Gargantia is the series that began to make people realize Gen Urobuchi is just a hax who makes up cool ideas, stuffs them with pretentious dialogues he steals from books, and then doesn’t give a damn about making sense about anything since he knows well that the average anime fan considers Naruto to be an amazing show, with anything more thematically complicating or violent than Naruto instantly being labeled as a masterpiece (Akame Ga Kill, Tokyo Ghoul, Future Diary).
Themes and splatter are not enough to mesmerize the masses though; they also need lots of pretty colors so their minds will go blank and be unable to understand the bullshit they are watching. If the animation is bad, they will bitch about every little detail, if it’s good they will magically not find anything bad to say about it (Kimi no Na Wa). Which stands true for this series as well, since it’s very well animated and has lots of cute girls, a contribution of a hentai character designer that is enough to make your average anime fan begin waifu wars instead of booing the endless nonsense in the story.
And it’s not like there isn’t a story and you are just watching a plotless harem. Lots of things are happening and are rich enough in content to write a thousand essays if you analyze it at face value. Because if you don’t, you won’t have much to go on besides saying how untapped the potential is or how nothing really makes sense. Many will rush to defend Urobutchi by claiming he only wrote a few episodes and that the rest are another writer’s fault but such excuses don’t make the final product any better and even prove how he is a lazy hack who doesn’t bother to write full scripts anymore since he sells by his name alone. Because that is what most were saying about the show; it is a masterpiece because his name is mentioned in the production team.
As always, the setting is very interesting (a combo of Xenogears meets Waterworld, populated by hentai people), and just like in all the stories he writes, it is never developed in any way, since he spends all his time in making up plot twists full of shock effect, and having the characters being mouthpieces who spit superficial philosophy every 3 minutes. So the whole concept of mankind in the far future being in war with space squids is just hanging there as background decoration, while we spend the whole show watching cute girls doing cute things, and amoral monstrosities butchering people over ideologies which have no ground on reality.
And guess what; it was more than enough for the majority of anime fans to like this travesty of a show, since it was making them go OMG THAT IS MAKING ME THINK SOOOO MUCH ABOUT WHAT MAKES US HUMAN. Too bad you get no real insight to any of that, since nothing is elaborated or explored, and in many cases is even contradicted in order to confuse you and make you think it’s all 2deep4u. Examples of the above include:
- The society of mankind in space. You get this infodump in the first 5 minutes of how they breed, fight, and aim to populate the galaxy but don’t really see anything about them.
- The morals of the Earth people. They claim to show respect for life when all you see them doing is constantly killing each other during pirate attacks.
- The logic of the Earth people. They blame the protagonist for killing their enemies even though they ordered him to do it.
- The intelligence of the Earth people. They blame him again for not appreciating life the way they do, although he has no knowledge about this, since he is from space.
- The perception of the Earth people. Despite the numerous times the spaceman effortlessly wiped out their enemies, they still think they can overpower him with sticks and stones anytime they feel like it.
- The abilities of the spaceman’s mecha. They are completely different in each episode; especially when it comes to radars.
• On episode 1 it requires from the pilot to walk around so the robot can map the area.
• On episode 2 it can map a huge area around it with perfect precision and no help from the pilot.
• On episode 3 it again has a problem to scan a few meters away from it.
• On episode 4 it can easily see what lies behind thick steel walls but not what swims a few meters in the sea.
• On episode 7 it can magically scan underwater just fine.
• It accepts to reveal top secret information to the spaceman just because there is nobody with a higher rank than him around. Meaning, all the security systems in the universe can be accessed if you simply fly away from your fleet.
• The robot follows commands only when it suits the plot, it keeps attacking even when the pilot tells it to stop, or shovels philosophical revelations down his throat without being ordered to do so.
The excuse of not having enough time to explore the themes, does not stick when half of the episodes are fan service. We get stuff like a masochistic lesbian pirate harem, a beach episode, and a belly dance episode for no bloody reason other than masturbation aid. They are supposed to be there so the spaceman can integrate into the world by experiencing sexuality, but they are so goofy you just can’t take them seriously, much less treat them as thematic exploration.
Of course if all you want is fancy visuals, good ideas, and softporn then the show definitely works. There is a lot of shallow entertainment in it, sprinkled with shallow philosophy and fancy action scenes to interest the casuals. The budget is very high, the animation is very lively, and as far as comedy goes, the interaction between dumb barbarians and super advanced spacemen creates lots of humorous moments. It’s in fact the best part of the show; it’s a shame they didn’t build on that, and instead opted for poorly inserted philosophies by a robot.
Characterization is paper thin in general, just like it is in all Urobuchi shows, since they are concept based instead of character based. People are always treated as plot devices, unable to behave as normal human beings, since they exist to serve a role instead of being part of the setting.
- Nothing in the protagonist’s shift from emotionless to caring feels natural because he is never allowed to change gradually on his own. Instead of giving the hero some time to ponder if his space culture is worth to go back to, he is instead given horrifying revelations that have him reacting by screaming and the robot lecturing him as if it’s a wise sage. What you are actually getting is a blank self-insert protagonist with no personality so he can be anything we imagine him to be, being bombarded with theories about morality by Urobutcher who speaks through the robot, and then having lots of dim-witted hentai chicks trying to befriend (and obviously bang) him, as if you are playing a porn game.
- The first time the female pirate leader appears, she is a typical bad guy. How did she manage to be a leader? We are never told. She disappears from the story and reappears close to the ending as a completely different character, again with no explanation. Her out of screen change was the result of having completed her first role, and then being given a new one, with no regards to how or if it makes sense. Why is she even wearing the same slutty outfit, if she is supposed to be in a cult full of joyless people? Why do they believe her or what is she even doing there? There is no answer because the scriptwriter doesn’t care.
- The robot ends up acting more realistic than any of the hentai bimbos or the stone faced protagonist. It’s as if there is no bloody way for a human to realize all that; we need an emotionless machine to forcefeed us the answers all people should know about what it means to be human. And even it is not an actual character to begin with, since it’s just Urobuchi in disguise, stealing quotes from other books and using them as his own, in a lazy attempt to show how smart he is at stealing ideas, without knowing what to do with them.
There are several plot twists in the show, and they are all a complete mess.
- One is about the alien enemies being humans once. It makes the protagonist to lose his mind when he finds out he was killing people all this time. But the thing is, those people had altered their DNA to such a ridiculous degree that they were no longer the same species. He wasn’t killing people because they are no longer people. In the meantime, when he was killing hundreds of pirates in the early episodes, he didn’t feel a thing.
- Another is Earth going through an ice age which forces mankind to go to space so it can avoid extinction. Well if that’s true, why have the people that stayed behind survived the ice age and are now having a normal life?
- Another twist is the out of nowhere introduction of an evil robot from his civilization, doing obviously evil things in an evil place with evil people, so we won’t have to wonder if the space people were right to leave the planet. The show itself tells us what to root for, which makes it lazy and contrived since it takes away the dilemma.
Also, the final enemy is an evil counterpart of the protagonist and his robot. This is stuff you expect to see in silly fighting shonen and not in philosophical shows analyzing the meaning of life, like Gargantia does so painfully. There is no sense of seriousness or depth compared to titles such as Haibane Renmei or Ghost in the Shell, it’s a parody of science fiction, with minors twerking on your face to further make it clear. And yet many viewers were still blinded and wrote essays about how mature it is.
"OMG I killed people!"
So what, you killed dozens of pirates in the first episodes.
"That doesn't count, I wasn't feeling like a human back then."
And now that you do, do you care?
"To hell with real humans, I only feel compassion for these evolved monsters which have no emotions or individuality."
They are technically not even people you know. They are now a different species, like we are to apes.
"We are still cousins!"
I am not sure if it means anything at this point but do you know Hideause look like fish?
"Yes I do."
What have you been eating all this time on Earth?
*TROLLFACE* UROBUCHI *TROLLFACE*