Home > Anime, Check-out Station, Episode by Episode > Check-out Station: Gargantia (the burden of thought)

Check-out Station: Gargantia (the burden of thought)

I was a little worried when this episode started. I started buying into everyone’s fears about Urobuchi pulling some stone cold ending, or relying on cliches while throwing the cast’s progression to the wind. but I’m satisfied now.  Quite satisfied.

No synopsis this time. I think my opinions will tell the story.

Ledo – you’ve come a decent way from the robot you were, clinging to Chamber, your protocols and your ingrained need to belong to a collective. I will say you were pretty stubborn. But then again, I would probably resistant to change if I still had any hopes of returning home, and the place I was currently residing was patrolled by overly aggressive trannys. You even dropped that need of yours to make useless ocarinas out of Hideauze nails.

But most of all, I’m proud of how you for recognizing what it was to be human. Before it was about fulfilling the needs of the human collective, which I have to say seems more animal or even insect like than human. You didn’t realize what it meant to live as a human, a free human with choices, goals and desires. And that attitude came from humanity’s need for survival amongst the stars. Ironically, it was on the post Ice Age Earth, where humans seem to have much less in terms of power and knowledge, that you found the most freedom and meaning.

And I guess in the end your biggest contribution to this series, aside from saving everyone’s lives, is your raising of Chamber. Left alone and without protocols, Stryker basically turned into a dictator, corralling humanity as it saw fit to meet its own demands as it saw fit from a Galactic Alliance perspective. You gave Chamber the opportunity to have one of the more endearing moments from this season, maybe this year.

Chamber – not bad, you had me worried for a bit. After watching so much anime and sci-fi, you can forgive me for being a little less than trusting of a powerful A.I. You came across as a cold, calculating and stiff presence, much like your pilot. But whenever Ledo was lost, you seemed to provide more than just basic pilot support and enhancement. I’d dare say you gave him some moral guidance, even if it was based highly on logic. You had the best speech in the show when Ledo asked you about what it meant to be human. You had the biggest balls in the show by saving Ledo’s life and handling Stryker on your own. I find that to be a slight plot hole because I thought Machine Calibers worked best with pilots, and you were working at 153% efficiency when Ledo was fully locked into you, but whatever. Also, I thought it was funny when you finally used that insult that Pinion had been throwing at you the entire time. Some might see it as going to far, but I think you did it just right.

Amy – you’re merely a token character, a mascot, a goal for the main character. You never seemed to be more than another cute face, with a whimsical attitude that was used to showcase how free and happy Gargantia was. You did your job, but you’re far from a standout in any respect to me.

Pinion – how the hell did you survive? Is it the handsome face and hair that women love so much? I mean hell, you even got the hottest woman in the show (in a show full of women with nice bods) to fall for you! Fools like you aren’t often saved Death’s hand, but I guess you learned your lesson enough, and in time to save your life. I can definitely say that you had a good, if misguided and greedy heart from the beginning. And you always cared about your fellow man. And I guess in a small way you reminded me of Kamina from TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN, so I was never excited about the idea of you getting killed anyway. You surprisingly turned out to be a decent character in the end. I’m pleased.

Ridget, Bellows, Melty, Amy’s other friend who always looked a little sleepy and Lobster Surfing Big Boobed Queen – would you guys mind doing a few calendar spreads for me? Seriously, the amount of sexy in this show is just glorious. Though I will say that as characters, you all do remind me how disappointed I was that this show didn’t end up a really fleshed out 2-cour, twenty plus episode show. I didn’t think there was nearly enough of Bellows, Amy and her friends definitely could’ve been given more character development if more time was allotted. And Big Boobed Pirate Queen was just too fun a character to have in so few episodes. You guys showed the wasted potential in Gargantia’s fanservice and character development. You made me wish for so much more.

Hideauze – this is gonna be a very personal opinion, but I’m going to get this out with this possibly being the last time I ever talk about this show.

You guys are NOT human! Yeah, call me a bigot if you wish. But you won’t see me begging like that Paula Deen lady. While you guys may in the end be the greatest achievement humanity has ever made towards the universe, creating creatures that cannot only survive, but THRIVE in outer space. You are not human, and do not represent humanity in any way short of our scientific achievements. All the things that truly humanity, and not just being a human creature are lost on you. There is no culture, no progression, no sign of the things that make humans more than animals. They are an off-shoot of humanity, something that lives in parallel to them.

That said, I don’t wish (these fictional creatures) harm. I didn’t want Ledo to just indiscriminately slaughter them in the first place. If whalesquids (the name for Earth Hideauze) can live in the ocean and not rape our women, or call me n*gger, then I have no problem with them. And that’s my final word on the subject.

As for the show in total, I’m gonna stop my little act of pretending to write some form of editorial and say that overall I found it to be a very entertaining show, that only fails to be deeper and go deeper, if you’ll forgive the pun on a show taking place in water world.  When it comes to the technical, this is a gorgeous show, though it took some obvious shortcuts in animation at times, I don’t fault a show for having a budget or taking shortcuts.  That’s what most all anime do.  This is a frame by frame gorgeous and vibrant show.  I regretted that much of the final episode took place under cover of fog or in murky water because it’s such a spectacle for the eyes.

When it comes to the soundtrack, I’m strangely ambivalent towards it.  It does an excellent job IN the show.  So there’s no problem.  It’s just that there’s nothing that stands out on its own that I want to listen to.  It’s still excellent though, the sci-fi and hippy elements, the sad and the exciting all come through clearly on this soundtrack.

As for the meat of the show, the plot, character development and lessons that make it up?  It’s good, but not excellent to me.  I wonder how much deeper and crazier this could have gone if it was elongated.  I’ve heard much in the way of complaining about the show’s early leisurely pace.  But I enjoyed those episodes, I accepted that this was much less a mecha show, and much more a tale about humanity very early in its run.  So I’m glad that I got to see the clashes in understanding different languages, customs and morals.  If you’re gonna tell a story about humanity, you have to talk about its diversity and its good and bad points.  And Gargantia ran the gamut.  There was nothing ugly in this show than seeing the archival footage of how humanity split and warred with itself even as it was fighting to survive and escape a planet that was purging it.  It’s a perfect example of how petty and hate filled we can be, even in the most dire of situations.  This was an excellent subject to tackle, even a mecha fan like me can willingly put my machines on the back burner for this stuff.  It’s classic sci-fi.  The problem is that it may be a little too classic.

For anime, movie, TV and sci-fi veterans alike we all grapple with what we like, and what we want to see more of in our entertainment.  And I’m sure many of us veterans were hoping see something different in Gargantia, and we didn’t.  I was hoping that things would play out with a distinctly human touch to the conclusion of this little sci-fi show on humanity.  So I was terribly disappointed when instead of getting a man on man clash of ideals between someone exposed to traditional humanity, and someone who was still firmly engrained with the collective, communist ideals of the Galactic Alliance, I instead got the classic “rogue A.I.” situation.  You should know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen enough media with A.I. in it.  The A.I. takes on a life of its own and goes beyond its protocol to harm or enslave humanity.  Think 2001, Terminator, the Matrix, most any sci-fi TV series that isn’t focused on aliens, and many, many, many anime.  Though I will say it lead to the very interesting situation of two rogue A.I. clashing with each other.  It felt like it strayed from the overall goal and talking point of the show.  Or maybe it was a fitting comeuppance for the A.I….

Chamber had been an incredibly integral part of this story from the beginning.  And has eerily had some of its most introspective and intense moments.  So to see him come to life at the very end of the show and completely steal it felt like a triumphant mecha moment.  Perhaps one of my favorites.  I admit that teared welled up in my eyes.  Ledo was purged by him to spare him the sacrifice and loss of an inevitable love.  He was his life long companion.  And in essence he “threw himself on the grenade” to spare his pal and give him a long, free life.  It was amazing to watch.  Absolutely amazing.

So while I lament the show not being long enough for me to wallow in it, or that it didn’t touch on the human condition quite as intensely as I’d have liked, it left room for Chamber.  And I couldn’t be happier about that.

Goodbye Gargantia, the show and the fleet.  It’s been a fun ride.

Further Reading:

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