This show is making these writeups pretty tough. Not because it’s difficult to suss out the various levels of this show – I think a second viewing would help elaborate the arcs of the different thematic points (the fear of entering society, the definition of humanity and the individual, the purpose of society, the roots of human conflict), but I also think I’m doing okay at noting a good number of them as they pass by.
No, this show is tough because I really like it and a lot of critics really don’t. I think it’s full of interesting ideas, I think the tricks it pulls with pacing and tone are very compelling, and I love the overall world it creates. The usual Urobuchi complaint is certainly in full effect here – that the characters and narrative work in service of the themes, and are thus somewhat weaker and more archetypal for it. But I don’t really have a problem with that; Ledo’s the only fully-articulated character, but not every show has to be about characters, and making this story’s cast and specifics more critical and distinct would make its ideas less universal. I also think it’s built to a pretty compelling finale here, and that the Kugel-being-dead reveal is a pretty effective way to complete Urobuchi’s diagnosis of the Alliance’s all-in society. I’m hoping Gargantia’s Stairway to Heaven doesn’t simplify everything, but I’m also excited to see another episode directly written by Urobuchi. Bring on the new Eden.
1:38 – “I am their support system. That is to say, I am the presence called God.” I guess it helps when the lines Urobuchi draws in the sand are the same ones I’d be prone to draw
Sorry, I’ll stop throwing stones. It’s aggravating, though
3:11 – Striker’s getting a little Mwahaha here, but I actually really like how Chamber is the one articulating the nature of humanity, not Ledo
3:53 – “In this foreign environment, you have continuously made the correct decisions and maintained your humanity. As a result, I have not been corrupted.” This is an interesting line depending on how you’re interpreting the purpose of the robots. I’ll have to think about it
4:06 – “Let’s take it down.” “I am in full agreement.” #1 Bromance Spring 2013.
5:15 – “When we left Gargantia’s protection, we chose our own course. We can’t back down now.” Nice that they complicate the assuming adulthood idea a little, but still have Pinion himself back them up, who has already been interpreted through this lens earlier (when he was having doubts and the mechanic girl told him they all supported him)
6:20 – Pinion’s sticking to the path he’s chosen. His hero’s death was pretty heavily foreshadowed last episode, but it’s nice he gets a last moment with his crew
9:00 – And Chamber reaches full power by merging his will entirely with Ledo’s. Society is about the bonds we choose – it is not weakness to rely on each other, but it must be a willful, independent, human choice
10:47 – Hah! Their secret weapon is the bottom segment of the space elevator? Awesome
15:18 – “Goddamnit, quit it with the hero’s death monologue and let me save you!” Cute
19:02 – “A noncombatant is not allowed in the cockpit.” CHAMBER NO YOU ARE BEST BRO
21:17 – It makes sense thematically that the system which had coddled him had to die for him to enter society.That doesn’t make me feel any better
Whew! Man, that ended way more optimistically than I’d expected. I’d figured the Stairway to Heaven would cause some terrible repercussions, or at the very least that Pinion would die, but this show is fundamentally very optimistic, and all of its themes regard seeking our better nature and taking risks, so I guess punishing the characters for their attempts to fulfill their destiny or help each other would work directly against that. This last episode made the robots seem more or less entirely sentient, which I’m fine with – though I thought Striker’s elaboration of her society was pretty ham-handed and didn’t really make the most of the “optimal societies all work efficiently towards a central goal” and “happiness is narrowing your viewpoint till there is only one correct path and following it” stuff, which I found much more compelling. Overall, the show is clearly Urobuchi as fuck – it demonstrates a tremendous cynicism towards the influence of larger systems, and a tremendous faith in the power of individual agency and ambition, as well as individual, willfully chosen connections. I think it was Chamber’s speech about how the Hideauze’s evolution didn’t change the nature of their conflict that made me like him as a “character,” but he was awesome here, and I guess I’m just a sucker for these ideas and this world, cause his last stand really got to me even though it wasn’t fundamentally different from many similar speeches and battles. I am extremely satisfied.