Suisei no Gargantia – 06

Suisei no Gargantia - 06-12 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-20 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-23

Back on track, thank goodness, but I can’t help but be a little frustrated with Suisei no Gargantia.

I’m somewhat torn after watching this episode.  It was good, don’t get me wrong – not quite as good as the superb first 4 episodes of the series, but very good indeed.  But what sense does it make for a 12-episode series that’s too short as is to take two eps to do exactly the same thing?  In effect, this was a replay of last week’s episode except it was good.  It was like a do-over – and it makes last week’s misstep even more unnecessary (apart from the most crass of considerations) than it already was.

On the other hand, the subject of Ledo trying to take his first steps into making a life for himself on Gargantia is an important one, and it certainly deserved a better telling than it got last week.  Especially given what Gen Urobuchi has said about this being a series targeted at young adults trying to enter adulthood at a very difficult time in Japan’s history, this is an important topic.  Ledo makes a very interesting metaphor for those people, who feel alienated in a society that no longer offers the security it offered their parents and grandparents and not especially motivated to conform to the expectations being placed on them.  It might even be argued that this symbolic journey of Ledo is the underpinning of the entire series – though at this point I think it’s too early to say.

So we can pretty much pretend last week’s ep never happened (there are certainly parts I wish I could forget) and view this as the chronicle of Ledo trying to find a useful place in Gargantian society.  This takes place against the backdrop of the fleet’s matsuri, which means a massive fishing push and ritual dancing, among other things.  It does seem that Gargantia has an obsessive interest in using Amy’s body (and those of her friends) for fanservice purposes, to the point of an excess that’s a bit beneath the dignity of the series in general.  At least in this episode it served a function, which was to highlight Ledo’s growing awareness of human imperatives.  And it shows up that in many ways this series is very much a throwback – there’s a lot of Matsumoto Leiji in its bloodlines, and not just his – in some ways it feels very much like a product of Leiji’s era (he’s still around, but was at the zenith of his popularity in the 70’s and 80’s).  And while Leiji had more than his share of powerful and intelligent females in his work, that’s not always going to be politically correct.

We begin to see why Pinion might have started to take more interest in Ledo – he’s seen the potential of Ledo (more crucially, Chamber) in the salvage game.  Bellows has too, of course.  This makes sense on several levels – salvage is obviously an area where Chamber’s skills could be put to tremendous use.  But there’s also the fact that in the Gargantia mythology, the sea – and the sea floor – is almost surely where the answers lie.  That’s important from a purely narrative standpoint – we need exposition and the series is half-over – but it’s surely important to Ledo too, for obvious reasons.  And the sense I get is that he’s figured this out as well – this is what he wants Bellows to “teach” him.  And I suspect it’s why he chose Bellows’ offer over Pinion’s – he’s seen that she’s clearly the more serious of the two, and more likely to help him find the answers he seeks.

And even now, we’re starting to get a few answers.  Almost unnoticed in the episode is the passing mention that the Swirling Galaxies are actually nanomachines, a product of mankind’s ancient technology – surely a very important revelation.  There’s also the continued hinting that the Hideauze may in fact be of Terran origin – the first instance when Ledo panics after seeing a cooked octopus revealed at the dinner table.  In the final scene, as he’s learning salvage on the sea bed from Bellows, when Chamber announced with “99.7% probability” that he’s spotted a Hideauze.  My money is on it being a giant squid – or “whale squid” as Bellows refers to them jokingly in that very scene in the restaurant with the octopus.  I don’t imagine she mentioned that coincidentally, but I also don’t think Chamber is going to say 99.7% without good evidence – he probably has the ability to profile a target’s DNA or some such futuristic technology.  Lots of “ifs” there, but if those guesses are right and giant squid are related to Hideauze, it certainly is a game-changer.

The other major development is Ledo’s growing awareness that he desires Amy, and that he’s starting to have familial feelings towards she and Bevel.  This, again, ties into the notion of Suisei as a series speaking to young adults discovering themselves, each milestone a life-changing moment.  The scene where Amy and her friends danced in the restaurant was a bit crass and in my view unnecessary, but the one where she did a “private dance” for him was much better.  In his playing the flute for her and she doing a ritual dance for him, it felt like a moment where they really opened up to each other – and the fact that she was 80% naked and he clearly liked it is not incidental.  There’s also the matter, of course, of his instinctively protecting her physically when the veils of light from the Swirling Galaxy surprised him (they provided a lovely backdrop to her lovely dance).  Ledo even brings Bevel a present – a wind-up crab and a candy – and there’s a growing sense of domesticity between he and the siblings.  We see Ledo smile more in this episode more than in any other, by far, and it’s no coincidence – he’s finally been able to “support someone”.  In the journey to adulthood, finding a sense of belonging is perhaps the ultimate goal, and that seems to be the heart of Ledo’s personal journey, and of the story Suisei no Gargantia is trying to tell.

Suisei no Gargantia - 06-7 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-8 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-9
Suisei no Gargantia - 06-10 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-11 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-13
Suisei no Gargantia - 06-14 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-15 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-16
Suisei no Gargantia - 06-17 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-18 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-19
Suisei no Gargantia - 06-21 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-22 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-24
Suisei no Gargantia - 06-25 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-26 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-27
Suisei no Gargantia - 06-28 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-29 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-30
Suisei no Gargantia - 06-31 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-32 Suisei no Gargantia - 06-33


  1. I

    Aww Ledo finally noticed Amy =)!

  2. d

    So like…. Cliff hanger ending for Gargantia.
    Same for Valvare
    And then there is a white kitty confession.
    And lots more.
    Why do this on the week I'm going to see Mifune?
    Enzo you heading to Kyoto this wednesday?

  3. I wish! Any special reason I should be?

  4. d

    May 15 Every year is Aoi Matsuri. (The usual floats and parade)
    3rd Sunday of May is Mifune matsuri. (The parade is by Arashimaya river with boat songs)

  5. d

    Whoops. I meant on the river. Spectators are by the river.
    Still trying to find out whether getting on a boat is permissible to non-Japanese, non-connected elite.

  6. Well, we have Sanja Matsuri next week here. And I'm in the middle of the semester so, trips ain't happening.

  7. K

    This episode was certainly better than last week but I can't
    say the fanservice of the first episode didn't bother me.

    If only they had taken the good parts from last (there were a few) and the good parts of this week and combined them into one really strong episode. Somehow I feel Ledo having difficulty last week and then suddenly getting offers this week might not have been the most poignant way to deal with this theme either.

    But I will say that I enjoyed the 2nd more tasteful dance and Ledo and Chamber learning to fish (and how we see that they are much together than apart). Ledo relies on Chamber but clearly Chamber needs Ledo's human understanding as well.

  8. As I said, the first dance felt crass and unnecessary (much like all of last week's episode, pretty much) but I did like the second one.

  9. K

    Sorry I just realized my post was full of typos.

  10. Z

    Gotta make use of those hentai-artist designs after all.

  11. l

    Didn't really feel this ep either. Granted, it was marginally better than the last, but was still mostly divided between an unfunny "Hataraku Ledo-sama" and cheap-ass "Let's Make Ledo Horny".

    They seem to be sacrificing the world-building. Would have been okay if the character-building made up for it, but it hasn't since they relegated Bevel to the sidelines. I'm usually a "practical experience over theory" guy, but in this case, theory with Bevel would have been so much better than practical experience (plus Otaku pandering) with Amy.

    Lastly, they've been insulting Chamber's intelligence these last two eps, which displeases me greatly. Last week he was treated as a grill, and this time he's a fisherbot. Meh.

    Bellows would probably rank second behind Bevel in my list of "make Ledo human in a non-cheap way" candidates. Hopefully we get more of her interacting with Ledo in the next ep.

  12. K

    Exactly how I felt about the dancing scenes; the first one was really unnecessary and really rather insulting to the series and to the whole fanservice issue; the second was much lovelier and meant a whole lot more.

  13. R

    Enzo, I like this review of yours a lot. You pointed out a lot of Ledo's growth — some I didn't even take note of when watching — and tied them back to the main theme.

    I like episode 4 the most and in particular the exchange between Bebel and Ledo — it's positively inspiring and endearing at the same time. I do like Ledo and his development — he's learning, changing and adapting himself to this unknown world trying to find a purpose for his existence. I can see the possible romantic pairing between Ledo and Amy, but my feeling towards the romance isn't strong, as Amy hasn't come off as a character to me yet although she seems likable. I don't enjoy the fanservice, but probably it's to instill interest from its target audience to ultimately get its message across…just a thought and hope that I am not offending anyone.

    Talking about the message, I find that it's pretty noble of Gen and other creators for making this show. Gargantia is my favourite work that Gen is involved in so far. I like that it's putting more focus in the character department, but knowing the purpose behind the creation has given me a whole new respect for the show. I hope that it's doing well in Japan…and elsewhere, as the message can really be applied to anyone.

  14. G

    Gargantia disgusts me for various reasons. Amy and friends are some of the worst characters I've ever seen, oversexed, shallow and with nothing to offer in terms of conversation. The fanservice is always there,and I'm not talking only about the beach/dance scenes but the whole appearance/clothes/attitude of the female characters is offensive. I get that the characters designs come from an h manga artist but that's no excuse. The stereotypical and even more offensive depiction of trans people was the nail in the coffin. Look I get that the series is trying to "say things", but the flaws are too serious to ignore and they make even the good scenes rotten as a result. The best character is Bebel and the best episode is episode 4, but what followed brought the whole thing down and the series lost me.

  15. E

    My strongest reaction of current episode:
    "Oi, oi, those girls are underage, pops!"

  16. H

    I just reveled in this episode. To me it helped make the series feel so lush and full (and not just talking about Amy and Saya and Bellows), and I didn't have any issue with the last one. I feel like the 'crass' parts are a good counterpoint to the fairly sterile, almost Star Trek-like parts that the show usually has. Yes, it's in a fairly dingy ship, but without those parts of the show, all we'd see is a few squeaky clean folks who befriend space boy and try to teach him how to be a human in an oddly inhumanly happy society.

    I can wish they'd played the seedy side of Gargantia a bit straighter, without dipping into played-for-laughs transvestite prostitutes, but I think their other purpose for being shown is still important. Below-decks isn't as bright and cheerful, and there are still people toiling away down there trying to make themselves successful. And there are a lot of guys there who think that seeing exciting belly-dancing by cute scantily clad girls is great recreation. And cute girls who like doing it. This is the way humanity is, and I think it's doing a pretty good job depicting that.

  17. My issue is really with the fact that there was roughly one good episode worth of material in the last two episodes (and 90% of that was in this one) and they covered pretty much the same ground. It was a waste. Apart from that, there's a general fetishizing of the girls – especially Amy – that borders on the creepy with how relentless it is. Fanservice is fine, but for such an otherwise dignified and smart show, Gargantia seems way too obsessed with these girls. And I do think the restaurant scene was crass and unpleasant – though the conversation Amy had with her friends in #5 was probably more offensively sexist than any fanservice has been.

    And the transvestite stuff was just mean-spirited, plain and simply. Needless and demeaning to all involved.

  18. G

    My question is how can you still enjoy this show, while having noticed these serious problems it has. You can't compartmentalize and just keep watching for the good stuff,that would be like lying to yourself. Even the good parts of episodes you mentioned are infected by the shitty pandering. These are the same people responsible for creating both sides after all.

  19. H

    Well, mainly, I don't really care about 'pandering'. What you call 'serious problems' are things that do not bother me at all. There are plenty of different shows that are out there to watch. The ones you like 'pander' to you in a way you find acceptable, the ones you don't like do the opposite. If you go through life looking for ways to be offended, you're sure to find them.

    Yes, the festival scene was crass, and you can find it unpleasant if you want, but I also thought it was very human. And since I think the point of the show is to show Red's exposure to humanity, I thought it fit into the show very well and served a purpose for filling out the world that they live in.

  20. G

    There is no good pandering. If you do things for the sole purpose of pleasing a specific target group and fetishize your (in this case only the female) characters it devalues the series. It makes it cheap, mindless entertainment as opposed to a work of art. By not caring about those things, it's like saying you don't care about anime or art in general.

  21. H

    Yeah, cause Red forcibly stripped down to his shorts wasn't 'fetishized'? But if the society they're in has that as the norms, that might mean it's not a equality paradise you want to see, but that doesn't mean that *the series* is devalued. We're looking at a society as presented.

  22. G

    You can understand of course that it's not a balanced situation where females and males are equally fetishized,not that that would be fine if it was done in poor taste like in this series. Revolutionary Girl Utena is a good example of sensuality done right.

    But it's more than that. It's the whole tone set by even seemingly innocent scenes. Take the opening scene of episode 6 as a good example. The shots are more focused on Amy's ass than her face for 5 whole seconds. That didn't just happen by chance. This is planned and deliberate. How can you watch that and not realize something is very wrong here. This is not a "cultural aspect", that is the director showing the viewers what they supposedly want to see and making her ass the most important part of her character. Of course it didn't stop there. The dance scenes followed and made quite clear that hey! that's the whole purpose of these characters. They are there as sexual objects, a chance for our straight male character to explore his desires! Gee that's not a familiar plot device at all.

  23. Z

    The first time Amy's friends showed up I knew something was off about them. Lo and behold they were exotic dancers all along!

  24. m

    My four main senarios:

    1) Hideauze are created by earth species that fused with the nano-things and by taking solar energy they led to the global ice age thus forcing humans to migrate from their own planet.

    2) Hideauze are Gallactic Alliance's creation and they have people fighting them because they got out of control but alliance kept hiding their true identity.

    3)Under the influence of lifetime propaganda people of avalon fight the Hideauze thinking them as the attackers when instead, alliance's real goal is to take advantage of hideauzes planet's rare resourses by force or even the planet itself if it is habitable.

    4) (the super crazy science fiction scenario) where the series producers are mind…ng us by concluding to something like that marine life created life on earth (as modern paleodology-biology evoutionary theories claim that water-life was the first -giant squids thought really ancient etc) even leading to the existance of human beeings, but marine life(well a bit alienly buffed up though) will also end it. the main hero gets into earth through the wormhole but also travelling back in time (!) making the hideauze with chambers energy beams and all reacting to the earth marine life which will finally lead to the creation of the monsters and earth evacuation of humans ( which explains why the avalon people have "just myths" about earth although their knowledge and technological advance couldnt locate it- because earth existed no more at their time-same reason earth time chamber cannot locate the alliance) and thus creating a timeseries and logical paradox. or something like that… or even that the grey haired race (ledo's race) through such an accident created humanity long ago, and by their own fault they also will cease humanity's existance. (thats even crazier)…

    "or 5th bonus will lead to some hippy lovey-dubby theory about peaceful coexistance with a hippy flower boy ledo completely changed from the macho cold-ass warrior type, trying to hug a hideauze, which instead devours him with a single bite"…nah just trolling with that last one…

  25. h

    A theory I've been thinking for a while but solidified a little more for me after this week is if the creature Ledo encountered at the end of this episode really is a progenitor to the Hideauze, could Ledo have been "sent back in time"? Let me explain

    Today in reality when we look at super nova explosions through the Hubble Space Telescope, those are actually taking place a number of light years before because of how long it takes for the light to reach Earth for us to see. Now applying that concept to Ledo, when he got separated from the humanity he knows and landed on Earth, Ledo actually landed in the "past" relative to his humanity ,wherever they are in the universe, but on Earth it's the "present" for the people on Earth.

    If we hypothetically tried to go to the nearest star system ,Alpha Centauri, without lightspeed travel and came back all of the people we know would have died already and Earth would be in the "future" relative to when we left

    What do you guys think? Not saying it's right but I think would make sense in the context of the show regarding the technology gap between Ledo and Earth. If there are any holes in my theory please let me know! : )

  26. A

    It's only plausible if the warp hole malfunction caused Chamber to travel faster than the speed of light, which means traveling backwards in time, to a point before Ledo's time, and elsewhere in the universe.

    That would account for why Chamber is having difficulty in locating their base from Earth's location – for the stars have shifted position or location over thousands of years in the past….

  27. p

    I have to say this. The past two episodes have seriously disappointed me. Moreover this episode was rife with the 'male gaze', girls pushing their boobs and butts into the camera, and brokeback (broken spine scenarios). Seriously its a term. Girls in animated media suffer from this scenario so often its not funny. It's when artist try to draw a girl to display her whole (or a fair amount of) her backside while twisting the spine in order to allow breasts to be drawn as well. The only this would be possible is if her spine was broken. Don't even get me started on the disgusting representations and characterization of the trans/crossdressers in the last ep. For a series that seems to have realistic themes(state of youth and employment and all that) in mind, and a message to impart to youth, what is this telling girls? You're seen as a sex object, you should worry about your weight and how you wont be good enough for the guy if you are chubby, you should pander to males and try to contort into impossible poses and try to act like a porn star all to cater to their sexual desires…This show would have been better if they had focused on ledo and his conflicts.

  28. A

    Agreed with Pitchan.

    I hated last week's episode, and was not happy with this week either. Enzo is right, they should've aired this episode last week with no loss to the overall plot.

    PSYCHO-PASS didn't fumble the ball this bad. Thus, I think Urobuchi should have more control in the future.

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