By Daniel Gulyas / May 31st, 2013
After last week’s heavy revelations and tense atmosphere, having another episode heavy on exposition is a bit of a let-down, but it’s hard to complain when it showcases some of what the show does best.
SPOILERS THROUGH EPISODE 8 FOLLOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
The main plot point this week followed Ridget as she begins to struggle in her new role as commander, after the previous commander had a heart attack at the end of the last episode. The episode begins with her at the commander’s deathbed, being passed the right to command the entire fleet. It’s a pretty sad moment, although we really don’t know much about the former commander. He did appear to be a pretty good voice of reason at the end of the last episode, but a bit more time with him before his passing might have really hammered the point home. What we do know is that he was a skilled leader and managed to continue to grow Gargantia, which is a titanic legacy for Ridget to live up to.
Naturally, she goes about this in an almost self destructive manner, working herself half to death and trying to live up to an impossible legacy. Ironically, for an arc that’s all about Ridget, the character that shines the most is actually Bellows. She’s really turning into the voice of reason in the show in an extreme way. She’s skilled, smart, and very well respected. I know I’ve used a few .hack//SIGN comparisons in this series, but she’s a lot like this show’s version of Crim, in that she’s the voice of reason, while also having the skills to back it up. And, just like Crim, she comes off as a strong, independent likable and valuable character to the show.
The end of the plot was a little cliché, with the “I can’t do this on my own speech, I need your help”, but it’s not bad by any means. There’s also the total epicness of the funeral to go with too. Although I do have to question where the sand comes from in a world with no shores, the idea of a seafaring people releasing their most revered dead in a coffin of sand into the ocean is a nice romantic touch. For a show that takes place entirely on Earth, Urobuchi should be proud of his ability to really push the envelope in the world-building department. Nearly every development in the series that’s extranormal has been fascinating to watch, and I’m really excited to see where he goes next.
The Ridget story was not the most unique or interesting plotline the series has seen, but it was relatively easy to follow, and it was also pretty short. Everything in the plotline runs very smoothly, and you’re not left wanting more, even though it’s probably done after these two episodes. My bigger issue is that the series has, to this point, focused much more on Ledo, Amy, Pinion, Bellows and Bebel. In a twelve episode order, you really have to be careful about which plotlines you want to follow, and considering that the viewer likely has slightly less attachment to Ridget than the others, they might have been better off pushing this towards the side and giving the spotlight to someone like Pinion.
We also get the new plot that that wormhole pushed Ledo a little farther than he’d ever expect. I had been leaning towards the rest of his people coming to Earth and being unable to adjust, but this isn’t exactly unexpected either. However, I do wonder why Ledo or Chamber never hinted at this being a possibility earlier. It’s pretty clear from Chamber telling that the S.O.S. would take over 6000 years to reach the Galactic Federation that they haven’t surpassed the classic problem of faster than lightspeed communication. Thus, it would seem likely that the planet, if “uncharted” would be too far away. Even so, I digress, and it adds a little more angst to Ledo, forcing him to resign to his fate on Earth, which was really well done thanks to Pinion’s conversation with him.
Speaking of Pinion, he climbs the charts this week in the bad guy department. He went from being a funny slacker to being a huge point of change in the series. He really reminds me of Dio from Virtue’s Last Reward in all the right ways; he’s perfectly manipulative to get what he wants, he’s definitely after something just outside of the viewer’s understanding, and, perhaps most importantly, he’s completely unpredictable to the viewer. I really have no idea what he’ll do next. He could easily become the show’s “villain”, or we could just see him as misunderstood. I get the feeling we’re going to see a softer side to him in the next few episodes, as we learn what Bellows meant with the vengeance thing, but for now, his interactions hint at much greater ambitions.
The last major bit of this episode revolved around Bebel and Amy, as they tried to come to terms with the fact that Ledo was leaving. First, we find out that one of Amy’s friends Melty is leaving, which although I didn’t expect it, I’d be surprised to see too many people tearing up over it. So far, her friends’ main purposes have been to look cute and flirt with Ledo from a distance. Even though we get that Amy is going to miss her friend, it’s just not going to hold much of an impact. I will say that Amy’s other friend Saaya telling her it was okay to go was far more tear inducing, but this was much more because Amy is so easily likable and the thoughts focused more on her. The writing in this little sequence was really good; for something that I saw almost no chance of happening before the episode (Amy wasn’t going to leave Bebel), but they almost had me convinced it was a possibility at one point.
I have a feeling that the show isn’t going to end well for Amy. I see her as both the most likely character to have a truly sad ending. Unlike the others, she’d really feel like a victim if something were to go wrong, so I really hope everything turns out well for her.
On the other side of this, we had Bebel who was a bit more proactive. Bebel and Ledo’s conversations have been one of the highlights of the show; even though Bebel is physically weak, he’s a very strong character mentally which makes him a brilliant foil to Ledo. Both are incredibly different, yet there is mutual respect and understanding. I really hope we get one or two more of these before the show ends.
I have to end with a small note on the animation. Some might have argued that the animation quality is dropping with the last few episodes, but I can’t say anything like that has happened here. The animation is simply stunning, and every face has so much rich detail, I have to wonder if the reports that the animators were falling behind was overblown slightly, or if they simply caught up with their work. Either way, the art style is slightly different, but it’s no less stunning than any of the best anime of the season.
This show still has its hooks into me more than any other show this season. Attack on Titan does action and raw emotion slightly better, but this show, with its more cerebral pacing and thought provoking intent so far, stands tall. I’m really excited for these last four episodes; I can only hope they deliver on the show’s outstanding promise.
animeCrunchyrollGargantia on the Verdurous PlanetGen UrobuchiSuisei No Gargantia