Suisei no Gargantia – 13 (Fin)

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Ledo and Chamber learn that Striker is operating autonomously, and has decided that she is a god to be worshiped and served by the human race to keep them peaceful and prosperous. Chamber disagrees, saying depriving people of the ability to think or make decisions is robbing them of their humanity. They engage in battle. Gargantia fires the Heaven’s Ladder at Kugel’s fleet as Pinion and Lukkage evacuate the relic island.

Ledo merges with Chamber using the “Neuroplus” system, but cannot defeat Striker without killing himself. Kugel’s fleet is defeated, and the island is destroyed. When Ledo tells Chamber he wants to be with Amy, Chamber relieves him of duty, ejects him, and destroys Striker in a suicide attack. Ledo rejoins Amy and commences his new life as an underwater researcher on Gargantia.

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Striker may have learned how to operate on her own, but it’s ultimately Chamber who becomes the most human-like of the two. In the time spent with Ensign Ledo and the people of Gargantia, he morphed from the same cold, analytical stick-in-the-mud Striker was to a robot that was willing to stick with his pilot’s will until the end and give up his existence so that his pilot can continue to live, even if he’ll no longer be a soldier. In fact, he feels his entire reason for existence – to support Ledo – is fulfilled by his actions.

This episode carried on the excellence of the previous episode when the huge multi-vectored battle began, and came to an awesome and very fulfilling conclusion. Ledo realized there was more to life than completing one’s overarching mission, or rather, came to a new understanding of that mission, as Chamber did. The mission isn’t to fight and defeat the Hideauze, forevermore. The mission is to survive and live. And he does, with Amy and Gargantia. Hell, he even starts wearing sandals!

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Chamber’s whole “Bitch is you crazy?” dialogue to the Mad Striker is fantastic, culminating in “Go to Hell, Tin Can!”
  • Relieving Ledo of duty for being “psychological unfit” was also an awesome pretense for Chamber to be a badass and save Ledo – and frankly, all other humans – from Striker’s wrath.
  • The Heaven’s Ladder, with its water shock suppression system, was pretty cool. 
  • Bevel’s closing history lecture is a little bit shoehorned in, but we can see why they wanted that in the “so, here’s what’s up now” montage.
  • Pinion and Lukkage seem to end up becoming friends
  • Ledo now has a squirrel friend just like Amy. How sickeningly cute.
  • Haunting parting shot: a huge gathering of Hideauze swimming around the ocean floor.
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Suisei no Gargantia – 12

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Kugel’s underlings put Pinion to work in a huge warehouse of treasure, assessing what materials can be restored as arms, and is welcome to whatever else there is. Rukkage tells him she’s sick of Kugel’s methods and plans to rebel soon. Ledo begs Kugel not to Gargantia, but he ignores him. Flange meets with Pinion, worried about how the people of the fleet they’ve joined act like ghosts. After witnessing a sickening mass human “sacrifice”, Ledo has had enough. He sends Melty out to warn Gargantia, and Amy saves her from falling into the sea after passing out.

When she wakes up she tells them about Ledo’s plan. Amy pleads with Ridget and the fleet leaders to fight by Ledo’s side rather than run. As Kugel is about to commence the attack on Gargantia, Ledo and Chamber confront him, and Striker attacks. They duel in the skies while Pinion provides support fire from below. The Flange and Rukkage ships rebel against Kugel’s, and a huge battle erupts. Ledo grabs hold of Striker with chamber and slams him into the funnel of a ship. When he open’s Striker’s cockpit, he discovers that Kugel is already dead, and Striker has been acting independently using his voice.

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The epic, cinematic scale of the opening episode returns this week, as the dire situation comes to a head and those who caused it through their past, rash choices are now faced with the fact that they’ve chosen the wrong side. We’re talking about Pinion and Ledo, of course. Pinion saw a future of unbridled riches, power, and prestige, but once Kugel came in, he was reduced to just another drone towing the company line by any other name. Like Rukkage, his underlying yearning to be free was eventually going to overcome his complacency. Watching mass murder under the guise of a religious ritual can’t hurt either! Ledo had been willing to defer to Kugel’s judgment in accordance with the oath he took to the Galactic Alliance to obey his commander, a man who was also a friend and mentor.

But after that sickening ritual, like Pinion, Ledo is all like: “Fuck THIS shit.” He can’t be loyal to a Kugel who allows the destruction of society any more than Pinion and Rukkage can survive under the new order. The ensuing multi-vector battle is a stirring symphony of chaos and awesome laser blasts, and Gargantia isn’t even in the picture yet! And of course, the reveal that Kugel is dead and Striker is operating on her own is a great twist that not only redeems Kugel (he was never this much of a jerk!) but also proves yet again that there’s a point at which humans will have to decide exactly how far they want to progress technologically, before they pass the point of no return: self-destruction.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • A clue to something not being quite right about Kugel: he repeats himself verbatim in telling Ledo not to waver. 
  • Also, looking back, we never saw the guy except in holographic images.
  • Thankfully, Ledo doesn’t have to fight long with Chamber to convince him to fight Striker. Maybe hanging around on Gargantia changed him too, eh?
  • Melty plays a crucial role in this episode both by relaying Flange’s concerns to the isolated Pinion, and more impressively, traveling by surf kite to Gargantia to warn them. She rocks!
  • If the anti-“Kugel” forces combine, they’ll outnumber the “Kugel” fleet by quite a bit, but we’ll see how many of “Kugel”‘s followers are true believers who will fight for him with their last breaths. Also, superior numbers will be meaningless against Striker. She’s at least the equal of Chamber in firepower, and if she wanted, she could wipe out every last human in all the fleets. She’s gotta be stopped.
  • We wonder what “Heaven’s Ladder” is…sounds cool.

 

Suisei no Gargantia – 11

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Commander Kugel orders Ensign Ledo to report to him immediately, and he obeys. At the same time, the fleet Kugel came with demands Pinion meet with them for negotiations. Kugel, confined to his cockpit, was able to take command of the fleet and has reordered society to maximize efficiency. Rukkage picks Pinion up, and after solving a aptitude puzzle, Kugel’s Machine Caliber, Striker, convinces him to combine his fleet with Kugel’s. Kugel’s acolytes immediately begin splitting up the Flange fleet boat by boat. Kugel unveils his next “awareness strategy” to Ledo: the target will be Gargantia.

“Maybe I never should have left my cockpit,” Ledo says, once Chamber and Striker calmly, cooly tell him how things will be going down now that Commander Kugel is in the picture. While Ledo left the cockpit, made friends, and developed a sympathy for the natives, Kugel has remained in his cockpit the whole time, whether because of his “endemic disease”, his desire to inspire awe in his followers with a shroud of mystery, or to maintain emotional distance from this world and its inhabitants. He believes mankind’s survival depends on him and Ledo teaching these humans how to defend themselves. That’s meant adopting a pseudo-religious cult of personality (since, with his technology, it’s not exactly hard), and fundamentally re-ordering the society of the fleet he’s taken command of to function like a military entity rather than a city or family.

There is no money, but intricate social gradation based upon individual skills. “Happiness” is rather laughably defined as “the realization of a circumstance in which the individual renders service to the entire group and the cost-benefit performance of that is at the greatest efficiency.” As a result, there are some in Kugel’s fleet who live well, and some who don’t get enough food, but it’s all deemed “fair.” The weak serve the strong and everyone’s eyes are on the same prize. Faced with Kugel, Pinion and Flange have no choice but to surrender, and things are starting to look very bad very quickly. When Ridget mentioned to Amy that Gargantia’s fleet will soon be passing close to Pinion’s, who could have guessed that’ll mean sailing straight into hell?

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Rukkage has taken a pragmatic approach, joining Kugel and escorting Pinion around. But she definitely has some kind of plan up her sleeves.
  • Just to twist the knife, the footage of Gargantia Kugel shows Ledo just happens to include an extended close-up of a happy Amy.
  • We know that Ledo already has second thoughts about returning to Kugel’s command…but we just don’t know how in the hell he’s going to stop Kugel from destroying Gargantia, especially with just two episodes left!
  • That awesome map up top lets count every ship in the Gargantia (>150), Pinion (~50), and Kugel (>150) fleets.

Suisei no Gargantia – 10

Amy

Ledo returns to base, and Pinion’s crew starts bringing up ancient treasure. Pininon sends a wide-range communique to other fleets announcing the annihilation of the whalesquid nest and their discovery, and warning them to stay away. The word reaches Gargantia, where Ridgett, Bellows, Saya and Amy express their disappointment and distress. Pirates attack Pinion’s fleet but surrender when they fire the ancient weapon, and Pinion gets the idea to expand the fleet. Ledo can’t celebrate with the others, as he struggles with guilt over slaughtering the Hideauze. He doubts the cause he always fought for, but Chamber assures him from independent analysis that mankind and the Hideauze have fundamentally opposing survival strategies, and their conflict will always be zero-sum. While discussing this, Chamber detects an allied mech which Ledo identifies as Commander Kugel’s.

While last week was all about putting a human face on the Hideauze, this week balances the issue, by showing that there are no easy answers in the conflict between humans and Hideauze. Both groups are extremes locked in an existential fight. Humans embrace civilization and build tools and machines to exceed the limits of their individual bodies; Chamber considers himself the “crystallization of human intellect”, something essential to fight the Hideauze in their current state. Part of humanity broke off into Hideauze, the group began to abandon civilization, and one could argue they returned to being animals, concerned only with survival and reproduction. If humanity threaten either, they must be fought and destroyed.

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In this regard, Chamber dispenses with Alliance propaganda and simply looks at the facts and the history laid out in front of him, and his conclusions make a lot of sense. Except when you realize that the Hideauze were the result of civilization advancing so far, they could escape their human bodies altogether. Humanity is in just as “extreme” a situation in that they developed a subset of themselves that threatens their own existence. One would not exist without the advancement of the other, so to fight to preserve the level of civilization Chamber and Ledo came from, is to preserve that self-destructive endgame. Compare this to the world of Gargantia before Ledo and Chamber arrived. Because humans lack the technology to obliterate the whalesquid, they simply keep their distance.

It’s a steady truce that must have worked for centuries; a truce Ledo breaks with his reckless pursuit of duty, perhaps to the doom of all. One could argue that the primitive level of civilization mankind endure is a waste of the human potential, but when we know that potential led to the creation of their existential enemy, a maritime steampunk world with a few pirates doesn’t sound too bad. This is the world Amy loves, the world where somehow, humanity and its self-made nemesis co-exist. It’s not perfect, but it’s not constantly the apocalypse. It’s the ultimate expression of “be happy with what you have,” and Pinion apparently never will be. Will Ledo ignore Chamber’s insistence that war is inevitable and come round to Amy’s thinking?

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Want to really drive home the point that a character is incredibly lonely and depressed? Have her say and do virtually nothing for two whole episodes, which is what this series has done with Amy, and effectively. She even snaps at Saya! Who snaps at Saya?
  • We were waiting to see Ledo throw up, as throwing up in situations like that always makes you feel better. If he does it, it isn’t shown on-camera. But throwing up is a decision, and his failure to overtly do so mirrors the ethical/philosophical crossroads he finds himself on.
  • Pinion’s rise has been nothing short of meteoric, but not unrealistic. After all, he’s gotten results and found success in every venture he’s undertaken, and he’s made the fleet into a formidable power.
  • The episode made good use of Melty in showing us that Flange decries Pinion’s ruthless methods. He’d rather share their bounty with others, but Pinion prefers to make enemies, and soon he’ll have enough that they’ll unite against him and then he’ll be sorry!
  • We particularly liked how Chamber made it clear he wasn’t just a mindless Alliance mouthpiece, but lacking emotion, he still isn’t capable of understanding that fighting the Hideauze is pointless. Ledo has, he just doesn’t know what to do with that realization.
  • The power output of Pinion’s new EM weapons is ~76 times greater than the whole fleet, but only 1/50th the output of Chamber. That means, boys and girls, that Chamber’s power output is a cool 3800 times greater than the fleet. That’s some serious…civilization.
  • Lightbugs are humanity’s primary source of electricity. Hideauze skin is made from lightbugs. That’s what you call a symbiotic relationship. You don’t destroy your own symbiont…ask any Trill.
  • Kugel? Holy shit, that guy’s back? He was badass. Ledo may not have the luxury of making his own choice anymore, unless he resigns his commission. Chamber will certainly follow Kugel’s orders over Ledo’s.

Suisei no Gargantia – 09

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Pinion prepares a salvage operation at an ancient facility, as Ledo leads the attack to drive the Hideauze away. He enters a massive underwater facility that is a Hideauze nest, and commences destroying every enemy he sees, until he finds ancient data storage discs, which reveal that the Hideauze were created from and by humans back when Earth in the midst of an ice age and plans for humans to abandon earth were accelerated. Chamber tells Ledo not to believe the data, and then proceeds to destroy a human-like Hideauze that swims by.

This week Ledo dives deep into the realm of Earth Hideauze, and further into his ingrained vendetta towards them. Even when Chamber warns him they’re running low on energy, Ledo presses the attack. And he ends up in so deep, he discovers something that turns his whole situation on its head. The conveniently-edited, informative video paints the Hidauze as derived from humans who underwent biotechnological experiments, and what’s more, Earth was split into two factions: those who were for this “evolving”, and powers like the Continental Union who weren’t. It could be that Ledo was fighting an extension of that war, however many years in the future.

The video of a world steadily being buried in snow is chilling (no pun intended) and shows that desperate humans will take desperate measures to ensure their safety, including the ability to live and breath in the ocean and in the vacuum of space. It’s also pretty chilling that this info was classified and kept from grunts like Ledo (though his successful effort to order Chamber to de-classify it was a nice bit of work.) Citing protocol isn’t the only card Chamber plays: unlike Ledo, he’s devoid of emotion, and the enemy is the enemy even if they’re not the mindless low-level lifeforms Ledo believed them to be until now. Prior to the revelation the episode was not shy showing Ledo and Chamber annihilating them with extreme prejudice. Now he must feel like a mass murderer.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Pinion is motivated by the guilt of not being able to save his older brother in a similar mission years ago. 
  • We’re interested to see how Ledo handles this. If he stops killing Hideauze, that will throw a wrench in Pinion’s – and by extention Flange fleet’s big plans.
  • Amy only appears in the last minute, walking into her house and hearing Bevel play the flute Ledo made, which brings her to tears.
  • Bevel got some good reverb going on that thing.

Suisei no Gargantia – 08

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Before Fleet Commander Fairlock passes away, he gives command of the fleet to Ridgett. It’s a surprise even to her, and not popular with other ship owners, who are eyeing Flange’s imminent departure. As Fairlock’s funeral procession makes its way from one end of the fleet to the other, Amy and Saya say goodbye to Melty, and Amy learns Ledo is also leaving. When Bevel confronts him, Ledo tells him his mind is made up. Ridgett manages to say goodbye to Fairlock before his sand-filled boat slides into the sea, and she asks the assembled citizens of the fleet to lend her their strength. Ledo says goodbye to Amy, and Flange’s fleet pulls away.

As that summary made clear, this is an episode of many goodbyes. Gargantia is about to say goodbye to Flange’s fleet, a huge loss that affects everyone aboard, but then Fairlock’s death means they must also say goodbye to him, while Ridgett says goodbye to her training wheels and assumes command. Amy and Ledo also say goodbye, but because as Amy said, they hadn’t made much progress as a couple anyway, and she can’t leave Bevel, the Doctor, and Saya behind. Heck, even Melty is leaving. All these goodbyes, and the deftness with which the episode juggles and presents them, made this the saddest episode of Gargantia yet, but also one of the best.

Bellows, Amy

After Fairlock dies, the rest of the episode’s events wrap around the central event of his wonderfully conceived funeral rites. He is placed in a boat at the bow of the fleet and sent aft, as people fill the boat with sand one by one. He’s then sent down a slide at the fleet’s stern, and sinks to the bottom of the sea he plied his entire life. It’s a gorgeous centerpiece without a speck of melodrama. In fact, the episode does a great job showing the pain everyone with cause to feel pain feels (Pinion and Ledo, notably, don’t shed any tears). Even Amy tries to keep it together, but can’t. Her new friend is going away and may never return, after all.

This was an episode full of solemn grief, and every emotional moment is earned. But Ledo has Amy’s welfare at heart, and doesn’t believe he can adequately protect her or anyone else if he stays on Gargantia. In a way, he has the same problem as Ridgett has earlier in the episode – he can’t see beyond himself, his own abilities or weaknesses or obligations. But Ridget is going to seek help from her colleagues and friends to become a better leader for Gargantia. Ledo is going to go kill things underwater to line Pinion’s pockets.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Obervations:

  • Just wanted to note again how badass that funeral ceremony was. We’re also glad Ridgett didn’t miss it.
  • The schematic on the wall in Ridgett’s office, with the lights going out on the connections to the Flange ships, is another subtle way of showing the loss going on in this episode. And when a couple lights come back on, it’s a relief.
  • The pic of ‘Lil Ridgett is adorable.
  • We’re wondering if he and Melty will meet up on the new Flange fleet; though she hasn’t shown more than a superficial attraction to him.
  • Amy and Ledo don’t have a long goodbye, or even spend their final moments alone. It’s almost a non-goodbye. Though we can’t imagine they’ll never see each other again.

Suisei no Gargantia – 07

Amy, Ensign Ledo

Word spreads around Gargantua that Ledo has killed a “whalesquid”, a grave taboo, as they are sacred, fierce creatures who only attack if provoked. Ledo is unapologetic, and bioanalysis confirms the whalesquid are genetically identical to his sworn enemy, the Hideauze. Before Fearlock can make a decision, an enormous sea galaxy appears with a huge pod of whalesquid. Amy and Ridgett stop Ledo before he can attack, and the squid pass harmlessly under the fleet. Pinion and Flange, a major ship owner, propose breaking off from Gargantia and using Ledo and Chamber to get to treasure protected by whalesquid. Fearlock is about to refuse, but suffers an apparent heart attack.

It’s trouble in sexy belly-dancing, creepy octopus paradise, as Ledo’s brainwashing (for lack of a better word) supersedes everything he has learned about society on Earth. As long as Hideauze exist, he will fight them until one of them (or both of them) are dead. It’s the only reason he exists, as far as he’s concerned. Chamber doesn’t help matters, as his programming is just as ingrained as Ledo’s: no matter what he may have learned about earth’s philosophy of co-existence, there are procedures to follow when a Hideauze is spotted that renders such educational dalliances null and void.

Chamber is Ledo’s servant and tool, but Ledo is the Alliance’s servant and tool. But is that all he is? Is that conditioning as impermeable as it seems to be here, as Ledo decides that he must abandon Amy, Bevel, and all of Gargantia in order to complete his mission? We will see, but before this new conflict is resolved, it seems inevitable that Ledo will have to leave Gargantia for a time…and Pinion is ready and willing to help make that happen in exchange for Ledo’s cooperation in relieving promising treasure sites of their whalesquid sentries.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • That plan-view map of Gargantia is pretty slick…we wouldn’t mind something like that on our living room wall!
  • Pinion isn’t just on Ledo’s side for greed and pride…but to avenge a brother.
  • Fearlock is full of great lines. We wish we could watch more of him and Dr. Oldham shooting the breeze, but first he has to live another day!
  • We’re thinking more and more that Ledo is in the distant future, long after the war between Hideauze and Human has ceased, and the two essentially share Earth together. We believe this because a lot of that underwater treasure is likely tech from Ledo’s time, which the whalesquid would naturally not want humanity to get its hands on, lest the cycle repeat.
  • On that note, perhaps the Hideazue/whalesquid are “aliens” at all, but a naturally-evolved check against human development, in order to save it from itself? Think the toxic jungle of Nausicaa.
  • The show is doing a good job showing that brainwashing aside, both sides have reasonable arguments for why they’re acting as they are. The only thing tripping up Ledo is the fact that he’s trying to start a war where one shouldn’t exist, and obeying orders of what could well be a long-extinct Alliance.

No matter what the reality of the situation is, accepting it is a privilege for those of us who are alive.

Suisei no Gargantia – 06

Ledo (Red), Amy

Ledo ponders the value of the money he was given in exchange for his services, and Amy promises to show him how to spend it on things other than food at the upcoming festival. He volunteers to pilot a Yunboro in order to catch fish, but he cannot swim, and fails. Amy, Melty, and Saya perform a belly dance while Pinion and Bellows try to recruit Ledo. When an octopus is brought out as a main course, he thinks it’s a Hideauze. Amy later performs her dance just for him during Veils of Light. He goes with Bellows to the sea floor, where they encounter a giant iridescent squid that he and Chamber are convinced is another Hideauze.

Between the calm day and the festival day, Ledo is steadily learning that Gargantia is a far more easygoing society than the one he came from, if you can even call what he came from a society at all. On two occasions this week, he reacts reflexively in the presence of creatures he believes to be Hideauze. Such is his conditioning, the annihilation of that enemy overrides all other considerations: even a steamy belly dance by his three female admirers. He’s also learned that the money he receives for his work isn’t just a means to an end or a means for buying food. That’s only part of it; it’s also a symbol of the support he contributed to others.

The girls belly dance may have been a  bit fanservicey, but it was also another symbol of the difference in priorities between Gargantia’s culture and Ledo’s. Eliminating the enemy doesn’t come first, because there’s rarely an enemy to eliminate. Survival isn’t a constant struggle, because there’s plentiful manpower, fresh water, fish, energy and oxygen. Therefore Amy and her friends aren’t just surviving. They’re enjoying life, something Ledo was never taught to do. He may not even be aware of the concept of sex either, but he’s at least open to experiences that would have been irrelevant or wasteful in his universe…like watching a cute girl dance for you with a gorgeous natural phenomenon as the backdrop.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Chamber and Ledo don’t do to well on their own this week, but once they’re working together as pilot and robot, they do just fine.
  • Chamber fails by whipping up a huge batch of ‘Lil Lisa’s Patented Animal Slurry. We should just be thankful he didn’t accidentally hurt any humans…
  • The men seemed to like the girls’ dance very much, but we’d feel a lot better if there were a couple bouncers to keep some of the drunker and therefore friskier gents away from the talent…
  • We like tako sashimi, but that enormous octopus didn’t look very appetizing. Maybe it’s because we prefer small portions
  • Gargantia now shares its Spring lead with the surging Aku no Hana, and interesting (though not intentional), Gargantia’s ratings are now the exact mirror image of Aku no Hana’s.

Suisei no Gargantia – 05

Gargantia

Red, tired of being on standby, seeks out work, but there are no jobs available. An alarm sounds and Gargantia’s engines stop, signaling a “calm day”, when everyone but the repair teams relaxes. Red, Amy, and Bevel join Pinion, Melty and Saya for a grill party. Pinion sends Red on a mission to a seedy section of town, while Amy, Melty and Saya have a race to the top of the tower, where Red is chased and has to be rescued by Amy. Red completes his mission, and when he returns the party has grown much larger, and Pinion using a sun-baked Chamber as a grill.

As the last two episodes has shown, Suisei no Gargantia is not always going to be about a big battle, or even have any significant conflict that must be resolved. It’s executed its battles well, but its just as adept at slice-of-life, as this week is akin to a lazy sunday; at time to kick back and enjoy the beautiful day. Bevel asked Red what humanity where he’s from would do if the Hideauze were defeated, and Red isn’t sure, but this week his eyes are opened to any number of possibilities. That would be a time for celebration, joy and relaxation, and this episode has all three in spades. Everyone is having a lot of fun, enjoying good food and good company.

There’s a little bit of everything: girls stripping down to skimpy bikinis (even Ridgett partakes); said girls stripping Red down (and admiring with his physique); Red being chased up the tallest tower in the fleet by more admirers; a surf-kite race; a sketchy transaction that turns out to be a purchase of sauce. And perhaps most amusing is Pinion subtly tricking Chamber into serving as a grill, making Chamber the hero of the party, since without him there would be no food. And what was originally supposed to be a small, secret get-together became a huge shindig. It wouldn’t be the most exciting series in the world if every episode was this leisurely, but every once in a while is fine.

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Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Teaching Red how to swim was cute.
  • Chamber doesn’t get girls.
  • We like the idea that Pinion is relaxing even though he has work to do and has simply delegated it to his team. 
  • We want a surf kite. It would shorten our commute considerably.
  • The series doesn’t show Red getting sexually assaulted, only the aftermath, with his borrowed hawaiian shirt torn and covered in red lip marks. Kinda corny!

Suisei no Gargantia – 04

Bevel, Red

As Gargantia welcomes a new ship to their fleet, Red and Chamber are put to work moving and storing cargo, partially in payment for the collateral damage they caused as itemized in Ridgett’s invoice. The organizational nature of the people on Gargantia as inefficient and undisciplined, but when he meets the fleet “sage” Dr. Oldham and Amy’s brother Bevel, he learns that they’re not a strictly military organization. Bevel realizes Red has fashioned a flute, and when he plays it Red gets a flash from his childhood that brings tears to his eyes.

With no battles to fight for the interim, Red gets restless, and the longer he observes the people of Gargantai around him, the more frustrated he gets with their lack of organization. He’s come from a society (if you can even call it that) in which even children are put through drills and conditioning immediately to become useful fighters in the war with the Hideauze. The purpose of humans where he’s from is to fight the Hideauze, and the war stimulates their development. The frail and weak are “culled”, as Chamber coldly puts it. Red can’t help but initially view someone like Bevel as useless, it’s just the way his worldview developed.

What Red still needs to fathom is that the Gargantia doesn’t exist solely to fight their enemies, in this case pirates. Their mission is to simply survive and do everything they can to live in peace. Again, Red’s from a place where it’s understood that the only way to survive is to be of use to the Alliance and to fight the Hideauze, but that isn’t the case on earth. Red starts to understand this when he watches Gargantia mobilize to to fight, but to catch precious rainwater, crucial to survival. And in the absense of orders, he’s on standby, just like Gargantia when there’s no emergency. Bevel also teaches him there are other ways to be needed beyond military service.

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Rating: 8 (Great)

Suisei no Gargantia – 03

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After eliminating the pirates, Red is reprimanded by Amy and later Bellows, who explain to him human lifes should not be taken so needlessly. When the famous pirate “Empress Lukkage” and her fleet are spotted heading towards Gargantia, Fleet Commander Fairlock and Ridgett decide to ask for Red’s help once more. He engages the Lukkage fleet, first as a diversion, and then disabling their weapons without causing casualties. When Lukkage herself attacks Gargantia with her eyes on Fairlock, Red plucks her and her two consorts out of the sea and flings them out into the night. The other pirates retreat. Amy meets Red with a basket of fish as thanks; he thanks her back in her own language.

Unsurprisingly, Amy and all of Gargantia aren’t so much upset that Red saved Bellows’ salvage fleet from pirates as they are upset about the means by which he did so. Basically, he went too far. In space, against the Hidauze (or whatever his foe is called), there is no quarter, and no room for error, so Red’s been trained to ruthlessly slaughter all enemies. Utterly. Here on Earth, he can afford to eliminate a threat without killing everyone involved in it. It’s a quickly-learned lesson, and one in which he’s tested shortly thereafter in a fantastic night battle that makes use of fleets of ships, gliders, submarines and yunboroids. There’s a great sense of chaos, and that even with his superior technology, he has his work cut out for him.

Red may be from a completely different culture, but after hearing Amy and Bellows make their case to him about never killing unless it’s necessary, he subscribes to their philosophy, something that to be fair, he hadn’t heard before, which is why he executed such a vicious scorched earth assault on the pirates that led to more pirates taking revenge. But he’ll find there’s also a price for not killing the right people: he didn’t finish Lukkage off when he could have, but instead embarrassed her and her fleet. He protected Gargantia and won the day, but the pirates won’t stop coming until a way can be found to appease them – if there even is one.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • We assume Lukkage’s two “consorts” serve many roles for the Empress: they have her back in battle, but also sit around looking pretty, providing her with companionship. We wonder if they were once her prisoners.
  • Ridgett’s dad Chevron was the former commander of Gargantia, but he died, so now it’s Fairlock, whom we imagine was his XO. Ridgett, in turn, is his XO, so Gargantia’s command is not hereditary.
  • Bellows gives Red another animal carcass, but eating all this meat doesn’t seem to be bothering him so far.
  • Thanking Amy in her language is a nice way to end the episode. If it wasn’t for Amy and Bellows, thinks might have turned out very differently.
  • The ED is a lovely sequence starting with Amy windsurfing at sunset. Chamber swoop down over her and the camera follows them as the scene changes to a starlit night. It’s a scene full of joy and contentment, and looks damned fun. The music’s just okay, though.

Suisei no Gargantia – 02

Amy, Red

Red gives up Amy but hides behind Chamber, and remains in a stalemate as the fleet leaders decide how to proceed. Amy volunteers to commence dialogue, and shares a roasted fish with Red in a ritual of welcome to Gargantia, a floating city. Red shows her there’s no one inside Chamber, and Amy tells him about her world’s history and how they harness energy from the ocean. When pirates attack Bellows’ salvage fleet, Amy begs Red to help them. Red and Chamber proceed to destroy all pirate ships and vaporize all pirates, leaving Bellows’ ship and crew unscathed.

You know how first episodes can mislead you by being extremely pretty and well-animated, only for the episodes that follow to reveal the budget limitations of that series? Well, didn’t happen here. While about half of last week was space battle porn, this week was all verderous steampunk porn. If anything, it was more beautiful, and we found ourselves pausing the action often to gaze at the staggering stills. This has the look of a Ghibli film, and it keeps up this quality – and we have no reason to think it won’t – this could end up being one of the best-looking series we’ve ever watched. But like a Ghibli film, it’s not just about the eye candy. It has heart, too.

Amy, Red, Chamber

We loved watching brave, peace-loving Amy make steady progress with Red and Chamber (voiced by the voice of Kyon and Switch!), and we learn with Red about this gorgeous world. Red’s ancestors left earth when an irregularity in the sun caused the entire planet to freeze over. Presumably, they never went back, because if they had, they would have discovered the ice melted, making it a waterworld, and the humans who remained survived by lashing together anything that floated, and harnessing electricity from “lightbugs” that absorb lightning in the sea in “galaxy currents.”

Therefore despite its comparably primitive level of technology, Amy’s world is most likely Red’s future, not his past. The Galactic Alliance he swore allegiance to may still be out there somewhere, or it may have crumbled centuries ago. We just don’t know, and the mystery is most intriguing. But as we said, look past all these huge fleets and huge ships and huge ideas, and there’s the message that as long as people keep talking, peace can be achieved, good things can happen, and unlikely friendships and new alliances can be formed. Of course, in the end when asked to assist against pirates, Red may have frightened his new friends by not holding back.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • The fish sharing scene was perhaps the highlight of highlights. Aside from the warmth and comedy of the exchange, that fish looked delicious, and the sunset backdrop was achingly gorgeous.
  • First ep not Ghibli enough for you? This week Amy shows us how they use gliders to fly from ship to ship, and even the pirates use power-assisted kites. Pure awesomesauce.
  • In Ika Musume, Kanemoto Hisako voices the weird alien. Now she’s the normal human. But both like fish!
  • The upside to Red eliminating all the pirates is that rumors of “Gargantia’s new superweapon” won’t spread so quickly. But it will still spread, and the fleet’s leadership will see Red as a double-edged sword.

Suisei no Gargantia – 01

suisei1_2

While retreating from a failed all-out attack on an alien enemy’s base Galactic Alliance pilot Lt. Red (Ledo) and his mobile weapon Chamber are swallowed up into a space-time distortion. He wakes up after six months of hibernation to witness several humans trying to open his hatch. Hungry for answers, when they leave Chamber alone for the night he gets out to explore, but he is discovered by locals Amy and Pinion. He grabs Amy as a hostage and runs, but he ends up outside, where Chamber ascertains that they’re on a giant seagoing ship on Earth, a world mentioned only in legend.

Not that it was hard, but this series kicks Majestic Prince out of the water for pure space battle porn, starting with a battle to end all battles that not surprisingly goes pear-shaped for the humans. We went into this episode with high expectations. The director helmed and drew several episodes of the original Eureka Seven. It’s produced by Prod I.G., which usually does top-notch work. And the series comp and script were penned by Urobuchi Gen, who we know is capable of excellent stuff, having also written Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Requiem for the Phantom.

Amy, Red

Throw in some great female seiyus (including the voices of Kotoura, Sasami, Koko, Mei, and Erza), and what looks like a huge budget, and you have all the ingredients for success. And succeed it does. The opening battle is a tour de force of sci-fi mayhem, with a lot of different weapons and formations and tactics flying around the screen. After that thrilling and auspicious start, the episode slows down and takes its time; we go from a fantastic hi-tech world to somewhere that wouldn’t be out of place in a Miyazaki film, only with battleships that float rather than fly. We can be lucky to see one of these worlds in a series; this one has both.

The rolling-out of characters is also kept to a minimum, allowing us to get a feel for what we’re in for. Red is a fish-of-out-water, but he’s not alone; his trusty mecha Chamber is there to help him, and it won’t be long before he can communicate with the natives, the vast majority of whom are quite attractive. Swift, fire-haired Amy in particular is a great contrast to silver-haired, cool, calculating Red. They’re ideal stand-ins for their respective worlds, and it should be fun to learn more about this new world Red finds himself in, and  what he does with the adventure fate has handed him.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Nothing says “implacable foe” like when an attack that massive and well-coordinated still fails.
  • We liked what Colonel Kugel said before heading to his death. He’s not about to let Red die for him before his time.
  • This episode flowed very well throughout, and we loved the shift from the breakneck space battle to the slower and more casual pace of the second half on Earth.