Never has any recent anime series made me cry awesome (literally) as much as Suisei no Gargantia (Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet) did, and for me that makes it Spring anime 2013’s best.
Despite being a short 13 episode series, Gargantia managed to do quite a bit with the limited screen time, divided between developing some of its diverse cast and moving ahead with the plot.
The first episode opened with a magnificent battle between the humans and an unknown alien life-form called the Hideauze, leading most to draw similarities to the space opera Macross Frontier. Until the 2nd episode on, that is.
Lead protagonist Ledo finds himself awakened and dispatched into combat, after being informed by his AI counterpart Chamber (his mecha a.k.a Machine Caliber) that he can take a break on Avalon, a space colony that the humans have developed. We don’t get to see any of that however, as events see him being thrown into a wormhole and landing up on Earth.
Earth’s where the rest of the story takes place, so you won’t see any space combat after the misleading episode 1. Much of the beginning, up to right before the halfway mark is the development of the characters Ledo meets aboard Gargantia (a huge interconnected fleet of ships), as well as his attempt to mingle with the people, and the culture shock he experiences. While slow at times, (most of it) is integral to the latter half, so stick with it. 🙂
It’s pretty much set in stone after Ledo takes her hostage when they first meet that Amy will be the love-interest-of-sorts, but she’s no damsel in distress. Instead, she decides to take on the role of the middleman between Ledo and the Gargantia fleet, and her bubbly personality helps carry the series’ quieter moments.
Once the story kicks into full gear from episode six, you’ll be undoubtedly left hooked as the great reveal that happens would blow any expectations you had of the series right out of the water.
The series’ strength lies in the amount of depth given to Ledo’s turmoil between fulfilling his duties as a soldier or living in the present and coexisting with Earth’s inhabitants, and this growth is further exemplified with the inclusion of Chamber’s deadpan (and often humorous) responses that matures together with his pilot. Speaking about Chamber, you are unlikely to forget about this AI anytime soon. The twists in the story are also refreshing to the genre, and something even the most hardened of detectives might have difficulty foreseeing.
Animation is top-notch with Production I.G at the reins, and the soundtrack is a mix of soft tunes and exciting compositions that accompanies the scenes well when used.
The finale would leave you satisfied, with plenty of room for a sequel that I really hope airs. For now, there’s an OVA to look forward to in August.
It is rare for an original IP to debut as an animation series, with adaptations of novels and manga being the preferred choice. Not since 2006’s Code Geass has an original animation series moved me as much as Suisei no Gargantia did. Take the time to watch it, you’d be hard-pressed not to agree. 😉
“Kutabare! Buriki Yarou!”