Anime review: Suisei no Gargantia Part 1

GargantiaThis is a series that kept me and my roommates engrossed for a good 12 episodes and in discussion on series themes for considerably longer earlier this year: “Suisei no Gargantia,” or in English, “Gargantia of the Verdurous Planet.”

Hello, I'm Ensign Ledo, and I'll be your protagonist for today.

Hello, I’m Second-Lieutenant Ledo, and I’ll be your protagonist for today.

Second-Lieutenant Ledo is a citizen of the Human Galactic Alliance, whose home planet is a MASSIVE interstellar construct called Avalon.  The series opens with an As You Know, catching viewers up to speed on who we are, where we are, and what we’re doing here.(humans, space, fight the alien squid monsters)  Within the first 5 minutes, you have a pretty good idea of what life is like for Ledo.  At 16 years old, he’s earned the right to 1 month of citizenship, including the free time and reproductive permits that come with it.  But first, let’s go invade the home planet of the alien squid monsters.

The mechs are interesting, but I’m not sure what advantage they hold over more conventional space fightercraft?  Japan seems to like putting humanoid machines into zero-gravity environments when there are, frankly, much more efficient shapes for that.  You ever notice that?  I think it started with Robotech(er… Macross), with the transforming F-14 jets that turn into 30-foot humanoid robots with thruster feet.  Tekkaman Blade also had humanoids fighting in zero-gravity, I’m lead to believe that’s pretty much all of what the Gundam franchise is about, and Majestic Prince(another anime from the Spring 2013 season, started airing at the same time as Gargantia) is all about zero-gravity space battles with giant humanoid robots.

Not that I don’t like the giant robots.  We all love the robots, keep it up Japan.  I just think it’s a bit odd, is all.

Keep that up too, Japan.

I don't know how effective it is, but it sure is pretty.

I don’t know how effective it is, but it sure is pretty.

Gargantia does do an excellent job of showing off what soldier formations might actually look like in a 3-dimensional battlefield, though, with some rather impressive geometric patterns ostensibly designed to minimize frontal surface area while maximizing frontal firepower.  I wonder if the directors read Ender’s Game, actually.  But I digress.  The attack doesn’t work, and what’s left of the army Ledo is in are ordered to retreat.  And so we have our hero, Ledo, a pretty good idea of what his world has consisted of so far, and an overall setting.

I hope you were paying attention, because this is fully half of what the series is all about.

Something goes wrong when Ledo crosses the wormhole event horizon, and instead of regrouping with the rest of the fleet, he’s spit out at a place, and a time, unknown.

Clockwise from the left: Bellows, Pinion, Amy, Chamber.

Clockwise from the left: Bellows, Pinion, Amy, Chamber.

Speaking of unknown, this is Amy.  She works mail and package delivery on the unknown drifter colony that seems to have picked up Ledo and Chamber, and it was one of her friends(Pinion) who found them, and another(Bellows) who wants to buy the scrap metal that Pinion is able to dig out of Chamber.

If Pinion’s able to cut anything off Chamber.  His tools keep going dull or breaking on Chamber’s armor.

I’ll go over this more tomorrow, but I really like Bellows and Ridget as characters.  Yes, they make good eye candy, but if that’s all you see then you’re missing out on a lot.

Pinion’s got his moments, too.

Like when he and Amy come back later, after Ledo has climbed out of Chamber.  Pinion notices something’s wrong, and he grabs a wrench to investigate.

On a scale of One to Ten, this is not the best way to make a good impression on your first date.

On a scale of One to Ten, this is not the best way to make a good impression on your first date.

Of course, that doesn’t help if Ledo was hiding BEHIND them, and takes Amy hostage.  And then runs around the ship with her shouting obscenities over his shoulder.  Translation Convention prevents any of it from reaching our ears, but based on what Chamber says, she’s got a bit of a colorful vocabulary.  Meanwhile, another excellent sample of storytelling.  You’ve probably figured it out already, given the gravity is “Exactly 1G, calibrated remarkably well for drifters,” but the directors wanted to draw the experience out, and I like it.  It seems the architecture of this ship wasn’t designed with vacuum in mind.  Which is remarkable, since the Alliance has been looking for habitable planets, and hasn’t found ANY(which is why they had to build Avalon).  There’s one they’ve heard of, though.  So long ago nobody in the Alliance even really believes it ever did exist.  Could we be on…

Earth?

Apes

Whoops.  Sorry.

Suisei no Gargantia

Entire series is currently available for view on Crunchyroll.  Next time, we’ll take a look at some of the characters and themes.

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