What is with this beautiful, heartwarming tale, Urobuchi?
What They Say:
In order to compensate for the damage to the hangar they caused, Chamber is put to work hauling around heavy cargo, but that leaves Ledo on the sidelines with nothing to do. Amy takes him around the fleet and introduces Ledo to the knowledgeable Dr. Oldham as well as her sickly but wise younger brother, Bebel.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Although this series is moving along smoothly and naturally, it’s keeping me guessing, and not in the way previous Urobuchi writings have. While I’ve grown used to what I think I should expect from him, this series is turning his own inventive subversions on their head, and thus we get this episode. There’s no action, nothing really happens, and it’s almost all happy or, at the very least, heartwarming, and incredibly human all the while.
The episode consists largely of Ledo digging deep into the standards of this foreign society to try to learn how it works and why it makes sense, as he’s experienced nothing remotely like it in his life. It was clear that the story was heading in this direction, but seeing him go through this episode without any conflict beyond his own internal confusion feels so serene and calming considering some of the potential for violence the series has shown us.
I suppose it’s a method of showing us the difference between Ledo’s upbringing and the lives led by the inhabitants of Gargantia, obviously the main theme of the series thus far; this world feels so bright and happy compared to what we may expect from the writer, the protagonist’s outlook on life, the death and destruction we’ve seen glimpses of, etc. And for that purpose, it works quite well. As the viewers, we’re caught in an interesting position to examine this story. On one hand, the Earth in this series is, for all its history of destruction and relative primitiveness, the closest thing we can connect to, as the customs of human beings have persisted throughout the ages on our home planet and feel much more familiar than anything else. On the other, we see it from Ledo’s eyes, and while the first half of the first episode was far less interesting than anything since, it was in retrospect an effective way to start the series, giving us enough of a taste of what Ledo was used to in order to understand why a society which makes much more sense to us would seem more alien than the creatures he was fighting.
Because of this dynamic, of course, the episode can’t exactly be treated as all smiles and sunshine. Seeing Ledo slowly learn about how beautiful humanity can be is a wonderful thing, but realizing that the reason he has to learn it at all is that the existence he’s used to is so disgustingly brutal and cold, but by necessity, allows for there still to be a dark undertone. While it’s mostly a simple day-in-the-life episode that doesn’t appear to amount to much on the surface, the memories that it jogs in Ledo are the one clear piece of setup to look forward to learning more about in the coming episodes. It would’ve been good without that, but I was glad to have something to grab onto and be carried along to next week with.
This episode isn’t about action or spectacle, but pure humanity. Ledo’s disconnect with the world he’s been thrust into has been the major theme all along, so as uneventful as it ultimately is, it’s good to have an episode dedicated solely to exploring that, allowing him to learn about what humans can be beyond self-sustaining killing machines. It’s simple, but very deep and beautiful.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Custom-Built PC, 27” 1080p HDTV.