Suisei no Gargantia – 12

suisei121

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.

suisei122

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.

9_superior
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

suisei11

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?

8_great
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.

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?

9_superior
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 – 08

suisei8

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.

8_great
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 – 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.

7_very_good
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.

7_very_good
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.

8_great
Rating: 8 (Great)