Blu-ray Review: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet – The Complete Collection

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It’s not often that anime is released in the UK before it’s American debut, even more so when the series has been dubbed, but with Manga Entertainment UK’s release of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet thats exactly what we have; So with that being said what can we expect from this Blu-ray release? Well lets take a look in our Blu-ray review of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet – The Complete Collection.

Synopsis:

While fighting an intense inter-galactic war, a mecha pilot was accidentally warped into a space-time neither he nor the computer of his mecha could recognize.

After waking up from a long-time hibernation, he found himself trapped on a planet, with human residents talking in an unknown form of language, using inferior technologies, and – most shocking to him – naturally breathable air..

Our View:

Within ten minutes of the first episode Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet leaves a lot to be desired; it’s opening segment has ideas taken from various franchises while the first battle in itself is one big cameo; but despite all of these references it’s hard to care what’s going off and why but then again when the series looks this good in High Definition you may not need to. Fortunately for us this is just a build-up of things to come and with the prelude out of the way the series only gets better from here.

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Let’s start at the beginning; Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet follows the story of Ledo, a Galactic Alliance mecha-suit pilot, and Chamber, the pilot support AI, who, after a failed attempting at destroying the alien life-form known as Hideauze, finds themselves stranded on an unknown planet and abroad the giant fleet known as the Gargantia. These first few episodes are all about Ledo attempting to discover where he is and how to get back home, but as the series progresses Ledo beginse engaging with the locals of Gargantia, especially a girl known as Amy, he grows quite attached to the fleet and attempts to learn their way of living; that is until an old-enemy appears.

These learning curves lead to some pretty entertaining viewing experiences; For instance both Ledo and Chamber speak an entirely different language to the rest of the Gargantia fleet and so when they are being spoken to they will speak in their own native dialect. For example during the second episode Ledo will speak in his native language with Chamber acting as a translator, but when Amy speaks she will speak in English, but as the series progresses Ledo will begin to learn the English language and speak in broken English; that is until the end where he can speak near fluent English.

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It’s worth mentioning that all of these different language dialects are spoken by their English or Japanese voice actors so kudos to the production and dubbing team (in both countries) for providing such a realistic experience within a Sci-Fi styled series. For instance watching it in English will see the actors speaking a foriegn English language (and normal English) while watching it in Japanese will see Japanese language with foreign alien-Japanese; it may sound complicated but when watching the series it makes perfect sense and is highly entertaining. It’s not just the quality of voice-over work either as the visual presentation of the series is also immensely insane and is easily one of the biggest talking points; especially when it comes down to the mecha-fight scenes scattered throughout the series.

There is more to Gargantia than impressive voice-over work and stunning animation as the series offers a pretty solid story; that is if you stay long enough to find it. The opening, as good as it looks, has that “thrown into the deep-end” approach so you don’t really care whats going off; but when the real story does get it going it can feel like its taking awhile to get anywhere, as it mainly focuses on Ledo attempting to become acustomed to life with the fleet. It’s not nessacrily a bad thing, as it’s quite amusing seeing Ledo fail at jobs around the fleet, but a more direct narrative storyline may have been better. Don’t be discouraged though as by the half-way point it ultimately pick-ups to see Ledo and a selection of the Gargantia fleet make life-changing decisions, decisions which bring an entertaining, and conclusive, ending to the series and a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

Extras:

Unless you count the two bonus OVA episodes, which are listed under the Episode Listings and are available in both English and Japanese languages, this Blu-ray release of Gargantia contains no additional content. The lack of bonus materials is ‘extremely’ disappointing as the US release, which arrives next month in America, contains a wealth of bonus contents and even includes a booklet with detailed information on the series.

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The first OVA episode sees Ledo join a small group of excavators in order to retrieve useful items upon an abandon ship. Interestingly this episodes provides more back-ground information surrounding support characters, such as Ridget, who previously lived on the ship with her friend until she left to join the Gargantia. Meanwhile the second OVA episode explores the background story of what led-up to the final few episodes of the series.

Despite being classed as OVA episodes they are presented just like any regular episode, and as such the first OVA episode can be watched around the half-way point of the series while the second OVA episode should be watched after you’ve seen all of the episodes in the series. Watching it this way will provide a much more natural storyline progression; otherwise you may spoil elements of the main story.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x2
Region: B
Running Time: 3:09:38 (Disc 1), 2:45:56 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (English and Japanese)
Subtitles: English Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

This is pretty much Gargantia in a nutshell; a story which sees a military bred human attempt to lead a normal life onboard a fleet filled with people who don’t speak the same language. Of course there is more to the story than this, as when Squids appear, which both Ledo and Chamber identify as Hideauze, a few battles ensue which see the entire fate of Gargantia changed forever.

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Let’s be clear Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is not a boring show, far from it, it’s just the opening of the series leaves much to be desired and the follow-on content doesn’t prove that entertaining either – it’s only at around the halfway point when the series really pick-ups and by then it’s nearly over. It’s not like nothing happens, as we see Ledo attempt to learn the language, engage in useful tasks and get accustomed to the way of living on the Gargantia, it just feels like the purpose of the series is over very quickly, but at this point multiple events happen in order to keep the view entertained until the series conclusion arrives.

With this Blu-ray release featuring no additional contents there isn’t really anything to talk about as quality wise, both visuals and audio, are relatively perfect. The same can be said for the subtitles, which are using a grey-ish approach similar to that of Manga Entertainment’s Psycho-Pass release. During one episode i did notice an odd black bar appear, like a shadow next to a book, during a transition between scenes, but it was only there momentarily -it’s nothing serious, i just thought i should mention it. Since we receive no bonus materials this UK Blu-ray release is basically a ‘barebone’ release of the series, and while it looks and sounds perfect i can’t help but think we drew the short straw in terms of overall content.

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What Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet offers is a unique story that sees a human-bred marine struggle to adjust to the lifestyle aboard the Gargantia while along the way discovers new friends and the real turth behind the war on the Hideauze. It’s a series that progress relatively steady but when needed its full of action, entertainment and fan-service; but before you ask YES there are quite a few mecha fight scenes; especially when it comes to the ending. In hindsight the series and its presentation in this UK Blu-ray release is perfectly fine, but as an overall product compared to the US release then it’s just one big disappointment.

Score: review-stars-3

Gargantia On The Verdurous Planet – The Complete Series will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from the 29th September 2014.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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