Gunbuster 2: Diebuster

Gunbuster 2: Diebuster

Gunbuster 2: Diebuster anime series cover art
Gunbuster 2: Diebuster

Series Overview

Gunbuster 2 (Top wo Nerae 2! Diebuster / トップをねらえ2!DIEBUSTER), also known as Diebuster, is the sequel to 1988’s Gunbuster. It released in 2004 for studio Gainax’s 20th anniversary. However, this series has much more in common with 2007’s Gurren Lagann than it does with its own prequel.

This review is going to involve a lot of spoilers for every part of the show. If you don’t want to be spoiled, I highly suggest watching both Gunbuster and Diebuster before proceeding.

Diebuster takes place long after the events of Gunbuster. To illustrate how long after, both series actually end with the same scene from different perspectives. That’s to say, Diebuster takes place 12,000 years after the events of Gunbuster. And this difference in time setting is very important for the plot.

In Gunbuster, humanity was fighting against space monsters that wanted to destroy the Earth. That’s not quite what’s happening in Diebuster. By this time, the space monsters have effectively been wiped out thanks to the black hole bomb Noriko and Kazumi set off in their nest.

But, the current humans don’t seem to realize that. They believe that the space monsters are still around and that they’ve been fighting them for thousands of years after humanity had been pushed back to the Sol system as their last refuge. In fact, what they’ve been fighting are robots originally designed to protect humanity and the Earth.

Basically, in this future, nobody knows what’s going on and humanity is just fighting everything they see regardless of what it is. Oh, and to top it all off, they attempt to use the Earth itself as a battering ram to destroy their enemies. It’s crazy how in 12,000 years they went from turning other planets into black hole bombs to just crashing the Earth into things.

Main Characters

There are only three characters that truly matter in this series: Nono, Lal’C, and Tycho. Nono is the protagonist of the series who dreams of one day becoming a Topless and piloting a buster machine. Topless is the term used for buster machine pilots (I don’t know why), and Nono takes the term very literally.

She also looks up to someone she refers to as Nono Riri, who turns out to actually be Noriko from Gunbuster (which wasn’t much of a surprise).

About halfway through, it’s randomly revealed that Nono is actually a robot, not a human. Then, it’s revealed even later that she’s actually a buster machine herself. None of this really makes sense and I’m not quite sure why it was written this way.

Nono and Lal'C from the anime series Gunbuster 2: Diebuster
Nono and Lal’C

Lal’C Melk Mark probably has the best name in the series. I couldn’t really explain why even if I tried, but it’s a cute name. Lal’c is a Topless who pilots one of the buster machines and is referred to as “princess,” “curve destroyer,” and later “planet mover.”

Her role in this series is effectively the same as Kazumi’s in Gunbuster. She’s an ace buster machine pilot who the protagonist looks up to. But over the course of the series, she becomes jealous of the protagonist’s natural talent. In the end, they become friends again.

Tycho Science definitely has the worst name of the three, but I do like her character design and plotline the most. She doesn’t believe dreams can come true because her own dreams have been crushed in the past. But, eventually, she’s able to move past this with the help of Nono. It sounds pretty cheesy, but I think the way it was executed was good.

Where Gunbuster Went to Die

As you may have picked up on already, I didn’t particularly like Diebuster. In fact, I would go so far as to call Diebuster bad, which is a shame considering I ended up liking Gunbuster a lot more than I thought I would. The big issue with Diebuster is that it takes everything I liked about Gunbuster and throws it out.

What was the best part of Gunbuster? For me, it was easily how the series explored the effects of deep space travel on the human psyche. I loved seeing how the characters coped with the phenomenon of time dilation as they traveled at near-light speeds. Diebuster didn’t have any of that.

At no point in this series did I feel like it was exploring unique concepts. It didn’t really even have much sci-fi influence, which might sound odd considering it’s a mecha series set in space. What I mean by that is that it didn’t use scientific concepts. Rather, it effectively used magic, such as the Topless being able to summon their buster machines out of thin air by peeling a sticker off their foreheads.

Tycho Science from the anime series Gunbuster 2: Diebuster
Tycho Science

Another issue I have with Diebuster is tangentially related to my main issue. It focuses a lot more on the mechs, which are much more super-robot-like than the mechs from Gunbuster. In Gunbuster, the mechs were tools that didn’t really have a huge influence on the series. They could just as well have been space ships.

In Diebuster, the buster machines are a huge focus. Each one has its own personality, special attacks, etc. When people dismiss mecha anime simply because they’re mecha, this is the kind of mecha anime they’re most often thinking of. And I’ll admit it’s not my favorite either.

There are some exceptions, such as Gurren Lagann, but generally speaking, I prefer real-robot mecha series over super-robot ones. I like when the mechs are simply tools being used within a story that doesn’t necessarily focus on them. I don’t like when the mechs themselves are basically characters.

Conclusion

Gunbuster 2: Diebuster was a huge disappointment to me after the surprisingly good Gunbuster. In the end, I think it’s a 4/10 compared to the 8/10 of the original. It removes all of what I would consider to be the good parts of the series and then doubles down on the least interesting aspects.

I will say that the OP song “Groovin’ Magic” is good. But the OP visuals left a lot to be desired. Around 90% of the OP visuals were just ripped from the content of the episodes (which is the same as with Gunbuster). But I forgave Gunbuster for that more since it was 1988, not 2004.

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Finally, I’d like to thank Roman for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month and for recommending both Gunbuster and Diebuster. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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