Terse, trite, and tried to do too much.
*This review contains some spoilers for the show*
Suisei no Gargantia was my anticipated show of the season; written by Urobuchi Gen [the mind behind novel renditions of derivative works such as Madoka Magica (to Faust), Psycho-Pass (to works such as BNW/1984), Saya no Uta (to Lovecraftian works), Kikokugai, and so forth], and animated by a studio adept with handling most subjects [Production I.G.]. I was looking forward to it; his works not only make the audience think, but they’re often crafted intricately — excelling in both plot, characterization, and ultimately, presentation.
But the result? A mercurial series effusive with heroism, bad writing, and awkward, fickle characters. If in a work, the plot is meant to complement the character, and the character the plot, then in this aberration, the plot advances the characters forward, without any heed to the intricacies of how a character actually develops.
Ledo’s our protagonist; he’s accentuated to be servile to the mechanical acquiescence of militant dogma, and stubborn to the root; throughout the series, he constantly shifts between having the fervor of a Westboro Baptist preacher when it comes to the holistic condemnation of an entire race, and being an average teenager with notice towards morals and emotion. His character wasn’t really given the ‘right’ treatment; the former half of the series revolved around making him more human — the series was fairly enjoyable during this period; the developments weren’t shaky, and it seemed reasonable for him to be initially belligerent towards the foreign preaching of ‘love’, family, and morals. However, at a breaking point, he essentially left his learned insight bereft, and committed an act antithetical to what he was being developed to be. After that, he becomes a clock-reaction of sorts; fickle to change between being that guy driven by visceral emotion, and being that guy driven by the stringent tenets of the military [for example; during the last episode, he was willing to risk his life for the sake of 'love' towards a girl that he never so as much blushed at, while a few episodes previous, he had condemned her kind to be plain, detestable savages].
But he’s not the only erratic character in the series. The characters that were developed the most consistently and the ‘best’, were the ones that were linear and simple; Amy, the heroine, remained consistent, and her actions sought no faults in relative reason — the nascent commander was devoted an entire episode of development, perhaps the simplest, albeit more realistic progression of character development within the series. Then we have the chain of ridiculously dubious characters; we have the pirate, emblematic of pride, greed, and cruelty, turn contrary during the final episodes into becoming an altruistic hero ["I'll help you if you give me X; helps without mentioning X again]. We have the mechanic, characterized by an ambivalence between avarice, pride, and greed, all the while holding onto apparent, blatant empathy towards his associates. We also have the mecha, austere in judgement, and strict in dogma — to valiantly sacrifice itself for the sake of inexplicable love.
Then we have the science fiction within the series. There’s a dichotomy of science-fiction series; there’s the series that integrate an explanation for every development [an allusion to a real-world theory, or a pragmatic explanation falling within real-world boundaries], and series that hold the term ‘science-fiction’ nominally. Suisei no Gargantia belongs to the second category. The series doesn’t attempt to explain most of the occurrences; the plot revolves around the protagonist falling through from one location to another — the series never attempts to explain how or why. The series bases the primary plot off of an enigmatic lifeform by the appellation of “Hideauze”, yet its explanations for its origin are incredibly antithetical to how science actually works [We can't even engineer a major modification for genes within the same species, yet Suisei no Gargantia is comfortable with engineering modifications past the phylum ].
You also can’t forget the structure of the series. The latter half basically bereaves the mood and developments that the former half worked so hard to craft; if the former half were viewed as a standalone, slice of life, and the latter half, individually as an action series, then perhaps, the respective halves would not be so awkward. But when coalesced, you get an erratic amalgamation of dissonant factors devoid of the slightest harmony. Suisei no Gargantia had thirteen episodes to craft a holistic, reasonable story; they spent half of it on slice of life, and the other half, on erratic plot; they attempted to do far too much within a simple one-cour series [most plot-heavy series require a two-cour season]. The former half made use of the tranquil soundtrack that offered vestigial aid to the latter half, while the latter half boasted forgettable tracks, integrated as simple filler music [also have to note its liberal use of flashbacks, without any further attempt to attenuate its ambiguity, or the usages of dei ex machina with its sudden reveals of certain weapons] .
While a work isn’t exactly entirely dependent on the obscure laws of presentation, and of reasonable development, it certainly should at its very core, leave the audience entertained. Yet, it’s hard for me to say that for Suisei; his works as noted, are novel renditions of derivative series — this work, is awfully similar to his most recent work. More than that, like the previous work, was incredibly vocal with making the characters literally express the themes and the ideas of the work. There’s not grace in conveyance when you’re having a protagonist scream his philosophies in an aggravating, 'let this guy die please' way, and it’s made less so when you have the opponent rebut back in an equally vehement manner ["You're being immature? I will too].
The flaw with the series had to do with its potential of being able to easily devote thirteen episodes into crafting an affable slice of life, or even thirteen episodes of reasonable science-fiction, to come short with half a season of shaky developments, and another half of retrospective unimportance. When you force down every other genre down on a series, you might get a stride of adventitious enjoyment, but most of the time, simply avoidable frustration.