The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Suisei no Gargantia- OVA Reflection

I’m rather late to the party: the Suisei no Gargantia OVA has been sitting on my hard disk, untouched, since it was released. The reason for that is simple: between applications for things beyond the undergraduate level, coursework and research, I’ve only been watching anime as time permits, and so, series that are completed get deprioritised. Fortunately, a small break has opened up, and I’ll begin with discussions about this OVA. As well, I’ve finally started Servant x Service and will be discussing that shortly. However, this post is about Suisei no Gargantia, so let’s get started…

The Gargantia comes across an abandoned, derelict fleet and Ledo joins a small group sent there to investigate it while looking for treasures. Amy and her friends sneak aboard their ship and end up joining the search party. Upon finding an old picture, Ridget realizes that the fleet used to be where her childhood friend Storia used to live after she left the Gargantia seven years ago with her boyfriend Ritona. Upon checking up the main ship, Pinion concludes that the fleet’s inhabitants were forced to abandon it after the main engine was broken beyond repair and the group returns to the Gargantia empty-handed, except for Ridget, who takes the picture as a keepsake.

  • I only watched this a few days ago, with a plateful of oven-fired peas in hand. Voiced by Hisako Kanemoto, Amy presents a ghost story about abandoned vessels. Kanemoto also has played Kanata Sorami (Sora no Woto), Ika Musume (Shinryaku! Ika Musume), Asteria Lizamarie de Roschefall (Rinne no Lagrange), Katyusha (Girls und Panzer) and Yui Kiriyama (Kokoro Connect). I have finished Kokoro Connect, but I’m still on the rocks about whether I can recommend that series or not.

  • Because Chamber is still alive, this OVA must be set before the finale. Of course, Ledo’s weaker grasp of the Gargantian’s language also gives an indicator as to when the OVA happened. After Amy concludes her story, an actual ghost fleet arrives, and Ledo is sent to investigate, alongside Ridget and Pinion.

  • A laser to the face is the best cure for being an onryō (a malevolent spirit, similar to that of The Ring or Ju-On!). Here’s a little known fact: a couple of years ago, for one reason or another, I was getting all sorts of advertisements with ghostly Japanese spirits. Before that, I accepted advertisements on my webpages, but that crossed the line, prompting me to use AdBlock Plus. 

  • Attempts to prank Amy and Ledo fail because the latter has a laser. A long time ago, I wagered that malevolent spirits can be defeated by kinetic weapons: we note that in many J-Horror movies, the protagonists are always unarmed. Thus, I said to my friends that these ghosts weren’t so scary, on the ground that since they were physical, they were bound by the laws of the physical world and thus, could be destroyed again. Then my friend introduced me to F.E.A.R., where the antagonist (inspired by ghosts from J-Horror) cannot be killed via any means that the player possessed.

  • It turns out the abandoned fleet is the same one Ridget was working in several years ago. She wonders why a future fleet commander needs to know how to do manual work, and is quickly reprimanded by Ritona, who notes that unless one can teach someone about a particular topic, said individual is still learning. I had been an assistant instructor of the Okinawa Gojuryu Karatedo Kugekai martial arts school years ago and still teach on some occasions. Our grandmaster emphasises that being able to teach something confers true understanding, since one needs to understand the material being taught in order to teach it. Of course, students may also ask questions about a particular technique’s usage: to address the query, an instructor must know what the technique is used for.

  • Ritona saves Ridget after the latter falls off one of the docking gantries, but becomes injured in the process. Ridget’s memory is triggered when she finds an old photo of her, Retona and Storia in the abandoned vessel’s infirmary.

  • While completely unrelated to Suisei no Gargantia, I finished watching Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto a few nights ago. Set during the late Edo and early Meiji period, cameras were just beginning to make their way onto the market. The cameras from that age are found again in Suisei no Gargantia, and function as much as they had since the Meiji period. Of course, cameras in the contemporary age are getting ridiculous: the Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 41 megapixel camera, making it even more powerful than most standard point-and-shoot cameras.

  • Ridget convinces Storia to accompany Ritona when the latter decides to transfer fleets. The OVA is simple, balancing humour and heartfelt elements together in a single package. Some fans were looking for a sequel, but as it stands, the OVA supplements the original series very nicely.

  • Ridget sees the fleet off. Back in the present day, Pinion discovers the development of a metallic compound on the engine blocks that once powered the old fleet. He hypothesises that trying to restore the engines was more costly than abandoning the fleet for the original crew, leaving to what is presently seen. This is supposed to be the rationale behind why there are many haikyo in Japan. After the Japanese Price Asset Bubble ended in the early 1990s, owners of remote mines and hotels were forced to dispose of their assets, but found it was too costly to officially liquidate them and instead, chose to leave the buildings where they were. Some mines were abandoned even before the 1980s, simply because it was no longer feasible to continue mining, or because resources at that mine had been depleted.

  • The end result is a series of abandonments, or ruins (haikyo) that line the Japanese countryside. I’m not sure, but I’ve never heard any stories to suggest that the abandoned hotels, hospitals, mines and ghost towns are themselves haunted. This is unscientific, but I am reasonably satisfied that a lack of ghost stories would tend to support the idea that economic and financial reasons led to the abandoning of these facilities, rather than malevolent spirits. Haikyo explorers do not recall any ghost stories, either, but in these ruins, I think that broken glass, asbestos, decaying floors and squatters would be more worry-some than ghosts.

It’s been around two months since I’ve watched Suisei no Gargantia: when I finished the series, I was left with the sense that I had watched a superb science-fiction series. The OVA is set a ways before Chamber is destroyed, taking viewers on a journey through Gargantia and allowing the entire cast to shine. The main story is focused around exploration of a derelict vessel, and Ridget’s past experiences as a deck crew. We’ve seen her as a fleet commander, but the OVA shows us what her roles were prior to reaching her current post. In particular, Retna and Storia add a bit of substance to the story: these two individuals play a significant role in shaping Ridget’s own perspectives and add depth to the OVA. Aside from the more serious aspects, the OVA succeeds in bringing back all of the cast’s personalities, and even manages to integrate a bit of humour into some scenes, whether it be Pinion’s attempts at scaring Ledo and Amy, or Chamber’s timing that causes an audience to jump after hearing Amy’s ghost stories.

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