Suisei no Gargantia – 08

Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -11 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -18 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -22

Expectations can be a real burden.

In a sense it’s almost hard to believe that Suisei no Gargantia is a one-cour series, because it sure as heck isn’t acting like one.  I think that’s only one of many reasons why fan reaction to this series is all over the map, most of them centering on what seem to be misplaced notions of just what kind of series this was going to be.  It was hyped (by the third-party fan community far more than the series itself) as a mecha series reimagined by the Urobutcher – kind of a Madoka Magica for the giant robot set.  As it turns out, of course, it isn’t really much of a mecha series and so far at least, it isn’t acting like a Gen series – the latter a combination of the fact that Gen isn’t writing every episode this time, and that he intentionally set out to be a philosophically different kind of show this time around.

For me, I’m really fine with all that.  I’m pleased to see Gen’s idea machine being used in the service of something other than nihilistic despair, and as beautifully animated as most of it has been I think Gargantia is at its best as a dignified, empathetic character drama.  But then we had the expectation-defying 5th and 6th episodes – two eps which at best should have been combined into one, and for which the series has offered no explanation to contradict the Occam’s Razor-friendly one that it was strictly for crass commercial considerations that they weren’t.  So there’s my expectations confounded too, and while the series has regained its footing we’re now staring down the barrel of the final four episodes, with huge amounts of the story seemingly untold.

It’s in that context that an episode like this one is worrying, though on its own terms I thought it was very good indeed.  Like Red Data Girl, this is a series that seems ill-suited for a one-cour format.  Like all Gen’s shows it’s full of interesting ideas and lays out some fascinating ethical dilemmas to be considered, and more so than most of them it gives us an interesting character story to go along with that.  With two cours to play with a fanservice episode (though hopefully a better one) would be an allowable change-of-pace, and we might have seen the relationship between Fairlock and Ridget – indeed, both of their characters themselves – fleshed out enough to make the events of this week as emotional as they wanted to be.  It still worked – I loved the way Fairlock’s funeral procession was animated.  It was somber, dignified and oddly beautiful – all terms I’d apply to Gargantia itself when it’s on its game.  And I’m on-board with the depiction of the dissolution of the fleet – quiet, sad and regretful rather than full of arguing and threats.  It’s just that with a certain remove towards Fairlock and Ridget, the emotional impact was muted.

In point of fact, right now it’s hard to put much stock in Ridget as a character.  It’s clear that Fairlock has chosen her because she’s the daughter of Chevron, the former Fleet Commander and presumably his best friend.  But Ridget herself hasn’t done much to inspire confidence.  I don’t think she’s distinguished herself in her interactions with Ledo, which have involved almost no trying to understand him and his motivations (Amy, Bevel and Bellows have more or less tried to do that on their own volition), but rather either asking him to fight for her or pointing a gun at him.  She hasn’t shown herself to be especially decisive or confident.  And she almost made a terrible, terrible mistake in not attending Fairlock’s funeral.  The fact that she did do so at the very last minute is better than nothing but doesn’t excuse the lapse in judgment in almost not doing so at all, which can only be attributed to a fear of facing the expectations of the people.  We don’t know Fairlock well but he was clearly much revered by the Gargantians, and she owes her position to him (indeed, Flange and many others would seemingly have preferred the experienced Crown take over) and she shouldn’t have needed a last-minute flash of inspiration to realize that her place should have been with the others, showing Fairlock respect in his final moments on Gargantia.

As for Ledo, he seems no less determined to carry his fight against the Hideauze to the whalesquids, and that certainly doesn’t change when Chamber delivers a shocking bit of news: he’s located the Galactic Alliance.  The catch is that they’re 6582 light-years away, meaning his SOS won’t even reach them until then, and Chamber says he has no way to return them home without help (accent mine).  I’m not sold that a method won’t present itself – Ledo having to make a choice about whether to return is a logical dramatic climax for the series, though not the only one – but for now, he’s stuck on Earth.  And with Ridget’s decision not to allow him to go to war with the whalesquid, that means leaving the fleet along with Flange and Pinion.  And that means another painful separation in a setting that’s undergoing many at the moment – Melty is leaving along with Flange, among others – and sets up the twin pillars of the final arc of the series, seemingly.

On the one hand, we have the dilemma over the whalesquids, which in effect forces us to confront the larger question over the Gargantian way of life.  In typical Gen fashion the issue is clouded, with no clear-cut “right” answer.  I can’t blame Flange or even Pinion for what they want to do – they want to move forward, and to them (Flange more altruistically than Pinion) that means confronting the evidence of mankind’s past, and if that means confronting the whalesquid too, so be it.  Ridget takes Fairlock’s view that Gargantia has a peaceful way of life – mostly – and has never had a reason to battle the whalesquids, so starting a fight makes no sense.  It’s a similar dilemma to the issue of the pirates in a way, except unlike the pirates – where what seems to exist is a sort of appeasement policy – we see no evidence the squids have ever done Gargantia (or humanity) any harm on a large scale.

Likewise, from Ledo’s perspective confronting the whalesquids makes perfect sense.  Even knowing he can never return home, he still sees them as a threat to humanity – except on the scale of it’s scattered Terran remnants and not the Galactic Alliance.  The problem is, he’s still trying to start a war with an enemy who so far isn’t an enemy, and other than genetics he has no conclusive evidence that the whalesquids will ever be a threat to humanity.  Is he justified to preemptively try and destroy them, based on what he knows?  It’s a hard question to answer, and it drives the personal drama that’s the series’ most powerful component.

While Amy has been a fairly superficial construction so far – perfectly pleasant and likeable, but mostly a plot driver – it’s in Ledo’s interactions with Bevel that Gargantia has achieved its greatest emotional depth.  Ledo admits to Bevel this week that the original owner of the flute was probably his younger brother, doing so as he gives the new one he’s made to Bevel.  For Ledo Bevel is a reminder of his old world in the most painful way, and also the reason he wants to exterminate the squid now – so that Amy will never have to experience the sacrifices he had to experience as a result of being a species under perpetual threat of extinction.  It was quite powerful seeing Bevel not just lift himself from his bed, but to actually run to Ledo’s side after he sees what the older boy’s planned departure is doing to Amy – while Ledo struggles with being an alien on his own world, Bevel must deal with his inability to be a fully functioning member of society.  Both of them, in their own way, feel useless – and because of that I think they understand each other in a way no one else understands either of them.

Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -9 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -10 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -12
Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -13 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -14 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -15
Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -16 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -17 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -19
Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -20 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -21 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -23
Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -24 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -25 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -26
Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -27 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -28 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -29
Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -30 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -31 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -32
Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -33 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -34 Suisei no Gargantia - 08 -35


  1. H

    Hmm, I'm gonna disagree with the pacing here, we still have (I think) five episodes left and that's more than long enough to resolve the issues we have here (especially since it looks like my earlier guess, that the GA would try to take over Earth will most likely not happen in the course of this show) especially since most of the issues are, well, small. It'll only take one or two big events for the fleet to see the need to rejoin/Ridget to be accepted as a leader/have Ledo come to a better life choice than "murder all the potentially dangerous sea life", although since this is a story I doubt it'll all be quite that simple. But I still think they can wrap this up easily, I'm not gonna panic for another two episodes at least.

  2. M

    Only four episodes left actually. So there is certainly cause for worry, though I remain cautiously optimistic.

  3. l

    Whether the calamari are real threat; I guess all depends on what kind of 'lost technology' they're protecting in that lair of theirs. Do they really want to prevent humanity from reaching previous heights, or are they just hipster invertebrates collecting shiny objects.

    Next Episode Title: Fisherman Space Boy

    Yeah, you can tell I've lost interest already…..

  4. H

    I'm betting that there's no relics or treasures there. Just more of the same stuff they already know about. Just old sailors tales about unreachable wealth. And given Chamber's weapons' ineffectiveness underwater, I don't really see how Pinion / Flange's plan will hold up if there is that number of effectives that the Whalesquids ran under the Gargantia flotilla.

    I'm glad that Earth is that remote, and I'm still hoping that the 'never return' scenario continues to the ending. To me, this story is about the people we're seeing now, not some far off war, not the Galactic Alliance. There's plenty of story here.

  5. O

    This was a good episode overall but pretty frustrating to watch to be honest. Like some of you have already said, the pacing seems very odd considering how much episodes there are left.

    I agree with Highway that it is a story about the gargantian, not the Galactic Alliance. If Ledo manages to find a way back home, it will surely be at the very end of the last episode and nothing more, with him bringing his new experiences to the Galatic Alliance.

  6. I

    The only problem I have had with this show, and it was more evident probably here, is that Amy has never really try to come understand Ledo's reasoning. She think she knows whats best for him and what he should and should no do, but then again who is reallhy to tell. For Gargantia standard maybe he is wrong, but he can also be right. He comes from a place I guess more advance, so why not giving him the benefit of the doubt. Since day 1 he has really been an outcast sure he a connection with amy and made some friends, but something feels off… Other than that I still like the show and the animation.

  7. A

    Maybe if I had an entire series' worth of episodes with Fairlock being heroic, clever, honorable, badass, or even dying in a flashy way, this funeral might have meant something to me. As it is, however, I'm not even sure it would've made any difference if Ridget had been the captain from the beginning.

  8. S

    I totally agree on Ridget being a disappointing character. It was frustrating to watch how in such important times of turmoil, she was locked up in her room 90% of the episode.

    The most annoying part, as you pointed it out, is that since Fairlock entrusted any decision regarding Ledo to Ridget, she didn't even try to learn more about Ledo's position and reasoning. It is actually quite puzzling that even no other official from the fleet is bombarding Ledo with questions regarding the alliance and their way of life, technology and critical war with the Hideauze.

    In the end I feel this was just a (easy) way to build up drama, by not letting the cast calmly try to answer all the questions (e.g. how did the war between Hideauze and Alliance started) and their reasoning. This is why the recent developments couldn't be more worse. The fleet splitting up resulting in two weaker forces and an one man army attacking an unknown enemy doesn't really invoke further possible positive developments.

  9. h

    "Is he justified to preemptively try and destroy them, based on [genetics]?" Yup. Just like with people, if you happen to have Hideauze DNA halfway across the world (say, a US airport), you should certainly be targeted. The crimes your race committed countless miles away!

    But seriously, it's the same dilemma as with such things in our societies today. There are certainly folk in wartime who not only demonize the most innocent of their enemy's population, but also even consider the death of their babies a future threat curtailed.

    This is a war after all! Somewhere. Gargantia is depending on Ledo to stop the spread of the yellow-tentacle peril! Look how dangerous they are, with their slanty…tentacles. I mean, certain members of the same race happen to be squabbling over resources with unknown members of our race 6582 lightyears away! KILL 'EM ALL!

    Squids keep moving. This is a bipedal's neighborhood.

  10. N

    From what we have seen, Whalesquids are not ignoring the humans because of different opinions than Space Hideauze but because Gargantian technology doesn't seem advanced enough… and I say seem because Gargantians had to hide their own technological advancement else the Hideauze would have killed them off.

    Ledo checked both the DNA and their behavior and so far there doesn't seem to be anything different compared to Space Hideauze. The Whalesquid even attacked him for the same reason humans in space are being attacked by the Space Hideauze. As it is, it is only the matter of time 'till Gargantians get killed off by the Hideauze. This fake peace can't go on forever.

    Not to mention that Hideauze have yet to show that they have human level of sentience and individualism. If they don't have it and are driven by animalistic instinct than the Hideauze ARE the same everywhere.

  11. That post is full of assumption after assumption, and I don't think the facts conclusively support any of it. We have no idea why the whalesquids aren't attacking the humans, only Ledo's theory – and it seemed as if he attacked the one he found before it attacked him. In addition, we don't even know if Ledo's version of events in space is accurate – we just know it's the version of the truth he's been told by the military dictatorship.

  12. E

    I was watching UTW's release, and Chamber was saying that they can't return home unless he can travel at the speed of light. Buuuut, even electronic signal need 6000+ years to reach their home. Isn't the first statement sounds weird, now? Even if Chamber travels at the speed of light, or double the speed of light, isn't it still impossible to go home? The only way home to open another wormhole, a feat that a lone mecha can't do.

  13. S

    Uh, I also watched UTW's release. Chamber actually said that he is incapable of FTL (Faster Than Light) travel.

    My prediction is that the whalesquid's nest hides the lost FTL technology that humanity used to leave Earth many centuries ago. This will give Ledo the choice to rejoin his comrades in space or to stay on Earth with Amy.

  14. E

    That implies that they still have hope if they can travel faster than light, doesn't it? While in reality, even if by 0.001% chance they can travel at 10 times the speed of light, it still takes a whooping 600 years to travel.
    Also, by the physics we know, that is impossible. If you reached the speed of light, your body, your ship, all of them will disintegrate, by the formula E = mc2

  15. I think if this is going to happen, it's going to be another wormhole that's the process that enables it.

  16. R

    Clearly the author weren't listening to Ledo's reasons last episode and this episode. Don't think of Squidwhales are person think of them as a species encroaching on your territory. Like bears and human suburban homes on a collision course.

    By nature Hideauze are energy feeders. They feed on the energy of suns, the power generators of human colonies and they feed the energy of their bombs.

    Unlike Gargatians the Alliance does not have the luxury to shut down.

    On Earth the habitat that both humans and Hideauze inhabit are the Sea Galaxy nanomachines that produces power.

    As Ledo explained last episode Hideauze are ignoring humans for now as they are too primitive in power generation. But what when humans advances? They'll fall prey to the Hideauze much like the space human colonists. To Ledo to prevent future tragedies the answer is a preemptive strike. Cause eventually the Hideauze will spread their territory and humanity can't avoid them forever.

  17. Again, almost pure assumption. Some might be true, but there's no way it can be stipulated to at this point.

  18. S

    This review was one of the longest I've seen in a while. Is this a record? Anyway, it's wasted on me since I dropped the series, and could only muster enough enthusiasm for two paragraphs. Sorry

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