People are different. Whether we choose to be or not, people are not like other people or other living things, and we are different from each other on an individual level. But somehow, we find ways to cohabit this blue planet we call “home.”
But what would happen if an entire population of humans went out on an expedition in space and completely forgot about the people there? Surely in the immediacy, there would still be contact, but what about when many generations pass, to a point where those human explorers live somewhere else? Would we still be in communication? Would we even speak the same language?
But more importantly: what would happen when they return to our planet?
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Gargantia) brings us far into the future where humankind has spread across the galaxy, defending their intergalactic territories from vaguely evil forces simply called the Hideauze (kind of sounds like the English word “hideous,” but that’s not important). Out there, a soldier named Ledo and his fully automated mech partner Chamber fought, but after one battle wound up making an emergency landing on a mysterious planet far from the rest of human territories. Ledo and Chamber desperately look for means of communicating with the rest of their army, and try to figure out where they landed. But based on the climate, the planetary composition, and the language of the people, Ledo could not believe he had landed on a planet spoken of the ancients.
Ledo and Chamber landed on Earth.
Ledo appears to come from a far more advanced civilization, seeing that he has knowledge of other planets and technology as an ensign in the army. His whole worldview is built heavily on logic and reasoning, even to the extent that people like his sickly brother could be left to die so easily. While some may think this is a backwards way of looking at where we are headed, it is circumstantial, considering that there are probably not enough resources on a spaceship to keep weak or wounded soldiers alive, since they are unable to work.
So when Ledo comes into contact with a much more laid back society like the Gargantia fleet on Earth, you can imagine there are plenty of things that get lost in communication. And I’m not talking about just language, but customs and ideologies, too.
Similarly, the people of Gargantia have limited resources, but maybe not in the same capacity as the people of the human army. Their entire society is mounted on a fleet of ships across a never-ending ocean, as Earth’s water levels have risen and few societies thrive solely on land. Things like food and fresh water are scarce, but Gargantia takes a different worldview on what to do with resources, including humans.
Something like rain is treated as a precious resource, but also a divine gift. Giving value to something as simple as water falling from the sky may seem superficial to those who have lost the wonder of weather due to science and reason, but ethically, it works for them.
The people of Gargantia make do with what they have as well as do their best for welfare for their society; but they have their flaws too. Ledo doesn’t understand it right away, but Gargantia’s society frowns upon killing without necessity. Some might describe Gargantia as a pacifist community, finding that murdering pirates is worse than being abducted by them.
Ledo comes from a society built on logic and reasoning, so he also questions values like gratitude or caring for those who are no longer able to work.
But the biggest atrocity that Ledo objects to Gargantia’s worldview is their stance on the ocean creatures known to Gargantia as the whale-squids. Humans have cohabited the Earth with the ocean creatures for centuries. But Ledo recognizes the creatures as the Hideauze, and insists that they have been thriving on Earth to destroy humankind.
Gargantia seems to be a peaceful fleet of humans, but even their government has differences in opinions to a changing environment. And when Ledo proves that he can annihilate the whale squids, a schism within Gargantia’s leadership splits the fleet apart, as a selective few avidly pursue the whale squid nest for treasure. I guess you can say that no matter how peaceful or happy a society is, there will always be individuals who will continue to be greedy.
But what Ledo finds within the whale squid nest surprises him, and while I will refrain from plot spoilers briefly, I will say this: Ledo realizes that killing whale squids is morally wrong.
Ledo comes from a different place with different values from Gargantia, but what he learns just by living with them for so long is that there are other ways to solve problems other than by the code he has been taught by the intergalactic army. Sure, he comes from a society that favors logic, and Gargantia is founded on a republic that includes interests in human emotion.
But when there is a break in those cultural barriers and the curiosity to learn from another perspective, then we can understand each other.
Amy seems to be Ledo’s love interest, and her easygoing personality brings much joy to this series that seems quasi dreary at times. But while Amy hopes that Ledo might come to understand the people of Gargantia much better, Ledo continues to insist that he is a soldier. How could he understand a concept as simple as friendship?
I found it most interesting that Chamber learns to adapt to Gargantia’s way of life faster than Ledo did. Even though it has artificial intelligence, it understands that there is more to humans than just the military code. Chamber acts as a guide to Ledo in Earth’s language, but also as a guide in the best interest of Ledo’s overall health.
And no matter what circumstances, Chamber will prioritize Ledo’s life before anything else, including the human army’s code.
The intergalactic army that Ledo is used to may be more advanced technology-wise, but that in turn changed his society and overall worldview. And when worldviews change, some values are sacrificed for the sake of others. Ledo doesn’t see a need for welfare or family, but people like Amy and Bebel do. And as Ledo continues to find more things out about his perspective, the more he will understand that life is important.
I apologize for the themes I’m talking about here to be out of order in terms of where the story is headed, but when all is said and done, Ledo learns of Gargantia’s values in a way that most people take for granted: the people’s language. Customs and culture often serve as barriers to understanding core values that ultimately most humans will agree upon, but before we can find common ground for life, the first thing that needs to be understood is how we communicate.
And so, to wrap up this review, I would like to say the words that Ledo had learned from the Earth language: words so simple and taken for granted in our society, that we may never know what it’s like not to know what it means.
So if you like a futuristic show and need a reminder that humans can do amazing things if we weren’t being asses to each other, watch Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. And thank you for putting up with my reviews and explanations. I hope you understand that I’m human and therefore commit to faults, too.