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!

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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 – 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.

Ledo, Chamber

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 – 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 – 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)