Diebuster serves as a sequel to Gainax’s classic mecha series, Gunbuster, that is set thousands of years following the events of Gunbuster. Focused on a seemingly clutzy teenage girl named Nono, she aspires to become a space pilot and comes to idolize Lal’C Mellk Mal, a girl around Nono’s age who is the pilot of the Buster Machine mecha known as Dix-Neuf. Lal’C is part of the Fraternity, a group of teen mecha pilots called Topless who each have their own Buster Machines used to combat a mysterious space monster threatening humanity’s expansion into space. As Nono interacts with Lal’C and the Fraternity, she comes to realize some truths about herself that make her realize she isn’t an ordinary girl.
Suppose one thing I should get out of the way with covering Diebuster is the many nods it makes to Gunbuster. Without spoiling too much of Diebuster’s developments, Nono and Lal’C’s characters and their relationship parallel those of Noriko and Kazumi from the original series, while also sporting the same type of mecha to combat the alien threats that threaten Earth. Both titles also carry similar themes and storytelling elements involving coming-of-age and sacrifice in regards to the main conflict of their respective titles.
The results of these Gunbuster nods do have their pros and cons throughout Diebuster. On the one hand, the character dynamics with Nono and Lal’C play out differently from Noriko and Kazumi’s to give the former’s relationship some more uniqueness and create some differing developments with their characters. Plus, there’s a good deal of spectacle in seeing the mecha action as Buster Machines to combat the alien enemy with the fights being nicely animated and having a good deal of visual detail depicted. Nono’s character serves as a fun homage of sorts to old-school mecha anime in Diebuster’s second half when she takes on a more active role to combat the aliens.
Spectacle aside though, Diebuster does have some major issues when it comes to areas of its storytelling. It attempts to have a larger scale to its plot compared to Gunbuster, though this falls flat in a number of areas. The series attempts to dabble into developments befalling a couple of Lal’C’s fellow Topless, but their developments aren’t as engaging to see develop compared to Lal’C and Nono. There are a decent number of plot elements that Diebuster doesn’t dabble too deeply into such as Nono’s origins before being found and why humanity seems prejudiced against the Topless. The second half of the series also becomes a bit hard to follow with the scientific jargon discussed with the alien threat and the rather ambiguous fate of one major character when the conflict is resolved. In short, Diebuster’s storytelling didn’t feel as cohesive compared to Gunbuster as it seemed to be doing a bit too much at a number of points within its 6-episode runtime.
If you can look past Diebuster’s storytelling issues, it still retains the over-the-top spectacle of mecha action and charming character chemistry of its two female leads found from Gunbuster. Mecha fans just wanting to see this for the action spectacle and Gainax’s signature fan service should still get a treat out of Diebuster in spite of its faults.
Rating: 6.5 of 10
Someday I’ll be gone To somewhere that we belong And God has never played his role 'Cause I’m the one who saves my soul It’s a perfect world we’re longing for