Gargantia on the Verduous Planet: First Impressions by Skie

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

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet PromoIt begins in deep space where soldiers are taught through dream sequences and peaceful life is the reward for duty well done in the face of an all-consuming war.  The Hideauze are a race of aliens locked in mortal combat with humankind and Ledo is an Ensign of the Galactic Alliance of Humankind tasked with piloting a Machine Caliber in a last ditch effort to end the war.  Needless to say, things don’t go as planned and the show drops you into the last few moments of the military fleet with spectacular space combat, nonstop action, and a flurry of information delivered in in-world communications.  The exposition is on-target, unobtrusive and wonderfully woven into the fabric of the story in a high speed pace that doesn’t sacrifice information for immersion – a decidedly rare treat.  Before you know it, you’re part of the story and for me, the first few minutes felt like watching the climax of a blockbuster film.

With Ledo’s situation gone horribly wrong, cue Amy, a curious young woman running deliveries for a group of decidedly non-space age humans, and a rusty warehouse setting where the Machine Caliber has been brought after discovery.  The clash of hyper technology and primitive tools is at once endearing and comical as characters scratch their heads in bafflement at the machine they’ve discovered or the language barrier and confusion of a soldier lost in space.  The attention to language barriers is refreshing and also a rare treat as it further illustrates the contrast between the pilot and the messenger.  Ledo is humanized in his concern for their well-being and from the audience’s perspective his caution is entertainingly ironic.  What seems like obvious facts of Earth are foreign and even legendary to the soldier and it creates empathy for a man who knows nothing but war.

The animation is smooth and bright, evoking shows like Gundam Seed or Code Geass for me, and the designs are superb.  There’s an organic feel to the extraterrestrials that deepens their alien nature and I hope we see more of them in the future of the anime.  The humans themselves are well proportioned, expressive, and both stand out from their drab environment and seem suited for it, leaving me eager to discover more of Earth alongside Ledo if Amy and her fellows are indication of what’s to come.  The sound is unobtrusive and therefore pleasant, adding to the mood of scenes without drawing my attention away from the superb story telling.

This first episode is a wonderful juxtaposition of new and old and while it’s only a brief introduction of Amy and Ledo, I’m left wanting more.  Amy is rambunctious, feisty, and surprisingly earthy (pun intended) where Ledo’s behavior hints at a gallant personality and sharp mind honed by conflict that hold the potential for much irony, fun, and discovery.  I am looking forward to this series a great deal.

Score: 9/10