Gargantia is awesome. It does an amazing job of suggesting an enormous amount of shit through visuals alone, even if that shit isn’t really delved into. For instance, the huge space battle in the first episode features all these fantastic patterns, formations, and suggestions about the nature of the main character and the current battle.
So what’s the show missing? Well, more of what it does best! Everything that’s shown in the series manages to suggest a lot; the problem is that in three and a half episodes of Ledo being on Earth, not enough has been shown! Ledo spends the better part of episodes three and four literally sitting on the mast of one ship in this huge Gargantia fleet, and while we’ve seen a bunch of short clips of Amy running through the town, and plenty of sweeping shots of the fleet, it feels like we’ve hardly even seen an ounce of this would-be fascinating location.
In episode four, Ledo finally gets off the starting boat and into town, but things are happening too quickly (not pacing-wise, mind), and he isn’t seeing enough. The episode is too quick to jump into a series of dialog dumps from its principal characters, instead of allowing Ledo to learn about them and their home organically.
While Ledo’s conversation with Bevel helped him start to comprehend these people, having this conversation is a wasted opportunity regarding what makes Ledo interesting. He’s a super-observant, quick-learning character, so if he’d been given enough time aboard the ship interacting with people, these emotions could have been brought out of him by way of his own observations, rather than hamfistedly being told to him by a slew of characters who probably won’t matter at all outside of teaching him things.
This hamfistedness is altogether the biggest trouble with Gargantia. It’s created a serious, involving world, with believably rational characters, but is too quick to tell them exactly what to do, like it’s working its way down a character development checklist. In episode three, the whole idea about Ledo not killing people is handled in a ridiculous manner. They still fight the pirates, and both sides assumably take casualties, so… huh? Was there no way to teach Ledo the importance of human life other than to take unnecessary casualties on their own team? Wasn’t the damage caused by Ledo killing in episode two already done, so at this point it didn’t matter anymore?
The Earthlings are not as logical of thinkers as Ledo, but having the military leaders apparently instruct Ledo not to kill seems a bit backwards. I expected them to let him off the reigns, at least towards the end when lives were in serious danger, but no one says anything, and Ledo persists in sparing lives (successfully, fwiw), because he’s not really on anyone’s side. I don’t question Ledo’s actions so much as those of the fleet.
Anyways, I’m still enjoying this show a lot despite these issues, and looking forward to what might come, especially after finding out this is an Urobuchi Gen show. In the coming episodes, I’d like to see the show pull back on the dialog a bit and let Ledo actually explore the Gargantia, preferably alone, without side characters constantly pointing out the significance of what he’s seeing. Flesh out this grand setting and make us feel a part of it, and let Ledo learn on his own, now that he’s past the first knowledge barrier.