So, the usual.
Category Archives: Suisei no Gargantia
Going on a limb to interpret the latest episode of Gargantia, I draw from the form of despair and sense of stress that NEETs have to deal with. Since talking about that episode of Gargantia invariably means spoilers, I’ll talk about what I mean by despair and stress first.
Well, first, read this post and get on the same page, if you haven’t already. I’m just going to take a shot at the next stage of the NEET stimulus package.
The average NEET probably wants a reasonably paying and steady job. I say this because the demand for those jobs are always pretty high; that’s why they are relatively hard to land in today’s economy (Japan and elsewhere). The societal pressure is, as understood by the NEET or freeter, a form of reinforcement of these kinds of cultural norms. And of course if you do have a steady job that brings in good money, staying single means you can go to all the offkais you want, cons, wait in line for goods, whatever. Living the single life, instead of living-with-parents-and-waking-at-odd-hours life.
In 2013 terms, it’s no longer clear if becoming a NEET is really socially unacceptable, because people understand the truth that it’s hard to get a salary job as a young person in Japan, even if it’s one of those “success” indicator. The subsequent problem with NEET-ness is well documented in terms of getting that late start in life, being able to plan for retirement, etc. Not sure if that has much of a bearing on Gargantia’s narrative, but it’s worth noting.
And the way I see it, it’s all in the head anyway. Much like Ledo’s understanding of his predicament by the end of episode 10, being a NEET/freeter can feel stifling, as if you are cornered with no way out. Getting a job NOT as a fresh grad is harder than getting one as someone who’s just out of college. Companies naturally would wonder why you didn’t get a job the first time around, at least in the NEET’s head that’s what goes on. Settling into a strange pace of life trying to make part-time jobs can make it harder, just like doing anything else while working the graveyard shift or simply having to deal with a normal workday. Worst of all, you can fall into a habit, develop a rhythm living the NEET or freeter life, assuming your situation is stable enough. And the longer you fly in that standby pattern, the harder it is to land a permanent job or break out of that funk.
Invariably, unless it’s a planned period of NEET-ness, NEET status tends to continue for a while. Truth is, I think most people, eventually, get back on their feet. And in truth, there’s nothing Gargantia can do to solve the root problems–unemployment, societal expectations, the way employment works in Japan, all that jazz. All it can do is encourage people to feel better about themselves, and show that while they may be victims of the situation, they can do something about it.
Anime blogs are suppose to blog about anime right? Can I stop being one?
Before I begin I just want to talk about the APR. The anime power ranking is a lot of fun and if you are a regular simulcast-y type viewer, maybe Kevo would have you give him your 2c every week. I’m a major slacker and wish I could be home and send emails about anime on the weekends, but that is usually not typically possible after Friday night and until Sunday night, when the APR is calculated.
Guilty plug aside, I guess I’ll keep it simple: Up, steady and on hold/dropped. Links to viewing portals. Ordering is semi-random.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet – A veritable science fiction healing factory. Hanaharu’s character designs alone might be worth the trip by itself.
OreImo Season 2 – I think this season is really bringing the pain, and for sisucons pain is not always a bad thing. The awkward exchanges between Kyousuke and his friends is at least less painful than Aku no Hana’s painful exchanges, which is good; that’s a sanity check. But it’s not a sanity check every seishun rom-com would pass. It’s probably up because we’re in the middle of the Shironeko arc.
Flowers of Evil – Since I am going to Animazement I probably should watch this to field questions for Nagahama. But it’s also just kind of an amusing show in that the bouts of fear, doubt and madness are baked into the atmosphere, only to be punctured by the visuals. The rotoscoping works both for and against the whole endeavor in a strange way. The story will continue to descend into insanity and who doesn’t love that? At least it’s an easier watch than, say, Texhnolyze.
Muromi-san – It’s half-length, but only if all gag anime was like this. It’s well-paced. It’s also the sort of Yukarin role that, well, is the best. Only if she plays characters like this all the time. That and people like this.
Attack on Titan – Well, it’s a fun show how despair continue to be front-and-center to the plot and theme. I just don’t know if that despair is for us or for the characters, because there is clearly a separation between “getting into the show” and “enjoying the show” in this case. Maybe this is because it does not focus on the plight of a single character.
Devil is a Part-timer – It’s a fun show, with solid comedy both ways. I’m 1001% in Yusa’s camp though. Chiho is adorable but I feel she’s the weakest link so far. With the addition of the new character in the romantic formula and the end of the “introduction” arc, however, I’m not sure where this show is going to go.
Valvrave the Liberator – The problem with making a show that has clear call cards from all your past hits is that the audience expects your past hits in your new shows, and it is really difficult to surpass all your pass hits. At this point I half expect Valvrave to go the way of Geass R2. Will it jump a shark? It already has. But will it jump a dozen sharks? Will it jump over a shark pyramid? Will it jump over shark Starfleet? I don’t know, but I know I will find out soon. That said, it would be a very considerable feat if it can replicate all that shark jumping in Sunrise’s back catalog while remaining coherent, and arguably it is on the way to do just that.
Majestic Prince – Great show, for the Tatsuo Sato disciples among us. I think it’s going through a dull period but hopefully things will come together much better than Rinne or Pirates. After all it resembles the Stellvia template, which is probably the more successful line of shows. Unfortunately it’s kind of a wash for everyone else.
Space Brothers – Really glad that I had this backlog to work through, thus enabling me skipping all those recap episodes. Also now that the show is back to civilization, the full blown expectation of Japanese people hoisted upon unrealistic American experiences is again on display, highlighting yet again the real barrier between human and space exploration is human. And I mean it in the jaded, ironic, culturally hilarious kind of way.
Nyaruko-san W – I can’t really be bothered by this show but the shotgun jokes do still find their target week after week. It’s definitely a drop from last season and to me this is now a drop-worthy show that I’m still watching partly because of blogging obligations.
Henneko – The cute factor increases or at least keep steady weekly. I’m going to get diabetes watching this anime, but I look forward to it anyway.
Photo Kano – I was going to drop this show until I watched the photo shoot with the student council president. I am not sure what that says about me (probably nothing flattering) but the visuals are worth a look. I think this is really an “anime no chikara” example because without the animation direction this show is totally crap-tier. I like how it makes me feel like a dirty upskirting otaku without being one, but at the same time some really enjoyable visuals, with or without fanservice. I hope that one photography girl’s episode is all about dutch angles or something.
Sparrow’s Hotel – It’s a sin to be watching this without finishing Inferno Cop. I probably should finish Inferno Cop. Maybe same can be said of Nin Nin Shinobuden. Half-length. I’m actually a couple weeks behind but I think Minori Chihara’s greatest power is leveraging her natural ditz.
My Teenage Romantic Comedy SNAFU – OreGuile as I call it, it’s like a more pleasant version of Haganai in my mind. Which is probably a good thing. Also, what’s up with making Hayami Saori do the chew-you-out routine? I hope some enterprising people have made a cliip of it circa Tari Tari. I mean I would pay for this. Seriously.
Railgun S – As long as it continues to dish out things I want out of this franchise, I’ll continue to watch it I guess. The set of things I want out of this franchise may include beam weapons, awesome combat scenes, and that nostalgic, early 90s “winners don’t use drugs” mentality and themes. What I have to put up with kind of evens out with what I get, so I’m not in the greatest hurry or most wanting of this series.
Yuyushiki – I want to like this show and for the most part I do like it, it is likable, but the pacing suffers greatly. I might still stick with it, I don’t know.
Zettai Bouei Leviathan – Same can be said of this show. It’s way weaker than the other anime with Leviathan in it. Other than for the seiyuu, nothing is lost by dropping this one so it made a quick out.
Date-a-Live – I really enjoy the premise and they started off with a nice, earnest-type tsundere character, which is a very safe bet. I hope the show lives up to its creative premise. It’s on hold because there’s too much on my plate so this anime will take a back seat; also I don’t feel I have a good grasp of this show at 3 episodes in.
Chihayafuru S2 – I decided to put this off because it is really easy to marathon later. The funny thing is, after I got back from Japan I was going to catch up, but the word of a recap episode kind of put me off. So it continues to be put off. It’s going to be fun to watch either way you do it, so I think it’s no big deal other than having to mute everyone who tweets about the show.
The Severing Crime Edge – I just want to hit up all the fetishes every week. Not enough of a reason to continue I guess.
Red Data Girl – I probably would be watching it every week if I didn’t have to dodge people who are watching the pre-release, and as a result unable to talk to anyone who is watching this show. I mean, I know many of us are not watching the pre-release but this totally ruins the overall discourse. That said I’ve not dropped this show, although it’s up in the air if I will end up finishing it.
And that’s all folks! Actually, I’m probably missing something, not including the shows I didn’t want to include (I did skim through some Carnival and Utapri). But oh well…
PS. Aiura – This is, like a teaser/demo/sampler right? It’s both funny how people whine about its length, and how cruel because it’s so good yet so short. At the same time I think I’ll be okay if every episode has a shot of the back of the leg of someone lying down, the whole time.
I really enjoyed Gargantia episode 5. It’s got fine girls in skimpy bikinis (Hanaharu wau), giant robots, ocean-side BBQ, a light-hearted aero-plane race, a foot chase up a spiral tower, high-vantage landscape shots (complete with water-umbrella-rainbow-all-that-jazz), unconventional use of beyond-high-tech, fine weather, sunshine, relaxing in the shade, girl talk, retro scuba suits, teasing the AI, sauce, party, and this:
 This episode gets to the heart of Gargantia, and its true meaning as a statement of sociopolitical solidarity with Japan’s young generation of much-maligned NEETs and freeters. Urobuchi has said the show was intended as a statement for these young people about to enter the world.
And frankly, it’s a little too on the nose. It’s not even subtle.
Here’s Ledo, poor guy finding himself uncertain about his life for the first time. He’s been raised in a strict, regimented educational system that prioritizes efficiency and is dedicated to only one thing: passing exams, er, killing space monsters. But in this new world, vaporizing people is looked down upon. He has his Master’s Degree in Space Monster Vaporization and it’s completely unsuited to the needs of the post-wormhole economy.
And on top of the unemployment he’s saddled with massive debt he doesn’t even begin to know how to pay off. Sure he has some neat technological gizmos that allow him to do cool things, but what can he *himself* do? He’s not sure, and it seems that no matter where he looks on the ship, there’s no place for him.
I think it’s not even subtle since the beginning. And for people watching anime this way, it’s not the first time we’ve seen a show that served this up like that roasted hog with an apple in its face. It’s been a while since people are cheeky enough to adopt post-bubble philosophies into their stories–probably in the early-mid 00s.
For the sake of completeness, please read this from our dear Butch, who too had to struggle to make a living and get to the point he is in his own career. I suppose he’s just enjoying the fruit of his labor!
Update: Added this quote from ANN’s interview of Kazuya Murata, director.
What do you hope people take away from the experience of watching Gargantia?
For the Japanese audience, I would like “young people who are about to enter society” to take the message, “Don’t worry. Try. You can do it”. For the larger audience in the world, I want them to have the message, “Whatever could happen, we, human beings, will be alright. If we all together open the path, the future will always be ahead of us”.
Looks like they really want to get that message across. That said, Murata is probably a good reason why the show has such a positive vibe.