|“||I'll tell you two things: First, any human on the surface will be completely annihilated by our Human Eradication Army. Second, that is my dinner - give it back!||„|
Viral is the first important villain introduced in the anime series Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. He is a shark-like Beastman with feline genetics and frequently appears alongside The Four Supreme Generals. Eventually, however, he redeems himself and becomes an invaluable ally in Team Dai-Gurren's battle against the Anti-Spiral.
He is voiced by Nobuyuki Hiyama in the Japanese version of the anime and Sam Reigel in the English version, the latter of whom also voices Clovis la Britannia.
Viral is very similar to a human in appearance, moreso than most Beastmen. He apparently has both shark and feline DNA. His pale blonde hair normally covers his right eye, his left eye has a yellow iris with a vertical pupil, similarly to felines. His teeth are very sharp and shark-like, and are often bared in a fearsome grin. In place of hands, Viral has very large clawed paws.
Viral is a born fighter who is rather arrogant about his power and skills. He lives primarily for the sake of fighting and relishes the prospect of a challenge. Despite his brutality, Viral abides by a sort of warrior's code and abhorrs having to resort to cowardly tactics - unlike Kamina, however, he does not hesitate to flee when he feels he cannot overcome an opponent. He considered most humans as inferiors, but could develop a grudging respect and even admiration for anyone who can manage to best him in battle - like he did with Kamina and eventually Simon. He even eventually joined the Dai-Gurren crew, and by the end of the series, left behind his hostility towards humanity.
He was fully subservient to Lordgenome and his Four Great Generals and would unquestioningly do anything they command. He was seen to be extremely distressed whenever he failed them.
Despite appearing to be a fighter through and through, Viral has some secret desires he never shares with anyone - one of those is to live a happy life with a family, something he can never achieve because Beastmen are incapable of reproduction.
He is a beastman, created by Lordgenome, and was at first a captain of the Human Eradication Army, tasked with eliminating humans on the surface. He ran into Kamina and attacked him in melee combat. Although Viral was impressed by Kamina's skill, he gained the upper hand until Yoko intervened. Viral retreated to his mecha, the Enki, and effortlessly defeated both Gurren and Lagann - forcing Simon and Kamina to flee (much to the latter's dismay).
Viral later attacked Littner Village itself, and despite the efforts of Simon and Kamina he once again gained the upper hand. That was until Kamina had the idea of "combining" Gurren and Lagann, so that the resulting mecha would be the same size as the larger Enki. He did this by attaching Lagann to Gurren like a "head" by means of Lagann's drill. Although Viral scoffed at the idea, Kamina turned out to have been right - the resulting mecha proved stronger than Enki, and forced Viral to flee.
From that point on, Viral considered himself Kamina's rival, and wanted more than anything else to be the one to defeat him - sometimes even going against orders from his superiors to achieve this goal. Even after Kamina died, he continued fighting the Gurren Lagann, still thinking Kamina was in it - he was surprised when he found out that he had actually been fighting Simon all along. Despite going through successive upgrades on his machine, his total lack of Spiral Power never let him again be the threat he initially was.
Eventually, Viral questioned whether Beastmen really are superior to humans, so he went to Lorgenome for an answer. Lordgenome told him that Beastmen are actually inferior to humans, because they were made to be unable to channel Spiral Power. He also created an immortal body for Viral. Initially, Viral thought that with this new body, he could defeat his rival - but his expectations were dashed when the Gurren Lagann demolished his Enkidudu. The Spiral King explained that he had made Viral immortal for a different purpose: so he could act as the eternal chronicler of the victory of the Spiral King - a victory that would not come.
Left without a purpose in a world overrun by humans, Viral sought to challenge Simon once more, but was instead subdued and arrested by human military. He would eventually meet Simon again - in prison, where Simon had been thrown as a scapegoat for the Anti-Spiral's attacks. Viral mocked his nemesis, and they fought - and during this fight Viral noted that Simon refused to give up, despite being outmatched.
When Yoko arrived to break Simon out of prison, she liberated Viral as well. At Simon's request, the Beastman accepted to join Team Dai-Gurren and became the auxiliary pilot of Gurren Lagann. He assisted in defeating the Anti-Spiral, and eventually managed to integrate into human society, even becoming the captain of the Super Galaxy Gurren Lagann after Simon left to wander the Earth.
Powers and abilities
- Expert swordsman - When outside of his mecha, Viral still displays significant agility and ferocity in combat. He uses a cleaver in close combat and a bow for hunting and ranged attacks.
- Enhanced senses - Viral appears able to sense humans from far away, probably due to his feline traits.
- Immortality - After being enhanced by Lordgenome, Viral becomes immortal and displays a very swift regeneration from any wound.
- Mecha pilot - Although he does not have innate Spiral Power, he is a skilled Gunmen pilot and is even able to assist Simon with piloting Gurren Lagann. His personal Gunmen, the Enki, goes through multiple variations throughout the series.
- Enki: A large and powerful white and grey Gunmen seemingly styled after a samurai. For close combat, Enki is armed with dual black blades. It has a variety of options at long range, including a gun that shoots giant kunai knives, cluster missile launchers, and a formidable weapon that shoots red energy beams located in a ring on top of its helmet's crest. Enki's arsenal eclipses regular-issue Gunmen, but its lack of Spiral Power makes it inferior to the Gurren Lagann.
- Enkidu: A smaller variant of Enki, lacking the large helmet, is used by Viral after his first defeat. This unit fights by removing the crest on top of its head to wield it as a sickle, or firing projectiles from the slit that normally houses said sickle. Unlike the Enki, the Enkidu Gunmen can fly.
- Enkidudu: A variant used by Viral after being made immortal, the Enkidudu completely sacrifices all ranged weaponry in favor of an additional pair of arms, allowing it to wield four swords.
- Dai-Gunzan Du: This compilation movie-only massive mecha, resembling a giant terrestrial walking battleship with some features of Enkidu thrown in, was intended to be the replacement of Thymilph's original Dai-Gunzan. It was commanded by Viral during the Generals' combined offensive on Team Dai-Gurren. The walking fortress was armed with heavy-caliber cannons and fleets of smaller Gunmen.
- Tengen Toppa Enkidurga: This compilation movie-only mecha was formed by Viral during the fight against the Anti-Spiral after the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was torn apart. It has fourteen arms, each one wielding a sword (except one which holds a kanabo club instead). It is unknown how Viral, a being supposedly lacking Spiral Power, was able to conjure a mecha made of Spiral Power - possibly the feat was accomplished using residual energy accumulated from being in the presence of Team Dai-Gurren, or perhaps he somehow became a Spiral being through his great willpower.
- Viral's name is, fittingly enough, an anagram of the word "rival". It may also refer to the genetic characteristics of the Beastmen.
- Viral's name may also be a reference to the Nikopol Trilogy of comic books written by Enki Bilal, as Enki is the name of Viral's first Gunmen and "Bilal", pronounced in Japanese, sounds like "Viral". This theory is supported by the name of Viral's theme song.
- The name of Viral's second Gunmen, Enkidu, is a play on words. It refers to the character Enkidu from The Epic of Gilgamesh, who originally sought to challenge the titular hero, but eventually became his companion and friend - just like Viral himself. It also can be interpreted as "Enki Two". The name of his movie Tengen Toppa mecha, the Enkidurga, is another play on words - this time a portmanteau of Enkidu and Durga, a Hindu goddess with many arms, just like the mecha.
- Viral has a unique theme song that plays whenever he appears onscreen: "Nikopol".