I’ve seen and read quite a lot of anime reviews floating around the web and there’s one thing in common in most of them: They all twist themselves up with so much over-thinking bullshit that the simple entertainment factor is lost.
Now don’t get me wrong. It says a lot for an anime series that can impart some great ideologies and universal truths as well as maybe go some way towards helping watchers understand the meaning of life or whatever but it’s a not a prerequisite for a good anime. Because at the end of the day, they’re entertainment and if you are looking for deep philosophical nonsense that fucks up your mind, you’re better off reading some self-help books or those televangelists. (Not that all of them spew nonsense of course)
Another thing I kind of don’t like about the many reviews floating around is how the reviewer’s like to ‘brand’ anime with their creators and writers and claim to recognize the writers and directors by the anime and such. I admit that it maybe possible. I mean every Michael Bay film feels exactly like a Michael Bay film so that’s okay. But somewhere along there a line has to be drawn because to me, judging an anime by the fame and popularity of it’s director/writer/creator is meaningless. You wouldn’t be judging the anime, you’re judging a person. And judgement is as we all know is the 20th human sin right before bullying.
So my reviews are gonna be different.
If they continue as a series that is.
But onto the actual review (sorry about the rant. I tend to do that.)
Suisei no gargantia or Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is 2013 anime based on the manga written by Wataru Mitogawa
My first thoughts on viewing the first episode was that it was the normal sci-fi puke from virtually every studio these days. It was filled with aliens, laser guns and robots and me being not so into machinery, I kinda did not want to continue watching the series. But by the end of the first episode, it had hooked me enough to convince to continue watching it.
One thing that struck me was how beautiful the anime was. I grew up watching Hayao Miyazaki films and have quite a collection now, from his oldest mid 1980’s ones to some of the newest. Miyazaki films always stood in a class of their own with regards to their artwork which seemed both lifelike and dreamy. And not in any anime I’ve watched since then have I ever come across such surreal artwork.
But this comes real close. The settings, the colors and the animation is breathtaking. Of course, some connoisseurs out there may have come across better works but to me, this is beautiful. The environments are vibrant and sparkling. The endless oceans and the skies are just that. Endless. And the world of Earth, radically changed in the anime from what we are familiar with is captivating.
But not all is good in this anime and the story is honestly kind of disappointing. It entails the plight of humans in the future and their attempts to escape the Ice Age. During its 13 episode run, it manages to handle quite a lot of topics.
Human greed, unethical biological experimentation, brainwashing of a military, the concept of a utopia, co-existence among species, heartless and unreasonable annihilation of innocents, rogue robots, individuality in a conformist culture and much much more.
Yes, all that.
In just 13 episodes. Unfortunately, the anime doesn’t really ‘resolve’ the entire situation. While the main character does enlighten himself and become more human than cold brutal killing machine, his former civilization is still out their heartlessly killing off an entire species and he takes no effort to change their ways.
Now occasionally, it’s good to see anime where the main character ISN’T tasked with saving the world and beating the evil bad guy to a pulp and such but when we are talking about inter-species harmony and co-habitation, it kind of calls for it.
But then again, he does save a planet from the antics of a crazed, mindless robot bent on killing the biggest colony of humans on Earth so he probably felt he did enough saving for a lifetime.
And since the anime is only 13 episodes, the characterization does suffer. At most, I was only able to pinpoint two characters who aren’t cardboard cut-outs. The main character Ledo and the mechanic Pinion. The rest are sadly cliches. You get the optimistic and kind little girl, the hard as nails commander with a soft side, the sad yet curious and inquisitive sick kid who doesn’t hate the world and so on and so forth. You’ve seen them all before. But it’s hard to call this a major flaw because the you can’t really expect a huge load of characterization in just 13 episodes. And as to the question why couldn’t it have been longer (asked by reviews everywhere else), the answer is that 13 episodes are enough. The story is finished, albeit kind of haphazardly.
But if that’s good enough for a former soldier who is new to Earth, it’s definitely enough for me.
And I can certainly recommend this anime. Also, it’s not addictive because it’s only 13 episodes.
Lessons (from the anime):
1. Human experimentation is still a minefield. Despite our advancements in technology and our recent expansion and relaxation of ethical rigors.
2. An anime is an art form for entertainment. It’s not a painting that’s supposed to provoke deep thought and self-reflection.