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.
The 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.
But 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.
In 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.