The Girl Who Leapt Through Space is Sunrise’s parody of pretty much everything: Gundam, Tenchi Muyo!, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nanoha, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Gunbuster, even Code Geass. One of the main characters is a talking, neurotic colony laser.
As such, it should be goofy, sugary fun. But Sunrise didn’t do that, for two reasons:
1) To accurately parody franchises like Gundam and Code Geass, you have to parody their sprawling plots. The Girl Who Leapt quickly introduces a large cast, a big back story, and an oft-confusing plot.
2) Sunrise is almost incapable of making a sugary, plot-less show. The only ones I can think of are Gintama and Sgt. Frog, which (from what I’ve seen) spends most of its time on parody. Even their version of Idolm@ster introduced giant robots and a big back story.
Look at Sunrise’s output: Gundam, Votoms, Aura Battler Dunbine, Cowboy Bebop, City Hunter, Heavy Metal L-Gaim, Infinite Ryvius, Ronin Warriors, Escaflowne; all serious shows. Even Cowboy Bebop, Tiger & Bunny, and My-HiME have their serious story sides.
What is it about Sunrise’s staff that pushes them to tell a serious story in almost every one of their works? I’m not complaining; I’m just wondering if this is intentional.