Anime Spotlight: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is an anime series produced by Production I.G and directed by Kazuya Murata. The series aired on Japanese television from April 7-June 30, 2013. As of this writing, VIZ Media holds the North American distribution rights for Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet.

The series is set in the distant future, and mankind has taken to the stars. The Galactic Alliance of Humankind has been formed and is engaged in a war with an alien species called the Hideauze.

The protagonist of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is Ledo, a 16-year-old Ensign. He pilots a Machine Caliber, which is an AI-automated and humanoid-shaped battle suit; Ledo refers to it as “Chamber.” During the first episode, Ledo is part of a failed attempt by the Alliance to destroy the enemy’s super weapon. During a retreat, Ledo and Chamber and knocked into a wormhole, and Ledo loses consciousness.

Six months later, Ledo awakens to find he’s in an unfamiliar place, and that Chamber has had him in cryo-stasis during this time for Ledo to heal his wounds. As Ledo takes in what’s going on outside of Chamber, he sees there are people trying to open Chamber. Neither Ledo nor Chamber understand the language they’re hearing.

By the end of the first episode, Chamber has determined that they are on Earth, the birthplace of humanity. At the point the series is set, members of the Alliance only know of Earth’s existence through stories and believed it was a myth. During the second episode, Chamber picks up on enough of the Earthlings’ language to begin some basic communication and serves as a translation device for Ledo.

As Ledo learns how to communicate with the people he’s with, he becomes friends with Amy and learns about the type of world that has evolved on Earth for humankind. Much of the series is set at Gargantia, which is a fleet of ships that make up a community.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet examines Ledo’s evolution from a soldier who only knows about warfare to learning what it means to live as a human. A major discovery that Ledo makes near the end of the series shakes him to the core and makes him start to question his life and what he’s been taught by the Galactic Alliance.

The first episode of Gargantia of the Verdurous Planet is rather well-done. While the episode is spent establishing the characters and the premise, the pacing is just right. Roughly the first half of the episode is spent on the battle that Ledo and the Alliance are fighting, which has a lot of action that keeps the viewer engaged in what’s going on. The second half takes place on Earth, and the episode ends with Chamber making the realization that they are on Earth. The series maintained this good pacing throughout its 13-episode run. There were one or two episodes that seemed like they would just be filler at first, but by the end of each of them, I saw that Ledo went through something important that contributed to his growth as a character.

As the series progressed, I liked seeing the character development that took place. Obviously, Ledo received most of it, but some of the other characters went through changes as well. But Ledo’s story is so compelling that you want to keep watching in order to find out what happens to him. Admittedly, the second half of the series suddenly moves in a much darker direction, but it needed to go that route in order to tell the story. I admit that this sudden change in tone made me want to continue watching the series even more.

Ledo’s struggle was very riveting, and I found myself feeling very sorry for him. I also appreciated how the series handled a revelation about the Hideauze that brought about confusion and a major change in Ledo’s worldview.

After watching Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, I was satisfied with how the series progressed and with how it ended. It was an interesting watch from start to finish, and I never once regretted spending my time watching this series.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet should appeal to viewers who enjoy mecha and science fiction anime that makes them think and tugs at their heartstrings.

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