Gurren Lagann is the first anime series I've seen that plays out like an ongoing D&D campaign: characters of humble origin are driven together by chance and circumstance; they embark on a grand adventure against increasingly impossible odds, becoming stronger and more heroic along the way; and no matter whether they achieve victory or taste bitter defeat, the story continues and new adventures arise as a direct result of what the heroes have been through. It's almost like four different series starring most of the same characters, fit neatly into the span of 27 episodes.
Gundam) called Lagann that sets their adventure into motion. You meet Yoko, the sharpshooter with a heart so warm that she barely needs any clothing to keep out the cold (that clothing restricts her movement is the completely reasonable rationalization given for her skimpy attire).
My wife and I have been watching the first season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and we've been noticing an unfortunate trend: everything is going well until one character shuts off his or her brain, triggering an unnecessary conflict that gives the characters involved a reason to fight, get captured, and/or die pointlessly. Conflict is not flowing naturally from the circumstances--it's more like the writers want to have a big battle between some clone troopers and the local aliens, so they introduce a character supposedly on the side of the good guys whose only goal in life is to kill all the local aliens. The writers have him shut off his brain when people try to reason with him, and have everyone else shut off their brains when he orders them to stop talking and kill the local aliens. This results in the viewer hating the character driving the conflict and calling everyone else an idiot, effectively severing any real investment he or she had in the episode. At least, if this viewer is like me.
There's a string of five consecutive episodes in Gurren Lagann where several of the heroes are turned into villains, either in the eyes of the viewer or in the eyes of their comrades. After fifteen episodes of natural story progression and logical character interactions, bad things just happen. Characters go off the deep end in pursuit of their beliefs, people stop thinking rationally about the actions and motives of other characters, and the writers--in true Dungeon Master fashion--develop the romantic relationships between characters just enough to be used against them.
It's one gut punch after another as the characters you once cared for are villanized and their world falls apart...but there's no glimmer of hope that things will get better; no feel-good successes in the face of disaster; no flickers of remorse from the offending parties; nothing to suggest that the good guys who think they're doing the right thing really are doing the right thing. I simply stopped caring at one point--let their world fall apart, because I'd rather see it burn than suffer through another half-dozen episodes of unchecked angst and despair.
Anypigmole, that's Gurren Lagann for you.
[Images from gurrenlagann.wikia.com and Wookieepedia.]