Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: First Impressions by Miki

Streaming Allegiance: Crunchyroll
Reconnaissance Report by: Miki
Progress: Episode 1

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet PromoComing from the mind of Gen Urobochi, the creator and scriptwriter of recent fan-favorites Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet has big shoes to fill, and in its first episode does an admirable job of doing so.

Ledo is a pilot for a group of humans that have built a space colony far, far away from Earth, which now only still exists as a rumor (Battlestar Gargantia?). There’s no telling how long this group of humanity has wandered, but they are constantly under threat from an alien race of giant snails and plant-and-bug-hybrids whose name got lost in an overwhelming torrent of other sci-fi technobabble.  To combat this force, the military of this colony uses mechs called Machine Caliber to attack them head-on in a modern version of 18th century musket warfare where the two lines attack each other, casualties fall where they may, and whoever has the most left standing after a barrage wins while the others retreat to regroup. During one such retreat, Ledo is separated from the rest of his group as they make a stabilized wormhole jump and instead falls into the time-space shortcut to who-knows-where (Star Trek: Voyager, anyone?).

Later, who-knows-where happens to be, via means unknown as of yet, a rusting warehouse/hangar of some kind. A group of other humans, most of them mechanics, in civilian attire are attempting to crack the armor of the strange mech they’ve acquired. The ruckus causes the mech’s computer to wake Ledo up, and he has to decide what to do in his new surroundings. In a brilliant sequence where the information on his location is gleaned by running away with Amy, a surprisingly realistically-proportioned human girl he takes hostage, his computer progressively narrows down the universal possibilities of his location. However, waiting for him after his realization are the rest of the members of this group of humans… all with guns pointed straight at him.

As far as mech shows go, this one covers mostly uncharted territory for me. While the opening half of the episode is seen in most space opera anime (Voices of a Distant Star comes to mind for the space combat, and the enemy carriers are very reminiscent of the Chulips from Martian Successor Nadesico), the second half is where the show really starts to shine. The new group of humans don’t speak the same language as Ledo, they are technologically inferior (Prime Directive come to mind here?), and again, the way the deduction of his new location was carried out and the realistic character design for the female protagonist are incredibly refreshing. I’m intrigued to see both the interaction of Ledo with this new culture as well as if/when the alien threat and the tech from the first half of the episode re-enter the picture.

Overall, this was a solid effort. Nothing terribly groundbreaking, but not every show has to be. The first half was a bit too much to handle at once, but I get the feeling it may only be of eventual importance to the story anyway.

Score: 8.5/10