Saturday, September 1, 2018

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Anime Review

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Suisei no Garugantia
Viz Media
Complete Collection - 2 discs
330 minutes - 13 episodes + 2 OVA episodes
$69.98 (2014) DVD/Blu-Ray 4 discs
$44.98 (2014) DVD only
ISBN 782009243571
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Kazuya Murata
Studio - Production I.G

Synopsis: Humanity has left Earth behind and traveled to the stars, but conflict has followed them. The human race is in dire battle with a formidable alien species called the Hideauze (called the whale-squids).  The Galactic Alliance is sworn to eradicate the aliens to keep humanity safe, but the aliens have shown no quarter. Ensign Ledo is a Machine Caliber pilot during a massive assault on a Hideauze space stronghold. The human forces fall into disarray as the Hideauze unleash a powerful weapon. During the retreat Ledo and his battle suit "Chamber" are pulled into a wormhole.
The Galactic Alliance suffers a difficult defeat attacking the Hideauze home planet

Separated from the fleet and awakening on a strange planet covered in a seemingly endless ocean, Ledo discovers he has been in stasis for six months. A group of native scavengers have found him and taken him back to their floating city called the Gargantia.  He considers them primitives, but realizes he's been stranded light years from the fleet with no way to rejoin them.  He joins the ranks of the Gargantia in order to survive and mostly due to the brave, beautiful girl Amy who befriends him.
Chamber, controlled by Ledo, appears to the citizens of the Gargantia

Ledo's status on the Gargantia is elevated due to controlling Chamber who possesses tech light years beyond that of the natives' crude mech suits. They scavenge the underwater depths to find tech left behind by a lost civilization. A great mystery begins when Chamber alerts Ledo to the fact the ocean planet is actually humanity's birthplace - Earth! What caused humanity to leave this planet behind for the stars? The stakes become high when Ledo discovers a whale-squid lurking among the waters. What is their terrible secret and how did they find Earth? Ledo and Chamber are not alone on the planet and are headed for a desperate showdown for survival! Can even their formidable might save the Gargantia and the remnants of humanity?
Amy becomes Ledo's guide and first friend on the Gargantia

Pros: Really nice animation and character designs, some interesting science fiction plot concepts - especially the twist near the end of the series, very likable characters, the OVA episodes are included, Ledo's character development was well done, Chamber (the mecha Ledo pilots) is another good character, some very mild fan-service (particularly the pirate captain Lukkage)
Ledo struggles to find his place on the Gargantia and away from his mission

Cons: Characters are all fairly one-dimensional and simple, situations and plot devices are fairly simple, ending could have been more severe with heavier casualties - it tied up a little to neatly, fan-service seems out of place in this series which develops into a post-apocalyptic mystery, no second season = no more answers to dangling plot points at the end of the series
A diving suit is destroyed when a nest of whalesquids are disturbed

Mike Tells It Straight: Gargantia is an original release from Production I.G and directed by Kazuya Murata, best known for his work on Code Geass and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos movie. Story concept is done by Gen Orobuchi who is a well-known series creator and writer (nicknamed the Orobutcher for some of his darker series). He's best known for being the creator of Psycho-Pass and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. He also scripts the first and last episodes here.
Ledo and Chamber go wild when they discover whalesquids exist on Earth

I enjoyed watching Gargantia for the slick visuals and casual science fiction. The plot is a fairly straightforward riff on the 'stranger in a strange land' storyline crossed with the 'hero's journey'. The characters are definitely the strong point for the series. Ledo is a great main character who grew up in a sterile outer space society too busy churning out soldiers to fight a desperate battle with the Hideauze.  His immersion in Gargantia's emotional human society begins a journey of soul-searching and eventual transformation into a hero.
The pirate captain Lukkage and Pinion are captured by a mysterious cult fleet

The other Gargantia crewmembers were fun to watch and Amy was a plucky supporting character slash love interest for Ledo.  You can tell the chemistry between the two early on and especially when Amy's friends try to cozy up to the new alien boy.  Chamber is awesome as a mecha and as a character.  More than just a robot suit, it ('he') is a genuine character.
The cult fleet rules with a Machine Caliber Striker which is very familiar to Ledo

The series does a great job balancing serious themes with lighthearted moments. Overall it stays on the light side and I think that serves it better than going too dark. Fans of Orobuchi may be disappointed with the ending if they're expecting a major bloodbath. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of heavy moments as the mysteries get revealed, but it's not overwhelming.
Striker is controlled by Ledo's superior Kugel who also was stranded on Earth 

The plot twists and characters keep you engaged throughout and it's a decent series.  I didn't think much of the series when I first watched it, but somehow it ended up in my collection.  I think the science fiction elements reminded me of why I got into anime in the first place and that's what I really liked.
Ledo finds a second home with Amy and the crew of the Gargantia

TO BUY and Recommendations:

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