This started off more or less as just a reflection for myself on why I get fangirlish over this character, the type I usually dislike. Then it kinda evolved into what it is now- more of an essay.
So no, it's not necessarily written to impress, but rather just to collect and express my own feelings and observations. Agree, disagree, nod and smile, whatever.
Saying that Kamina is stupid might be the understatement of the year.
Where to even begin? Perhaps his obsession with reaching a surface he knew nothing about, or his unhesitating decision to challenge an enormous Ganmen which he knew absolutely nothing about with a sword as his only weapon.
These are usually the kind of characters that only manage to irk me. Hyperactive, moronic, and unreasonably optimistic seems to be a stereotype that’s popping up everywhere. So why do we love Kamina so much? What makes him stand apart from the others?
My first impression of him was, admittedly, “Oh Gods, here we go again”. But after only two or three episodes he really began to grow on me with his cheesy lines, borderline insanity, and the faith he put into it. Some parts kind of made me wonder whether there was some hidden intellectual behind the Kamina portrayed. I quickly came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the case, but it’s still fun to muse. Although he had those moments where he actually did make sense, they didn’t come from any kind of wisdom in particular. Everything he said and did was motivated by his own morals, and about “being a man”. When he stepped aside and let Simon take control of Gurren Lagann in the middle of a battle, it wasn’t because he realized his tactics weren’t working, but rather because what kind of man wouldn’t trust his own partner? I think this is what struck me as the most unique thing about him. Because along with the “stupid, hyper, etc” stereotype comes the serious, wise side that pops up occasionally, something that Kamina honestly didn’t seem to have. Never reading too deeply into things, he acted completely by instinct, and lived completely by luck.
And his optimism was very real. Not an act or a mask for a character who was suffering on the inside, didn’t want to worry his friends, and would later be the center of all the drama. Because that’s just not manly. The point at which I found this most obvious was when he found his father’s remains. He didn’t hold his feelings inside, dwell over them, or let them get in the way of his goals. He shed some tears, paid his respects, and moved on. Again, not wisdom or anything too philosophical. He honestly believed that they could make it to the heavens. Letting emotions like sadness or fear hinder his spirit was just out of the question for him.
So many people wish he didn’t have to die, myself included. He charmed us from the very beginning, made us laugh at his “logic” and little catch phrases, left us wondering what he could possibly do next to surpass his limits once again. Then he was gone. No supernatural revival, crying him back to life, or twist in which he never actually got hurt. But it was one of the most important turning points in the story. Kamina set an example for others, paved the road, gave humanity a dream and had limitless inspiration to spread to everyone he came in contact with. Even years after his death he manages to save the universe. I don’t even think I need to take the effort to look into how his influence affected Simon. In life he gave Simon the pushes he needed to become great, and in death he forced Simon to gain his own independence, morals, and drive.
That said, it seems to be the fact that Kamina really is so simple that makes him complicated. It’s not something that we’re used to seeing, and people are comfortable complicating things and looking for deeper meanings. It’s hard for me to place my finger on exactly how his character is pulled off effectively though. Yes, he’s simple, but I didn’t find him “two dimensional” either. I'll let you know when I figure it out.
In any case:
We love you, Aniki~