In the distant future, a majority of humans have left the Earth, and the Galactic Alliance of Humanity is founded to guide exploration and ensure the prosperity of mankind. However, a significant threat arises in the form of strange creatures called Hideauze, resulting in an interstellar war to prevent humanity's extinction. Armed with Chamber, an autonomous robot, 16-year-old lieutenant Ledo of the Galactic Alliance joins the battle against the monsters. In an unfortunate turn of events, Ledo loses control during the battle and is cast out to the far reaches of space, crash-landing on a waterlogged Earth.
On the blue planet, Gargantia—a large fleet of scavenger ships—comes across Chamber and retrieves it from the ocean, thinking they have salvaged something of value. Mistaking their actions for hostility, Ledo sneaks aboard and takes a young messenger girl named Amy hostage, only to realize that the residents of Gargantia are not as dangerous as he had believed. Faced with uncertainty, and unable to communicate with his comrades in space, Ledo attempts to get his bearings and acclimate to a new lifestyle. But his peaceful days are about to be short-lived, as there is more to this ocean-covered planet than meets the eye.
It is a common belief in fiction that the bigger and more explosive a story is, the better it becomes.
In the case of "Suisei no Gargantia", bigger is anything but better. What makes the first half of the anime so special, and so rewarding, is made irrelevant by the bloated mess that follows. And it's a shame- it had the potential to be one of the best anime of these past few years.
Despite being the latest work of the (in)famous Urobuchi Gen, Suisei no Gargantia depicts a much more down-to-earth story. There is no ruthless slaughtering of the characters (though some might deserve it at times), nor are there any plot twists until the last few episodes. Suisei no Gargantia is set in a distant future where the Earth has been flooded. And flooded entirely. What remains of human civilization live their days in fleets of antiquated ships, free from any worry but the rare threat of pirates.
Enter "Ledo", a teenage soldier from across the galaxy who somehow, conveniently enters a wormhole that drops him to the birthplace of humanity-- Earth.
The most interesting aspect of the series is how Ledo copes with (and eventually accepts) a society so distinctly different from his own. Where Ledo comes from, concepts such as peace do not exist. Humans are born and raised for the sole purpose of fighting their enemy, the Hideaze. And naturally there is no such thing as love or friendship.
What follows is a series of amusing, sometimes uncomfortable scenes of Ledo experiencing culture shock. What the heck is the purpose of money? ... to buy more weapons to shoot dudes with? He has no idea. Whenever he experiences something new, he and his AI companion ("Chambers") will inevitably draw some ridiculous contrast to their own society. In one scene, Ledo even asks the person beside him why an injured child is alive. I felt very bad for laughing at that.
Ledo also experiences a rapid period of growth as he becomes closer with the inhabitants of the Gargantia fleet. He learns to enjoy life, how to do ordinary things such as swimming or cooking, and what friendship means. He transforms from a cold, ruthless soldier into a normal human being, one that can feel emotion and remorse. The Ledo at the start of the story is not the Ledo at the end of the story, and this character development is something that deserves no shortage of praise.
Sadly, there's also everything else about the story.
If you enjoyed the relaxed and carefree nature of the first half, prepare to have everything you liked about the show flipped upside down in the second half. The character development slows to a crawl. The comedy becomes nonexistent. What is hammered in its place is a joyless disaster, devoid of anything even remotely interesting.
Where to begin? I suppose the moronic characterization would be a start. While the first half showed signs of the side characters breaking away from their stereotype, the second half seeks instead to bury them in that shell. The only character aside from Ledo who even receives any notable growth is Pinion, but his backstory is so contrived and heavy-handed that there's little reason to care about his suffering.
Even worse are the minor characters who populate the Gargantia fleet. They are insufferably stupid. There is one scene where Ledo is reprimanded by the fleet's commanders for protecting them from a pirate attack, which would have inevitably led to looting and violence. Are you kidding me?
It makes one wonder why this screen time wasn't handed to Amy instead. Aside from Ledo, she is the only character in the show with sense in her brain. She is the one who changed Ledo, who taught him that life is worth living, and yet she is merely relegated to the role of a cheer leader by the end. She deserved much more than that.
Sure, Ledo is plenty developed, but he is just as much a victim as anybody else. The change that the first half had building for him is simply used as a tool to force in cheesy dialogue about the power of friendship. During the climax, he changes his mind over an important decision simply because Amy came flying by on a kite to yell at him. Can I puke now?
This would be bad enough on its own, but the plot itself fares no better. Plot twists and ridiculous contrivances are the name of the game. Everything is somehow tied to Ledo and his own people, and the 'twists' (especially regarding the antagonist) are so cliched that they almost feel as if the writer was playing a joke. And then there's not even a proper ending to wrap all of this mess up! It ends abruptly with little to no context, begging you to follow through with the sequel OVA for answers. There is absolutely no reason why the audience should have to watch a sequel in order to have a proper conclusion to a story that they already invested their time in. That is silly.
On a more positive note, the artwork is generally decent. The characters are modeled consistently while the oceans are rendered with grandeur, effectively making the post-apocalyptic Earth seem more like a paradise. However, the quality plummets in the 11th episode, where entire scenes have crowds of characters drawn as blobs. Literal blobs.
The soundtrack is also one of the better points of the anime. There's nothing here that will stay in your mind for eternity (though the ending song is sure as heck relaxing), but each of the lighthearted tracks do a solid job of conveying the feelings of relaxation and hope which pervade the first half. It's an atmospheric anime when it tries to be, which makes the second half all the more lamentable.
Suisei no Gargantia is an anime with an identity crisis. Is it a dramatic story about the dark secrets of humanity, or is it simply a lighthearted tale about a young man finding his place in life? Who really knows. I don't think it does either.
How many people have ever dreamed about our world ever becoming one? It's an idea that stretches beyond dreams and imaginations. In such a world, there would be peace, paradise, and colonies where humanity can settle down and enjoy their lives. Well, those are just all dreams of course. People may fill their heads with these ideas but for the Human Galactic Alliance, it's one that they hope to fulfill for many years. Then, there's one young boy among all of this and his name is Ledo. After a certain event, he gets swallowed up into a distortion of time and space while finding himself on a new place. It's Earth, a planet of life and prosperity.
Suisei no Gargantina (also known as Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet) is an original animated series that fuses the genres of action, drama, science fiction, and mecha into a single package. The famous Gen Urobuchi is involved in the series as both for the script and composition. Based on his various style of writing in his previous works (Psycho Pass, Madoka), this series takes a different direction. It takes the form of a more style of world building constructed by our characters, settings, and themes that sets off this science fiction series.
For starters, the series takes place in the distant future. Thus, its technologies and settings are far beyond our modern times by standards. A clear example is our main male protagonist Ledo and his sidekick Chamber. He is a AI-automated, humanoid-shaped battle suit with a catchy tone of voice to go along with it. More importantly though, he is Ledo's partner as well as a weapon of war. Chamber fits within the style of science fiction by the way of his stature and its mechanization. With powerful technology, we can see that Chamber is something out of the ordinary. Then of course, there's Ledo. He is a 16 year old young male who is recognized as a Galactic Alliance lieutenant. After engaging battles against the mysterious tentacled alien beings known as the “Hideauze”, he gets stranded to another planet. It's a verdurous planet where the Gargantians live and prosper.
And of course, there's all kind of new excitement waiting for our friend Ledo.
That brings forth the Gargantinans who have peacefully settled on the planet. As we can see, the planet itself is covered with water. Thus, people are forced to live on enormous ships in order to survive. Through unity and cooperation, colonies have been established and attempts are made to settle down peacefully. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Beyond just the mysterious Hideauze species, there are also pirates. In fact, one of the earlier episodes shows a pirate fleet directly engaging in combat against the Gargantinans. These people seems to be a bit different than normal humans. Although on the outside, they look almost just like normal humans, they have different standards. Through comparisons, the Gargantinans functions differently by the way they don't murder senselessly. They also seem to enjoy life to their fullest and often tries to endlessly protect it no matter what the cause. Going back though, it's clear that these beings value lives truly. For example, they treat the handicapped with respect and also protect creatures whom are considered “sacred” under their eyes. However at the same time, there seems to exist some problems between them and other colonies. These problems on such a utopia gives a different outlook on the world that is considered Earth with such a paradise.
Being the new guy on a whole new planet, Ledo is the talk among the crew members. Among these members include Amy, a girl who literally becomes Ledo's hostage from the beginning. She is a young girl with about the same age as Ledo. At first, they get off to a rocky start because of the circumstances. However, it is clear that Amy cares about Ledo as she is perhaps the only person who gets closest to him. Through interactions, Amy serves as both a guide and friend to Ledo. Even from the beginning, she is fearless towards him and offers assistance in learning about the world. (with a taste of a bitty treat if I might add) Over time, it's also clear that Amy wants Ledo to adjust to his new environment. In many ways, Amy serves as someone who can navigate Ledo's character through her guidance. By teaching him the standards of a human and adjusting them, Ledo seems to become softer and more humane as before. This is most prominent as Ledo is taught about the philosophy of “think before killing”. The philosophy seems to confuse Ledo at first because the way he grew up assumingly. At many variances, Ledo questions about the laws of human nature and what's right or wrong. However, there is an unique bond between the two that I find to be natural and interactive. It is through interactions with Amy that Ledo now has a more value to where he belongs. It seems that there's a case of Ledo desiring to protect Amy and his newfound home. His morality is built based on the moments they share and although they seem to be simple, it is important for his character from my perspective.
Among other characters as well is Chamber, the ever so flashy robot who serves as a tool and sidekick (not to mention translator) for Ledo. His origins are a bit mysterious by his manner of speech but even more so with his structure. The machine seems to also serve as a guide for Ledo on the planet and at the same time, a weapon of war. It is equipped with a devastating offensive weapon (a disintegrator ray of sorts) as well as agility to maneuver itself against adversaries. Other characters in the series such as Bellows, Pinion, and Amy's friends also make their flashy highlights whether it's to serve as progressing Ledo's character or just giving him some time of fun.
Speaking of fun, the series does push that mood a bit especially later on. It comes in all shapes and sizes too with some fan service swimwear. To further this element, Ledo himself becomes Mr. Fan service and the girls just seems to love him for that. It doesn't stop there either as it pushes the dance scenes along with the mood coupled with the panty shots and up-skirts. At the same time, it pokes fun of the language in the series that can be portrayed as both scientific and at times, comedy. To further this out a bit, the series also has that lighthearted mood with its slow pacing.
Despite this though, the series still retains its serious mood at many times. Ledo's progressing in character seems more evident the more time he spent with others, in particular Amy. In fact, he even learns how to express gratitude to others in the form of a simple “Thank You”. He also learns about some of the food and how they came to be on the planet. Unfortunately, Ledo does not seem to forget about his primary objective and this earns him some criticism from others. If you guessed something related to 'killing', then you're right. Ledo's personal philosophy still seems to stick hard in his head. Only this time, he seems to have something worth fighting for. However, the guy isn't exactly a pacifist.
Among other factors, I find this series also a little bit mysterious. This is especially evident in the beginning involving the Hideauze as they are described by Ledo as his ultimate antagonist and executioners of the world. Then, there's the planet Earth itself as well as the Gargantinans. How did they survive all these years? What happened to the planet that caused all the flooding? Why are certain creatures on the planet so sacred? These are perhaps many questions that pops up into a viewers mind as they are watching this series. Needless to say, it makes this show worth watching for its assumed origins and how fans perceive them as each episode progresses.
The action of this series is spectacular but at times seems a bit out of space. The way that Ledo engages in combat from the beginning is presented visually as exciting. At the same time, we can also see that Ledo is a bit too good at what he does especially against some pirates later on. Watching a somewhat overpowered MC loses somewhat of a balance. Furthermore, his actions results in anger from the people of the planet. He just doesn't understand the laws of human nature. For Ledo, humanity is something that may take him a very long time to understand.
The visuals in this series is outstanding. It is beautiful enough that the series must be watched in 720P or higher or it might lose the experience of this show. The reason lies in the magnificent battle in the beginning. Then, it's the planet that Ledo landed on. The planet's ocean is given strong scenery to give an impression of a world of water. The characters' designs also gives a feeling of an utopia. Though some of them may be dressed with more fan service material than others, it sets the mood right with its theme. It shows that the series has that feeling of science fiction. Ledo himself also seems to stand out with the way he dresses and those noticeable hair and eyes. Among other things, the architectures and vessels on the planet are designed to be aquatic along with the creatures themselves. Needless to say, this series is a visually presented with extraordinaire. With the talented Hirotsugu Kakoi (Mirai Nikki, Blue Exorcist) in charge, I find this series to be quite something in terms of visual artwork. That something is obviously worth the praise.
However, the soundtrack of this show seems to strike me also as powerful.Taro Iwashiro is in charge of the background OST and I find it to fitting. It balances between smooth to intense at occasions but nothing too earth shattering. It does match with some scenes though. At the same time, there are two pieces of songs performed by Minori Chihara (the Opening song) and ChouCho (the Ending song). They have their style but the visuals seems to overshadow the soundtrack here.
Overall, this series was a very pleasant experience for me. Although it takes a different approach of how Gen Urobuchi's other works, it's an unique approach to the science fiction genre. At some instances, it might seem like a slice of life story. However, the experiences the characters goes through is much more than that. It challenges them the aspect of life, especially for Ledo in terms of his standards and morality. As a soldier of an alliance, his certain circumstances becomes something completely different than what he was used to. It's insightful to watch how he adjusts to them. Through world building along with the cultural differences, the viewers can see how Ledo explores his new found situation on the planet. Perhaps it does flow a bit slow than what some fans may expect out of a science fiction show. However, that flow from my perpective is one that is a fun ride to experience. Yup, I got a nice experience watching Suisei no Gargantia.
This review entails some spoilers and, potentially, offensive regards to anime.
So. The two problems this anime faces are characterization and plot. The two key components of what make a good story. I'm just going to condense it down for ease and simplicity.
Gargantia had a lot of potential in the first few episodes. We're introduced to Ledo, a young man who lives among a space-colonized community of humans. However, all he and his fellow kin know is war against cephalopod(octopi, squids) aliens. Piloting highly advanced and durable AI, Ledo isn't accustomed to much outside of his mecha, "Chamber". As given by the summary, we pretty much know the basics of everything else. When landing upon Earth, the very foundation of his life is put into question and he must battle his ruthless dogma with the mercy-based morality of the Earthen humans.
Now, to just get straight to what I want to address, I'm going to talk characters and keep it as short and to-the-point as possible of me. Apologies for the poor construction ahead.
Ledo is, truthfully, one of the extremely few characters that was carrying this show, with Chamber being his only rival as such. Bevel and Oldham had their moments, but their screen-time was little and as such, isn't really much of a basis to go off from. Anyways, Ledo(as we see in the first episode) is very logical, analytic and precise, something that was likely learned from his constant interaction with a robot. He seeks constant guidance from Chamber and the two work together to figure out what they're dealing with, being aided by a girl named Amy. He is, however, open to change and thinks on a deeper level, attempting(constantly) to understand the ways of the people of Earth when they weren't doing the same in turn. There are some very good moments where Ledo expresses his horror, confusion and irritation toward truths of his mission and the mannerisms of his new commune. There are also terrible moments where his entire character is goofed up for the sake of a smile or small giggle.
Now, Amy would have been a fine character... except for the fact that her friends and a portion of other characters nearly share the exact same archetype. Carefree, loved, sweet, and lively. There is very little depth to her, and she's your typical sweethearted heroine. Amy serves as a catalyst for Ledo's position in the society of Gargantia, and is a key component in his moral struggles, but that's pretty much it. There's very little exploration of who she is as a person and why she does what she does or why she is the way she is. Her only role in the anime is to be Ledo's guiding light, and she doesn't do a particularly fantastic job at it... unless just throwing him at people to talk to was her only purpose. Then she did great.
Pinion is a mess. The character initially hates Ledo with every fiber of his being and suddenly just becomes best bro's with the kid when seeing him, Ledo, down in the dumps over personal conflict. Pinion just randomly offers a hand to Ledo after continually trying to make the head of the ship get rid of him, and treats him like a brother very early on in the series. Again, there was no explanation for this change of character. It was like Pin was meant to be a rival and after a few episodes in, they just completely scrapped that idea. His history was passed over briefly and the character is pretty much an idiot and comedy relief. He has one or two truly mature moments in the entire thirteen episodes. A comic character isn't bad... but like I said, Pinion is a messy character. He is severely lacking in structure.
Chamber, on the other hand, is quite deep for being an artificial creation. As we expect, he's intelligent and can do all that cool robot-y stuff like scanning and predicting the future through complex analyzing to blowing crap up, but he himself has his inbuilt information challenged with knowledge learned throughout the show and ends up being more of a human than the human characters. And what I mean by that is he was given a developed personality... despite being a machine. Out of all the characters to choose from, they give the second most development of character to a hunk of freaking metal. I'm wont complain, anyways. At least they didn't give the entire mantle to a 16 year-old boy.
Bevel(an intelligent young boy) and Oldham(the only doctor of Gargantia?), like I said, didn't get much view time and had little spotlight. However, Bevel is very much a reason for Ledo's inner conflicts and Oldham is that "wise old sage" type that is suppose to balance out the immaturity of the rest of the cast, but can't because it's so overwhelming here with his sparse appearances. I'd try to be more explanatory, but it's difficult to do without giving spoilers. The few moments they appear are fairly important to Ledo, so you'd just have to watch for yourself.
Miscellaneous characters. I'm not going to name them because I truthfully cannot even remember that much. There's a redheaded woman and another with black hair and glasses who leads the ship. Characters that seem to hold an important role, but are given no real depth and very little background. The pirate princess, who comes to their aid in the end of the series-- after being their enemy and a major threat to the lives just about everyone(the relationship was beneficial, but for whatever reason she comes to share a random friendship towards Pinion that has no development at all), is just a mess of a character again. Her intentions aren't remotely clear nor ever explained.
As for the plot... it's very weak and typical. This anime would have been far better off just exploring the psychological aspects of a child bred for war, taught "survival of the strong" ideals and merciless killing with having to question themselves against what it actually means to be human and what freedom of choice is. Ledo's growth as a character was good, but could have been phenomenal in the right hands. With the contrived plot and ending, this anime was just mistreated. The vast majority of the cast is shallowly written, every episode past seven is just an awkward clutter of poor development-- with few shining moments(all involving Ledo), and it's just another typical hurriedly-written anime that just can't deliver something more.
I would recommend this for the average anime viewer because it's something that appeals to the masses. It's simple and very lighthearted, which to me, was a pitfall. Comedy isn't a bad thing, by any means, but anime anymore just focuses too much on goofy situations that don't have any sort of place in the story. Gargantia, unfortunately, is plagued by quite a bit of that.
It's not a terrible show, but it's not amazing, either. If you're looking to waste a few hours, or a day, then this wouldn't be a bad anime to do that with. It's short and easy to understand.read more
After seeing episode nine of this series I feel compelled to write a review about it.
Suisei no Gargantia is by far the best anime of the season, even better than Shingeki no Kyojin and I am really hoping that they renew it for a second season (because I feel they will need more episodes to develop the plot.
Essentially if you have followed the series so far you know that Ledo (the main character) is a solider in the Galactic Alliance which has been in a non stop war with the Hideauze for as long as anyone can remember. Ledo like his solider counterparts were bred to be soldiers, go through massive amounts of psychological altering, and ultimately are trained to hate the Hideauze with all of their being as a human. This is evidenced by Chambers continual Sleep preservation training, and his instinctual will to kill the Hideauze on sight.
When you watch this series you follow essentially the humanization of ledo as a character, from a human Hideauze killing machine to a being that thinks on his own, and it so far has been wonderful.
Now to break this down into parts.
Story & Characters: 10/10
When Ledo and Chamber first arrive on earth after the result of being lost in a wormhole, they are essentially helpless. Clueless to where they are after being in a state of cryo-stasis for 6 months, they awake to humans trying to pry Chamber open. This is where you get to meet the rest of the major characters in the series and Ledo begins living life in his own way. As the episodes progress you get to meet Amy, Ridget, Pinion, Bellows and the rest of the cast, and you see how they affect Ledo's almost machine like mentality and slowly turn him into a human being.
Art & Sound 10/10
This by far has top quality animation and sound like Shingeki no Kyojin, except with a much more vivid color palette. As many other reviewers have noted, though Shingeki may be the most original story based anime to watch this season, Suisei is the one you choose to watch for the animation.
Enjoyment Factor 10/10
I've been trying real hard to not give away too many spoilers about the anime or write a word for word plot synopsis, but this anime has it all. The story so far is killer, the animation is great, and you can just tell it was a well thought out anime. To me, it feels like an original story for an anime. I won't say that at this point I haven't seen the story in a video game, because I honestly have, but for an anime it is quite original.
So go on, watch it. I don't think you will be disappointed.read more