「まれびとの祭壇」 (Mare Bito no Saidan)
“Altar of the Heavenly Visitor”
Phew* It took longer than expected to find time to actually do this post, but here we are with Kugel’s untold story. The last of the Suisei no Gargantia OVA’s, this episode ends up amazingly similar to the first one—both in regards to its quality and its singular character focus.
As it turns out, Kugel wasn’t that bad of a guy at all, and it was a perfect storm of events that ultimately led to the fleet we ended up seeing in the main series. What this episode essentially does is finally tell us what those events were, and while some of the developments here were of a generic nature, it doesn’t change the fact that they managed to both introduce us to new characters and get us engaged within their struggles within a very short time span. Linaria in particular ends up being a solid addition to the cast—albeit temporary—and despite the fact I knew what was likely to happen, seeing Linaria’s body just tossed down the catapult like that made me cringe regardless. Seeing Kugel’s subsequent fall from grace ends up being equally cringe-worthy as well—especially when one considers how Stryker nefariously manipulates Kugel’s emotions all throughout the process—and it’s just a testament to good storytelling when a mere 20 minute OVA can give so much extra to the series in general.
With that said, it becomes quite interesting to note how Stryker seems to have been consistently acting above and beyond just being a support interface for Kugel. One could chalk that up to the fact that she’s a command unit rather than a normal unit such as Chamber was, but the fact remains that compared to what Chamber was to Ledo, Stryker was on a whole other level to start with. There was definitely more of a propensity to get involved in matters on Stryker’s part, and one wonders if she wouldn’t have disposed of Kugel herself at some point if he didn’t end up turning over to the “Galactic Alliance” take on things. Makes you shudder a bit, doesn’t it?
I guess it goes to show just how inhuman the Galactic Alliance has become in their quest to fight the Hideazue though, because you’ve gotta have some screws loose if the AI’s you make end up like Stryker and you’re predisposed to follow the guidance given by them as well—especially when you consider Stryker seems perfectly capable of leading even without a human in her cockpit. Granted, it’s not a new notion considering how many times it reared its head during the main series, but there’s just a kind of irony behind this that’s too hard to not talk about again. In the quest to fight off something they deemed “inhuman,” they arguably became inhuman themselves, and one could reason that even if they won the fight with the Hideazue, they already lost more than they could ever gain back from it. The whole productivity vs. individual living conditions aspect and the disposal of feeble constitution concept just add further to this argument, and it all comes together to make Linaria’s death all the more painful, as I’m quite sure that’s not what she wanted her death to mean for Kugel or the fleet.
Ultimately, the Suisei no Gargantia series of OVA’s turned out every bit as enjoyable as the main series did. They performed their roles as supplemental side stories admirably, and demonstrated just how much there was (and still is) to this universe. I suppose that’s why it’s a good thing that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Suisei—a second season was recently confirmed—and we’ll meet again when it comes out. Until then, let’s try not to spend our free time subjugating fleets eh?