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Gargantia On The Verdurous Planet

2013 anime sci-fi space mecha AI post-apocalypse

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#1 Cybersnark

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 11:28 AM

I saved this one for last because I knew it would be the best; it's from Production I.G., who previously brought us Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex and Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit --two of the greatest anime masterpieces of all time.

Like all I.G. shows, this is very densely and intricately written, so I'm sure I missed details (I counted multiple subtitled conversations going on simultaneosly, and even I don't read that fast).

We open with a narrated tour through an extremely advanced space-based civilization, and we're told that the Age of Wandering has come to an end. The centrepiece is Avalon, a massive space habitat built around an artificial wormhole (which can be redirected as needed, providing interstellar transport). The narration spares no expense to tell us how Wonderful the Galactic Alliance of Humankind is, how monstrous the Hideauze are, and is generally the kind of self-congratulatory xenophobic propaganda I'd expect from fascist bastards.

The narration (which openly identifies itself as hypnotic conditioning) ends, and our lead character regains consciousness --Lieutenant Ledo (Leto?) is a pilot aboard an AI-powered Machine Caliber (his AI/copilot is named Chamber, and kinda reminds me of a cross between KITT and Data). Chamber helpfully reminds Ledo of his long military service, and notes that after this mission, he will be granted (limited) Citizenship and allowed to enter Avalon for four weeks, where he can eat, drink, sleep, and reproduce freely. Ledo is unenthusiastic about this; he isn't really interested in anything Avalon has to offer. Chamber tries to encourage him (he has proven superior, and worthy of reproduction, and should celebrate), and Ledo asks if Chamber is happy (he dodges the question, falling back on his programmed directives).

The (seemingly unprovoked) attack on the alien nest (itself a huge space habitat) goes pear-shaped (though it gives Chamber a chance to show off his nearly-apocalyptic level of weaponry --and he's just one of thousands of Machine Calibers), and the Alliance forces withdraw through their wormhole.

Ledo breaks ranks to cover the withdrawal (and his CO breaks ranks to come back for him, noting that Ledo, being younger, is more valuable than he is), which makes Ledo the last pilot to return. He nearly makes it into his mothership, but gets grabbed by one of the Nautilus-like Hideauze fighters, which slows him down enough that he doesn't "land" so much as grab onto a stanchion with one hand. As the ship enters the wormhole, the turbulence strikes him, and he gets ripped away. . .

Aboard a ramshackle construct, a girl in stylish homespun clothes (and her pet vermin flying squirrel) races through rust-stained metal gangways and down stairs. She eventually arrives in a cargo bay, where a group of mechanics are poring over. . . Chamber. The girl (Amy) hands her delivery to the woman in charge (they're renting this workspace, and there's paperwork to sign), and checks out the "salvage" --the mechanics have never seen anything like it. They've been trying to break it open, but nothing they have can make a scratch, and they can't recognize the writing on the hull (if it even is writing).

Inside, Ledo again wakes up; Chamber has been keeping him in stasis for six months, but now Chamber needs orders. Neither of them recognize the people scrabbling over the (still inert) hull, nor their language. Chamber confirms that none of the tools he's seen can harm him (and neither of them appear concerned with fuel or food, so no hurry). Ledo guesses they're a primitive throwback colony that hasn't joined the Alliance. Chamber has no idea where they are (navigationally speaking), and explains that they could've been popped out of the wormhole anywhere.

Chamber notes that the walls of this room are flimsy enough that Chamber could smash his way out, but Ledo vetoes that; there could be vacuum on the other side, and no one here is wearing a space suit.

As the day winds on, the mechanics gradually drift away. After the last one leaves, Ledo pops the hatch and takes a look around. He detaches Chamber's comm unit and clips it to his suit as he goes. Gravity is exactly 1G, and atmosphere is perfectly breathable (though it reeks of something Ledo can't identify). He's examining the primitive tools when he hears the door open.

The lead mechanic (Bellows) and Amy (and her varmint) return; she wanted to take one more look at the machine. Bellows notices the wet footprints (Ledo stepped into a puddle), and Ledo suddenly darts from hiding and takes Amy hostage at gunpoint. Neither she nor the mechanic seem to recognize the weapon --the girl struggles violently and the mechanic charges. Ledo fires a laser into the floor around Bellows' feet (demonstrating both excellent hand-eye coordination and impressive restraint), then tosses the still-yelling girl over his shoulder and runs.

Bellows sounds an alarm (which brings people out of their bunks), and Ledo races through the maze-like structure. Chamber is automapping (using the commlink Ledo carries), and trying to develop a translation matrix. It's only at 40%, and he suggests Ledo keep the hostage talking.

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"Those were statements regarding reproduction with one's mother, as well as sanctified excrement."

As the chase continues, Chamber points out that he hasn't found any sign of pressure bulkheads or life-support systems. There is only one type of structure in his databanks that this resembles.

Ledo bashes through a doorway and skids to a stunned halt; before him is blue sky, blue water, and a blinding glare.

As he squints, the flying rat lands on his face, and he drops Amy. After the squirrel returns to its master, Ledo finds himself cornered by a hedgerow of rifles and angry locals.

Ledo calls for help, and Chamber smashes his way free and swoops around to hover behind his pilot.

Posted Image

Ledo doesn't understand where they are, but Chamber explains that there are records of a planet capable of supporting surface life. Only one, and Chamber's navigational sensors can now confirm it: Earth, the birthworld of the human race, long thought lost.

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Production I.G.'s reputation is well-earned, and their usual brilliance is on display here; the character designs are beautiful and detailed (Ledo is jarringly pale next to the tanned Earthlings, which makes sense given that he's apparently spent his whole life in controlled environments). The plotting is a little by-the-numbers to set things up, but I like the subtle touches of the wildly different technology, and the (hopefully) ongoing language barrier (though it can get a bit confusing as the show flips between different POVs --Babylon 5 did much the same thing, and it annoyed me then too).

The CGI seems to work so far, though most of what we've seen of Chamber is in space or hovering, so I can't judge how effective he'll be when physically interacting with the world.

Intelligent robots are surprisingly rare in anime (like aliens, they tend to default to human forms, or are so alien that they don't count as "characters" [or are just "mons" in kid-targeted shows]); the main examples are the Tachikomas from GitS, and it's clear that Chamber does not resemble those particular ancestors --he's much more subdued and bloodthirsty. Which, again, makes perfect sense for a military AI. He and Rommie would no doubt find much common ground. Also unlike the Tachikomas, Chamber isn't really self-guided; while he can clearly move (and possibly fight) without his pilot aboard, his main function is to support Ledo --to "ensure that he reaches his full potential" (which is why he was so proud that Ledo had won passage into Avalon).

Hopefully the GAoH and Hideauze will continue to figure in, but based on advance reports, it looks like the bulk of the series will focus on Ledo and Chamber as fish-out-of-water on Earth (with Ledo no-doubt discovering the things that he dismissed as "beyond him" on Avalon).

Despite his fascist roots, I like Ledo; His early conversation with Chamber shows that he's smart enough to question the world he lived in, and he shows impressive consideration --despite being a soldier in wartime, he does not identify the strangers around him as potential enemies, and goes to great lengths to not harm anyone (even when he takes Amy hostage, he doesn't retaliate when she starts punching/kicking him).

Amy seems like the stereotypical genki-girl eventual love-interest, though I'm interested to see the other cast of characters aboard the city/ship, and I trust I.G. to do something interesting with her.
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#2 Niko

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 11:48 PM

Now *THIS* one has me excited.  I didn't realize it was Production I.G. but it makes perfect sense.  It's clear from the get-go that this show is leagues above 95% of other anime in terms of knowing how to introduce its characters and start setting up a well-structured story.   I'll be stalking crunchyroll, waiting for them to release each new episodes to the non-subscribing public.

- Was it just me, or did this harken back to Andromeda a bit?  Not intentionally, obviously, but it gave me that vibe...  Dude with advanced tech goes into stasis, is "woken" when a salvage ship (helmed by a sassy female captain in it for her own profit) tries to cash in on his tech, and forced to come to terms with the less advanced natives to get along.   The red-headed salvage captain  (Who is Bellows, btw.  The engineer dude is Pinion.) just reminded me a lot of Beka, somehow.

- I love Chamber.  I like that he has his warlike attributes, but that he's not argumentative about it.  I came away from the intro sequence with a lot less harsh of an attitude about the GAoH largely because they seem a lot less domineering in their indoctrination than your typical evil empire.  That Chamber comes across as a genuine ally, rather than some monitoring tool of the state, softens them up for me a bit.

- Re: character designs - I thought it was a nice touch having Amy's shoulders have some pink to them.  Her job clearly involves a lot of gliding between ships, and given her outfit, it makes sense that she'd be prone to getting some color in that spot.  :)

- It's probably doomed to remain a mystery, but I'm really curious where her squirrel comes from in a world with no dry land.  Are there ships floating around that breed them as pets?  Are there abandoned ships that have developed ecosystems where traditionally land-based wildlife are able to thrive?

- They do a great job with the culture clash angle in the second episode.  I love the initial confusion of the natives thinking there's a second person inside Chamber, and the traditional "sharing food to make friends" is adorable, with Ledo grossed out at the idea of eating "the corpse of an aquatic animal".  :)

Do we know if this gets a full 2-cours, or only one?
- Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.    (Matthew 25:40)

- Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.  (Proverbs 3:3)

#3 offworlder

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 11:55 AM

did I see on something I had to look up coz I had no idea where this is, that it shows on YTV? but not having that, I hadda go lookin- for me this is not analyzing or reviewing, jus a touch of impressions and when I go impressioning some turn to questions;

to see what, where, and Im not the usual anime show viewer anyway ;) so found the wiki page, not a custom wiki jus normal wiki page on't, to see the What part, and where this comes from, and roles and story; then caught up with the Where I can see it; found over on Crunchyroll ;)

so watched the show one and show two- wow, it started fast and that first part of show one was too fast for me; I could not keep up with the subs when it's all made up stuff, not familiar, cant read unfamiliar language as fast as these made up nouns with the way Japanese becomes in translation to be multi-word names of stuff, with like four words for the name of things; so behind on the universe, world building, what the hell enemies, the how and why of them, what they were doing, what and how the Alliance side were doing in that big battle and how the hero got out or away- it was even more too fast for me when multiple subs came on top and bottom of screen then went off so fast as the spoken finished; needed fluent Japanese to keep up with that;
and: what the hell is Telesony or what that thing?

now show two was better, not only better speed for me, but also the world hero will really be in for the show, the planet and the oceans- I was like 'think Wells Leagues under captain meets undercity world of the tv Beauty and the Best, meets Waterworld' ;)

Amy and her whole world- Ridgel seems a touch older, 19 ish, and seems to have some power beside being the commander's aide, like she can take deputy control a bit, trusted, and lil Amy the run round excitable jumping early teen girl, first half of teen age, with all her jumping excitable lil friend girls, and then her quieter not as fast lil bro in bed with seeming reason, maybe polio? or some yet hidden infirm, ill? but a reasoning calmness upon her, reflection, wider ideas to match her own, for her to take a moment and be more thoughtful? put her in good position to meet and interact with hero.

So many of these have kids, teens, in adult roles, jobs, warriors, doing the exciting big people activities and positions; this Ledo, I kept thinking how do these japanese keep coming up with short quippy hero names like nicknames? dont they run out of alphabet after a few years, but no, keep on playin

he sure is the serious type, like he's been a grizzled military warrior veteran for fifteen years; maybe he'll lighten up when he's sitting in lil bro's bedroom with Amy and just kid chat?

Pinion, wow we'v seen that guy, the way he talks and acts, as the side kick helper of warriors, in so so many movies, Kurosawa and other japanese directors; hope he gets less clichè as things go by

See any asians? I didn't , cept maybe the commander guy and two of those men with him, and maybe Ridgel is half asian, Eurasian? but really how do they ALways write and draw this stuff with these blue eyes, and some blonds, and plenty auburn, light brown? I would expect one to keep things mixed and PC but hey at least half asians?

Luv'd it when Amy offered Ledo to .... eat a corpse??

and they get their juice from... a horde of lightening fed seabugs??

when he hit all those pirates it completed my thoughts from the early part when he first sat there in Gargantia,
how Convenient he had this power and resources to wipe out enemies, not exactly underdog, not only blows up all
the ships but surgically slices out the pirates round the Bellow lady on the salvage ship? just too much, where's the
underdog angle so we can pull for him?

but this show has promise, will catch the show three later and see- is anyone east of Tokyo seeing this? is it really
on YTV? is it on in US cable channel like cartoon network or Fox kids? ABCFamily morning?

there's also a page on't over on tv tropes, nice long FAQ page on tech and  stuff in the show;
but it DIDNT say what the hell that thing is, in the space fight, that thing like Telephony but different,
something like Telesony?
"(Do you read what they say online?) I check out all these scandalous rumours about me and Elijah Wood having beautiful sex with each other ... (are they true?) About Elijah and me being boyfriend and boyfriend? Absolutely true. We've been together for about nine years. I wooed him. No I just like a lot of stuff - I like that someone says one thing and it becomes fact. It's kind of fun." --Dominic Monaghan in a phone interview with Newsweek while buying DVDs at the store. :D

#4 Cybersnark

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 11:42 AM

View PostNiko, on 26 April 2013 - 11:48 PM, said:

I came away from the intro sequence with a lot less harsh of an attitude about the GAoH largely because they seem a lot less domineering in their indoctrination than your typical evil empire.  

True, we haven't seen the Alliance (successfully) do anything really bad, but that kind of Heinleinian military-state indoctrination tends to rub me the wrong way.

Quote

Do we know if this gets a full 2-cours, or only one?
For the moment (going by Wikipedia and ANN) it looks like a 13-episode series. Though, knowing I.G.'s previous work, they might well leave it open-ended enough for a second series (a la 2nd Gig).

View Postoffworlder, on 27 April 2013 - 11:55 AM, said:

did I see on something I had to look up coz I had no idea where this is, that it shows on YTV?
In Japan, YTV is Yomiuri Television. (It throws me for a loop sometimes too; we have a YTV in Canada that used to show anime.)

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So many of these have kids, teens, in adult roles, jobs, warriors, doing the exciting big people activities and positions; this Ledo, I kept thinking how do these japanese keep coming up with short quippy hero names like nicknames? dont they run out of alphabet after a few years, but no, keep on playin
Yeah, Japan tends to be even more youth-obsessed than America. In some cases it makes sense (teenagers' lives do tend to be more drama-filled than adults [and adults tend to be forces of the status-quo, while youth tends to push for change and drive the plot]), but in a lot of cases it just starts being weird. I tend to ignore characters' ages --a "teenager" who acts like a 20-something might as well be a 20-something.

There do tend to be a lot of repeated names between different shows --there is a finite amount of "acceptable" Japanese personal names [which is why nicknames/honourifics tend to be so important]). A lot of anime gets around this by deliberately using multi-national names (like the Gundam franchise) or taking names from other literary works.

I'm pretty sure "Ledo" (not remotely a Japanese name) is derived from "Leto," though I'm unsure if it's the one from Greek mythology or the one from Dune. The Greek is the more typical reference (given Ledo's swan-like complexion), but given how literary I.G. tends to be, I wouldn't be surprised to see an Atreides expy turn up (and now I'm wondering if there's a guy named "Nemo" who crash-landed on a desert world ruled by giant sandworms).

Quote

See any asians? I didn't , cept maybe the commander guy and two of those men with him, and maybe Ridgel is half asian, Eurasian? but really how do they ALways write and draw this stuff with these blue eyes, and some blonds, and plenty auburn, light brown? I would expect one to keep things mixed and PC but hey at least half asians?
Yeah, ethnicity in anime can be hard to pin down. On one hand, Japan itself tends to be pretty xenophobic (in some regions), but on the other they actually tend to be better than Americans at portraying a fully multi-ethnic future.

Quote

when he hit all those pirates it completed my thoughts from the early part when he first sat there in Gargantia,
how Convenient he had this power and resources to wipe out enemies, not exactly underdog, not only blows up all
the ships but surgically slices out the pirates round the Bellow lady on the salvage ship? just too much, where's the
underdog angle so we can pull for him?
I don't think the underdog angle is going to be where the story goes. From the behind-the-scenes stuff I've heard;
Spoiler

"Hilarity ensues." --Seamus Harper

#5 Niko

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 11:53 AM

Quick *poke* at this thread, because I noticed an announcement today that this is getting a second series.   Curious if anyone else ended up finishing this?

I felt it didn't quite live up to the potential of the early episodes, with the Hideuze thread, in particular, feeling like a red herring with how they let it peter out in favor of the actual final conflict.  But despite it's weak points, it was worth it for Chamber.  It's so expected that an AI in this sort of scenario will inevitably go all HAL 9000 on our hero that Chamber's actual reaction to later events is wicked cool.  :)
- Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.    (Matthew 25:40)

- Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.  (Proverbs 3:3)



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