Global warming? What a load of poppycock. If Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is to be believed, instead of sweltering temperatures, the planet is on course for an ice age. The chilly weather will get so bad that donning thermal underwear won’t suffice to stay warm. Mankind is therefore forced to abandon Earth and venture out into space to seek out a new home. Unfortunately for the human race the cosmos is populated by Hideauze – a hostile race of space faring calamari. In order to combat the squid like menace humanity have developed giant mechs known as Calibers, which have more than a passing resemblance to Zone of the Enders’ orbital frames. Will the flying robots turn the alien cephalopods into seafood or will humanity get buggered by tentacles? Only time will tell.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is the brainchild of writer Gen Urobuchi, the talented chap responsible for Fate/Zero, Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Psycho-Pass. The series follows the adventures of ensign Ledo, a young Caliber pilot who finds himself stranded on Earth after a run in with some unfriendly Hideauze. It has been many years since humanity abandoned their home world and in the interim the ice age has thawed transforming the globe into an aquatic planet, not dissimilar to Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Earth’s native population survive by banding together into fleets that travel the waves in search of salvageable technology.
Ledo eventually allies himself with the Gargantia fleet that agree to provide him with food and board in exchange for him using his advanced Caliber to fend off pirates and assist with undersea exploration. The first half of the series is a fairly peaceful affair that chronicles Ledo’s integration into the Gargantia community and his growing relationship with Amy, a cute courier who delivers packages with the aid of a handy glider. Viewers seeking thrilling battles will be glad to learn that the action ratchets up in the show’s concluding half, which sees Ledo depart Gargantia in order to investigate the origins of the Hideauze and protect his new friends from a religious cult that worships a gigantic robot (much like Gundam fanatics do.)
My rating for Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a four out of five. It’s a nice science fiction tale brought to life via high production values courtesy of Production I.G. Anyone checking out the series should however temper their expectations, as the opening episode gives the impression that the show is an epic space opera packed with interstellar battles. The story being told however is not that grandiose. For the most part the plot revolves around Ledo finding a new purpose in life, as he transitions from a society were humans are nothing more than disposable weapons to a community were the bonds of family reign supreme.
My only real complaints with the series would have to be the female character designs that are somewhat top heavy. Amy herself isn’t busty, but that doesn’t spare her from fan service moments in a swimsuit, belly dancer garb and being targeted by camera shots that creepily linger on her body. I also feel that a greater episode count would have benefitted the show, as the blossoming Ledo/Amy romance gets scrapped midway in order to wrap up the story. On the plus side, in addition to the thirteen episodes broadcast on TV, this collection includes two OVAs that flesh things out, by providing extra backstory and delving into the motivations of the show’s chief antagonist.