By Daniel Gulyas / May 22nd, 2013
Our anime coverage continues with this week’s Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Episode 7: A Soldier’s Fate. You can see the recap of the first 6 episodes here.
SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 7 WILL FOLLOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
For anybody that complained about pacing for the first 6 episodes, I think this one proves pretty unequivocally that that’s not going to be an issue going forward; we’re looking at a straight race to the finish. The episode picked up right where the last one left off, with Ledo about to attack a whalesquid. Little did we know at the time that the whalesquid is somehow related to the Hideauze in more than appearance, as Chamber confirms a few episodes later. And lastly, it’s considered extremely bad luck to attack a whalesquid unprovoked, which may or may not have something to do with their rather powerful attack.
I’d like to give the animators some credit; this was actually the first battle I felt more engaged in. The unfamiliar surroundings of the water, Chamber’s inability to connect with an attack and the really quick counterattack by the whalesquid made for a more compelling battle than is normal for the show. I still think that if you’re here for mech action, you’re watching the wrong show, but it’s a step in the right direction.
It was really gross to see Chamber decked out from head to toe in Hideauze guts. That accomplished the goal of getting the viewer to see how horrifying killing the whalesquid is, as well as basically squash any chance of him shrugging it off. It’s a brutal detail that we really haven’t seen much from the series at this point; while it has moments of brutality, like when the pirates were literally vaporized, it really doesn’t show exactly how bad things are.
I will say, I didn’t expect the relationship to be nearly identical between the two. I expected a whalesquid to be something more akin to a giant squid, which would naturally scare Ledo. But to make it an actual Hideauze opens up all kinds of potential. Is it humans that are being the aggressors? Remember that the whalesquid was completely innocuous until Ledo attacked. If so, that would make the human’s way of life in space completely in vain. They attack whalesquids as dangerous beasts, but in reality, the whalesquids are only dangerous because humans attack. That’s a theory anyway, and it really would seem to tie in really well with one of the themes of this series, which seems to be living in harmony by working together.
Also, the origin of the metal for the flutes was gloriously messed up. I can’t say I expected that to come from the Hideauze itself. What is it now? Is it a symbol of hope, and the value of life that it appeared to be in episode 4? Or is it now something more sinister? It’s crazy…
We also get some real conflict between side characters for the first time, as Bellows and Pinion had a little war going. I do wish that Pinion was portrayed in a better light, since he’s a really funny character at times, but it’s pretty clear the anime wants us to take Bellows’s side. I do hope that the coming revelation about his brother redeems Pinion some.
There’s also Amy and Ledo fighting, as Ledo wants to do what he believes is his only purpose for existing, and Amy wants what’s best for Ledo. Some people are going to complain about how Amy in the previous two episodes was very heavy on fan service, but she’s still a pretty interesting character and she plays off Ledo really well. I can’t say I dislike her or the direction they’ve taken the character. It remains to be seen how well she’ll continue to get along with Ledo in the future. After all, he did pretty much push her away.
Lastly, we get the revelation that Pinion wants to take Ledo and part of the fleet to excavate in whalesquid territory. While I do like his reasoning with the other captain that they could dig up true history (remember, this is a civilization that lost all ability for space flight), seeing the captain have a heart attack made for a really tense ending. It also means that Ledo’s not going to have a chance to discover a new purpose; when he gets sucked in as a soldier, he’s unfortunately going to stay one.
It’s going to be interesting to see where Urobuchi takes this in the last 5 episodes. The mech genre already has the most famous deconstruction of all time in Evangelion, so if he goes down that path, it’s not going to be as original seeming as say, Madoka. But at the same time, it’s not a very Urobuchi-like thing for this to all shake out nicely. And even better for the viewers, he’s set up to go in either direction. It makes for an extremely compelling watch, in this writer’s opinion. It may not have the mech action a lot of people wanted, but the show is standing on its own, with room to be one of the best this season.
Gargantia on the Verdurous PlanetGen Urobuchi