The Infinite Zenith

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

Suisei no Gargantia- OVA II Reflection

Titled Altar of A Rare Beauty, the latest OVA instalment in Suisei no Gargantia follows Commander Kugel’s landing on earth after being stranded from the Galactic Alliance fleet. Kugel’s descent path crosses with that of a young girl, Linaria, who is being pursued by her sisters. The latter intend to dispose of her after their deceased father nominated her as the leader of their pirate fleet. Kugel drives the attackers away and Linaria, believing that Kugel is a god, asks for his help to regain control of her fleet. Months later, Kugel leads the fleet as a figurehead for Linaria until her sisters decide to dispose of him by provoking some whalesquids to attack. Realizing that the whalesquids are in fact Hideauze, he wipes out their nest and claims that mankind had fallen from grace by treating the Hideauze as gods. Some time later, Linaria dies from disease and by her own interpretation of her last words, Striker convinces Kugel that killing the sick members of the fleet is the best way to improve it, just like the Galactic Alliance does. When Linaria’s elder sister attempts to replace her as Kugel’s herald, he kills her instead and throws both sisters bodies at the sea. Assuming control of the fleet, Kugel decides to rule it with an iron fist, believing it will eventually lead it to prosperity. However, he finds out soon after that he is infected with the same disease that killed Linaria.

  • This is the first post of the new year, so I’d figure it should be an anime-related post. The 2014 Winter season is going to be an interesting one, and I’ll be returning come Tuesday to get a few more posts out about the first episodes of the latest anime (except Saki, which waits until I finish the first season).

  • Kugel’s descent path puts him on course with Linaria, who is presently escaping from heavy fire. I particularly liked how Kugel’s order was to use minimum force to rectify the small matter of an enemy fleet opening fire on him such that he may contact them.

  • The politics surrounding the other fleets are complex and as dynamic as those of the real world, with the leading family disapproving of political arrangements when Kugel is arriving.

  • Kugel feels that he is acting as a figurehead for Linaria, thinking of her as being capable, although the latter feels it is Kugel who was helpful. In a manner, Linaria is Kugel’s only ally, and even then, there appears to be distance between Kugel and her.

  • With Kugel’s leadership and guidance, Linaria’s fleet begins to prosper and expand. Kugel is motivated by the wish to continue gathering information surrounding the Earth, noting that the pirates’ approach is inefficient and wasteful.

  • In an attempt to destroy Striker and Kugel, Linaria’s half-sisters trigger a whale-squid attack, but Striker’s offensive capabilities allow Kugel to decimate the entire whale-squid colony.

  • The Galactic Alliance’s fight against the Hideazue leads to the creation of AI constructs such as Striker, which comes across as perhaps illustrating how the poorly the war is going: Striker’s programming is directed towards subjugation and conquest, and operators are predisposed to following orders.

  • Linaria’s death leads Kugel to despair. The fleet, under Kugel’s command, eventually embodies the Galactic Alliance’s ideals of efficiency and greater good v. individual freedoms. It is possible that Kugel would have followed his heart and led the fleet in a more moderate manner had Linaria not died, and it is doubtful that the fleet’s setup following her death would have been something she would have found acceptable.

  • Elsewhere, I have heard discussions about how Suisei no Gargantia hints at the irony of necessity, that for the sake of survival, the Galactic Alliance had to forgo its humanity to defeat another enemy and would very well come out of the war as the morally vanquished. This concept was explored during the TV series proper, and Ledo was eventually able to embrace human values thanks to the Gargantians’ efforts to reach out to him.

  • Kugel eventually succumbs to the same disease that claimed Linaria’s life. Assuming that the Galactic Alliance immune systems are different, one wonders if Ledo was simply lucky to have not encountered a common Earth-borne pathogen that may have been lethal. Once this OVA ends, viewers know why Striker would act as the antagonist for the finale to the TV series, and in my books, any OVA that adds to a series simply must be watched.

Altar of A Rare Beauty was an immensely entertaining episode to watch, illustrating Kugel’s encounter with a different fleet. Kugel’s experiences draw a dichotomy with Ledo’s in a fashion, as both begin with an open mind and strive to adjust to the new society while lending a hand to their respective fleets. As time wears on, emotions of love, concern and sadness slowly become a prominent player  for both Ledo and Kugel. This is where the path differs: whereas Ledo comes to terms with his new life and seeks to protect those he cares about, Kugel begins to fall back on his training when he sees Linaria’s people suffer, feeling it as his duty to correct everything. These differences illustrate the varying circumstances between Ledo and Kugel’s respective cases; Ledo’s experiences with Amy and the Gargantian fleet reinforce the idea that life outside of the Galactic Alliance is not only possible, but it is meaningful. Conversely, Kugel never encountered anyone else in Linaria’s fleet, save Linaria herself, and thus, without any emotional and moral support, Kugel’s visions to help Linaria’s people along fall short, resulting in the society seen in Suisei no Gargantia‘s finale. Despite being only a single OVA, it answers many questions and leaves viewers enlightened as to what happened near the series’ end. Now, news has reached my ears that there will be a second season, although the precise details remain unknown for the present.

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