In the first episode: Before any of the real action begins, there's an earthquake in Giha Village that freaks Simon out. He begs Kamina to find shelter until the point of tears and screams "I don't want you to die!" It makes Kamina remember that Simon lost his parents in an earthquake and allows him realize that he's all that Simon has. While still in handcuffs, Kamina puts his arms around Simon in a hug to comfort him as the earthquake ceases. It's an Establishing Character Moment for them both as well as a perfect introduction for the dynamic of their relationship. Also qualifies as a Tear Jerker considering what happens in later episodes.
To elaborate further, Kamina has just been slapped in irons after trying to break free of the village, and abandoned by his first 'Brigade', and is about to start a "rage against the heavens" speech after stoically and badassly standing still during an earthquake; but Simon's desperate pleading shakes him out of it abruptly, and he takes the moment to show how much he cares about his "little bro." No matter how hot-blooded he gets, Kamina's first desire is to care for his loved ones.
At the conclusion of the first episode, Simon, who has been shown to be introverted and lacking self-confidence, breaks into a confident grin as he, Kamina, and Yoko finally pierce through the surface.
There is a special part right before the earthquake. Just as Kamina's first Gurren Brigade abandons him, he yells at them for betraying him and tells them that he doesn't want to see them again. But when the chief tells Simon to go too and Kamina sees the doubt in Simon's face, he actually tells the little guy to do as he's told; this means that Kamina cares so much about Simon that he doesn't care if he has to suffer through being cooped up alone as long as he knows Simon's okay.
Kamina breaks Simon out of a slump with the words, "Don't believe in me, who believes in you. Believe in you, who believes in yourself!" That this is accompanied by a punch to the face and a Heroic SacrificeTear Jerker drops it solidly into Crowning Moment Of Awesome territory as well.
Kamina and Yoko's Big Damn Kiss in episode 8. Yoko initiates by giving Kamina a peck on the cheek, sheepishly telling him that his back is his biggest weak spot. Kamina then gazes at her in gentle surprise— a look he has never given her before— and takes her into his arms. After the kiss, Kamina tenderly promises Yoko that he'll pay it back "ten times better" once the battle is over. Given future events, this doubles as a Tear Jerker, but it's still one of the most heartwarming moments in the series.
Although he's always been uncomfortable around Leeron, Kamina only took issue with his when he started messing around with Simon. Kamina doesn't just dislike Leeron for his The Gadfly tendencies, but because he messed with his little brother.
Simon's story of how Kamina encouraged him to dig the way out after they were trapped in an earthquake, told in episode 10. Especially heartwarming in the next episode when we get to hear Kamina's side of the story. He had always relied on Simon in turn, and Simon directly inspired him to become the Hot Blooded Determinator he was.
Nia to Guame: "Just as Simon believed in his bro, I believe in my Simon!" The fact that this is almost immediately followed by Simon wiping the floor with Guame and casting off his grief for Kamina in the same motion, in one of the biggest Crowning Moments of Awesome of the whole series, only makes it fuzzier.
When Simon finally shows up to rescue her, Nia almost cries tears of happiness and jumps onto him with a big hug... even though he's hanging upside-down from the ceiling in Lagann. And after the awesome battle, it's shown that Nia had placed her hands on top of Simon's the whole time, in part because he'd injured his digging out of imprisonment.
Simon's "My bro is dead" speech is the CMOH for the entire series:
During Simon's "He's back" speech, everyone of the Dai-Gurren Brigade is looking on in shock... except for Leeron, who's just nodding his head in an "about time you got out of that slump" sort of way.
Speaking of episode 11: " Rossiu! Let's combine!"
Rossiu's reaction sells it- not just the look on his face, but the fact that hearing Simon's voice gives him the strength of will to flip Guame on his back. In the movie, it lets him hold off Viral until the combination.
When Simon performs his own GigaDrillBreaker, does the screen get blurry for anyone else?
The conclusion of the battle for Teppelin. Beaten and weary from the fight, Simon and Nia are flying back to the team, and Nia gazes at the sunrise. Simon puts his arm around her shoulder, and Nia rests her hand on top of his and nuzzles into his shoulder. The scene contains no dialogue, but it's even more effective that way. It's also because it's obvious that it's that exact moment when they truly fell in love with each other.
Kamina and Simon meeting again in the same alternate universe, Yoko getting married to Kittan and meeting again with Kamina in said AU... that whole sequence is a Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming. "Libera Me (From Hell)" playing through the sequence makes it just plain awesome.
The second movie makes that scene even more heart-wrenching. When Simon uses his Core Drill to open the box he found Nia in, Kittan jumps out and says "Don't forget me!" Simon and Kamina look at him for a second before Kamina asks "Who are you again?", the same way he did when Kittan and Team Dai-Gurren met up with Gurren Lagann for the first time. As Kittan gets steamed up for being forgotten a second time, Kamina breaks into a grin and grabs him in a noogie, yelling "Idiot! As if I could forget!", as Simon watches his deceased comrades with a smile.
Simon and Kinon use the Power of Love and the Power of Friendship to open a wormhole so that Gurren Lagann can go through, and they can stop Rossiu from committing suicide to atone for his betrayal of Simon. Simon than gives him a Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! punch, and stops him from making another mistake, as Kinon embraces him. Simon than leaves Rossiu and his men in charge of the civilians, and city so the soldiers can go off to war, proving that friendships can survive betrayal.
Simon's speech to Rossiu encouraging him to keep living is a great one, since not only is he openly forgiving Rossiu, but he's also quoting Kamina, essentially showing the same level of faith in Rossiu that Kamina showed in Simon.
Don't forget the trip back, with Rossiu co-piloting Gurren Lagann for the first time in seven years, proving his friendship with Simon can last through anything, even Rossiu trying to put Simon to death.
Don't forget the conversation between Kinon and Rossiu where Rossiu says that Kinon (who is sitting on Rossiu's lap) is heavy, but he would like her to stay put so he can feel the weight of one human life. She then calls him a jerk.
Revealing that Viral's heart's desire is to have a family, which is impossible due to beastmen being made by cloning. It's an extra shocker since Viral is portrayed as a total grumpy hardass the whole series.
Nia writing Kamina a letter in Lagann-Hen. She never met him and he'd been dead for seven years, which finishes with her asking "Kamina, has this city named after you become what you dreamed it would be? Is our future heading toward the one you showed us?"
The post timeskip opening contains a significant one. Particularly, the scene where the lyrics are going "I have come this far by following your shadow", and the scene is basically the Dai-Gurren Brigade, with Kamina at the top facing away from the screen, acknowledging him as their inspiration.
Episode 25, "I Accept Your Last Wish!", has possibly the most heart-wrenching Heroic Sacrifice of the series. After finally showing Yoko how he feels, Kittan is willing to sacrifice his own life to allow Team Dai-Gurren to escape the Death Spiral Field and form the Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann. This after it's been made clear that he probably has long-term intentions involving Yoko. Because of his awesome speech it also doubles as a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
Also, Kamina's spirit advisor scene in episode 26. The whole damn thing. Simon being trapped in a Lotus Eater Machine in which he witnesses a fake life where Kamina and Simon, instead of becoming freedom fighters, settle down as thieves. After some confusion, Simon realizes he isn't wearing his Core Drill anymore. Cue the real Kamina asking him if he has lost his drill, and a lot of encouraging, cumilating in Simon punching fake Kamina in the face and then the real Kamina and now-adult Simon standing side-by-side. Kamina's comment? "You have grown taller than me." Do also note that he does not just mean that in a literal sense.
Also, he tells Simon "the truth of your universe is what's in here," pointing to Simon's heart. At the end of the conversation, when it's time for Simon to go, Kamina tells him "This time it's really goodbye." Simon corrects him, stating "It's never goodbye. You're always with me- in here." and gestures to his heart again.
Episode 27: Lordgenome's "Nia, I know I don't deserve to be called your father-"
And then she calls him that anyway. D'awwww.
His Heroic Sacrifice immediately after that should also count. In a move that is equal parts Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, Crowning Moment of Awesome and Tear Jerker, he not only stops the Anti-Spiral's ultimate move, but also converts it into Spiral energy for Simon to use. After witnessing how far he had fallen during the Beastmen arc, this moment really gives the sense that this once valiant Spiral warrior has finally found his redemption.
And, of course, the start of that episode has the Big Damn Heroes moment to end them all. Nia's being tortured by the Anti-Spiral for information on how to defeat the Spiral races, her body literally disintegrating due to the strain it's being put under.
Nia: No matter how deeply you probe my body, you will never understand! Anti-Spiral: We have no need to understand, we only need to know. Nia: Then you may as well give up, because you will never be able to defeat them. He will come. You can be sure of that. (Cue Libera Me From Hell as Simon and co. emerge from her engagement ring) Simon: Well Nia, I'm here. Just like I promised.
1st episode after the Time Skip, when Nia accepts Simon's proposal. Simon, to Kamina's monument: "Yes! I did it, Bro!"
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann also gets big credit for the relatively happy ending. After carving a hole through the Anti-Spiral boss and killing him once and for all, every single Anti-Spiral in the universe dies or vanishes due to No Ontological Inertia; Nia, however, hangs on by pure defiant willpower and her love for Simon, and they finally get married. Then, after sharing their first on-screen kiss, she vanishes into the air, smiling at him, and Simon puts on his cape and spends the rest of his days Walking The Earth. Not exactly a cheerful ending, considering that Gainax loves... well... Gainax Endings for a reason, but still a great way to end the continuous series of Crowning Moments of Awesome.
Even though it was All Just a Dream (sort of), the fact that Boota's greatest wish is to be able to transform into a humanoid so he can help out Simon more is rather touching.
In Gurren-hen, the Four Generals attempted to destroy the Dai-Gurren brigade. Simon not only blocks the shot, but then tells his friends not to falter. Followed up by Kittan with something resembling this: "Of course not! How can I with all these friends?"
Thank YOU Kamina, for giving us someone who will believe in us, even when no one else will.
The uncut version of episode 6, which is practically CMOF incarnate, does have a genuinely heartwarming moment in it. The boys and girls are separated by a giant wall while in the hot spring, and Kamina convinces Simon to peep on the girls who are presumably naked (they aren't). Simon drills through the wall and manages to make a small hole through the other side, only to overhear what the girls think of him: a young, ineffectual boy who is too dependent of Kamina and has no real identity of his own. However, Yoko says she believes Simon has the potential to be a great man and always pulls through for his friends in the end. As a result, Simon respectfully covers the hole he made and makes no further attempts to peep on them. Not that it stops him from seeing Yoko's boobs by mistake in the end...
In episode 10 the fighting members of Team Dai-Gurren, most of whom considered Nia their enemy just a few minutes earlier, rush into battle to save her, inspired by her standing up for them and enraged by Lordgenome's Parental Abandonment. After the battle they give her a loud cheer, showing that they accepted her as one of them.
Two episodes later, we have Yoko finally getting over her misgivings toward Nia in and the two becoming friends, with Yoko helping fix Nia's hair. Awwww....
After the forming of Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan, where the Anti-Spiral is just beating the hell out of the brigade, to the point that it rips open a hole to Earth and starts his Evil Gloating. You just KNOW Simon is going to rally the team and start the proper ass-kicking... But it's not him, it's Dayakka, the only member of the brigade to become a father, who not only breaks out of the slump, but delivers the first big hurt on the Anti Spiral. Papa Wolf at it's finest.
What makes it even better is that Dayakka, who is normaly rather calm and meek, is going into a screaming, Hot-BloodedRAGE here, showing his Papa Wolf instincts even better. And yes, he is telling him not to lay a finger on his Earth, but we all know what he really means.
Notably in the regular TV series, the exact moment that Dayakka made that come back? The Anti-Spiral made his kid cry. Giant Eldritch Abomination or not, he was not going to stand for that.
Triples both as a CMoA and a CMoF (The latter because his wife Kiyoh (along with the rest of the earth) witnessed it after the Anti-Spiral opened the dimensional bypass to Earth.)
When Nia meet a Gunman for the first time, Simon eventually decide to make a Last Stand to allow her to escape. Then ensue the following dialogue:
Simon: I'm sick of it! I am sick of watching people die! I don't care what happens to me, just so long as no one else dies! Nia: Do you really want to die? If you are frightened, you should run. You mustn't die. Simon: N-no, I'm not scared. Nia: You mustn't lie, either. Come, let's escape. Together.
Then she takes him by the hand and runs. Really, at that moment, she saved him.
Why was the ring the only thing that didn't disappear with Nia? One can doubt it's only something to remember her by. The ring was how Simon found her in the Anti-Spiral world, so what stopping Simon from using the ring to find her again without Spiral Power?
Simon is talking with Anti-Spiral Nia about the chances of her coming back to normal, she replies that the chance is infinitely close to zero, Simon replies with; Well to me, that's as good as 100%.
After she hears him say that, the Anti-Spiral Messenger Nia finally breaks and the old Nia returns, complete with the voice and facial expression that are so very much Nia and can't be described as anything else but, if you'll excuse me, completely adorable. The weird thing is that this counts as a Tearjerker as the same time, because of how desperately she asks Simon if he will save her. TTGL really puts you through a rollercoaster of emotions...
Shortly after Simon is named leader of Dai-Gurren, he is talking with Nia about something or another. Then Yoko comes in, screaming at Simon about not having eaten in the past few days.
Yoko's renewed confidence in Simon after he breaks out of his Heroic B.S.O.D., most pronounced in episode 13. First when she gets hurt in battle and Simon confidently tells her that he will protect her and proceeds to fearlessly fight Viral one-on-one, and a little bit later, safely back on the ground again, when she looks at him standing completely relaxed and confident in the cockpit of Lagann... The look on her eyes is quite telling.
The beginning of episode 14, when Simon and Yoko visit Kamina's grave. Especially the moment when Yoko leaves, only to turn around one final time. The viewer doesn't get to hear what she says, but the look on her face and the fact that she says only a few words could give you an idea of what exactly she told him...
Episode 27. Yes, I know he's the villain, but I still found the Anti-Spiral's final line before dying an oddly heartwarming moment. An Absolute Xenophobe who dedicated his existence to oppressing other races, is felled by the very thing he fought to keep downtrodden, and what does he say?
"If this is how it must be, protect the universe at all costs."
He doesn't flinch at the thought of a representative of the Spiral races demolishing everything he ever believed in, and in his final moment simply requested that they carry on and protect the universe where he (in his mind) failed. Contrast to Lordgenome, who basically gave a speech that amounted to "you're screwed" when he died. The Anti-Spiral had faith that they could succeed, in spite of years of brutal hatred against them.
And Simon vows to honor this request.
Also Episode 27 - During the final battle Yoko, In one of her last lines before the end, surrounded by some of mankinds greatest heroes takes time to declare Kamina the greatest of them all.Above all else it speaks to the fact that he's irreplaceable in her heart. Needless to say, Team Dai-Gurren wholeheartedly shared that opinion.
Yoko: [...]We Humans used to have someone much greater than any of us! For his sake alone, we'll keep moving forward!
In the first episode of the second season, it turns out Viral was protecting humans who did not like the new world order and wanted to return to their underground way of life. Sure, Viral may have wanted to help them do it to feel more like old times, but he also apologizes to his easily defeated mecha as well for pushing it too hard.
After Rossiu sentenced Simon to death, he kept Simon's drill around his neck. He didn't destroy or study it; he kept it next to his heart.
It's blink and you'll miss it, but during the final moments of the final battle in the movie, Nia's Anti-Spiral, cross-shaped pupils become normal, circular ones. Once all barriers are broken down, all illusions cast aside, on the edge of truth, her soul is that of a real human being.
In the final scene of the series, Nia's ring is left on a cross atop her memorial. In the movie, Simon wears her ring on his neck, in the place where the Core Drill used to be.
One can't help but wonder if it's a sign that Nia may not be truly gone for good, considering that this is the one thing that didn't disappear with her... a hopeful thought indeed.
It's also very fitting that her grave is placed next to Kamina's. The two people that Simon ever loved the most.
The series itself is kind of a meta one for anyone who has seen GunBuster. For years the anime went unnoticed and untouched after it's descendant Neon Genesis Evangelion got all the fame, leaving it lost and forgotten, known only by the eldest or most hardcore Gainax fans. Now, the anime finally has seen the light of day in the form of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.