Suisei no Gargantia – 05
「凪の日」 (Nagi no Hi)
Only Pinion would look at a futuristic super-robot and think “barbecue”.
I feel like with every passing episode, Suisei no Gargantia continues to prove just how beautiful a work it really is. This week’s episode wasn’t nearly as philosophical or down to earth as the last couple have been, but it nevertheless did much to paint Ledo’s predicament in a fairly down-to-earth manner. I suppose if you wanted to, you could designate this episode “the fanservice-ridden beach episode”, and you wouldn’t be wrong (despite the lack of a real beach), but there’s still a fundamentally realist core at the center of all the swimsuits and transvestite interest in our unlucky protagonist.
To start with, while becoming an accepted member of Gargantia is all well and good, Ledo still hasn’t found any real purpose in his staying there. Namely, he’d like a job, something where he’d be a contributing force to the fleet’s needs rather than just another mouth to feed. Of course, finding a job isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers and declaring you’ll get one; it requires effort, time, and most of all, luck. Like any job market, there just aren’t positions for anything Ledo considers taking on (except clearing manure, which he can’t even stand for longer than a first whiff of the stuff), and this is a universal issue for all soldiers who leave the front lines. Just what kind of work should you take on after all that time at war? As Chamber constantly repeats, there are simply no jobs suited for Ledo’s uniquely acquired military skills, and unfortunately that means Ledo still hasn’t found a place to feel fulfilled while among the Gargantians.
However, there’s more to life than just work, and though Ledo and Chamber may not understand this (“I repeat: What is the significance of this?”), it’s at the center of more or less everything the Gargantians have to offer him. Throwing a party, having a barbecue, racing gliders, and running from some very persistent would-be employers don’t necessarily serve any greater purpose, but as Bevel explained last week, sometimes you don’t really need one. With every passing day on Earth, Ledo becomes more open to the idea of life as a journey rather than a destination, and slowly but surely his perspective on his own existence continues to evolve beyond the narrowed mindset of a soldier.
If there’s one thing that struck a particularly bad chord with me this episode, however, it was the girls. Amy and her friends have always acted as the genki eye-candy (though Amy has far more depth than the other two), but one particular conversation this week really bothered me. When the three girls discuss body image, Melty essentially makes the point that she and the others have to watch their figures for the sake of getting boys to like them, rather than because they want to. Call me an annoying feminist or whatever you like, but whether you’re a boy or a girl, skinny, round, square, or triangular, you should never base your self-image on what anyone but you yourself want. If you change yourself for the sake of someone else, you’re objectifying yourself (and yes, I’m speaking to you boys too) and that’s just not okay. By all means, change yourself, but do it because it’s something you really truly want for yourself. That aside, however, Suisei remains my favorite offering of the season, and this episode goes a long way to prove that it can be just as funny as it is intelligent.
Note: I’ll be covering Suisei next week as well; Zephyr-senpai has been having a tough time these last few weeks so I’m filling in for him until he gets things sorted out.