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Anime / DieBuster

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A six-volume OVA that serves as a sequel to GunBuster, released as a 20th anniversary project for Studio Gainax. With director Kazuya Tsurumaki at the helm, who also directed FLCL, this series could easily be described as the love-child of the two series. While its source material is very story-centric, DieBuster maintains a strong overarching story while including more action and style that would set the groundwork for Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann three years later.

The OVA follows Nono, a rather klutzy girl who leaves home to try and become a Space Pilot. Unfortunately for her, she ends up in a run-down cafe in the middle of nowhere. One day, a girl named Lal'C Melk Mark, of the elite Topless units, amazes Nono by saving her from some Space Pilot perverts, and she immediately idolizes her. Nono follows her back to the city, where she ends up in the cross-fire of a space monster attack. Lal'C fights in her Buster Machine, Dix-Neuf, but it is actually Nono that saves the day, sans-mecha, with the classic Inazuma Kick. The story takes off with the realization that Nono is not all that she appears.


The plot revolves almost entirely around character interaction, with the overarching premise of the Space Monster attack serving as a motivating factor. Nono knows she comes from a lowly background, and even with her abilities she spends much of the next few episodes trying to prove herself. Lal'C has to come to grips with being the mentor to this bubbly girl, and slowly sees her personality shift as Nono's boundless optimism has an effect on her. Tycho, another Topless pilot, not only resents the other Topless because of an unfortunate event in her past, but even has suicidal tendencies. Finally, Nicola, an older Topless, engages in a scheme to try and keep his rapidly dwindling powers, with great consequences.

The parallels between GunBuster and DieBuster are readily apparent. Both series focus on two girls - one, a hyperactive girl with natural talent but no actual skill; the other, a more stoic figure, a veteran of training, and the one person her compatriot idolizes. Both stories revolve around human emotion and the draining effect a drawn-out war can have on the combatants and their relationships. They both idealize the principle, common to the Super Robot genre, that with hard work and determination, and The Power of Friendship, anything is possible. Finally, they also realize, rather poignantly, that even with incredible power, sacrifices must be made. The duology is a testament to the Mecha genre and a celebration of everything Studio Gainax had done up to that point, and should definitely be watched by any anime fan.


DieBuster was released in the US by Discotek Media under the name GunBuster 2.

Tropes appearing include, but are not limited to:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Or Absurdly Sharp Buster Beam, as the case may be.
  • All There in the Manual: The series rarely stops to explain its background information. That job was given to the website so fans had something consistently updated to look at between OVA releases. Unfortunately, things like its countless entries on the setting were left untranslated.
  • Arc Words: Nono wishes to become "a Nonoriri." It's actually "like Nonoriri".
    • This is rather significant because "Nonoriri" is a bastardization of "Noriko", the protagonist from GunBuster.
    • "Welcome Bacʞ."
  • Artificial Human: Nono is revealed to be a robot at the end of the first episode and another ordinary one shows up as a naval advisor (this one male). Mass produced models are seen as security guards.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Justified by having a very literal device called Physical Canceller.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In-Universe example with Nono. She admires Noriko and wanted to become a Topless. Becomes Lal'C's best friend pretty quickly, helping her. She even tried to sacrifice herself to save the Earth like Noriko did. The difference is, while Noriko survived, Nono didn't have the same luck.
  • Attempted Rape: Nicola tries to rape Nono in episode 5.
  • Back Story: A few short ones. Guess who used to be a Meganekko?
  • Badass Adorable: Nono.
  • Badass Longcoat: Buster Machine No. 19, Dix-Neuf.
  • Beam Spam: The Space Force battleships in episode 2.
  • Beyond the Impossible
    • Tycho's Quatre-Vingt-Dix can reach to trillions of degrees below absolute zero temperatures. To those familiar with the concept of absolute zero, you can't go lower than it and it's the state in which all motion in matter stops moving. Yet Tycho uses this to freeze a bunch of space monsters and subsequently destroys them soon afterward with a Buster Smash.
    • In episode 5, we find out that The last space monster is trapped in a black hole, and is attempting to break out of it. Not only does it succeed despite Nono's best efforts, but it OVERCOMES the black hole in size and uses it as its POWER SOURCE. Note that the black hole is the one created in GunBuster with the self-destruction of the Excelion.
    • In the final battle in episode 6, Lal'c and Nono not only obliterate the space monster, which had taken a planet to the face and shook it off as if nothing happened, but they also CRACK a black hole.
    • Summed up nicely with this line: The black hole is splitting....that's not allowed in this universe..."
    • Makes sense for this trope to be so prominent when the anime that comes directly after this is the Trope Namer.
  • BFS: Buster Machine No. 27, Vingt-Sept.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The ending of episode 4.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Nicola is revealed to be this judging from Lal'C's verbal beatdown on him in Episode 5 after his Attempted Rape of Nono.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Nono sacrifices herself to save Earth. She never meets her idol, Noriko, who 10 years later, finally returns to Earth after travelling through space for 12,000 years. Lal'C watches from a hill, remembering how much it meant to Nono.
  • Bird Run: Done by Nono in Episode 3.
  • Broken Pedestal: Nicola to Lal'C during Episode 5.
  • Calling Your Attacks: INAZUMA KICK!!
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lal'C complaining that it's too cold, the air is too thin and there are no seabirds is an early hint that the first episode takes place on terraformed Mars, not Earth.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the first episode, Nono mentions, almost as a joke, that she's good at splitting things in half when she breaks a plate and an apple with absolutely no effort. This is almost immediately forgotten until the fourth episode where she bisects Saturn's moon Titan and in the final episode where she uses the same power to destroy a black hole. The 3rd eye-patch also instantly splits in half and falls off of Nono's forehead when Lal'C applied one to see if Nono could become Topless in episode 1.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Though the cast is on the brink of adulthood, the Topless's world is filled with numerous references to childhood. Their power involves bending the world to some degree and growing up means losing it, heavily coupling things with Growing Up Sucks.
    • A lot of equipment resembles toys and candy. Mostly dated ones. Vingt-Sept hijacks and warps other machines through old RC car remotes mashed with giant speakers. Quatre-Vingt-Dix comes packaged like an action figure. The Mega Nebula colony Lal'C's team lives in is shaped like an obscure Japanese candy in its wrapping.
    • The grownups get most of the busy work and look at the Topless with envy or spite. Most notable is Casio, a depressing depiction of someone who failed to leave childhood. There's even side material of when he was the thin, crass pilot of Dix-Neuf to rub it in.
    • Dix-Neuf is decked out like a teenage ruffian but sheds the frivolous decor to reveal a mature, clean-shaven appearance before heading to his death.
  • Colony Drop: As a desperate measure, the humans wanted to drop the entire planet Earth at the space monster, but, luckily, Nono had another solution.
  • Continuity Nod: Both girls make themselves Topless like Noriko does during Gunbuster's final episode as bookends: Nono does it in episode 1, and Lal'C does it in episode 6, after taking in a degeneracy engine. They both precede Inazuma Kicks.
    • What became of the flagships in GunBuster.
    • Gunbuster's 5th omake explained the generations of space vessel technology. Buster Machines 1 & 2 and the Exelion were 4th gen, utilizing black holes and ether waves for warp travel. Buster Machine 3 and the Eltreum being 5th gen, rewriting physics for propulsion. A certain 6th generation interstellar cruising device further refined the last one for wider application.
    • The numbering of one Buster Machine and mankind's current predicament imply the little known manga sequel to Gunbuster is canon. Lampshaded by the creators. The manga featured three new Buster Machines, bringing the number before Nono to 6. They battled an enemy more than scary enough to drain mankind's resources and/or frighten it into curling up in its solar system.
  • Creepy Twins: The Serpentine Twins.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Nono is happy, friendly and goofy most of the time. When she stops being happy, friendly and goofy, property values on Titan start falling in a hurry.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Episode 4, when the Variable Gravity Well awakens and mops the floor with the assembled Topless and their Buster Machines...and then again when Nono merely uses it to punctuate her speech.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Lal'C.
  • Distant Finale: Ten years later. There's a moment of realization about halfway through that may be the series's finest moment.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Occurs at the end of Episode 4.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Buster Machines.
  • Energy Ball: Quatre-Vingt-Dix's (No. 90's) Buster Smash fires energy tennis balls from a racket!
    • In episode 4 Nono uses one to warp. It's actually a micro black hole; having no degeneracy reactor, she creates one outside her body whenever she needs one.
  • Expy: The two protagonists are clearly based off their precursors in Gunbuster.
    • The captain in episode 2 is based off Amarao from FLCL.
  • Fanservice: It's Gainax. Enough said.
  • Foreshadowing: "The only thing I'm good at is splitting things". She probably wasn't thinking about black holes.
  • Genki Girl: Nono.
  • Gratuitous French: The Buster Machines are numbered in French, and use the Vigesimal numeric system.
  • Growing Up Sucks: The Topless lose their powers after adolescence.
  • Heroic BSoD: Everybody who isn't Nono has at least one.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Nono sacrifices her life to get rid of the black hole created by the climactic battle.
  • Hourglass Plot: Their attitudes don't shift much, but Nono goes from minor curiosity allowed to tag along with Fraternity to humanity's one hope for survival as Lal'C goes from being the most elite of the elite to a girl with a disease.
    • One thing that stays consistent is Nono's Pinocchio Syndrome, but the reasons behind it change. At first she's Cursed with Awesome as being an advanced, durable android has the drawback of not letting her become a Topless. Later, she is Blessed with Suck as she makes the Topless obsolete, is looked at with jealousy and spite, and her responsibilities of protecting humanity drives other schisms between them. Whether it is inaccessible or she is flung far beyond it, she doesn't get to aim for the top like her idol.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Nicola and lal'c.
  • Humongous Mecha: Puts Gunbuster to shame.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Nicola gags when he realizes that the meat that the Serpentine Sisters had been feeding him to slow the loss of his Topless powers came from the Eternal Topless.
  • Idiot Hair: Nono has an epic ahoge. (It only gets more so when she's in Buster Machine 7 mode.)
  • Informed Ability: The cast has had traits including their hobbies and favorite foods listed online since the series began. Some, like Lal'C's love of cocoa and Nicola's action figure collection, would appear in side material. Why Nono likes Japanese food would come up in the main series. It's still played for laughs on the side, since she does not know or remember how any of it works, making it a strange hobby.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: The term Topless sounds rather suggestive, but it does make a degree of sense. The powers disappear when someone reaches the peak of their growth, and the Japanese phrase for 'expire' works as a pun for 'reaching the top.' When Lal'C reaches hers, she overcomes the devastation to bring back the original's theme of actually aiming for the top.
  • Latex Space Suit: Averted for most vacuum workers, but played pretty straight for the Topless.
  • Legendary in the Sequel: The mystery behind the term "Nonoriri" is that it is an homage to Noriko from GunBuster.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: Nono as Buster Machine No. 7.
  • Lost in Translation: Like Spell My Name with an "S" below, several jokes and references to the original got lost. This might border on a bad translation.
  • Lost Technology: Warp technology was purposefully suppressed thousands of years before, when humanity stopped trying to explore the galaxy. Then, of course, there's Nono.
  • Macross Missile Massacre
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Three in a row in episode 4. First when the Titan Variable Gravity Well starts annihilating the Space Monsters in orbit... then when it shoots through the planet to hit those in orbit over the other side... and finally when it starts indiscriminately killing the Topless as well.
  • More Dakka: One of the Topless Buster Machines has that as a basic weapon
  • Meaningful Name: Nono, which has the same root as her ambition, "Nonoriri." It also sounds a bit like Nana.
    • Also a Line-of-Sight Name: sort of. Nono is the named after the first things she said when she was found by an asteroid prospector: No no ri ri. Well, actually ""
    • The Topless struggling with running out of time are named after watches. Casio, Captain Hattori Seiko, Nicola Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger LeCoultre, and Piaget. The luxury brands also point to their higher social status.
  • Mythology Gag: The music-box tune that plays when Lal'C tells Nono about birds is "Active Heart", the opening theme from the original GunBuster. Nono hums the same song when she discovers the skeleton of Buster Machine Vingt-Dix.
  • Nipple and Dimed: When Nono takes the name TOPLESS too literally.
  • Not Quite Dead: Nono, per word of god. She went "beyond time" and may return some day. The vision she shares with Lal'C before she vanishes might or might not be a memory from their future reunion.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lal'C's reaction when Dix-Neuf tells her what the Titan Variable Gravity Well really is.
    " A... 'real' Space Monster?! Then what the hell have we been fighting all this time?!"
  • Onee-sama: Lal'C's position with Nono.
  • Passing the Torch: With a side of Meta. Nono is the Supporting Protagonist for most of the series until she becomes the strongest of the good guys. But she is elevated to a godly status very different from her own ideal. She ends up leaving the battlefield and her role. Lal'C is grudgingly stuck as the protagonist in the last episode as she takes up the role Nono always wanted.
  • The Power of Friendship: The eventual resolution to the series.
  • Ramming Always Works: They try to pull this off with the planet Earth.
  • Reality Warper: All major combatants, to a mild degree. Used to "explain" the Rule of Cool in battles.
    • Aside from functioning as a generator, the Topless' abilities let them distort the laws of physics. It is dangerous and unpredictable, even to the user, to the point of needing to be sealed for daily life. The reaction of the Buster Corps implies the real Space Monsters themselves have such abilities.
    • Buster Machine 7 is a relic from the old Lensman Arms Race, able to rewrite nearby matter and physics to the point of creating and controlling micro black holes. Effective range prevents it from being used directly on something the size of a Space Monster, however.
  • Red Baron: Lal'C, the "Curve Breaker". And later, the "Mover of Planets".
  • Ridiculously Human Robot Girl - Nono, who doesn't display a single remotely "robotic" characteristic until the end of Episode 4. On the other hand she can breathe in space and not suffer burns from a rocket blasting off. Then there's the mechanical light in her eyes when she unknowingly commands the first monster to take her out to space.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Nono fits the bill perfectly as a bright and cheery Nice Girl with long pink hair.
  • Scenery Porn: The backgrounds tend to be scenic, detailed, brightly colored, or some combination of these.
  • Self-Parody: A drama CD track gathers up the voice actors from DieBuster and GunBuster to have them make a mock trailer for a troperrific, Fake Crossover of the two. Or at least the audio of it. Narrated by Coach. Rather than be faithful to either, it brings in things like the unimplemented Buster Homerun and made up kaiju on the old GunBuster soundtrack cover with even more ridiculous shouted attacks. Sure, we got the movie that showed the distilled versions side by side, but imagine if they made this literal GunBuster vs DieBuster instead.
    • Maaya Sakamoto refuses to do character songs. So when Nono giddily plays Fly High to do a karaoke duet with Lal'C, she grumpily refuses to sing her side the entire time.
  • Serial Escalation: Every episode goes for bigger fights with bigger stakes than the one before.
  • Shout-Out: Gainax loves to self reference. Being a 20th Anniversary Milestone Celebration, this works even more.
    • Dix-Neuf's old war wounds parallel the Eva-01's major injuries. Spike through the right eye going out the back of the head from Sachiel, lost left arm complete with grafted replacement from Zeruel. While not an injury Dix-Neuf replaces his Collapsing Generator by tearing it out of another and absorbing it into himself, like an S2 Organ.
      • There's one to End of Evangelion in the final episode, When Lal'C and Nono are pulled into the Singularity. Nono takes Lal'C's hand and shoves it through her right breast, a la Gendo starting Instrumentality with Rei. Luckily, nobody turns into Tang; it's a gift of Nono's singularity, in the form of a paper crane.
    • Many elements from FLCL show up again.
      • Aside from the surface resemblance to Kitsurubami, Lal'C has the power to transport objects using her head much like the N.O. Channel. By episode 5 she can grab entire heavenly bodies as Atomsk was rumored to.
      • The above mentioned expy of Amarao.
      • Lal'C's Cool Bike is reminiscent of Haruko's Vespa. The similar riding clothes help too. There's a scene in episode 5 where it won't start, which is straight out of the ending credits.
      • The Fraternity may very well be the same mysterious organization from FLCL.
      • The first episode features Nono's clothes getting caught on a Humongous Mecha and dragged into the middle of a giant robot fight due to it. The same thing happens to Naota in FLCL's first episode, but he doesn't get dragged into orbit.
      • The Topless are so-named because their brains disappear from this reality while using their abilities. So it basically is the N.O. Channel ability spread to the rest of humanity.
    • A notable non-Gainax reference involves Nono slicing Titan in half with her Buster Beam, similar to episode 38 of Space Runaway Ideon.
  • Skyscraper Messages: The entire planet is shut down then lit up to give our heroines a warm welcome back after ten thousand years.
  • Space Opera
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • Oh, lordy. Most of the Topless, and Lal'C is worst of all.
    • Also, the title falls victim to this a bit: while Gainax usually prefers the romanization "DieBuster", it's very likely what they were going for was "DaiBuster". As in, "Dai" meaning "great" or "big" in Japanese, so "Big Buster". As in, Size-Of-A-Frickin'-Planet-Buster.
  • Standard Snippet: Before battles a mash-up of "Also sprach Zarathustra" and the tune played in GunBuster in those scenes is played.
  • Super Prototype: Each Buster Machine is unique and powerful, but Buster Machine 7 stands out as the oldest and most powerful in this series. The previous model lost in series mythos may have been even stronger.
    • Subverted in the last episode. Nono's full complete form struggles to even injure the final Space Monster. Then, Lal'C implants a new engine into Dix-Neuf, revealing its true form, Buster Machine #19. While the scene suggests that it's Nono and Lal'C working together that defeats the Space Monster, Nono was unable to scratch it only moments before. This suggests that Buster Machine #19 is so powerful that it defeated the Space Monster in a single attack, showing that it's a vast improvement over Buster Machine #7.
  • Super Robot: Buster Machines are now semi-mass-produced, and No. 7's final form is an extreme instance of this trope.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Nono has starburst-shaped pupils, possibly hinting at her non-human nature.
  • The Future: About 12,000 years after the events of GunBuster. The endings line up, though.
  • The Reveal: In addition to the Wham below...what does "Nonoriri" actually mean? Try "who": Noriko Takaya herself.
    • The final scenes of the anime reveal that this entire ordeal took place before the end of the original GunBuster, and ends at the same moment too.
  • The Singularity: Back in Gunbuster. Nowadays, the solar system is backwater and doesn't even know it. Or just why it's even isolated from the rest of the galaxy. It does not help that its AI defense system was lost due to a slight malfunction. Some of it might be due to the previous generation honestly thinking the information should not be passed on.
  • Title Drop: In the final episode. Except the title mecha doesn't succeed at what it was meant for.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Containing a monster? Being split in half? But hey, at least they admit that the laws of physics are being thrown out the window.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 4 turns everything on its head. The Topless are actually the first stage of humanity's evolution into Space Monsters. The Space Monsters or what were thought to be Space Monsters are actually the good guys, an automated defense system currently lacking their central control unit that mistook the Topless for Space Monsters. The Variable Gravity Well is actually a real Space Monster, i.e. from GunBuster, and is comically out of the Topless Fraternity's league. And Nono is not just some android — she's Buster Machine No. 7, the most powerful fighting machine in existence.
    • The Space Monster in the first episode was obeying Nono when she shouted she would go out into space.
  • You Don't Look Like You: The Space Monsters now sport a sleeker, techno-organic design aesthetic compared to the grotesque, wholly organic one they had in GunBuster. While this could be explained by the general change in art style, it's actually justified In-Universe by the fact that those so-call "Space Monsters" are actually units of the Buster Legion. The actual Space Monsters resemble the GunBuster ones far more closely.