name of this blog is a reference to the anime series that defined my life’s philosophy as an adult. I have a recreation of Kamina’s tattoos on my left arm, to always remind me of the lessons it taught me and the emotions it made me feel. If you haven’t watched the show, I implore you to do so. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll. In between the epic manly shouting, fanservice-y hijinks, and galaxy-scale robot battles, the show contains wisdom that will greatly improve your life, perspective, and motivation. Like the previous post about Batman, I’ll let the show speak for itself with selected quotations.

If it wasn’t apparent already, spoilers for Gurren Lagann abound in this article. If you are interested in watching and want to experience the awesomeness without knowing what happens next, stop reading now and return after finishing. If you do start watching for the first time, you’ll be tempted to quit watching around episode 8. Keep going, I promise it’s worth it. Let it transform your life the way it transformed mine. Read on to learn about the Way of the Spiral.


Just the opening theme alone gets the blood pumping.

“Kick logic out and do the impossible; that’s the Team Gurren way!”—Kamina

Oftentimes, our greatest enemy, our greatest hindrance, is ourselves. There is that little, nagging voice in the back of your head that tells you something you want is too hard to obtain, that you don’t have the time, the money, or the talent. We put up barriers to success before real life even has a chance to throw banana peels on the track. The first step to transformation and success is to a deliver hearty punch in the jaw to those voices in the head that hold us back.

There is always adversity in front of us, whatever we set our sights on. There’s always a nasty class to surpass in order to get your degree, a seeming-impossibility of getting the right job or grad school, an especially suave gentleman you have to wrestle the cute girl at the bar’s attention from, or Gary ‘effing Oak blocking your path on Nugget Bridge. It’s a cliche to say this, but you can’t let “impossible” be a part of your vocabulary. If it’s something you truly desire, then throw all your might at it and never give up.

gurren lagann kamina
Or Kamina will come belt you one.

“I can’t know about somebody who isn’t here, but, you shouldn’t depend on people who aren’t here either.”—Nia Teppelin

People in our lives come and go, whether it be friends, family, employers, or romantic partners. It’s an unfortunate, stinging truth. Sometimes we come to depend on them and keep holding onto them after they leave our lives, or even while they are still with us. It is a damaging notion to hold on to these people. It holds you back from your own progression through life, and closes one off to opportunities with new people. It’s unfair to you, those you depend on, and new people you may be holding yourself back from.

This isn’t to say we should forget the impact those people who are gone left on our lives, and the things they taught us. The memories they created, the lessons they taught, and the emotions they made us feel are a part of who we are, but those pieces shouldn’t be chains that hold us back. A former roommate summed it up perfectly in a nugget of wisdom he often shares: “Even if you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

“The dreams of those who have fallen… The hopes of those who will follow! Those two sets of dreams weave together into a double helix, drilling a path towards tomorrow!”—Simon

As Batman said in the Gotham Knights comic, “Sometimes people influence you not so much by what they mean to you as by what you to mean to them.” The Path of Evolution is not a solo campaign. Is it worth reaching the top of the metaphorical (or literal) mountain if you must stand alone up there? It turns a hard-fought victory into a hollow one if there is no one to celebrate it with. One must never forget those around them, even if it means having to give the occasional nudge (or shove) forward along the way.

Compassion for others is a stellar motivator in itself. Choosing to empower others empowers you in return. There is strength to be gained from those who need you and those you can help. To include others on the journey is to stand for something greater. Evolution is, after all, the perfection of the species and not just the individual.

“We evolve beyond the person that we were a minute before. Little by little we advance with each turn. That’s how a drill works!”—Simon

Never stop moving forward and never stop progressing. There are always better things ahead in life if one wills them to happen and puts in the effort to make a change. To stop is to sell yourself, and your future, short. Great opportunities will be missed and greatest potential will remain unreached.

The Path of Evolution requires advancement, moving forward, not staying still. As the old saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. Without challenge or improvement, momentum fails, and it takes superior force to begin moving again. In nature, an environment without challenge results in evolutionary dead ends, like the panda. Ask yourself this: Would you choose the path of the sedentary panda or the mighty grizzly bear?

panda grizzly bear gurren lagann
Take your pick.

“Get going Simon, and don’t be distracted by the what-ifs, should-ofs, and if-onlys. The one thing you choose for yourself, that is the truth of your universe.”—Kamina

Your life is what you make it. There are all too many things that can distract you, but you have to resolve to not let outside elements define you, but instead choose your own path and identity. Regrets are fog on the windshield or weights on your back. Yearning can be a powerful motivator, but without acceptance or action, it too will be a hindrance on the path to perfection.

This is probably the single most important lesson I took away from Gurren Lagann, and if you take nothing else away from this post, remember this quote. It is something I must repeat to myself regularly, and you should too. This nugget of wisdom alone can change your life. Cherish it.

Consider this post a prelude to something bigger in the near future, your primer to the Way of the Spiral. It is the driving principle behind this blog, and I hope in time that it can become a driving principle for your life. If you have not watched Gurren Lagann yet, please, go bask in its empowering epicness. If you have watched it, it’s time for a rewatch. If you’re gonna dig, dig to the heavens. No matter what’s in your way, never stop! Once you’ve dug through – it means that you’ve won.

gurren lagann kamina

The post was adapted from a piece originally written for the MSU Exponent.

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