Susei no Gargantia surprised me this week. The show continues to improve across the board with its narrative, visual set pieces and surprisingly nuanced character development. Ledo’s adventures on Earth are filled with tension and action, never relenting throughout the twenty three minutes. This series is quickly becoming the show to watch week in and week out. Well done Production I.G., nobody would have guessed that you would produce not one but two of the best shows this season.
The show opens with Ledo being criticized by the Gargantian crew for the murder of the pirates. It opens up an interesting discourse in violence and the extent of it’s use. Ledo believes that if you arm yourself, you must be prepared to kill. It’s an unwritten contract with the weapon itself. It was created to murderl, but it becomes a useless tool if it’s user can’t be motivated to do so. Bellows points out that this line of thinking is incorrect. Sometimes armaments must be used to deter the enemy. They’re more of a symbol of a willingness to fight, a shout out saying, “You can come at me bro, but I ain’t going to make this easy”. This sort of thinking transforms a weapon from an instrument of destruction to a shield that protects peace.
What makes this discussion such a great moment is that it isn’t bogged down by flowery language or lofty declarations but spoken in matter of fact terms and simple language shared over some chicken roasting over fire. Gen Urobochi, a writer known for his extravagant monologues, shows that he can dial back the overwrought writing while managing to paint it in his signature philosophy.
Urobochi’s delicate handle on the narrative follows through on the character development. For example Bellows, who until now has been a depicted as headstrong and agressive, shows that she has exceptional cunning and foresight. During her dinner of chicken roast with Ledo, she tell him a simple rule that the fleets follow: for those that fish, give them water. A rule that the pirates blatantly disregard. Without any force or coercion, just a few words, she secures Ledo’s loyalty to the Gargantia. She rightly predicts that even though the pirates have greater resources than the crew that found him, he would decide to stay with the group he knows he can barter with.
The wonderful writing aside, there has been one elephant in the room for me for the past two weeks… the action sequences. I have complained how sluggish some of these moments were. They felt like negative space, where there was neither excitement nor substance to be found. I am happy to report that in the third episode, Susei no Gargantia finally gets it right. Long gone are the hollow explosions. Instead we have fluid combat between mechs and naval conflict that isn’t isolated to a single frame of art. Hopefully these traits continue to be a trend and not an exception for the series.
I must say, that this is one of the best episodes I have seen this season, Shingeki no Kyojin included. It’s not hyperbole, just praise for a very smartly written show. I have high hopes for this series and a renewed faith in Gen Urobochi. For those of you who haven’t tuned in, I think it’s about time.