Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a bittersweet show. The world it sets up and the different ideas thrown in are fantastic, but the characters and plot are pretty uninteresting and the anime takes a while before it finally gets to a place where you actually care to watch the story progress. Gargantia is not a bad anime though, just very shallow in depth and lackluster in execution.
Ledo is the pilot of a giant robot. He comes from a utopian world in space where he was conscripted to fight against the Hideauze, giant squid creatures that fly around wreaking havoc. During a battle he gets sucked into a black hole and taken to what had once been Earth, a planet now completely covered in water that is home to floating cities built on fleets of battleships linked together. The one he ends up on is called Gargantia. He finds himself learning a new language, meeting new people, enjoying new customs, and eventually learning a devastating secret about the Hideauze.
The first half of the series is slow, plodding, uninteresting, and just plain boring. It's pretty enough and I love the idea of the giant fleets of ships being like a floating continent, but its otherwise nothing special. The characters are all boring, even Ledo. There's a focus on a female protagonist, Amy, who is just...annoying. Her character is nonexistent and all she seems to be good for is wearing very little clothes. In fact, most of the women in this show wear very little clothes. I can understand that it's hot but the fan service is too bountiful with this harvest. Especially on the festival episode which forces us to watch Amy and her friends dance like gypsies. And this festival comes right after another festival. And then there's an episode where everyone sits around eating barbecue and gives the female characters an excuse to wear skimpy bikinis.
And that’s the biggest problem with the show is this middle slump of uninspired fan service, boring dialogue, very little character development, and no plot development. A show like this with the very serious tone of the ending could maintain that seriousness throughout and be an especially good anime with an emphasis on perhaps the politics of maintaining the fleet or dealing with more pirates or other fleets of humans. Instead it’s exactly what you’d expect from a lazy show; failed attempts at humor, unneeded and out of place fan service, and nary a reason to exist to be found.
And you can argue that these episodes develop the “romance” between Ledo and Amy. But it’s all thinly veiled, generically played out, and uninteresting. As you can probably tell by a lot of my reviews, I want the romance to happen. I love romance in anything because that’s just how I am. It develops characters, it makes the story more relatable, and it leaves you with a good feeling in the end when everything comes out right. But Gargantia’s “romance” is as thin as they come and inconsequential either way. The end plays up Ledo’s devotion to Amy, but it just as well could be the fact he likes Gargantia and the people there just as much as Amy. Even if the ending does show them walking together it really doesn’t establish anything, and even if they kissed it wouldn’t exactly be heartwarming because their characters were never developed enough nor given enough time to gel for it to really work. It’s all forced.
Gen the Butcher wrote this so you’d expect a lot more depressing and unhappy philosophy, and you get that toward the end. It does take a mild turn for the worse and a few strange things happen but overall, it’s fairly tame. As I said, toward the end the story picks up and gets good but not because of the characters. It’s all because of the world that is created. Revealing the truth behind the Hideauze, the fact that the people living on the fleets are scavenging stuff from the sea floor to learn more about old humanity, a fleet of people revering a robot as a god. It’s all really compelling ideas that are there but everything else happening plot-wise isn’t exciting. There was never one suspenseful moment in the show because I just didn’t care.
Maybe with a longer series I would have grown to love this show a lot more than I do. With better character development and better plots that gave me a reason to relate to Ledo, a reason to care for the romance with Amy, a reason to want to see Gargantia win its battles, I might have cared more for the series. But as it stands, it’s super shallow with very little in regards to characters, development, or plot. The end has its moments but it ultimately is nothing memorable And I hate to say that because I love the ideas behind the series so much!
But in the end, it’s just a slightly above average adventure that may not even be worth taking.