16 CommentsGargantia on the Verdurous Planet / By Scamp /

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet episode 13 (finale) – The robot is always the best character

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This is going to sound a little harsh, but my main problems with Gargantia are eerily similar to the problems I had with Fractale. It built up a really interesting world that looked like, from the earlier episodes, it was going to build up on some key themes. However as the story progressed, it became increasingly clear that the left hand wasn’t talking to the right. The middle portion of the series got increasingly confused and lost track of what it was trying to say with a noticeable drop in the writing quality. Finally when the big finale starts to wrap up, all these questions of what the hell was the point in several of the earlier episodes start to crop up and the whole thing feels like a real mess.

Gargantia doesn’t have that issue anywhere near as bad as Fractale did, but the similarities are rather damning.

vlcsnap-2013-07-02-21h38m48s242The final episode was, for the most part, really stupid. Let’s unleash the deus ex machina cannon completely out of nowhere because doing a sensible buildup requires the writers to talk to each other. Pinion had some bro moment where he tried to honourably sacrifice himself, but for the life of me I couldn’t work out what it was he was supposed to be sacrificing himself for. In fact the entirety of Pinion’s side-story was very poorly done, particularly considering how much screen time they ended up devoting to him. Amy then suddenly shows up and waves her bum at Ledo to motivate him, which is about all she has ever done for this series.

vlcsnap-2013-07-02-21h37m26s194But then there was Chamber’s bit, which was fantastic. I loved that the two robots had this logic battle while spinning through the air firing their lasers at each other. Considering the show started with Chamber waking Ledo up and telling him what it was he had to do to become a citizen, him finishing the story by ejecting him because he had become his own citizen was a really great way to finish off the series. That said, for something that felt like it should have been a symbolic send off that wraps up the major arc of the entire show, it had surprisingly little to do with any of the other twists that came in the previous episodes. Even leaving themes aside, since when did the robots alter their personality and logic on their pilots? That seems like an important thing to base both Ledo’s character and the way Stryker turned out.

I will say though that positioning the entire story as being Ledo discovering humanity does work. Looking back at Gargantia, that was a strong current running through the show. It got sort of lost through the back half of the series between the terrible writing and reveals that had nothing to do with that story, but it’s left me feeling a bit more positive about the show overall. I feel that so much of the material here was superfluous and muddied the intent and, more importantly, was just plain old boring to watch. I think Gargantia would have worked better as a movie, although that wouldn’t have solved some other issues such as Amy being a boring character.

vlcsnap-2013-07-02-21h40m33s22In the end, while Gargantia didn’t live up to the incredibly high quality of its opening episodes, I don’t feel as down on it as I did for Fractale. Chamber and Ledo’s relationship and how their understanding of the new world grew and evolved was far and away the best part of the show. The ending managed to put a wrap on that and make it the central focus, as it should have always been. But the story got really muddied from about episode 5 onwards and you got the impression the writers weren’t all on the same page. Plus some of the episodes were just plain bad. Between attempting to make us care about characters that they hadn’t invested time in, to pulling stupid deus ex machinas, it didn’t have the strong writing and characters across the board to make the show really stand out. Not a bad show by any stretch, and certainly above the average when it comes to anime, but wouldn’t be in a hurry to recommend it to anyone.

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16 Comments

  1. Posted July 3, 2013 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Chamber is a super advanced robot which can go through character development, huh? Yay. I want it too.

  2. Someone Else
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Since chamber died then ledo has cut off his ties with the alliance. The series is dead. Unless they find some left over technology that will help. I actually prefer if there was atleast a single contact with the alliance itself and not some other lost robot. I really didn’t like the idea of robot acting god or maybe because it was just me

    Either way only chamber is the only interesting character lol.

    And yes that Amy scene, I face palmed with that. Really wish they just removed her and made her brother to be ledo’s morals teacher

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      No way in hell would a sequel work. I don’t know whether the show sold or not. The figures haven’t come out yet. But nope, no sequel here

  3. Redcrimson
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    RIP Chamber Best Brobot 2013!

    I thought the ending was pretty satisfying at least, but in the end Gargantia reminded me a lot of Psycho-Pass. It had a lot of good ideas, but didn’t really know what the hell to do with them. So it just threw them in the viewers face trying to get something to stick. Then at the end the writers realized they had to have an actual ending, so they just made up some barely justifiable conflict as an excuse for robot battles.

    I don’t think Gargantia was bad, but it definitely squandered its potential. Ledo’s attraction to Amy ended up being mostly meaningless, the revelation about the whalesquids/Hideauze ended up as nothing more than a plot device, and even the conflict at the end was really forced and pretty stupid.

    Ironically, I think Gargantia would have worked better as a fanservicy romance with more beach episodes. At least then it would have had consistent plot and themes.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      See, I disagree with Psycho Pass. I thought it presented its themes way better and was far more consistent in that regard. It had a much clearer idea of what story it wanted to tell and made the two sides much more ambiguous. Its problem came from, if anything, being too deliberate with its themes so that sometimes they stretched suspension of disbelief and turned into characters narrating to the camera.

  4. Posted July 3, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    The writers completely forgot about episode 10 when they started this last stupid arc with the cult. Chamber advocated for Ledo to continue killing off all of the Hideauze, and had some pretty valid arguments for it. Ledo’s entire character arc is him struggling to adapt to a new society while dealing with his hatred of the Hideauze. That’s what the last arc should have been about, reconciliation between the Hideauze, Ledo and Chamber. Not some simplistic big stupid battle against a cult.

    Gargantia’s major flaws seem to stem from having too many writers working on this project without having a unified vision of how the story would unfold. Although I typically enjoy Gen’s writing, I think Gargantia would have been better without him on staff.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      What on earth happened to the whole story with the Hideouze anyway? I thought that was going to be the crux of the entire story. It ended up muddying the entire narrative.

      I would have preferred Gen to write the entire thing personally, because the first and the last episodes tied together really well. Just maybe not so well with the rest of the show

  5. Otsuki2Art
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Only thing I can say is: Go to hell tin can!^^

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      That was a fucking great line =D

  6. T1g
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  7. aethelwulf
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    I actually quite liked Gargania as a whole. I do think it was rather rushed–we definitely could have used a few more episodes devoted to why we should care about the cult’s invasion–but I thought most of the central episodes were essential for establishing the contrast between Ledo’s s idea of what society should be like and and the humanity he finds with the fleet. The contrast between what it means to be human (with the unfeeling uniformity of the Galactic Alliance/Striker’s cult depicted as being nearly as terrible as the alien insentience of the Hideauze) was the theme that ran through the series, and shortening the sections devoted to the idealized communal spirit of Gargantia would have blunted the show’s message.

    I do think a that a few sub-plots and some more character development could have elevated the series substantially, though.

    I also agree with you completely in that Gargantia was vastly better than Fractale. The plot didn’t devolve into a giant WTF at the end, at least, and the side characters were better as well. Ami, for example, may have started the show as a cardboard cutout of a genki girl and still remained a cardboard genki girl at the end, but at least she wasn’t as irritatingly infantile as Nessa.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, I don’t think anyone could be as bad as Nessa.

      See, I think just getting rid of those side stories altogether would have served the show better. I liked the early episodes of Ledo getting used to life on Gargantia, but it became redundant after about episode 4. The show needed to take more cues from how Arakawa Under the Bridge handled a character moving into a strange new world

  8. Lanf
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Alas, another ambitious project only to be another ‘t’was okay, I guess’ sort of show because it simply tried doing too many different things with no focus in its short time frame. At least Moeblob girl shows, it doesn’t have the ambition to do more than one thing to get so muddled.

    I’m not sure what I would have done differently though, the whole cult ending was rather daft but without it but I don’t think the existing plot elements would have made for a grand conclusion either.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      What I’d do differently is make the focus way more personal on Ledo and Chamber, cutting out Pinion and the captain and all the other character’s bits. Really cut the whole thing down. Because, you know, I’m an expert anime director and everything

  9. fathomlessblue
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Gargantia will always be a slightly better version Shangri-la to me. It made a better first impression and threw out the occasional expertly directed scene, but many of the issues revolving a general lack of characterisation and muddled themes remain the same. Although Shangri-la had a better depiction of trans folk. Read into that what you will.

    I’m honestly surprised anyone expected much out of Amy. If I know anything about anime it’s that genki characters never receive any meaningful development. They remain bubbly and cheerful until something bad happens, at which point they give out puppy dog eyes for an episode or two, before snapping out of it and returning to a carbon copy of their previous personality, seemingly learning nothing from the experience. There may be an example or two that goes against that stereotype, but for the life of me I can’t think of any. They seem designed in the moe sense of eliciting a warm reaction from the audience, rather than being seen as an actual person. It sucks, but I’ve come to accept it. I came into this show expecting her to be a slightly less annoying version of Fam, and that’s more or less what I got. At least she didn’t try to highjack the story with some meaningless drivel.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I shall continue to rebel against these mindless genki archetype characters as long as they continue to exist in shows I otherwise like. I’ll never forgive them single handedly ruining the Last Exile sequel

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