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These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Is Ledo a headstrong organic battle droid who honestly believes he can defeat a huge swarm of Hideauze just by himself when he nearly lost underwater, or a seasoned soldier with a lifelong-trained desire to protect humanity, surrounded by people who refuse to listen to him?
Is Ridget a stubborn, cowardly Obstructive Bureaucrat who treats a boy who could be their greatest savior (or destroy them instantly) as a potential enemy, or a pragmatic, secretly insecure leader of a Spartan Scavenger World who shares her peoples' initial distrust of a mysterious being who literally dropped out of the sky, remains somewhat cool and distant, and packs an unthinkable amount of firepower?
Is Pinion a greedy douchebag who wants to possibly get killed and possibly trigger a squid attack on Gargantia over some treasure that may or may not even be there, or an adventurous go-getter who genuinely does want to avenge his brother and ensure humanity's safety and prosperity, even if he's putting his life on the line? (Getting rich quick just sweetens the deal).
Whether or not that fact that Pinion actually knew where the treasure horde was, in addition to the knowledge that it wasn't monetarily valuable but the world's largest think tank and scientific center, and therefore mankind's greatest hope of a better future, justifies his crippling his hometown is up in the air for any given viewer.
The Alliance. A ruthless, totalitarian government that does not tolerate weakness or genetic engineering, or Well Intentioned Extremists fighting against aggressive and expansionist genetically engineered monsters?
The original Alliance as well. See the Grey and Gray Morality trope on the main page for all the details, but: The Evolvers were asking for sanctions if not all out war due to a lack of regulation and inhumane experiments. Did the Continental Union have the right to take the first shot? Assuming the Union had the legal right to take the first shot and start the war, are they doing the right thing by following universal standards of morality and justice even though it doomed the human race to a shitty future? Should they have held back in order to preserve peace? Or would preserving peace at the cost of inhumanity be intolerable?
Angst? What Angst?: A minor example; Ledo recalls a young boy he once knew who taught him how to carve ocarinas and was exterminated for being deficient. After learning about the concept of family he realizes off screen that the boy was probably his legitimate younger brother, adding another layer of tragedy to the whole thing. Ledo is relatively calm about it, considering how much he must have repressed the memories and his complex feelings regarding the issue.
It is averted earlier, with him even crying about the memories without quite realizing their significance, but again there wasn't much of a reaction after he made the connection.
Later episodes show him angsting quite a bit after he kills Hideauze children. He sees the image of his brother over them.
Author's Saving Throw: The second OVA. While the series is generally well-received, some viewers felt that the series could have further explained certain plot points involving Kugel's cult and why it came to be, as well as take a more serious tone once in a while. The second OVA not only rivals Episode 9 as the darkest episode in the series, but goes out of its way to establish Character Development for Kugel and Striker.
Fans' opinions are divided as to whether the Gargantians' live-and-let-live attitude towards the pirates is well-written, let alone wise. Some view it as an effective solution that avoids wasting resources and needless bloodshed, while others view it as a stopgap that does nothing to actually solve the problem. And that's all that needs to be said about this.
Episode 5: Some thought it was a pleasant feel-good moment in a story about a lifelong warrior rediscovering his humanity (and plenty of juicy Fanservice) and some thought it was a plotless waste of time that could've been spent on character development.
Just about everything after Episode 5. Episode 6 was also denounced by many as largely plot-free and driven by fanservice. And then when crap started getting real in Episode 7, the fandom became further split between pro-Ledo fans (those who agree with Ledo's mission to leave Gargantia and destroy the Hideauze) and pro-Gargantia fans (those who believe the Gargantians' statement that the Hideauze are not inherently evil/dangerous, and think he's acting like an unthinking drone).
The Revelations of Episode 9 brings about a divide with fans on the two major pre-2nd Ice Age groups. Some believing that the Evolvers who would ultimately morph themselves into Hideauze were at fault for the conflict for breaking laws in their experiment and ultimately becoming a rogue state and others that view the governments that would ultimately become the Galactic Alliance at fault for their unwillingness to coexist with a different methods.
Cerebus Syndrome: Episode 7. After three episodes of mostly Slice of Life, Ledo encounters a Hideauze...in Earth waters. Suddenly we remember who created this show.
Chamber Has A Point: In Episode 10, Chamber points out to Ledo that killing Hideauze despite them being evolved humans is justified because their focus on biological advancement has led to the devolution of their own intelligence, as they no longer needed it to survive. Essentially, the Hideauze can no longer be considered human.
Complete Monster: Aleria from the second OVA is, in short, the Big Sister Bully trope taken to the max and then some. She cares for absolutely nothing but complete social, political, and religious control of her father's fleet and is shown to be willing to do anything to get what she wants. Case in point: when her youngest sister Linaria converts to a sky-based religion (implied to be a means of escaping the fleet), Aleria orders her other two sisters to hunt down her freighter and kill everyone on board. By the time Kugel arrived, only Linaria was left as a result of Aleria's relentless attack. She later intentionally lures the Hideauze onto the fleet by setting off mines on the seabed in order to publicly shame Kugel as a fraud and toss him and Linaria out of the colony. Finally, when after finding out Linaria died, she fuckingsmirks and tries to usurp the vacant position as high priestess in order to become a leader of the fleet. Villains this bad are very hard to come by in this series, but Aleria takes the cake as the vilest of the bunch.
Les Yay: The leader of the pirates is a woman who keeps two scantily-clad female bodyguards chained to her throne. Notably, it's implied to be consensual, given how enthusiastically they aid her in battle.
Narm: Episode 6, when Bellows and Pinion are fighting, trying to convince Ledo to work for them. A tense and dramatic argument is punctuated with very extremely Fanservicey shots of Amy and her friends belly dancing—which looks more like them simply shaking around in skimpy outfits than actually belly dancing. Pinion also tops off his argument with offering Ledo the chance to feel up as many girls behinds' as he'd like. Also, some may find Ledo pulling his gun on some cooked octopus after having mistaken it for Hideazu as this, as the scene was clearly not meant to be funny.
Pretty much any time Lakkage is talked to or about, due to her ridiculous outfit with Absolute Cleavage and some subtitles referring to her as Rackage.
Nausea Fuel: The pulped remains of Whalesquid/Hideauze clinging to Chamber's body after crushing some of them to death. Made somuch worse by their Awful Truth, related below. Even in-universe, Ledo has to vomit after learning the whole story.
Nightmare Fuel: Ledo's description of what happens to Alliance members who can no longer serve as soldiers—they're "retired" in the Blade Runner sense. Made especially unnerving in how he tells this to a gravely Ill Boy and his sister as if it's completely normal, which it is in his world. The Alliance is looking worse with each episode...however, to be fair, Chamber mentions in the first episode that no known Earth-like planets exist, or at least have been found by the Galactic Alliance despite having spread out quite far in the galaxy. Which probably means that resources may be scarce. On top of that, they're fighting what seems to be a losing war against the Hideauze, despite their advanced technology compared to those living on Earth. So Ledo was just using Brutal Honesty, since that's all he's known in his short life, and to him keeping someone like Bebel alive would mean less resources going towards someone who could fight against the Hideauze.
Looking at the shots of the destroyed colonies during the battle scenes in Episode 1, major Fridge Horror sets in when you see some huge holes punctured in their glass domes. The air supply was probably all sucked out into space, along with many people. Remember when Ranka was almost sucked into space in Macross Frontier? Imagine that happening to perhaps thousands of people all at once.
Episode 9. Ledo enters the Hideauze nest and spies a "nursery" filled with babies. Despite how they look somewhat like human embryos, he proceeds to burn them alive, and we hear them scream. Then Ledo finally has to ask what's really going on here, and with only token reluctance, Chamber shows him an archive news clip detailing The Reveal...Hideauze are biomechanically evolved humans fighting over access to space with the humans who decided to leave the rapidly freezing Earth. A baby Hideauze then swims up to Ledo and just acts like a curious child. Chamber then proceeds to take initiative and crush it in his bare hands without Ledo's command, and Ledo proceeds to scream in existential anguish. Cut to ChouCho's calming ED.
Episode 12. In Striker's Earth-based Alliance cult, "unfit" Earthlings are disposed of much like back in space; dumped over the side of the ship. And it's treated as a holy religious ceremony in honor of their "god" Striker. Ledo's also treated to a boy being dumped who looks strangely happy about his ritualistic murder. When he reminds Ledo of Bevel and his brother, he finally decides to take action against his former masters.
The revelation that pilots can merge their nervous systems with their mechas for maximum performance. Ledo's cry, "Just go and eat me!" raises some more Fridge Horror: is that what happened to Kugel? Taking things further, is that what happens to all GA mecha pilots?And taking things ''even'' further, is the GA government actually run by AI? (which might make sense given that the Alliance's alphabet appears to be a very artificial looking set of blocks, almost like binary representation of something...) Gen reminds us that you don't need to Kill 'em All to leave some major Fridge Horror.
Rooting for the Empire: Okay, obviously this story is centered and geared towards humans, as well as the Sins of Our Fathers in that what they did in the past affects those living today. But let's take the perspective of the Hideauze for a moment. In the first episode, as far as they were concerned, they were minding their own business, when this massively huge aggressive force appears out nowhere and starts attacking them, forcing them to respond to the threat. Despite the ferocity, sizeable force, and surprise attack, the Hideauze were able to come out victorious. One has to wonder how many other similar times they've been attacked by the Galactic Alliance when for all they knew, they just wanted to go about their everyday lives much like the whale squids on Earth did before Ledo attacks them.
The Scrappy: Some people thought Grace was a bit too cutesy, especially with her constant chirping, and also believed that flying squirrels (or sugar gliders) becoming common pets in a waterborne scavenger society stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief a bit too far.
Some people also saw Amy this way, claiming she was rather bland and undeveloped and that she was only a Relationship Sue for Ledo. Some go even further and blame her for Chamber's death, saying her appearance in the final episode led to Ledo becoming upset and Chamber ruling him "unfit for service".
Soundtrack Dissonance: Both the OP and ED songs are upbeat J Pop, and start sounding very much out of place by Episode 7. Even the calm violin strains during the Eye Catch could count.
Ledo recalling the fate of his brother, in which we see why he was absentmindedly carving that flute.
This comes after he'd spent the majority of the episode mystified at the concept of family and musing over how inefficient it is for Gargantia to allow weak-bodied individuals to live. The tragic irony hits once you realize that his brother was likely one of those very sorts of individuals.
Episode 7. Ledo leaves the ship in frustration, leaving Amy heartbroken just one episode after the dance.
A double whammy in Episode 8. Captain Fairlock dies of a sudden heart attack, leaving Ridget in charge of Gargantia. We see that underneath her cool, stuffy exterior she's still a nervous 22-year-old who needs her people as much as they need her. Then Ledo states that he has to fight the Hideauze/Whalesquids...but not just because the Alliance programmed him to do so, but because he wants to protect Amy and Bevel and keep Gargantia from becoming like the Alliance. Meanwhile Amy breaks down crying, claiming that Ledo was so close to regaining his humanity. Whether you agree more with Ledo or Gargantia's view, it's all still quite heart-rending.
The origins of the Hideauze and the Alliance, and the truth of Earth's past. Either mankind had to doom the planet to do the right thing, or live in peace by accepting great evil. The situation tore the world apart, and we get to see the world slowly burn from the point of view of news networks and archive footage.
The second OVA shows Kugel's Start of Darkness when his Love Interest Linaria succumbs to her illness. After spending time on her deathbed thanking Kugel for all that he did for her and her fleet, Kugel takes her up to the top of the fleet, with nothing but beautiful blue oceans surrounding the ships. This is the last thing Linaria ever sees before her death. Kugel then breaks down, wondering why he can't even save one girl when everyone else is worshiping him as a divine emissary.
Heck the whole OVA is this. It turns out Kugel was Not So Different from Ledo. In fact he was genuinely a good person who was trying his best to help all the people of his fleet. After Linaria's death, Striker prodded him into becoming a Fallen Hero. If they had landed in different places Ledo could have easily ended up like Kugel, and vice versa.
The fight between Chamber and Striker in Episode 12.
The Woobie: Ledo. Did you ever want to live in a Space Colony? Well, you certainly wouldn't want to live in one locked in a resource-straining Forever War, and definitely not as a Child Soldier. Now imagine that that's the only lifestyle you've ever known...
Little Elaine Matsumoto and other first-generation child Evolvers. Her father and the other adult Evolvers at least knew what they were getting into; Elaine and the other children probably didn't.