Reviews of yesteryear: Suisei no Gargantia

Suisei no Gargantia is a recent mecha series from Production I.G, which doesn’t tell me much since they’ve been involved in quite a few projects some good and some terrible. There is an ongoing manga adaptation by Mitogawa Wataru. It came out before the actual anime, but the anime was in production long before the manga’s release. I have heard virtually nothing about it, so I’m going into this one pretty much blind. I hope it turns out better than the last time I said that. I need something at least tolerable after Cheese Steak Suppository and School Days or I may have to start drinking and that would just be playing into the cultural stereotype. Plus I really don’t like the taste of the stuff so I’d really rather not. Let’s take a look and find out.

Our story begins with a group of mecha pilots preparing to do battle against crustaceans, in space. You know, this may not be a very scientifically accurate anime. Still, I have to admit that it is kind of an awesome concept. The battle follows our protagonist, Ensign Ledo. Who ends up getting separated from the rest of his team. When he regains consciousness, his AI partner, Chamber, informs him that he’s been in artificial hibernation for quite some time and their location is unknown. All they know for certain is that they’re surrounded by people they can’t understand the language of, who are trying unsuccessfully to take Chamber apart.

One of the problems with the story is that it’s kind of predictable. You can tell what the basic arc is going to be pretty early on, although some of the techniques they use to get from one point to another are quite surprising, even though genre savvy already told you where the story was going. In short, the overarching plot is obvious, but the specifics can be interesting. Another issue is that they clearly don’t understand science. Some of it is excusable, since they are working with a futuristic world with technology far ahead of ours, but there are some points where they bring in concepts that we understand pretty well and they get them wrong. Which can be distracting for those of us who science. A more minor issue is that there’s some rather crude and problematic humour in one episode. Since it’s limited to that one episode, it’s not a huge problem though. That being said, there are plenty of aspects that the anime handles well. The world they build is compelling. They handle the “Fish out of Water” element exceedingly well. The ending, though kind of rushed, is well handled overall.

The characters in this are great. They react to things like real people would and develop pretty naturally over the course of the series. Their motivations and actions make perfect sense based on their backgrounds. When you find out something about a character’s personal history it serves to help you understand why they are the way they are, which indicates that the personal histories were either planned ahead of time or very well thought out. Even the more minor characters have a sense of verisimilitude. The only weakness when it comes to characters are the ultimate antagonists. I won’t spoil it, but the explanation behind their actions is pretty flimsy.

The art in this is really good. The action sequences are appropriately chaotic while being easy to follow. The backgrounds can be downright breathtaking, they’re so well designed and animated. The character designs are good. The various fauna are really well detailed. I only have one complaint about the art, those of you who read my reviews consistently can probably guess what it is, the Fan-service. There’s a belly dancing scene that serves absolutely no purpose and there are some other moments where the angle or the costuming in general, is done for the sole purpose of providing fan-service. It’s kind of annoying. And, frankly, the major female characters are too young to be shown in an objectified fashion. In all fairness, most of the costumes do make sense for the scenario. There are just a few cases where they make an exception to try and titillate you.

The vocal cast in this is exceptional. I haven’t heard Ishikawa Kaito in anything else, but he gives a really good performance. Kanemoto Hisako and Fujimura Ayumi are also really good. But the best performance has to be from Sugita Tomokazu. He is amazing in this. Certainly at the best I’ve ever heard him and I’ve heard him in quite a few roles. Including, but not limited to, Suzumiya Haruhi’s Kyon, Chobits’ Hideki and Nanoha’s Chrono. The music is also really well done and really serves to enhance the action.

The yuri factor is a 3/10. Rackage is heavily implied to have yuri girl followers, although she does very little with them, and there are some scenes where Amy and her friends get really touchy. Scenes like this, however, are infrequent and ultimately don’t amount to much.

It looks like I won’t have to take up drinking after all. Suisei no Gargantia is a good anime. It has some rather substantial flaws, but nothing so bad that it should affect your enjoyment too much. My final rating is a solid 7/10. Give it a try if you’re a mecha fan.

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