Anime Monday - Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Gen Urobuchi! If you've been reading the past posts in the Anime Monday series, then this should already be a familiar name. He's known for his dark takes on his series, and many of his stories have gained a cult following. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is another series he was involved with, and a series I personally watched only because of his involvement. Up until I realized it was written by him, I knew nothing about it, and had next to no interest in watching it. I would see it pass by as I scrolled through shows on Netflix or something, but not once did it ever catch my eye. Until I realized he was involved that is. Eventually I decided to give it a chance, and what it ended up being wasn't what I expected. It was interesting and different, but not quite like what I've gotten used to see when it comes to Gen Urobuchi. So why is that? How does this compare to other stories he's been a part of? Is it worth watching? Well honestly it's a mixed bag. This is what Gargantia really is.

The Story of Ledo on the Gargantia:

The story opens up showing the future of the human race. We have since left Earth and are now living in space, however things aren't going too good for those who made the jump. Space is filled with monsters known as the "Hideauze," and humanity must fight them for their survival. Ledo is a young soldier who is a part of the Galactic Alliance, and it is his duty to fight these monsters to protect his race. In order to defeat these giants, soldiers pilot giant robots called Machine Calibers, and work together with the unit's AI. Ledo himself is a pretty good pilot, and his Machine Caliber "Chamber" is a pretty good fit for him, but despite this they still make mistakes. Shortly after the intro of the series, Ledo and Chamber get knocked into a worm hole, and the two crash land in an unknown location. The Gargantia.

The Gargantia is a giant cluster of ships located on a world filled with endless ocean. Due to the fact that there is no longer land, mankind must make their old land to survive, and they rely on others to survive. Different groups form alliances and connect their ships, and everyone in these alliances do their own part to keep things running. It's a harder way of life, but it's also a much more peaceful one. Sure other alliances may not get along with those on the Gargantia, but in general most would rather work together than get into fights. As the world is flooded however, resources are precious, so often it does come to "first come first serve." Groups dive into these oceans to collect salvage from the old world, and it's these items that help keep things going.

Amy is a young girl who lives on the Gargantia, and works as a mailman of sorts. She uses her hang glider to travel from ship to ship, and passes on deliveries or information between them. She's a free spirited girl who enjoys her life on the Gargantia, and helps out in any way she can. This is what eventually lead her to being there for the discovery of Ledo and Chamber.

When the two first wake up after crash landing on the Gargantia, they are hostile. They are in a strange unknown world, and can't even speak the language of the people living there. All they know is they have to keep their distance, and wait for help to arrive. This initial stand off is rough on both parties involved, and everyone is unsure of how to handle it. The people of the Gargantia are scared of Ledo, and Ledo is scared of them. Chamber is there to help protect him and communicate, but this only goes so far. It's Amy who helps break this however, and eventually gets Ledo to open up and trust them. Ledo has to come to terms with the fact that he is now stranded, and that the Gargantia will be his new life for awhile.

The main focus of the show is on Ledo and Amy. Ledo knows nothing about living a life outside of fighting, and there's only so much he is able to do because of this. Chamber allows him to communicate with Amy and the others at first, but Ledo himself starts to learn the language as time goes on. Meanwhile Amy takes it upon herself to teach Ledo everything he needs to know about the ship, while Chamber (being a giant robot and all) helps out by transporting large cargo and doing other things typically beyond a human's power. The two slowly ease into their new peaceful life, while Amy continues to act as a guide for them. She quickly becomes Ledo's first real friend, and it becomes clear early on that their relationship may evolve into something more. Of course all of this is only temporary.

Despite growing to like his life on the Gargantia, the soldier inside of Ledo never fully fades. His ultimate goal is to return home, but for the time being he's bound by this new world and their laws. He enjoys the peace away from the monstrous Hideauze, but he also knows it won't last. Everything isn't perfect on the Gargantia either however, as not everyone can always see eye to eye with their decisions made. Ledo unknowingly helps drive a wedge between some of these people, and some of the things uncovered thanks to Chamber might be better left unsaid. Ledo has a major impact on these people just as they have on him, and because of this their worlds will never be the same again. It's a unique story that's a mix of slice of life and mystery, with the main focus being on Ledo and Amy as they get used to their new life together. Ledo himself has to learn about Amy's world, while Amy comes to terms with the world Ledo is from.

Should You Watch It:

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is not a dark depressing story like most of Gen's other series, but it's different enough from other similar stories that it stands out. Characters like Ledo, Chamber, and Amy are all great, but a lot of the side characters do remain just that -- side characters. It's fun watching Ledo as he goes from being a soldier to a civilian in this strange new world, but it's also just as fun to watch Amy trying to help him adapt. There's a lot to learn about this world, and the entire time you're always reminded of what is "really" out there. This planet is at peace without fear, but from Ledo's point of view it may only be a matter of time before the monsters reach it. There's also the mystery of the whole thing. Why is the planet now flooded, and what are the Hideauze really? There's so much we the viewers don't know about the setting, but like Ledo we are forced to accept it. It's obvious to us that the planet is in fact future Earth, but to the characters they know nothing about "our" way of life. They dive into the ocean and uncover ancient relics, but to us the viewers these objects are just a part of our everyday. Seeing this helps connect you to the story, and makes you want to find out what happened. Sadly the series itself is pretty short, so we don't get a lot of time with some of it's themes and ideas, but that doesn't stop the series from being enjoyable.

Bottom line is, if you like strange world stories, slice of life, mystery, or even mecha to an extent, then this one is at least worth giving a chance. It might not be as special as other Gen Urobuchi series, but here I am four years later and I still recall it just like I watched it yesterday. So it's stuck with me, strangely more so than others.
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