Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Gargantia)

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Gargantia) 2013

Once again, I’m going to fight my urge to ramble here – so, that means just a few paragraphs now, focusing on Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet this time.

If you’ve never come across this series I think I’ll mention that it stands out in the mecha genre a bit, in no small part due to the amazing setting. For me, I could have watched ten extra episodes more in line with the first half of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, which had a fun slice-of-life feel at times, as the characters go about their business upon a verdant and vibrant, connected fleet of ships. Likewise, I could have enjoyed the scenery just as long – it’s bright and textured, yet didn’t feel repetitive; I left off sure that we could have explored a lot more.

The show delves into the requisite fan-service at times, but the main focus in Gargantia… (aside from the eventual re-emergence of the science-fiction) is probably pilot Ledo’s faltering attempts to understand a new culture. I really enjoyed seeing his trials there, both with language and ideology, but for action fans you’ll be given more battles and violence in the last few episodes. There, a lot of the warmth is jettisoned, along with lead character Amy’s role but I suppose in exchange for that you do get some development from a different character – the somewhat dubious Pinion.

In some ways this is like two halves of a longer series condensed into one short series, where the ‘science-fiction space war’ part is mostly placed aside as the hero adapts to his new circumstances. Seen that way, I think Gargantia… has a fair bit in common with the First Contact sub-genre, only it’s one kind of human meeting others.

The anime looks great of course, with Production IG at the helm, but if you were hunting down the works of Gen Urobuchi don’t expect something like Pyscho-Pass… though there is a sub-plot featuring a cult here that would have fit into that dystopia. If you like mech design for salvaging as much as for fighting, and if you want some comedy and a fresh setting to go with your science-fiction, then I reckon you’d enjoy this despite some uneven aspects for me.

3 Stars

Ah, yes – the time-honoured tradition in anime of having animals resting on the heads of characters.

A.I.C.O. Incarnation

A.I.C.O. Incarnation (2018)

Netflix has allowed me access to a few newer shows in a timeframe that’s about 50% faster than my usual average of something like “2 years after a series even hits DVD” – and so this time around it’s nice to only be about 1 year (give or take) behind everyone else 😀

And thus, I’ve now also seen A.I.C.O and a few others on the platform and they’ve each been typically high quality in terms of animation (and this one by Bones is no exception there) but the series didn’t blow me away.

Nor did I feel it was ‘bad’ at all. There were a few elements that maybe didn’t match the level of the animation for me, but the show was still compelling and even tense, at times. (They even split the fan service kinda evenly across the male and female characters).

Where A.I.C.O. Incarnation drops a little for me is the lead character Aiko’s passivity – to some extent, she’s kept in the dark for a lot of the series (so the audience can be placed in a similar position of course) and though she’s generally cheerful and at times full of resolve, it was a shame she didn’t get to take control much.

There were a few times where I imagine the manga did a better job of introducing some of the supporting cast and world-building, and perhaps there was also missed opportunity to go a little further into the central conflict of personhood.

On the other hand, aside from the great animation, Aiko herself has a design that seems usually reserved for antagonists/creatures, with her red eyes and dark hair, which was an interesting tweak I thought. The other stand out for me was the Beetle, which is pretty ace – the design of most of the vehicles has a really flexible sorta structure actually, which is a nice bit of attention to detail re: the kind of terrain the characters must traverse in order to save Japan from the encroaching ‘matter’ that threatens them all.

In the end I thought A.I.C.O had a great mix of moe elements, action sequences and twists but also character/weapon/vehicle design, so it’s a good near-future sci-fi if that’s your kinda show.

3 Stars

(Director Kazuya Murata has been involved (in one way or another) in a fair few great projects over the years, from Ocean Waves, Beserk, Eureka Seven, FMA (2011), Porco Rosso, Gunsmith Cats, Xam’d and even Shemnu II for the Dreamcast :D)