on the verdurous planet

“I realized it after you left. I want to stay with you, no matter how hard it’ll be!”

I’m not sure what to make of Suisei no Garugantia. No matter how I look at it, two things stand out. One, it’s built on trope after trope after trope. It’s a show with a non-stop parade of tropes, and it’s done in the most paint-by-numbers format available. There’s no curveballs or even slight variations of tropes like with Hataraku Maou-sama or Gurren Lagann. It’s just… tropes. But, that’s the funny thing. The second thing that stands out about the Verdurous Planet is that I ended up enjoying it. Quite a bit. Tropes or not. Predictable or not.


As a quick rundown of the plot tropes in Gargantia, let’s see…

1. Big futuristic conflict between aliens and humans, with the aliens being superior biologic beings but the humans being scientifically advanced. Totally not like zerg and terran or Yuuzhan Vong and Galactic Republic. You could say that the twist is that the Hideous are humans too, but that was quite predictable from the start. Once Ledo lands on earth, the only place the plot could go were either a total slice-of-life fish-out-of-water series or Gen Urobuchi dumps the history of the Hideous onto us. Either the Hideous has to invade earth, or they were here all along. And, of course, the Hideous weren’t left alone but shoehorned into Ledo’s life on earth. The plot could have gone either way. If the Hideous never showed up, I think this would have been an even more fascinating show and a really interesting take on the trope.

(I did like how at the end how Bebel said that in addition to the humans who fled earth via science and those who fled via evolution, some stayed. And won against the sun. They stayed the closest to humans as we know them. Maybe there’s a lesson buried in there somewhere… mmm…)

2. Slice-of-life fish-out-of-water? I mean, isn’t this a backbone of anime? Sagara trying to be a normal high school student? Yuki Nagato trying to be a normal high school student? Ohana trying to fit in Kissuisou? Belldandy, Urd, and Skuld adjusting to domestic life? Ledo’s a perfect fish-out-of-water, and the early episodes did a great job at showing his integration into Gargantia’s society. To me, this might have been the best part of the series. It had so much shit that could have happened, but it didn’t… it just showed normal life and belly dancing. It’s like if we had a Game of Thrones episode that was just feasting and singing… and zero plotting and zero murders. And the small things really matter, like showing how Ledo and Chamber learn their language and how Ledo was bored.

(The OP and ED highly suggest a peaceful slice-of-life existence. And I really want one of Amy’s sailboat slash propeller plane things.)


3. Amy and Ledo’s relationship. Pretty much every anime boy girl relationship. Almost every somewhat romantic line that they said to each other could have come from a fortune cookie. But, for this show, it kinda works. Like I totally expect a horny teenaged boy to sext a nubile haremette shit (what really needs to happen in Oreimo at this point), it doesn’t fit Ledo’s or Amy’s characters. Ledo works well being clueless in love because he’s been nothing but a boring killing machine to this point. Amy works well because she is totally happy and open, but she is terrified of losing Ledo, so she almost loses him because of that fear.

(With that said, I think Amy is a totally underrated character. She needed more time in this show doing something other than belly dancing. She’s the one who humanizes Ledo, and she gets less fucking screentime than Pinion, who we’ll get to in a second.)

4. The whole lone survivor thing. I kept waiting for Ledo to start calling Chamber by his full name, “Wilson Chamber, the Third.”

5. Rejects from Gurren Lagann. Totally doesn’t help that Katsuyuki Konishi voices both Kamina and Pinion… or that Pinion behaves like an engineering version of Kamina. Basically, Kamina’s personality with Geordi LaForge’s ability to get alien technology running within an episode. Bellows is a poor man’s version of Yoko (the tsundereness towards Pinion and the outfit do not help), and Rackage is… how best to describe it… if Gurren Lagann were a high school romantic comedy and the show needed a foil for Yoko for Kamina’s affections… they would turn Adiane into a bad girl yet good girl. That’s Rackage. And, oh yea, melonpan is a must on this futuristic version of Earth. Something about being nautical makes all the haremettes show as much cleavage as possible.

(Rackage’s initial episode where she attacks Gargantia… probably the worst episode of the show. Seriously? Everything to that point has been subtle and meaningful. Then Rackage appears with her giant lobster mecha and loli helpers. I much would have preferred pirates that resembled Dustin Hoffman…)

6. Waterworld. All I thought of when Fairlock, the original fleet commander of Gargantia, passed away was how everyone put dirt on his body before they returned his body to the sea. Because in Waterworld, dirt is the most precious substance. It’s a huge luxury item. But somehow my mind connected Gargantia and Waterworld as the same world.


7. The sickly kid? I like the little touch when Ledo realizes that the cultists are bat-shit insane only because of the people sacrificed looked kinda like Bebel. It was a nice touch. This trope could have had Bebel walking because of Chamber and Ledo possessing some sort of futuristic cure (think Star Trek IV when Kirk and McCoy are running through the hospital), Bebel dying (totally can see this happening), or Bebel becoming the next old man because this sickly kid is wiser than pretty much everyone else. Oh, the bat-shit insane cult?

8. The bat-shit insane cult. This trope could have gone two directions. When I watched the show, I noticed that Kugel’s lines were all the same. He literally had five different lines. I told my wife that I thought Kugel was dead and everything is a Weekend At Bernie’s scenario because either Production IG couldn’t afford to pay Kugel’s VA for more lines or he’s dead and Striker is controlling everything since “Evil AI” is a classic sci-fi trope that must be shoehorned into a show full of tropes. And, of course, Striker is a bat-shit crazy evil AI. The whole scheme was a cross between Weekend and Bernie’s and that one Saved by the Bell episode where Zack hides a cassette player under his bed to fool his parents so he could go to the dance with Kelly.

(The final battle between Striker and Chamber/Ledo was tropetastic as well. Ledo unveiling that Chamber has a Seed-type mode that could potentially kill him? Chamber destroying Striker by self-destruction? Chamber being the noble hero who sacrifices himself so that others may live? We might as well get Sean Bean to voice Chamber for the English dub.)

(Then again, I do like the logic argument between Chamber and Striker. It’s like watching two six year old kids arguing who has the cooler dad, only it’s between two giant killing machines. This wouldn’t have happened if Kugel were alive and masterminding the cult. Part of me thinks that Kugel is dead because the show couldn’t deal with Ledo fighting and killing Kugel… like somehow it felt wrong Ledo to become a new peaceful man by killing. And having Chamber reject Ledo and then deliver the killing blow to a robot… it actually felt right for this show. Ledo was done killing. He needs to start boning.)

(And, yes, this is my first post as a married man. My wife and I met because of this blog. She started reading it years ago. We would chat about stupid points in anime like whether or not Eden of the East‘s Saki was “frumpy” or about ponytails, and we quickly became friends. She became this blog’s Fashion Czar. She became my girlfriend. And now my wife. But for this blog, she’ll always be the Fashion Czar.)


9. Trope fatigue. You getting it yet? There are more. The only common anime trope missing is Amy running to work in the morning with toast in her mouth, and she crashes into Ledo, thus having Ledo’s hands rest on her melonpan. Maybe for the upcoming OVA.

But I think you get my point. There’s a lot of tropes in this show, they come at you fast and furiously, and there’s not a lot of innovation on how the tropes are used. Yet, they work together. The show takes you from A to B, and you’re left wanting more. Like it goes too fast. Like you want life on Gargantia to slow down. Like you wouldn’t mind a few more episodes where Ledo tries to adjust to life. Or maybe an episode about how the two flying squirrels fell in love (maybe done a la Pizza Dog).


Gargantia doesn’t do anything new, but it does everything well. It’s like a good breakfast diner in a college town. It’s going to have hash browns, bacon, and pancakes. Maybe they don’t have meido who write cute messages on omu rice, but it’s going to make those stable staples so damn well you’re going to eat until you turn into a whalesquid. And it’s not like you’re eating hash browns or bacon or pancakes but all of them. Plus drinking freshly squeezed orange juice. Gen Urobuchi did the genre twist with Madoka. It gave a nice sinister edge to magical girl trope in that the smiles were all fake. With Gargantia, it’s the opposite. The tropes are tried and true, but they’re done so in a logical way and synergize well with each other. The fish-out-of-water leads to the romance. The Waterworld sets up the bat-shit crazy cult. The interstellar war sets up the giant mecha. What’s new and interesting isn’t the tropes but rather how the tropes connect and work with each other, and that’s why Suisei no Garugantia is such an enjoyable series.

“Stay alive. Pursue happiness. I expect much from your life.”

25 Responses to “on the verdurous planet”

  1. Congratulation on your marriage, man.

    But yeah, Gargantia have been a very enjoyable ride all along. And I don’t think I would have expected to shed tears for a giant robot, but I did. Sugita have done a wonderful job voicing Chamber, the Bro-est of Brobots. It’s one of my favorite roles next to Joseph Joestar.

  2. RIP CHAMBER. So many tearrssss.

    Also: I think part of what makes Amy so endearing is that she is like the Waterworld version of Sakura Kinomoto. Always genki and full of DAIJOUBUs.

  3. Glad you got married before the new monogatari comes out.

  4. Congratulations~

    I really liked this show, even if you could (for the most part) predict what was going to happen. Though I didn’t really see the whole Ledo/Amy relationship that was supposedly there.

    This show seriously felt like it should have been 2 cours. Or it needed to cut out some of the earlier useless episodes (like his run to get BBQ sauce…) Felt like they could have done more with the whole Hideauze/Whalesquid/Human angle, it was kind of just flashback’d then ignored.

  5. I really liked this show, but I felt like I visited a zoo to see the panda bear Amy, but ended up listening to the manager and A/C mechanic recite their life stories instead. Oh well, at least the sauteed squid was excellent.

    Thank you sir, and congratulations to you and your wife. May your cakii be delicious, your meido and ponytails plentiful, and your blog forever FABULOUS.

  6. You don’t need a creative story, you just need to deliver it well. Awesome show. Chamber was an awesome character as well.

  7. YOU’RE ALIVE!!! grats on getting married ^^ can’t wait for this season’s thin slicing

  8. Ah, I was wondering why your blogging slowed down. Good to see it was because your were busy being a husband, I was wondering if something bad happened to you. Guess you got more out of this blogging business than anyone ever thought possible. Congratulations, man.

  9. I was wondering if you had suddenly packed up and left blogging too, after so many years. Congrats on your marriage!

  10. Congratz. I was actually going to make a “is Jason dead?” post last week. Now I wish I had.

  11. Married? Color me pleasantly surprised, Congradulations. Hope to read many years more of posts

  12. I’m going to go against the grain and argue that Gargantia NEEDED a Urobutcher twist. Other than the Hideauze revelation that was promptly pushed aside as quickly as it appeared, there wasn’t a single horrifying, clutch-the-sides-of-your-screen-and-shout-NO! plot twist to leave a lasting impression in the viewer’s mind. In fact, the only scene that left any sort of lasting impression for me was Amy & Co.’s belly dance. Gargantia was enjoyable, but largely forgettable.
    By the time I watched the final episode, I felt like the show had fallen flat on its face and thought for sure that Gen the Butcher would reach in and deliver a smack that would keep us from completely nodding off, like Ledo saving Gargantia only to be suddenly and brutally eviscerated right in front of Amy. Alas, we get a nice, relatively happy yet boring and rather predictable ending.
    A shame, because I was convinced after the first two or three episodes that it would end up being one of the best shows of the season. I did like it, but I probably won’t ever get the urge to rewatch it in the future.

  13. Wait you have a wife?!

  14. Congratulations good sir, now we gotta find out who your mystery waifu is :D
    I’m glad you’re still blogging even if it will slow down. I’ve been reading this blog since it was called Anime on my Mind and this is still the only blog I find enjoyable to read even if the article talks about a show I’m not watching, not that I didn’t watch (and fully enjoy) Gargantia.
    The day you quit blogging will be a sad day, but I should prepare myself for it since good things don’t last forever.

  15. I told my wife that I thought Kugel was dead

    Wait, wha-?

    And, yes, this is my first post as a married man.

    Congratulations, both of you! Who’d have thought it?

    About Gargantia… Chambeeerrrrr ;_;

    Sadly, there were few other ways the series could have ended for him. But despite all the tropes, it was a bro-tastic way to go.

    I enjoyed the show, but it felt like it really needed just a few more episodes to pad things out. The first half, where Ledo was adapting to Gargantian life was fantastic. Then we had a sudden jump to fighting Hideauze and waves of depression for 3 episodes, then fighting Striker and the cult for another 3. What mainly carried the latter half for me was Chamber’s thought processes (for want of a better word), and his interactions with Ledo and Striker. It’s less visible, but like Ledo, Chamber also developed a lot, while remaining convincingly robotic.

    A few more episodes would have helped build up some of the supporting cast (Saya, Melty, I’m looking at you), ease the transitions between the 3 distinct parts, and expand on the ending some more. Seeing the two parted groups reunite (primarily Ledo with Amy) immediately after returning back to Gargantia would provide a lot more of a payoff than skipping immediately to “some time later”.

  16. Valvrave became far superior to this show.

  17. I have to disagree. I thought Gargantia was no more predictable than the vast hordes of harem, sci-fi and action anime that Japan spews out by the dozens every season. It’s no more predictable than Psychopass or Titan, where you just know know every time a side character is introduced that they are going to die sooner rather than later, and so you try to guess how. It’s no more predictable than… well, any harem where you know every eligible girl is going to fall in love with the boring protagonist after a small cliche moment of kindness. Maybe I was half-blind, but I didn’t think Gargantia was a trope-fest. I didn’t see the twists coming and I was all the better for it, I enjoyed Gargantia very much. There were a few cringe-worthy nonsensical moments, and some of the plot needed more attention/elaboration, but for me it’s a very solid 7/10 sort of anime. I’m glad I watched it.

  18. Congratulation your marriage!
    It has been my habit for a couple of years to visit your blog after seeing anime I liked.
    From Japan. :-)

  19. I already read about your recent change of marital status, still blows my mind. Congrats.
    Besides some inconsistencies that crop up in the latter half of the show, Gargantia is a solid show that I would not hesitate to recommend.
    That end card, though…

  20. Congratulations on getting married. Just don’t let her tell you not to blog anymore because you’ll meet more girls :) . Think you just about summed up Gargantia too, a by-the-numbers show, but well executed.

  21. You’re now part of the rare group of real life husbando-waifu pairings who enjoy watching anime together. Prepare for even less of an online social life, but at least the bedroom discussions are always fun.

    That said, congratulations! :)

  22. Congratulations on the marriage. It’s fitting that the blog netted you a harem, of a sort.

  23. Married? Hey, congratulations!

  24. At least I’m not the only one that noticed the Gurren Lagann-Gargantia thing…

  25. Congratulations for your wedding.

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