It became apparent fairly quickly that a lot of the anime airing in the 2013 Spring season weren’t all that great, however Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet was tipped for great things from the very beginning and mostly didn’t disappoint.
Our story follows young Ledo, a mecha pilot who has known nothing but fighting for all his life. When we first meet Ledo he’s fighting against the Hideauze race of aliens who are trying to destroy human kind (like most aliens really), however things don’t go as planned and Ledo ends up being sucked into a wormhole and crash landing on some strange planet. Where Ledo has in fact landed is Earth, or at least a form of Earth. In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Earth is a lost planet thought to have frozen over many years ago, however Ledo soon discovers that, while the planet may now be completely flooded, humans still live on this planet atop fleets of ships, the fleet Ledo finds himself on being Gargantia. As you’d expect, the world Ledo comes from and the ways of the humans still living on Earth are vastly different from one another, and if there is one thing the series does very well it’s showing how Ledo deals with these differences, most notably being the language difference; When Ledo interacts with the people of Gargantia he quickly realises that he can’t understand them and vice versa, and thus Ledo’s mecha Chamber must step in to lend a hand. What Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet does wonderfully though is not rush Ledo along and show him being able to speak the new language perfectly by the end of the episode, slowly over the first four or five episodes we see Ledo picking it up and relying on Chamber less and less which for an anime like this is always a nice touch. To touch on the plot, once Ledo somewhat settles on Gargantia he quickly realises that he can’t return home because of how far away Earth is, so our young pilot must get used to the peaceful ways of life on Gargantia, however all is not as it seems and Ledo soon comes across a form of Hideauze living on the planet, but can he really continue fighting them once he learns their origins?
Ledo is an interesting character in general, he’s the type of character that has known nothing but war, so adjusting to the peaceful ways of Gargantia is very interesting to watch, especially as he begins to accept that just maybe there is more to life than he originally thought and there is more to live for than just fighting a war. While Ledo is interesting, sadly the series lets itself down with its other characters. Our other main character, Amy, ends up never really having much depth to her, and neither do any of the other characters or what little they do have often feels somewhat wasted because you end up never really caring for them. Ledo and Chamber are by far the best of the lot and while that isn’t a bad thing, it’s sad to see so much effort be put into them and not the others because it could have easily been a very interesting cast of characters. Chamber is by far the most interesting mecha in anime in recent years, its been given a real personality and it’s a lot of fun watching it interact with Ledo and the fleet in general and certainly gives us some of the best comedy scenes in the series.
It’s certainly an interesting set-up, backed greatly by how strong a character Ledo is, but where the series begins to let itself down is near the end. It introduces a lot of new elements, like seemingly another member of Ledo’s army having made it to Earth, which would have been fine had the series been given more than 13 episodes. It runs out of time to do everything it wanted to do, and while you could argue that some of the earlier less meaningful episodes could have been cut down/out, they were key in developing Ledo and thus I’d rather they’d skipped a lot of stuff they introduced at the end, especially when it cost us a decent ending. Everything is finished off okay, but we never actually get to see much of what becomes of Ledo and how he lives his life now aside from a few minutes right at the end which doesn’t feel like nearly enough for a character and show we’ve spent so much time with, likely just one extra episode could have easily made all the difference here or just finishing the series off once Ledo learnt and came to terms with the truth behind the Hideauze, we didn’t really need all these extra elements in a 13 episode series. It’s a shame that the up-coming OVA episode isn’t set after the events of the series, otherwise I may have had some forgiveness for our somewhat rushed ending. That said, out of everything I watched in the Spring season, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet was the one show I looked forward to each week because it had a certain charm about it that I really liked, and Ledo is certainly one of my favourite characters of the past year or so.
For all its faults Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is backed by some really pretty animation and a huge soundtrack of pretty powerful tracks which never really put a foot wrong. Even if Earth is completely flooded and we don’t have much scenery to speak of, Production I.G manage to make the ocean, night sky, and the fleet itself immensely pretty throughout so you’ll never be disappointed in that regard.
In closing: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet stood out among the Spring season anime, but a somewhat rushed ending and little character development to certain characters does let it down. For all its fault it’s worth a watch though, if only because Ledo and Chamber are brilliant characters and really do hold the series together nicely.
- Overall: 5.5/10
- Animation: 7/10
- Story: 6/10
- Soundtrack: 7.5/10
- Characters: 5/10