It occurs to me that I haven't really talked about Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, one of the most popular anime of the last couple years and certainly one of my favorites, since I was halfway through the show. This was a long, long time ago. Remember when ADV had the rights to Gurren Lagann? It did happen! There was a time! So before we get started, I will say the things I did not say about Gurren Lagann when it ran.
If you think that popular character should have stayed alive, you are so wrong.
If you think that other popular character should have stayed alive, you are still quite wrong.
Even in a universe of galaxy-throwing guts-powered robots drilling towards the infinite, people don't always get what they want. This is what set GL apart: it was about human beings. If I wanted to read a story about how such-and-such stays alive and they're together forever and lots of babies I'd read the 8000 fanfics about same. And why would I read fanfic?
Oh right, they made a movie. Gurren-hen is the first movie and it covers, more or less, the first arc of the anime, where young Simon and big bro Kamina break out of the underground to discover a surface world full of robots, beastmen, and some fine, fine ladies. The first hour and fifteen minutes or so of this movie is basically a clip show: it opens with a bit from the GL music videos and goes all the way up to Nia's encounter with Adiane. This part moves along just fine-- GL is very rewatchable-- but aside from some arbitrary TV-style eyecatch cards there is no new material.
Thankfully, at this juncture in the movie, Gainax decides to go the extra mile and justify this movie by doing something silly. Recall that at this point in the story, the Spiral King's generals were taken down one after the other, a process which took several episodes. A typical clip show would just run these fights back-to-back, but instead, the movie just rewrites the plot. It's that classic super robot anime question: why not have all the generals attack at once? And that's exactly what they do: the last 40 minutes or so of this movie is a newly animated and gigantic battle between the Dai Gurren-Dan and the minions of the Spiral King, the highlights of which ares probably a hand-to-hand fight between Yoko and Adiane and an Itano Circus the size of God. The famous "Simon mans up" scene is the only scene that's been left essentially the same.
I really wonder about the second movie, Lagann-hen: the fight with the Spiral King has been pushed back to the second movie, further stuffing what will certainly be an overstuffed two hours for a much more complex story. The first arc of Gurren Lagann is a 70's robot cartoon, you see. Simple robot-versus-monster stuff. The first part of the second arc is an 80's robot cartoon: future politics, civil unrest, moral ambiguity. The final villain is, I guess, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and then GL finds its own ending with a little bit of all parts. The second arc is going to be a ton to shove into two hours, plus the Spiral King fight. I guess the next one will have to be pretty rushed: but then, so was this one. Not exactly a replacement for the TV series, but a reasonable summary and a ton of fun.