For most seasons there’s some stinkers, disappointments, good fun and hidden gems. Suisei no Gargantia(SnG) is what I would categorize as the sleeper hit of the season and possibly the year. Although it has its flaws, SnG is something that you shouldn’t miss.
From a technical point of view, SnG is pretty hard to beat. The use of colours in contrast with the metal world of Gargantia is something to behold. The character designs are pretty standard, though some of the girls look a little…. too… developed for their ages. I guess that’s something to expect given it is anime, but whatever. The soundtrack is also pretty spectacular, as I found myself consistently listening to tunes from it for the last few months. Voice acting was standard, though I have to give Sugita credit for his voice over of Chamber. He managed to not only give a robot some character but made you consistently think it was a robot the entire time.
As far as the plot? It’s probably the most interesting concept from this season. I immediately got a Miyazaki-esque feel from the first episode. It dabbles in themes such as adventure, slice of life, scifi, drama, action and psychological horror. The problem with the execution of SnG is although it has all of these themes going for it, it doesn’t work well as its own narrative. Instead it uses these themes more as ideas to explore. This doesn’t mean the show itself suffers from this take on themes, since in general I think Madoka suffered from the same problems as SnG(check my favourites).
I think one of the things I felt when finishing SnG unlike Madoka is that I had an overwhelming feeling it could have been so much more. We didn’t get so many episodes that showcased life on Gargantia. I felt this was probably the most important aspect of Ledo’s development throughout the series; as it showcased his integration into a foreign society. What we got instead was some weak fan service episodes as transsexual prostitutes.
Speaking of his integration, Ledo’s language development was handled SO WELL in the first few episodes. I love how he used Chamber as a catalyst to communicate, though that sorta devolved into him speaking less and less broken Japanese with each episode until he understood it fluently. This world, this amazing world, was barely explored. What I got from life on Gargantia is that most people live a simple life, some are strippers/prostitutes, and others are pedophiles… Okay, not really, but Amy’s “delivery” business was a little too convenient after she shaked her ass on stage for five minutes and her friends complaining that “all the cute guys would be taken”.
Although Ledo’s development happened a little too fast, I can’t help but smile when I look back on it as a whole. He’s really the only person that needed to get any development. He grew up as a cold-hearted child soldier and came out a functioning member of society. Ledo only lived the hunt the Hideauze, but in the end, he went back against the ideals he grew up with. Not only did he realize the truth behind his existence was a complete lie, but he also realized just what he wanted in life.
Most of the characters seem like the standard “placement” characters from their roles. Amy comes off as a pretty weak plot device in the end; as she’s supposed to encompass everything Ledo values. But I feel as if she came off as more a half-assed love interest for him in the end. There wasn’t too much chemistry between them, though he did give her a good stare when she was shaking her goods on stage – later she gave him a private dance. There’s that, I guess. I thought the relationship between Chamber and Ledo was more interesting – especially the conclusion of it.
So well, I could probably write a lot more in regards to what happened in the show but I dislike spoiling things. I have a feeling that this is the kind of show that critics would hate – mainly because of the obvious problems I’ve listed above. But what did I love about this show specifically?
I loved it because it really managed to create an interesting world and had a conflict of ideals. I can’t help but compare this show to Full Metal Panic! because of the obvious similarities between Ledo and Sousuke, though this had much less time to develop than FMP did. It was a show about Ledo being integrated into a foreign society. I think in the end it did manage to do all the things it set out to do; not without its flaws of course. None of the flaws stopped me from enjoying the hell out of it. It isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s something that everyone should try. If you’re a fan of any of the themes I listed earlier I suggest at least checking it out.