I was a bit hesitant at first to actually watch the Suisei no Gargantia specials due to the mediocrity of the series reflected by the 13 episode season. While Gargantia wasn't necessarily bad, the pacing, overall story, and character development are easily depicted as lacking, considering the potential this series innately had. These two specials essentially give background stories behind the story of Gargantia; they fulfill background information in two separate manners. Rather than lumping these two episodes together and calling them 'specials', they should have been split into their own separate OVAs.
The first special covers Ridget, the new overseer and daughter of the
previous fleet commander and gives background information about her life and stress of fulfilling the role of acting fleet commander. The episode isn't heavy on drama, major themes, or any character development necessarily. It's more of some extra screen time dedicated to fleshing out Ridget's character a little more. It was a fair watch, but doesn't quite add much to the series.
The second episode of the special is dedicated to showing how Kugel arose to the figure of a God and how the cult of his religious followers came to be. Although the episode is a dark one, I thought this particular episode was the best that Suisei no Gargantia had to offer as an animated series. There are strong themes apparent that showcase the many flaws in human nature. Human beings are greedy, manipulative, cunning, power-hungry, and selfish; Kugel's character development reflects these traits well. This episode reflects that well. It also showcases major fallacies depicted by the facade of Gods and religion. For being a special, this episode added a lot of quality material to the series. It feels as if it should have been a part of the actual season airing. It's a shame that it wasn't.
Overall both specials combined were a decent watch. From my perspective the second special was far better than the first and actually felt like a necessity to understanding more about the story of the series.
For many, the Gargantia series was a hit or miss. Personally, I really liked it, but it wasn't as good toward the end as it was at the beginning. I thought they could have done with a few more episodes, since it was the pacing that killed the end for most people. And now that we have 2 more episodes- both depicting backstories of characters who do kind of need development, so how are they?
Ep 14: I thought this was a pretty okay episode, but kind of forgettable. It showed the backstory of Rigit, the captain of Gargantia. It was a bit sad but far
from tearjerking, and it didn't really do much to flesh out her character. But it had a few funny moments and of course we get to see more of that gorgeous animation that I think everyone can agree is always a positive part of this anime. 7/10
Ep 15: I really liked this one. It gave more backstory to the main antagonists and you see how he goes from a pretty good guy to the dickbag you see in the main series. And there is quite a bit of darkness and emotion in this one. I'd give it a 9/10
Gargantia was a hit or miss series judging from the reactions I have seen. Personally I enjoyed it - despite its predictability, it was a beautiful and charming story that everyone should give a chance.
On the Blu-rays comes not only improvements to the animation and art, but two unaired OVA's. Those hoping for a continuation of events after Gargantia may be disappointed - both episodes take place in the middle or before the events of the series, respectively. These episodes will not mean much to people who haven't already finished Gargantia, so I cannot recommend that you watch these before finishing the series.
The first OVA
(ep 14) is about Ridget's past.
While Ridget does take on an important role later on in Gargantia, we know little of her background besides what is only told to us. This OVA does a good job of filling in some of those blanks, when investigating an abandoned ship colony she realizes she knew some of the people who used to inhabit it. We then spend a good half of the episode in a flashback about Ridget's past and one of her former friends.
It's a little heartbreaking, but also touching. And while I wish for more Ledo and Amy bonding, we do get enough of it that I am satisfied until the second OVA appears next month (according to what I've been told).
I would give episode 14 an 8/10.
The second OVA (ep 15) fills us in on how Kugel - and his Yunboro, Striker - became the leader of the pirate-turned-cult fleet that Ledo and Pinion encounter near the end of the first season.
The story focuses around the relationship between Linaria, a girl who is visually and behaviorally similar to Amy, and the troubled heir to her late father's fleet, and Kugel, who conveniently appears on earth to save her from certain death from her half-sisters who are chasing and attempting to kill and take the fleet from her.
Linaria prays to the "God of the Sky" in her moment of need to save her, and Kugel unwittingly protects her as the enemy ships fire on Striker. He uses "minimal force" to suppress their attack, and ends up destroying all the ships. Miraculously all the sailors survive, now with a new-found fear of Linaria's supposed ability to summon gods from the sky.
This series of events cements Linaria as the leader of the fleet, with Kugel at her side. Her eldest half-sister, Oceanid, however, is skeptical of the deification of Kugel and Striker, and makes an attempt to have him killed. However, it backfires, and it elevates the situation even further.
During this entire time, Linaria is visibly sick, and it is obvious here that we see how Kugel ended up dying later on, as he contracts her illness. More series of unfortunate events has the situation spiral out of control.
Linaria has a great impact on Kugel with her heartfelt words of gratitude, but Kugel takes them in the wrong way, and starts to embrace his cult-like reign over the fleet in the vein of the Alliance laws. When Kugel inevitably dies, Striker takes the opportunity to continue leading the fleet in the fashion that the Alliance would have.
While this episode can be touching at times, everything felt forced because of pacing issues, and I didn't feel as strong of a connection between Kugel and Linaria as I believe there was meant to be. Perhaps if there was more than a single episode of development for this story it would have had more impact. It's unfortunate that there was some missed potential here. Thankfully, this is not the end for Gargantia, as if it were it would have ended on a somewhat mediocre note.
I give episode 15 a 6/10.
Still, I would recommend this duo of OVA's to fans of Gargantia. Ridget gets some much needed love in her short and sweet OVA, and Kugel's story, while flawed, does add more flavor and emotion to his story, and the fate of his fleet.