First things first: Meguro Kouro, Haruka is a perfectly enjoyable double-episode of Suisei no Gargantia (it’s the first of a two-part OVA, with the second arriving in May). But it’s hard for me to watch any Suisei no Gargantia without it reminding me of what this series could have been, of the massive potential it left untapped. After the sublime fourth episode I would have been ready to proclaim this a solid candidate for 2014’s top 5 series (and maybe nearer the top of that group than the bottom). But then… Well, you know what then.
As with Fate and Psycho-Pass, the absence of Urobuchi acutely reminds us of what Gargantia is missing when he’s not writing it. As we know he wrote only the first and last episodes of the series, and to what extent he was involved in what came between I don’t know. But this OVA in particular is completely devoid of anything remotely resembling contemplation or reflection – there isn’t a whisper of moral or ethical conflict here, or any real character drama. It’s absolutely and utterly straightforward – an action episode with garden-variety romantic undertones and not much else.
The saving grace, happily, is that Meguro Kouro, Haruka is quite good at being the uncomplicated creation that it is. This is Production I.G., the music is by Iwashiro Taro, and it looks and sounds great. There’s a ton of CGI but that’s to be expected given that much of the episode is sweeping action sequences, and as with the TV series it’s more than competently executed. There are some great shots of giant ships adrift at sea and forests of undersea wrecks, which are frankly more memorable than the plot.
About the best moments in the OVA come when first Amy and later Ledo reflect on Chamber’s profound influence on both their lives. It was nice to see Chamber again, though if you were hoping he’d make a miraculous return so far at least that appears not to be the case. The main plot driver is Kugel Fleet survivor and fresh-blood moeblob Reema (Minase Iori, as always a lot to take) who’s latched on with Amy as a courier but is suspiciously curious (and knowledgeable) about engineering generally and Chamber specifically). She delivers the cliffhanger at the end, revealing that she’s had an A.I. similar to Chamber stashed on-board and whatever she’s planning is entering “the next phase”. The voice is almost definitely not Sugita Tomokazu and it sure as hell isn’t Fujimura Ayumi (Striker) – in fact, to me it sounded like Kaito Ishikawa, though what exactly that would mean I have no idea…