Kaushik here, back for another anime review on the tail end of the spring anime season. This week it’ll be Suisei no Gargantia, an original series produced by Production I.G. Urobuchi Gen of Madoka fame is behind the writing of this show, and the character designs were handled by Naruko Hanaharu (of whom I’m somewhat of a fan!). While writer Laevatein gave his impressions based off the first episodes, and I gave my own a few episodes in, I have to say my opinion has changed a great deal since the show first aired. I’ll detail why over the course of this review, so let’s get into it~
Let’s start with some background information. Suisei no Gargantia is a show taking place on Earth, in some indeterminate future. The world seems to be covered with oceans, and the remnants of humanity survive on enormous floating barges, living on the currents of the seas. Concurrently, far in deep space, there is a war taking place between humans and a mysterious alien race known as the Hideauze. Ledo, a soldier from this war, finds himself suddenly transported to Earth after a battle goes awry. Shocked to find himself in an area of peace, he struggles to find a place for himself in this new world. And that’s when the show kicks off.
Amy, a young messenger girl working on the barge fleet known as Gargantia, is the first one to discover Ledo and his Machine Caliber (a mecha) known as Chamber). While they might not have had the most pleasant of beginnings (Ledo takes her hostage) their relationship eventually evolves into a friendship, if not a bit more than that. Considering the time and place Ledo is from, he finds himself on this peaceful planet with no enemy. Understandably this is a bit jarring to him, so he has a lot of trouble fitting in at first. Additionally, not being able to speak the language makes things even more difficult. Amy is the one that tries to be an ambassador for Ledo to the head of the Gargantia fleet, and it’s really that which cements their relationship together.
My earlier impressions of Gargantia still stand to a degree. The earlier episodes (I’d say the first six or so) are quite good, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. They’re more slice-of-life episodes and don’t have much plot behind them. Instead they make do via character interaction and development, which is what I enjoy most in a lot of stories. However, over the course of the next six or seven episodes, a major plot line strikes. At first it’s somewhat interesting, and I think it does help develop Ledo’s character to a degree, but it soon takes over the whole show and I think deadens a lot of the charm I enjoyed in the earlier episodes.
What I loved about this show from the beginning were the interesting character interactions (particularly involving Ledo and, well, everyone else), and the gorgeous setting. Gargantia takes place entirely on a series of floating ships over a shining blue ocean, and it reminds me quite a bit of one of my favorite shows, Aria. It’s not that the last few episodes of this show killed that atmosphere entirely, or threw out character interactions, but a lot of what I liked was sidelined for the sake of advancing a plot. For example, the weather during the last few episodes is entirely overcast and gray, which is a stark contrast to the gorgeous nights and sunny cloudless skies of the many preceding episodes. Additionally, Ledo happens to split up with his constant companion in Gargantia, Amy. So those two things, the character interaction and the atmosphere are screwed with near the end, and I didn’t like that.
That being said, the rest of the qualities of the show stayed as good as they were. While the atmosphere may have changed, the art was still as good as it always was. I love Naruko Hanaharu’s work, and Gargantia’s no exception. I’m also a huge mecha fan, and while the latter half of the show was not the direction I’d like the show to have gone, the addition of mecha combat never hurts! Well, there was only one real mecha on mecha battle, but it was pretty sweet. Seeing Chamber and Striker fight each other over the ocean during the sunset was gorgeous and beyond cool.
I also enjoyed the music in the series. The composer is Iwashiro Taro, whom I honestly do not recognize, but I enjoyed his work in Gargantia. The music was fitting and the slower pieces were right up my alley. As far as the opening and ending themes go, I wasn’t a big fan of the opening theme, Kono Sekai wa Bokura wo Matteita by Minori Chihara, but the accompanying animation looks nice. The ending theme, Sora to Kimi no Message is really good though, and it’s by Choucho. I know Choucho is pretty popular, but I only know her from her work on Hyouka. I liked her song there though, Yasashisa no Riyuu, and this song on Gargantia is also quite good, so I might look into more of her work in the future.
— Gorgeous setting, great character design
— First half of the series is a fun watch
— Enjoyable characters
— Second half of the series falls off quite a bit
— The plot is abrupt and a little bit of a jarring break from the beginning episodes of the show
Studio: Production I.G.
Director: Murata Kazuya
Writer: Urobuchi Gen
Character design: Naruko Hanaharu
Music: Iwashiro Taro
Original run: April 7, 2013 to June 30, 2013
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