Opinion: Seeing A Mentor Figure in Gurren Lagann

A glimpse on learning what a mentor really is from anime prespective.

© GAINAX, Kazuyoshi Nakajima/ Gurren Lagann Production Committee

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann or often called Gurren Lagann is one of the anime that has changed my mindset in life. This anime is able to provide a “distinctive energy” in overcoming the obstacles that exist in each episode. Starting from the beginning of the episode until the middle of the first cour, the audience is presented with a leader named Kamina who guides and encourages those around him, especially Simon to exceed their limits and fight the existing status quo. Life will feel very bland if it doesn’t move to challenge what we are lacking. That’s where I remembered Kamina’s quote:

“Don’t believe you believe in me and don’t believe in me believing in you. Believe in yourself who believe in yourself” — Kamina (Episode 08)

Those words made an impression on me to trust myself more than looking at other people [and not moving]. The story of Gurren Lagann itself is mixed by various dramas and tense scenes, so the desire to continue to challenge the existing obstacles is always felt.

But regardless of the background, I want to explore the figure of “Kamina” who becomes a mentor to those around him, especially Simon. His figure in encouraging and being a role model around him is a figure that I think is an ideal mentor figure. I found this when I re-analyzed this anime along with the new knowledge I got. In the process of seeing Kamina’s figure, I divided the nature of a mentor into three parts; Mentors are not friends/family, they will continue to challenge your boundaries, and they are not special people because they learn from you too.

Mentor Isn’t Your Friend

© GAINAX, Kazuyoshi Nakajima/ Gurren Lagann Production Committee

What is friend? Often a friend is defined as a person who is close to someone, whether it is a hobby or a like-minded person. Friends are also people who like to spend time with other people. However, this foundation is only the basis that friends are only present to accompany life. So what about mentors? Mentors are mentors who are present to provide direction and opinions on their guidance. However, how is the relationship between a mentor and a mentee (his guidance)? In short, they are the same and do not have a special level. In this case, Kamina and Simon or other people are likened to young men who both want to achieve the same goal.

Kamina is a figure who is present as a role model for Simon to live his life, but not all of Kamina’s thoughts are liked by Simon himself. In some scenes Simon really wants to play Kamina, but he doesn’t want himself to be 100% the same as Kamina. This can be seen in several scenes where Simon disagrees with Kamina’s opinion, he may be wrong. From all these things, Kamina can be called a big brother to a leader. He is a person who can change his position anywhere and anytime. Quoting Simon Sinek (2020), “a mentor is someone who has time for you”. From the quote, we can see that Kamina is always there for Simon and all. He is present to them as a special person, where all interactions with him create a special bond beyond friendship over time.

A mentor figure can’t be tied to a person who is always ready to help at any time, but he is a person who continues to see you have its own potential and tries to explore again.

Mentor Will Continue TO Challenge Your Limit!

© GAINAX, Kazuyoshi Nakajima/ Gurren Lagann Production Committee

As a mentor, of course, there is a purpose to accompany the mentee. From that, a mentor will encourage a mentee to be better and even surpass the mentor himself. Mentors often challenge the mentee to get out of their comfort zone and enter a new world that they are not familiar with. These challenges can range from simple things, from changing their mindset to doing what seems impossible. Simon sees Kamina as someone who always challenges him and protects him from all events.

Kamina always pushes Simon to break through the sky and defy the whole status quo because this world can’t be static and fixed, there has to be someone who can change all of that. Kamina realized that he was quite old and he might not be able to see the world, therefore he always pushed his thoughts to Simon. Starting from Simon who is quiet and afraid to do new things, over time Simon will always be challenged by Kamina not to be constantly in the same position. In the first episode, Kamina is here to change Simon’s mind so that he can change from his initial nature. Lagann’s discovery was a turning point for Simon to change himself. Simon plans to give Lagann to Kamina because for him Kamina can ride it. However, Kamina refused and suggested Simon to ride it instead. Starting from doubts and anxiety in riding Lagann due to Simon feeling weak and helpless, he finally realized that only he could do it because Kamina believed he could. The first challenge for Simon has been completed, but other challenges will continue to be added and given by Kamina, so that Simon can become a new person.

Often some of these challenges can lead to unexpected events, but they can also lead to new ideas for solving them.

Mentor Is A Person Who Also Learn From You

© GAINAX, Kazuyoshi Nakajima/ Gurren Lagann Production Committee

A mentor does not mean a “perfect” person who can do everything, again that a mentor is the same person as a mentee, it is even possible that the mentee is greater than the mentor. So in all interactions with the mentee, a mentor also learns new things that they may not have. On this side it can be seen that the world that Kamina and Simon dreamed of was initially very different and very contradictory, but Kamina encouraged Simon to see his world. Not that in this case Simon as a mentee will immediately swallow this view, but he will also criticize it. Kamina as a mentor also learns that her worldview also needs to be changed because she might think wrongly. From the opinion of a mentee, a mentor figure can also learn from him.

Just take the example in the first episode. When there was an earthquake, everyone in the village ran and protected him, but not for Kamina. Meanwhile Simon is confused because he can’t protect himself. Kamina realizes that Simon’s parents died in an earthquake, so Simon is very traumatized by it. From there, Kamina learned that being brave is not daring to impose his own will on his ego, but also being brave enough to change his mind. That’s why Kamina protected Simon by hugging him so that nothing would happen.

The same thing happened when Simon secretly released Kamina from prison. And when the village head found out that Simon would also be punished for his actions, Kamina realized and immediately protected Simon from the village head’s blow. As Simon’s mentor, Kamina must be aware that there are teachings that might harm Simon, and that’s why he will be responsible for his teachings. There is always new learning every time Kamina teaches Simon something new. In the process they both learn from each other in understanding and interacting.

All processes experienced by mentors are valuable life experiences for the mentee themselves. This process will always leave an imprint on him to be continued on to other mentees.

Conclusion: Find Your Mentor

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

The story from the anime Gurren Lagann has become a reference in seeing the figure of someone who can motivate and inspire those around him to change from the status quo condition. When I saw Kamina’s figure in this anime, I saw an irreplaceable mentor because she was able to be present in bad situations to accompany Simon, to encourage him to become an independent self in the future. Although Kamina is not a perfect character, with her ego and stupidity that is sometimes beyond the minds of others, she is a person who also learns from her surroundings and dares to change her mind as well.Be available at all times. Because the opportunity will come every time, just like with gacha, it is not certain to get SSR, but the opportunity to get it will always be there. Prepare yourself to get a new job, new investment, new clients, to new acquaintances to broaden your understanding.

A good leader is able to start everything from why (Simon Sinek, 2009), or why they want to achieve it. For Kamina herself, she wanted a world where humans could live on the surface and move without looking at the past. From there he created the Gurren team that aims to achieve his dream. Likewise for the people who are members of the Gurren team, all of them are moved by Kamina’s dream, where they want the world together. Mentors can also be likened to that too, because a mentor must also have a reason why he wants to accompany the mentee and what achievements the mentee or mentor wants.

Finally, Kamina’s figure is able to provide a basic overview of mentoring activities between mentors and mentees in how they perceive themselves to interact. Without a Kamina like that, Simon might just be like everyone else. As a mentor, what you want to achieve is the process first and how to achieve that dream. The results can be seen in hindsight because in the process a mentor and mentee learn from each other to get out of their comfort zone.

Written by Cakra Bhirawa | The Writer is a Computer Engineering Undergraduate and this article is intended to express the writer opinion regarding mentor figure in Gurren Lagann | This article is a translation from a previous Indonesian article published in KAORI Nusantara titled “Opini: Melihat Sosok Seorang Mentor dalam Anime Gurren Lagann”.

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An ordinary person who loves Japanese pop culture and game. You may also visit my website at https://tjakrabirawa.com/