What’s Missing From Four Eps of Suisei no Gargantia

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.

11 thoughts on “What’s Missing From Four Eps of Suisei no Gargantia

  1. I think they really bungled episode 3 with the pirates. If the pirates were really threatening, and not just lazy cliches, then at least we could say Gangantia was rationalizing their cowardice as a survival instinct.

    Or, if they were just another competing floating convoy that was at odds with them, then it would make sense for them to be a bit preachy at first, until they realized that they were just as much at fault as Ledo was.

    But in this version, it feels like Gargantia was shifting the blame to Ledo, and the story wanted us to think he was mostly at fault. That doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, especially since the pirates were described as “bad people” and given no depth.

    I mean, who cares if they died? They were just shallow plot devices. Maybe if the story took some time to establish the pirates as real humans first I could buy that they co-existed with Gargantia. I could care less about the lobster queen.

    • Right, they basically gave us Gurren Lagann’s beastmen, but instead of Kamina being a hero, everyone’s like “you killed them? That’s fucked up, bro.” It just doesn’t feel right.

  2. Bullseye; post is cash. This is why my interest in the show tanked after episode 2. The issue is basically one of, “Shouldn’t Ledo learn stuff about societies BY engaging with a given society?” I expected the side-by-side of the civilization he came from and the Gargantia to be subtler. Instead the talking feels a little what happens in the worst of Bee Train monologue/dialogue (kind of all of it): this sense of “what the fuck are you talking about” and “oh yeah, this is somehow deep and significant.” It’s kind of a cheat that he can just walk up to people and hear sappy, kind of incoherent responses to his demands for logical reasoning, and be moved or whatnot.

    I wanted to have fun just watching pirates be stupid in ep 3 (because the plot there was definitely weak), but it just wasn’t worth it to me. Yeah, Rackage was bangin’, but I wasn’t really interested in her lesbo-minions, or her unattractive, cowardly goons.

    At some points the motivations are just…weird, like you pointed out. I can’t help feeling that we have to grant too much to this society’s way of doing things before comfortably moving forward with the plot.

    The “we negotiate with guns” thing sort of made sense, because the show made clear the real gap that exists between context, feeling, and words—but it’s ultimately stupid because I there’s no clear reason why Gargantia would try to walk such a tightrope. Children? Families? What? And the “we kill only what we have to” makes me go, “uh, yeah, because there’s no way you could manage the implications of over-hunting, in the first place.” Heat, waste of salt, management of staff and resources, etc. And I didn’t think Amy would call Ledo “stupid.” I thought she’d be terrified, or disgusted, or something. I thought that would have opened up a rift between them. In the end, anyone’s squawking about consequences at all was bound to be pointless, just like you wrote.

    We’re only a third of the way in. In the end, this show feels like it’s going to be a lot of “this happens just because the writer needs it to” rather than a sense like of causally and necessarily going somewhere.

    • Yeah, I still don’t get the whole guns show thing, if only because the pirates clearly have the means to utterly overpower the Gargantia. Which begs the question, if they’re a bunch of evil assholes, why didn’t they do so already? Ep 3 really was a total mess in this regard.

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