Suisei no Gargantia – 12

Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -6 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -11 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -21

Surprised?  No.  Pleased?  Pretty much yes.

There’s a certain “what might have been” quality to Suisei no Gargantia, even more so than the natural one that goes along with any series that started out looking like it could be great and ended up being very good.  What might have happened if Gen Urobuchi had written more than the first and last episode?  What could have been if so much of the middle of the series wasn’t meandering and occasionally outright mediocre?  What would Gargantia have done with two cours to develop it’s stellar premise and appealing though largely under-delivering cast?

None of that can be changed, though, and in the end I still think things are looking pretty good.  This episode – far, far better than last week’s effort – does a very nice job of clearing the decks for next week’s Gen-scripted finale.  Things feel a little rushed just as they have so often in the last month, but that’s to be expected with a series that’s too short at 13 episodes to begin with and frittered at least two of those away on trivialities and missteps.  Unlike episode 11 the tone here was spot-on for most of the episode, and it was a tense and tightly-scripted effort.  The only downside, really, was a noticeable drop in animation quality (background and character model detail was especially off) that I hope signals a saving of budget for a grand sendoff next week.

There’s been some disagreement in the audience, but I always felt it was likely that Col. Kugel was dead, and Striker (boy, Fujimura Ayumi sure has been nasty the last couple of days) was actually running the show.The way “Kugel” laid out the details of the plot was just too similar to the circular logic Chamber used to justify the excesses of the Galactic Alliance.  If I’ve any complaint with the way this played out it was that it was too predictable, and that Chamber gave in to Ledo’s reasoning a little too easily.  I thought a fundamental disconnect between Chamber’s worldview and Ledo’s was set up rather brilliantly, but there doesn’t seem to have been any payoff to it apart from demonstrating the gap in their perspectives.  It now appears all but certain that Ledo and Chamber will be fighting side by side right up until the end.

It also doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Rack and Pinion would end up revolting against the revolting fleet they’d found themselves allied with.  Rackage’s impending treachery was a given, but while Pinion’s whipsaw mood swings have stressed credulity at times, he was never set up to be an outright villan.  And after having seen what they saw this week, it’s hardly surprising that they would walk away from the Cult of Kugel.  The scene where several dozen members of the cult fleet were “sacrificed” (including one small boy) – culled is a better word in my view – was a taste of Gargantia at its best, for all that it was horrifying.  This is a series that’s very good with dignified sadness and moments of awe – the rain-collection scene (recalled in this ep) being another good example.  It was that kind of dignified and even elegant style that exemplified the series’ first four eps but largely disappeared after that, and it was high time to see it return to prominence here.

I would like to think – I’m very confident in fact – that Ledo had already decided enough was enough even before that atrocity, and that if Kugel had lived not even he would have stooped to that (though I’m not as sure).  This, however, seems not so different from S.O.P. in the G.A. to me – the weak are regularly sacrificed in order to serve the strong, and I can’t escape the notion that machine calibers are making most of the decisions.  Ledo was referring only to himself when he said he’d “never really made a single decision in his life”, but I think the line was also a larger comment about the state of affairs in the Galactic Alliance.  if the Hideauze surrendered their human forms in order to survive, it seems to me that the G.A. surrendered their essential humanity, and that was happened in the cult fleet isn’t so different from what happens there.

I don’t know what happens in the finale, but the key that Dr. Ordum speaks of – and the “stairway to heaven” it opens – is surely a crucial factor.  Perhaps this is directly connected to communicating with the whalesquid, or perhaps it even relates directly to mankind’s escape into space – I don’t see a single obvious answer here.  But I sincerely hope that the practicalities of the conflict are settled early on, and there’s some time for connection between Ledo, Amy and Bevel.  That element of the series has been sorely missing for the past several episodes and while the larger plot certainly needed to be fleshed out, it would feel wrong to me if the human element were not a major component of the final episode.  More so than with many series I think the legacy of Suisei no Gargantia is going to rest on its ending, and endings are not normally a strength for Gen-sensei.  Hopefully he’s been storing up some of his genius just like I.G. has been with the budget, waiting to spend it on a really splendid finale.

Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -8 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -9 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -10
Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -12 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -13 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -14
Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -15 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -16 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -17
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Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -22 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -23 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -24
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Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -28 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -29 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -30
Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -31 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -32 Suisei no Gargantia - 12 -33
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16 comments

  1. E

    It's pleasing. It's cool. It's excellent. It's totally awesome. You have said what I wanted to say. But I have too add that the BGM which is playing out during the battle of Chamber versus Striker is very cool as well. I probably have to forgive the appearance of the trannies and belly dance; and rethink my score for Gargantia in MAL. Haha. It's very regrettable. They should have let Urobutcher-sama write this anime in entirety. Also, more episode.

  2. p

    I can't take credit for what I'm about to say, but someone elsewhere said that if you look at Kugel's corpse, you'll notice that he has longer hair and a stubble, which is different from his clean cut in episode 1.

    This suggests several things:

    1. That he didn't automatically die when he entered into Earth. He had time enough to grow his hair.
    2. That he might have actually began the path towards turning the people on his boat into the cult, but that he died in the process and asked that Striker continue his work for him.

    At first, I thought that he was completely innocent and that he would never have done what Striker did, but then someone pointed out to men what I mentioned above and it made sense.

  3. I harbor no illusions about Kugel's innocence – he seemed very much of a "the only good Hideauze is a dead Hideauze" gung-ho company man. But it was certainly clear once his pressure suit was removed that he'd been dead a very long time. Also, while the hair doesn't technically grow after death, the shrinkage of soft tissues can make it appear as if it has. It's an interesting theory, but I'm not convinced.

  4. l

    LOL @ Rack & Pinion
    Nice way to put it … and you say I channel too much automotive lingo.

    Not sure I can fully agree with you on the real Kugel. He did sacrifice himself for his comrades in the first ep. That wouldn't have happened if he was using the same 'logic' as Stryker. He did outrank the younger soldiers and had more battle experience. Strong sacrificed himself for the weak in that case. All just speculation though. We just saw too little of him.

    Amy remain a useless existence. Yeah, she saved her fellow K-on blob today, and somehow convinced that sorry excuse for a crew with salt drops, but seriously, what has she done? She can't even end a sentence with a proper "de geso". Utterly useless!!

    High point of the ep was probably the rain getting rid of Pinion's crappy Vanilla Ice hairdo. Praise the rain gods!!

    Still a wasted series, in my opinion. A lot of the middle episodes were a total waste of time. Amy remains forever pointless, Bebel was relegated to character that repeats "sonna" every episode, the old Gargantia commander died before he had anything significant to say, Ridget got way too little screen time, Pinion was an annoying peon for 11 episodes, no Ika Musume….. meh.

  5. I disagree – Kugel gave his reasoning quite clearly. "I'm old, you're young – you have time to kill more of them than I do."

  6. M

    "High point of the ep was probably the rain getting rid of Pinion's crappy Vanilla Ice hairdo. Praise the rain gods!!"

    This.

    The whole episode was amusing in fact. I guess I never felt the magic of the show's ideas and characters (Bevel does remind me of you though, Enzo ^^) – nor do I sense Gen's commitment to make something bold and challenging like most of his previous works. The Gargantia itself as a setting always looks pretty stunning, but rings hollow on the inside.

    It's great to have an auteur in Gen around, but what's the point when his voice rings hollow? Ideas are the fuel to his engine and the characters the mechanics that keep the wheels moving. It seems he's applied the opposite formula here and crashed into a ditch.

  7. H

    I was disappointed in this 'twist' the same way I was disappointed in Psycho-Pass. Once again, Urobuchi sidesteps any question of differences in opinion of humanity by making the 'bad guy' monstrous, rather than a difference of opinion of two people or groups. Maybe it's a little ironic that this was accomplished using a rogue computer this time, where last time it was by making it NOT be the computer. But in both cases, the monstrousness of the entity advocating one path overshadows any argument on the merits of that path, and neatly avoiding having to make a value decision. Instead, it just makes it too easy to say "Ewwww, that's what the monster wants, we can't do that."

    I actually think the entire second half of the series has gone the wrong direction, at least as far as what I would have liked to see. I would have much preferred the whole series be "Ledo tries to connect with a humanity that has been denied him" without bringing zombified people and cults into it.

  8. He's sidestepped it for now, but he has one more (personally written) episode to offer some kind of meaningful inspiration on the larger Hideauze vs. G.A. question. I'd like to think the whole cult fleet thing is more of a rogue AI distraction that a representation of the G.A..

  9. M

    This is kinda neat though: http://gargantia.jp/blog/?p=881

    "The animators are taking these fan-submitted designs, refining them, and inserting them into next Sunday's series finale as crew members of the Gargantia fleet." (ANN)

  10. R

    Chamber I’m impressed! You left the decision to Ledo.

    In a way Chamber is a master manipulator. He had doubts with the disease and “happiness” Striker was spewing but ultimately left the choice to Ledo.

    He would support his pilot over somebody who does not act rationally.

    Striker it seems ultimately lost its marbles. Ledo and Chamber fight her to protect humanity.

  11. N

    I was actually not surprised that Chamber supported Ledo: we saw in last episode that he was more cynical than Ledo was ("Define happiness" question). Chamber may be opposed to Hideauze's but as far as GA goes, he doesn't seem too enthusiastic. He may be a slave to his programming, but in general he seems loyal to humanity (not in GA's way).

  12. The upshot, it seems to me, is that Chamber seems to have proved he's simply loyal to his pilot – that seems to be his prime directive. I don't think ideology factored into it. If Ledo were to completely go rogue, we don't know what would happen, but it seems that when in doubt Chamber at least will default to supporting his pilot.

  13. K

    I wonder how much the machine calibers behavior is based on the pilot they worked with.

  14. i

    I didn't like the loss of humanity theme at first but given the foil of how the GA have lost it, I find it very attractive as a talking point. However Gen not giving an answer is f****** frustrating. And it seems both the best and worst of his characters are in Gargantia. I still feel nothing, less for most, for every single female character. MSM had good characters that were female and arguably his Saber was a better one than Deen's and I wish he looked in the portfolio before writing Gargantia.

    Simply because he's a robot voiced by Tomokazu Sugita, I like Chamber and wished he would join sides with Ledo. With some epic battle next week which unfortunately might be the end of Chamber for me (though taking Striker down with him) as I can only see a conclusion where because the weapons of war are destroyed can peace be attained.

  15. K

    Although the series has picked back up for me with the reveal of what the Hideauze really were (in episode 9 I believe) I think the show never quite recovered for me with those 2 nonsense fanservice episodes in the middle. People will say it didn't hurt the show, but for me it really did.

    I think those were the time to build Ledo's relationship with Gargantia because that whole dynamic feels incredibly flat to me. The whole swim suit party, carnival with belly dancing felt a very superficial way to build connections and it just didn't work (ignoring all the other issues I had with that episode).

    Still I am happy to say the last 4 episodes have been solid & interesting for me. So while I think this show has lost the opportunity to be one of my favorites I think it can at least end on a good note.

  16. Z

    Agreed. Those episodes were major momentum killers.

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