Sometimes you shouldn’t go back. Sometimes the anime you remember is not the anime you will see today[1].

It’s been 5 years since I’ve seen GunBuster!, and this anime that was so critical to the success of GAINAX has not aged gracefully.

I showed GunBuster to friends recently because there really aren’t that many anime that tackle relativistic time dilation, and there was a physicist in the group whose head explodes when presented with bad movie physics[2], especially in the “science lessons” omakes[3].

Whilst there’s still some fun to be had watching, or more accurately laughing at, GunBuster some aspects are increasingly ruining the experience.

First is the omnipresent fanservice and Gainaxing. The level of fanservice in Gunbuster would cause me to drop a modern show before, or during, the first opening credits.

A second, and related, point is the discrepancy between the male and female costumes for the mecha pilots. For god’s sake, give the girls some sensible pants. For all of the other sins[4] that Neon Genesis Evangelion commits, at least the pilots have equivalent uniforms.

Finally is the pacing and characterisation. Gunbuster is weak in the midsection, and episodes 3 and 4 really needed to be cut down to a single episode. That they remain two separate episodes noticeably dampened the effect of the final two episodes.

GunBuster remains the series that truly put GAINAX on the map by providing the financial footing and opportunity for Nadia: Secret of Blue Water, which in turn led to Neon Genesis Evangelion. This explains why GAINAX celebrated their 20th anniversary with DieBuster[5], the direct sequel to GunBuster.

I suspect it has been an influential piece for the anime industry as a whole, and may have helped to establish the burgeoning OAV market of the early 1990s.

That said, GunBuster is increasingly an anime that should be relegated to a historical footnote and not one that should be revisited. It’s been 5 years between viewings, and this may well be my last.

[1] This is also true of Macross: Do You Remember Love, Key the Metal Idol, and probably Arcadia of My Youth.

[2] Yes, I’m evil. Then again you should know that already from the TV Tropes links I scatter around like candy.

[3] There are apparently two more omakes that I haven’t seen, one of which involves Sailor Moon cosplay. And… here they are:

[4] There are many, many, sins committed by Neon Genesis Evangelion.

[5] I haven’t seen DieBuster, and to be honest have little to no interest in doing so.