I don't really know what to make of this episode. On one hand, I'm glad we weren't slapped with a mindfuck ending, but on the other hand, the show left me somewhat underwhelmed as I had expected much more from it.
For the most part, I couldn't have hoped for a better ending than this, as it was very complete and concluded everything on a high note, although as mentioned, not the way I wanted it too. Sigh.
A run through of the finale:
First half was a mind imploding final duel between the titular Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann against the Anti Spiral, which is revealed to be an entity of like-minded beings that share a single consciousness. The battle takes place on, wait for it, a galaxy. That's right, two galactic sized monstrosities fighting one another on top of a plane consisting of stars and planets, which shouldn't sound too odd at this point, considering the nature of this show, where laws of physics do not exist.
For this clash, our heroes throw everything they've got at the enemy, each whipping out their individual specialty, be it Yoko's high powered anti-Ganmen rifle, Viral's longsword or Attenborough's missle barrage, although it does little to subdue their foe. All seems lost until the fight takes them to the galaxy where Earth is, in which the inhabitants witness the epic struggle their saviors are putting up against the Anti Spiral, cheering them on.
This prompts Lord Genome to make his final stand, as he separates himself from the main body of the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann(TTGL), and along with Lazengann, he absorbs a direct blast from the enemy. He in turns it into raw spiral energy which is then channeled through the TTGL, causing it to go into overload mode, spawning drills from every part of its body.
A case of now or never, Simon lunges head on at the Anti Spiral and deals the final blow with the minute Lagann, after every evolution of the Gurren Lagann was resisted by the enemy's defenses. With its imminent defeat, the Anti Spiral parts with a request asking Simon to protect the universe.
With a massive explosion that signals the end of the Anti Spiral, everyone back home cheers for their heroes, with Rossiu informing them that Spirals throughout the galaxy are cheering them on as well, as proof of the number of allies they have gained along the way.
The Dai Gurren Brigade returns triumphant and the long overdue marriage between Simon and Nia takes place, although their joy was shortlived, as being a virtual lifeform created by the Anti Spirals, she begins to dissipate into nothingness, telling Simon that she loves him. Taking with him Kamina's cape and the ring he gave Nia, Simon bids farewell to everyone and entrusts everything to Rossiu.
20 years on, we see the future, possible only through the liberation our heroes had fought for so hard, where an aged Rossiu is talking to Leeron on the differing ideals of different Spirals, when Simon's name was brought up. Leeron then tells Rossiu that Simon is watching from afar. Next is Yoko, who is now the headmistress of the very same school she taught ages ago, listening to a transmission to the now grown up Nakimu, who is now a Grappal pilot under Darry and Gimmy's guidance. We then see Viral, who is now captain of the Chouginga Gurren Lagann leaving for another galaxy as Earth's representative. Night falls and a little boy struggling to crack open a coconut with his drill is approached by a cloaked man who teaches him the proper way to do it. The now impressed kid is amazed, prompting the man to utter a familiar line that goes "Who do you think I am" although he stops midway as the boy is no longer paying attention to him. The man then realizes he now indeed nobody and joins the boy in watching several Grappals launch. The boys tells the man of his dreams of one day joining them as he describes how all the lights of heaven are actually stars. This man is none other than Simon, who reveals his face, with Boota still loyally by his side. The end.
Damn it. Gainax left me in absolute despair when they killed Nia off right after her wedding and turning the man who challenged and defeated a God-like being into a homeless bum. Why couldn't they have made the epilogue the same as the first 5 minutes of episode 1 instead? Hopefully, this matter will somehow be addressed in the rumored OVA, which I really hope provides an alternate ending of some kind. Whatever the case may be, this show has now become one of my all time favorites, with its magnificent animation quality and story which escalated exponentially from just plain decent to epic proportions in such a small period of time. Couple this with its memorable characters and often a times uplifting and inspiring moments and you've got the contender for the best anime of this year. Thank you Gurren Lagann, it has been a splendid journey. Shin out.