Friday, October 11, 2013

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Garugantia)

Within minutes of finishing one of the best anime I've seen all year, I find myself trying to reflect on what I have seen and compose my thoughts enough to where I don't come out sounding like I just went on a massive "feel trip." Well, folks, I did just go on a massive feel trip so I am not sure I can help sounding like an overzealous fanboy.

There is no doubt in my mind that ATTACK ON TITAN was the best show of the summer (probably best show of the year), but I would dare say that GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET was the second best and I feel like a complete idiot for avoiding it just because it was "another mecha anime."

It's not that I don't love me some mecha action, but I find them difficult to tell apart every now and then. I mean, once you've seen a few of the GUNDAM shows, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, EUREKA SEVEN, ESCAFLOWNE, and CODE GEASS the list of mecha must-see shows kind of dwindles a bit. At least for me. I don't mind digging a bit for harem, romantic comedies, horror, or straight-up action shows that fit the bill of "must-see", but mecha is the one genre that just kind of slips between the cracks for me. While I can watch a couple action shows or a couple of harem shows at once, I can't really do the same with mecha shows because they generally have such complex storylines that having multiple mecha shows going on at once isn't really recommended. So while I was watching VALVRAVE THE LIBERATOR season one, I was deliberately putting off GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET and MAJESTIC PRINCE.

Not saying I made a mistake because I really enjoyed VALVRAVE THE LIBERATOR, but GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET is definitely a must-see show while VALVRAVE THE LIBERATOR is technically a still unfinished show which might or might not fit the bill of must-see depending upon what the second season brings.

Anyway, enough dillydallying. It's time for me to do some serious anime dissecting.

Ledo is a brainwashed soldier and he pilots an AI name Chamber. Together they fight against these mammoth squid-like creatures called Hideauze. The Hideauze are apparently the enemy of humanity. Before getting a chance to go to Avalon (where brainwashed futuristic people live now) after a failed attack on the Hideauze, Ledo and Chamber crash land on some strange primitive planet covered in water where non-brainwashed primitive people live. In this new world that features no war on a galactic scale and seemingly no Hideauze, Ledo finds himself struggling to adapt.

That's the start. Now here's the sell.

My goal here is to sell you this show. So let's start with the 5 W's and the 1 H.

Who - Who is this anime for? Well, if you are a fan of the "fish out of water" genre, the post-apocalyptic Mad Max/Waterworld scenario, big ass squids, or the mecha genre then this show is what you want.

What - What will you get from this anime that you can't get from any other? This show is a superbly crafted characterization piece disguised as a post-apocalyptic mecha anime that wouldn't look too out of place next to Miyazaki Hayao's SPIRITED AWAY. The thing is that each character grows as the story progresses, not just one or two of them. Hell, even the mechas and the enemies end up becoming something completely different than initially expected. If you watched the last episode before the first episode (why you would I wouldn't know), you wouldn't even recognize all of the characters because they've just grown so much. Perhaps the biggest character growth will surprise you, too.

Where - Where does the story actually take place? Well, Gargantia is a loosely bound fleet of ships that swims across the water-covered earth. They try to evade pirates and generally try to live in peace with everyone. Then Ledo and Chamber come down from the sky (well, technically they find them six months after they landed on earth deep under water during a diving/recovery mission) and things get pretty interesting from there.

Why - Why should you watch this mecha anime and not any other mecha? I honestly don't discourage people from watching this show or that show. I think you should watch as many anime as you can get your hands on, mecha or not. But why should you add this show specifically to your watching queue? For one, I think the pacing is excellent. With its twelve episode, Gargantia makes the absolute most of its screen time. (That is not saying it's action 24/7 because the first half of the series is fairly loose. It's where Ledo learns to enjoy things like just spending a day at a cookout or having to outrun a bunch of cross dressers in a dark alley to keep from being possibly raped. You know, just your average every day living life stuff that doesn't require mass amounts of killing. These episodes are important in providing a false sense of security.) For another, AI Chamber is easily one of the best robots media has produced. I'd place him up there with Ash from the ALIEN franchise, HAL from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and the Terminator from T2 for sure. At least, those are my favorite robots/AI. I'm sure you'd place Chamber next to your favorites, too.

When - When does this story take place? I honestly don't know. It's obviously futuristic, but there doesn't seem to be a specific date. I actually prefer my sci-fi like that. It makes things less silly when humankind actually catches up with the timeframe of a given sci-fi show.

How - How should you watch it? It's streaming legally right now on Crunchyroll. Except for the two OVA's. I haven't seen those yet. But I will whenever they are made available for purchase in the US! Same for the series.

Curious yet? You better be.

P.S. - A sequel to the first season has been green-lit and I am freaking glad. This show is good. Let's hope the sequel (whatever it is: movie, OVA, another season) does the show justice. Although I am wondering just how they will do it considering the... well never mind.
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