Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Couchbound/Continued #370 - Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: Episode 1, "Some people say 'Déjà Vu.' Others, 'SS;DD.'"

I might be suffering some form of entertainment burnout.

There comes a point in time in any rabid couch potato's life, make that several times, when they (namely me) reach a saturation point and begin to feel like they've seen everything a soap or procedural or genre series can offer, that it's all been done before with only minor variations in era, themes, or conceptualization.

Gargantia is kind of like that.

From the very moment I started watching this first episode, I instantly had visions of Martian Successor Nadesico, Vandread, and so many others. Giant robots piloted by teens in space, fighting an alien menace that has a vaguely familiar look but is definitely non-human until, oh no, maybe that's just a misdirect and they're really human after all. Gasp!

I have no idea if that's the case here, as I have no clue to the overall plot of the series, but it would not at all surprise me, based on the space combat shenanigans that take up the first half of this series opener. It just bears all the hallmarks of a generic mech actioner. Extremely dedicated child soldier amping up his heroics but thrust into an unwinnable situation, incomprehensible technobabble jargon thrown out left and right, the sacrifice of a superior for the greater good and a cliffhanger that leads directly into part B.

And, from there, it just gets even more generic. Insert landing in a salvage yard on Earth that is populated by buxom stereotypes, dudes with pompadours, and a cute flying squirrel pet with obvious intelligence. Seriously it's like watching Nadia crossed with Eureka 7. The squirrel even chirps like it's talking (I'm having Samurai Champloo flashbacks here, just without the cool music and style). Oiy.

Still, that said, it's pretty gorgeous, so far. While I'm not a huge fan of the mech design, the human ships and their strange weapons (especially that pinwheel thing) and the vague references we get to their space-faring society are engaging, once you get past the jargon and obvious jingoism. Plus, the one glimpse we get of the floating salvage yard at the end of the episode is pretty tantalizing. I just wish the character designs weren't so clean and Ghibli-riffic.

Honestly, I think I would prefer to have seen a full episode establishing Avalon instead of having its sole mentions be those of propaganda and the like... but I understand that the point of the episode is to establish a fish out of water story on Earth, not go into depth on a place we'll probably never see. I also really like that, even though main character Ledo comes from an obviously fascist society, he cares quite a bit about both his comrades and the potential innocent humans of this strange place he's trapped in. Sure, he takes a girl hostage to put off direct attacks against him, but no one is ever in any real danger as he uses avoidance and intimidation instead of force to get these humans he cannot communicate with to back off, however temporarily.

I think I'm going to give Gargantia a couple of episodes to prove itself, despite my initial reservations concerning its predictability. One of my favorite authors has very blatantly pointed out in his own works that there are no new stories under the sun. The least I can do is see which particular rabbit hole this one will lead me down, especially since it has some decent merits right out of the gate.

Until later, Potatoes~


Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Season 1 is available on Netflix as of this posting.

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