First Impressions: Suisei no Gargantia

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Suisei no Gargantia may perhaps be the most “conventional” successful premiere for this anime season—a wonderful glimpse into future action scenes, a strong sense of culture and worldbuilding, and an intriguing whilst generic premise.

Pretty, but.. what is it?

Pretty, but.. what is it?

This isn’t to say it’s all great however, as Suisei no Gargantia sloppily shuffles its feet with a rough start. The very first minute provides us with a bothersome infodump, one of the laziest things to do in a visual medium; there are so many more effective options than needless backgrounds featuring translucent images and lucid stars. We’re basically forced to look at moving wallpapers.

Exacerbated to this are vivid action scenes that provide glimmering eyeporn but sadly overstay their welcome. To have this go on for half the episode length simply flabbergasts me. The luxurious color palette, excellent detail in the mechas and stars, intriguing sci-fi technology, and the attuned choral music keep it entertaining, but with little knowledge of the occurring events, such details only coat the show with a superficial shell. I can accept this as a nice teaser but really, to take so much time merely to show off pretty colors, makes this half of the episode fall flat on any element of the narrative.

Excellent details.

Note the excellent detailing.

Fortunately, the second half takes a turn for the better. First thing to notice are the abundance of separate clothing designs which contributes to the a more homey presence into this world’s culture. Moreover, the fine details into the background and nameless characters wholly complement this direction.  Notice, for example, the buildings: the rust on the Gargantia fleet adds to the dilapidated nature of this subterranean version of Earth, which starkly contrasts the minimalist, almost soulless designs going on in the previous half of the episode.

Sigh.. only in anime.

Sigh.. only in anime.

But not all of the vivid color designs and clothing details work wonders here.  We have some uninspired character artwork coming from archetypal roles, which oftentimes feels like pure fan pandering. For instance, Amy (the girl on the right) moves around excitedly like the moescot that she is, leaving her belly open and wearing a super-short skirt. The big-breasted leader on the left occasionally pulls off sensual poses whilst wearing a tubetop and denim short-shorts. Also note how colorful these two girls’ clothings are in opposition with the rest of the crew’s. This spells out cheap attraction as it pulls away from the realism merely to keep one’s eyes onto the two girls. While fan pandering isn’t exclusive to Suisei no Gargantia, it’s nevertheless a drawback for a series aiming to take itself seriously.

As said previously, what does continue to augment the culture aspect is the stark contrast between the Gargantia fleet’s ancient, rusty tools and Ledo’s futuristic, sleek technology. This is helped further by the use of distinctive languages, which offers not only stronger hints of culture but also acts as a segway into the realism aspect (though a linguist could only wish that the languages were more detailed than random gibbergabber).

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Another praiseworthy element in Suisei no Gargantia is the lead character Ledo. His logical decisions with being surrounded by strangers in a foreign land continue to make the show entertaining while not being pulled down by any overly dramatic portions. The show already has a lot going for it, and a stoic character fits perfectly without adding needless toppings to an already flavorful series. I look forward to seeing how he develops, and his actions here suit the more futuristic culture of his society, which I assume would subsume logical approaches over emotional ones (somewhat of a baseless assumption, but from what I can take from the premise and Urobuchi’s predilections, I would assume to be the case).

On the downside, we haven’t been introduced to anything all that unique. A futuristic boy is sent into an ancient rumored Earth, with messages about the plague of futuristic technology and wardom, compounded with the loss of idyllic morality (*cough* Psycho-Pass *cough*).

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Cheesy, but still a great use of symmetry.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this turns out, and along with Shingeki no Kyojin, these two mainstream series have the potential to be either deeper stories or mindless action flicks. I’ll have to say that with Suisei’s entrances into the built-up culture so far, it’s done a better job in its premiere. Yet, the average fan will likely prefer Shingeki‘s due to the mindless gore.

Score: Good (6/10)
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