Episode 1: Castaway
Well, regarding the first half of the episode, it’s an all out war between the humans of the Galactic Alliance of Humankind and some bug-like entities known as the Hideauze. It also introduces us to our protagonist, a jaded and weary lad by the name of Ledo. Apart from that, there’s not much else to say… so have some rather lovely pictures. The anime is by Production I.G, so you can always expect quality 3D animation mixed into their works. In this series’ case, the mechas are animated in 3D. Kudos to the animators who blend this well with stellar 2D animation making this series a gorgeous feast for the eyes.
Really now, I had tons of screenshots I wanted to put up, but that’ll turn this post into a picture gallery instead of a jumbled up mess of a viewer’s thoughts. Really now, can you blame me? Especially when they throw such lovely visuals right at you. Apart from that though, the first half really was a bit of a drag, but seeing as this is meant to give Ledo some background so that we can understand a little bit more about him I’ll let it slide. After all, I’m here to watch him get stranded on an unknown world, not to watch some mecha war. If anything I’ll turn to Full Metal Panic for that, though that’s not all that cheerful in itself (Fumoffu excluded from that statement of course).
Anyway, skipping a couple months forward, we see Chamber get hauled in by a bunch of sea-faring people. An energetic tomboy by the name of Amy seems to be the show’s representative of this particular faction. We see them (unsuccessfully) trying to open up Chamber and this triggers a response in Chamber waking up Ledo who was in hibernation as a form of protection from the unexpected space travel he went through. Time passes and after night fell and everyone left, Ledo left the cockpit to explore his surroundings, only to be discovered. Taking Amy (who was nearby at the time) hostage he ran throughout the ship till he reached the deck where he stood disbelievingly as he stared at the oxygenated surrounding. His sense of awe and wonder was cut short when the crew of the ship he was on appeared with rifles ending the episode in a form of a Mexican standoff.
All in all a good and solid start to the series… well, with 15 minutes of exposition from Ledo’s side and where he comes from (i.e. a bloody war). With the fact that Chamber has constantly sent distress signals for the six months Ledo was knocked out on Earth, this may be a sign that the Galatic Alliance may find their way to this (relatively) peaceful planet. What they plan to do then is anybody’s guess. So far I like the idea of a war-veteren who is completely confounded when faced with a peaceful alien environment. What I’m worried about is that the distress signal may result in the war between the Alliance and the Hideauze being brought over to Earth changing the scope of the show entirely. I sat down to watch a slice-of-life style anime featuring a boy who grew up in a war-torn environment learning to live in a completely different one and so far I like it. If it changes in anyway towards a war-drama of any sort (think Gundam I guess) then that is a real crying shame as we have so many anime of that kind and in comparison fewer of those like Suisei no Gargantia.
Episode 2: The Planet where it Began
Where life began or perhaps where the plot of this anime starts. Either way it fits I guess. The episode begins immediately from where the first one left off. The people of the ship Ledo is on (the ship is the main part of a fleet called Gargantia, so we’ll use that name from here on) decides to bring in their excavation mechas in an attempt to bolster their firepower in the face of Ledo’s Chamber. After a tense standoff, Amy is sent as Gargantia’s representative to speak with Ledo. They converse with Chamber being the translator for both parties and one feels that the distance between the two seems to close after their exchange. This may be due to the fact that they’re both (probably) around the same age. Also, Amy’s really open and bubbly personality may have helped also.
All is not smiles and joy however. The higher ups of the Gargantia see Ledo and Chamber as a threat, with some wanting to disassemble Chamber for tech and parts and with others just wanting nothing to do with the pair for fear of retaliation from their comrades. The episode has this underlying tension that doesn’t go away because of this and it hits a peak when pirates start attacking one of Gargantia’s ships away from the fleet salvaging. In terms of weapons and manpower the pirates overwhelm the separated ship and as plans are being made to send reinforcements to help, Amy in her youthful brashness rushes to Ledo and pleads for his help and Ledo agrees thinking he can use this as a bargaining tool for Gargantia’s cooperation to help shelter him unti he can return home.
Watching Ledo go off in Chamber fending off the pirate’s attack was like watching an armoured grizzly bear attack a group of honeyed cupcakes. On one hand you feel like the pirates deserve that retaliation, however the overwhelming disparity in terms of weapons technology does make you cringe a bit when Ledo effectively wipes out the attacking forces… much to the shock of the surviving people of Gargantia. More of this in episode 3.
Episode 3: The Vile Empress
I had meant to post this picture from the opening in one of the previous parts, but never mind. Here it is, a peek at the different characters we can expect this series to focus on. I’m sure I had mentioned my fears of this series becoming another space-age drama with mecha, but it seems probable that this series will instead focus on a more positive topic. One of the writers for the anime, Gen Urobuchi, stated on the official site that Suisei’s story was a message to those in their teens or twenties about to enter or recently entered society. It was meant to cheer them on and encourage them through that particular phase of life. He also added that the feel of Suisei will be different to others he’s worked on. One such (famous) example is Puella Magi Madoka Magica. As such, my expectations for this anime has been raised even higher upon hearing this news… not that Puella was a bad anime by any means, it’s just that it was so very dark and heavy that I don’t think I need anything like that for quite some time now.
Anyway, the episode. We begin with everyone acting like Ledo’s a mass murderer of some sort… which he technically is on account of him vapourising a number of pirates at the end of last episode. Admittedly Ledo’s upbringing as a soldier against evil space bugs meant that for him it was either kill or be killed. Still, he is ‘in Rome’ as is so he’ll have to ‘do as Romans do’. Murder is seen as taboo by the people of Gargantia and extrapolating that I assume this to be the case with other like-minded fleets. Pirates, of course, ignore this code of conduct and that brings Ledo to the reason as to why the people of Gargantia arm themselves. Rather than a means to obliterate the enemy, it is more of a deterrent… to make oneself less appetizing to be attacked.
However what’s done is done and the worries of the higher ups in Gargantia come to pass as we see Rackage, the assumed leader of the pirates in those waters, bearing down on the Gargantia fleet with her lobster themed ship leading a pack of angry pirates. Ledo’s aid is requested with the promise of not killing anyone senselessly, to which he agreed. Slowly he’s learning the ways of life on earth, and I can’t wait to see more of his character’s progression through the series… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Night falls and Gargantia launches their attack in the pirates first with the help of spotlights sported by Chamber. Things quickly get sour as an underwater pirate strike force assaults the main fleet with Rackage making her own attack in a lobster Yunboro (not sure if I had mentioned this, but Yunboro seems to be the name given to Earth’s mecha). Rackage has victory in sights, knowing her specially crafted Yunboro is far superior to anything Gargantia can throw at her. However she underestimated Chamber’s powers and an attempt to drag Chamber underwater for a battle there ends up with Chamber performing the hammer toss on Rackage’s Yunboro. Pirates run away and Ledo is given a hero’s welcome on Gargantia, to which he replies with the very first word of Earth’s language he properly learns… “Arigato.”
Suisei no Gargantia is I feel one of this season’s bigger hitters, and so far it definitely has the potential to become a must-watch series. It may to early to call it, but I feel that this is one of this season’s best entries.
Episode 1: Half the episode is spent on Ledo and his military background in space, the second half is spent on Earth mainly on his confusion at being in an alien environment.
Episode 2: Amy talks with Ledo, and learns a bit more of him. Pirates attack the fleet’s salvaging crew and Ledo obliterates them from existence creating a gulf between him and the people of Gargantia.
Episode 3: Ledo learns more of the fleet’s customs and why they don’t haphazardly kill people off just like that, something a bit strange to someone of Ledo’s background, but he complies and sets about to correct his error. Pirates led by Rackage attack the fleet but is driven off thanks to Ledo and Chamber.
I have episode 4 ready to be watched, along with episode 4 and 5 of Hataraku Maou-sama and hopefully I can get a post up on these two series by next week at the latest. With that then I will have finally caught up to the screening times. Till then, I hoped you enjoyed this look through Suisei no Gargantia so far.