So, Urobuchi has been working with Production I.G. in 2012 with the first project being “Psycho-Pass” and the success of that show got a second season coming soon but with this show and getting a first glance at that and you see it’s not something you expect from him but then again, Madoka Magica was something we didn’t expect to be good and look at that. The same can be said for Fate/Zero but can it happen again with this show? I guess I have to find out.
In the distant future, mankind has taken to the stars and formed the Galactic Alliance of Humankind (人類銀河同盟, Jinrui Ginga Dōmei?). The Alliance is engaged in a perpetual war with a tentacled alien species known as the Hideauze (ヒディアーズ, Hidiāzu?). 16-year-old Ensign Ledo is a soldier in the Galactic Alliance, piloting a Machine Caliber (マシンキャリバー, Mashin Kyaribā?), an AI-automated, humanoid-shaped battle suit, which he refers to as ‘Chamber’. After a failed attempt by the Alliance forces to destroy an enemy super-weapon, Ledo is knocked into a wormhole and loses consciousness. When he awakens, he learns from Chamber that he has been in cryo-stasis for 6 months while his wounds were healing. Ledo learns that he and Chamber have been ‘found’ by a rag-tag band of ‘primitive’ human scavengers. Ledo quickly discovers that he is on board a massive fleet of ships on an ocean-covered planet. Chamber tells him that local star charts reveal the planet is Earth, the birthplace of humanity, a place that members of the Alliance were only familiar with from stories and believed was a myth.
Well, for one thing, the show is actually more tame and light-hearted compared to his earlier works and this is something that I would never picture being written by the same guy who made the magical girl genre wet itself and no, it is not a bad thing that Urobuchi went into a different mode than the usual stuff he’s known for. There is some dark elements into the story but nothing high caliber of Fate/Zero or Madoka Magica. It is more like a sci-fi “fish out of water” tale; a character looks at a world which is more primitive than the one he’s used to and feels more human once he interacts with the people surrounding it and as it goes, it was handled pretty well in planning and execution although it could use a little more in character development and speaking of that……
The main character Ledo is your basic stoic but strong lead with no knowledge of the planet Earth so you could expect him to not be like the other residents on the ship. Amy, the character that Ledo attempted to kidnap in the first place when he was confused about the planet and possibly one of the reasons Ledo fights to protect Gargantia, is quite relevant into Ledo’s development as a character as well as her to an extent as how they bond throughout and also leading to a close relationship between the two whenever they have alone screen time together. As for the other characters, some few get some development like Amy’s two messenger friends Melty and Saaya; Ridget, the high rank officer; Pinion, head repairmen and Bellows, leader of the excavation team but since this is a 13-episode series, most of them are overshadowed to the plot and learning a little bit about them wouldn’t be as bad.
Production I.G. did a gorgeous job on the animation as this is a very colorful and vibrant looking anime, as in, something I never expect from the likes of Urobuchi and the action scenes with Ledo and Chamber are pretty top-notch and visually stunning. Some character designs, especially on the female characters, do seem kind of moe-like and also Ledo does look very bishonen, which I just suddenly realized now.
The musical effort was decent in their share. The opening theme Kono Sekai wa Bokura o Matte Ita (この世界は僕らを待っていた?, “This World Has Been Waiting For Us”) by Minori Chihara did took me time to warm up to it but after listening to it a few times, I actually like listening to it with it being a calm yet adventurous sound, which does sound right for the series and the ending song to Kimi no Message (空とキミのメッセージ?, “Sky and Your Message”) by ChouCho is very serene and soothing, which is a good way to end each episode. So………I would say something about the dub…..there isn’t one….well, not yet of course. The acting in Japanese is fine, although I can’t really tell as much but it was a serviceable performance although some female voices were a bit too high-pitched for my taste.
(UPDATE 7/20/2014: The Engllish dub provided from Viz Media and Bang Zoom Entertainment was actually quite a solid effort from them with Tony Oliver helming the voice direction and script for the series. I will say that I like how they work in the alien language aspect and it’s easier to grasp in English than the original Japanese version. The lead Ledo is played by a newcomer named Alan Lee and while he does get shaky in most parts, he delivers a believable performance in the dub. I will say that he sounds like a mixture of Johnny Yong Bosch, Todd Haberkorn in his serious mode and a bit of Lucien Dodge and the rest of the cast does some solid voice work including Matt Mercer as Chamber and Cassandra Lee Morris as Amy. I have noticed some recent VAs in the dub like Natalie Hoover (Saaya), Danielle McRae (Onderia) and some VAs I’m not familar with or they might be an alias on them.)
FINAL VERDICT: This is an Urobuchi show set with a lighter and tamer tone while not straying away from his usual style in some episodes but manages to make it interesting with how he takes it through. While not as grandiose or extraordinary as his other shows he’s written, this one is worth the watch for the story alone.
So does Gargantia have the power to be on top?
7.5/10 – Low SOLID B.
At the time of this review posted, Gargantia on The Verdurous Planet has not gotten a DVD/Blu-ray release date scheduled but has been licensed by Viz Media. Streaming options are available on Crunchyroll with possibly a future run on VIZAnime.com, Hulu, and NEON ALLEY. There is also news that a sequel to the series has been green-lit. No release date has been confirmed.
And that wraps up Urobuchi Month, ladies and gentlemen!! Hope you enjoy the reviews and all……and hopefully, something special from me is coming right up at the end of the year. Actually, it’s more than one thing per se but this particular one involves these words:
UNO CERO CERO
And until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka Blue Hybrid, bringing all the dark elements or light-hearted elements in one Urobuchi show.
GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET – animation by PRODUCTION I.G. / distributed by VIZ MEDIA
THE MIND OF THE HYBRID ONE – my Tumblr Page