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.

 

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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

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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.