Suisei no Gargantia is set in a far-off future where the Galactic Alliance is leading mankind’s fight for survival against space monsters called Hideauze. With everything at stake, the Galactic Alliance raises children to become soldiers that know nothing other than how to fight Hideauze. One such soldier is Lieutenant Ledo, a talented machine calibur pilot that is nearing the end of the required service hours needed to be able to spend some time in Avalon, a man-made utopia. In the final battle before his “vacation” Ledo gets caught in a destabilizing wormhole and is thrown across the galaxy to humanity’s lost homeworld, Earth. The series was produced by Production I.G. and written by Gen Urobuchi.
While the first episode of Suisei no Gargantia might suggest that the series is an action-packed sci-fi with giant robots with lasers fighting giant alien squids, it’s actually a peaceful series (for the most part). When Ledo arrives on Earth, he finds that it is no longer the frozen, uninhabited wasteland that is described in the Galactic Alliance’s historical texts. Rather, it is a lively water world where people still manage to exist on large interconnected ships. Earth’s technology is far more primitive than the Galactic Alliance’s, making Ledo’s machine caliber, named Chamber, the most powerful weapon in the world. With Chamber’s help, Ledo befriends the residents of the vessel Gargantia and the fleet that it leads. There he learns what it means to live a life without fear or constant conflict.
Suisei no Gargantia is a story about individuality and morals. As Ledo grows closer to the “primitive” people of Earth, he starts to question the purpose of life and whether or not he had really been “living”. After giving up hope of returning to the ranks of the Galactic Alliance, Ledo begins to embrace the idea of individuality and starts to understand what it means to have friends and family. In a way, the series shows viewers how although a civilization like the Galactic Alliance may be technologically advanced, it can still be culturally primitive.
Anyone familiar with Gen Urobuchi’s works will know that having a peaceful story like the one I’ve described is not his style and sure enough, there is a major twist in Suisei no Gargantia that flips the world upside down. Unforunately, this twist was rather weak compared to some of Urobuchi’s other works. It plays well into the continuing theme of individuality and acceptance, but I personally did not find it all that shocking, leading to an average ending.
The production values for Suisei no Gargantia are above average and Production I.G. does a good job of portraying the world as more than just blue oceans and blue skies. The ships in Gargantia’s fleet have a rustic look to them which gives them some character, which is starkly contrasted by another fleet encountered towards the end of the series that is grey and dreary. Characters also have nice designs and I did not notice any that were misdrawn or whose appearance changed between episodes.
For the most part, I found Suisei no Gargantia to have a relaxed feel with a positive message to deliver. Those looking for some sci-fi action and mind-boggling plot twists may want to skip the middle portion of the series. Suisei no Gargantia certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for something peaceful with just a hint of conflict and drama, then you should check it out.