Separation (Gargantia Episode 8)
(Click HERE to check out part 7)
Ledo is set on a path to destroy the Whale Squid, earth-type Hideauze. He believes it is his mission and purpose in life to do so and even though he has been softly introduced to the notion that one’s purpose is a moving target, an amorphous substance one can manipulate and direct in different ways, the newfound presence of these beings on Earth presses him on to battle. Two facts also push Ledo in this direction. He wants to protect his friends and Gargantia, and especially Amy, from the destruction that the Whale Squids may one day bring to them. Second, Chamber has finally located Earth’s coordinates within the Universe and sent out an SOS message to the Galactic Alliance of Humankind. Unfortunately, they are so far away that the message will not reach the alliance for approximately 6,582 years, 16 hours, and 20 minutes. If I’m not mistaken, information can travel much faster than bodies can and these bits of SOS data should be travelling at hundreds or thousands of miles and hour faster than Ledo and Chamber would be capable of.
This makes it impossible for Ledo to ever return to the Alliance. Therefore, Gargantia and Earth are his new permanent homes and he must protect them from the Whale Squid Hideauze at any cost. But will his leaving Gargantia for a while to attack Whale Squid territory with Pinion’s salvage crew open Gargantia up to potential pirate attacks? How will they protect themselves without the Machine Caliber and with a much smaller fleet? Amy doesn’t want Ledo to leave her and Bebel, but cannot voice her frustrations to him. Bebel, however, can. But Ledo is unshakable in his plans and gives Bebel a memento to remember him by until he returns, if he returns: an old Hideauze-nail ocarina that was gifted to him as a child by a young one who looked much like himself. A child he designates as probably his younger brother. The changing of hands of this memento signifies Ledo’s growing connection to Bebel as a surrogate brother.
Meanwhile, Fairlock has previously had a large heart attack due to all of the stress of the situation in Gargantia. He dies surrounded by his loyal ship captains and his aide Ridget, who he bequeaths the golden key of leadership to and passes down his chain of command. Ridget is unsure of herself and works herself too hard to reconfigure the ship’s plans. With Ship Captain Flange leaving with the ships of the people he represents, as well as a number of other leaders departing alongside Pinion and his Salvage crew, much work needs to be done to make sure the new Gargantian fleet functions well in their absence. Ridget takes all of the work upon herself, but finally Bellows visits her and ensures her that the only reason Fairlock could do it all was because he had help in the form of aides like Ridget. she realizes she is not alone and entreats the help of all the citizens of Gargantia going forward. As a result, everything falls into place.
We learn a little bit about the fleet’s political and social structures in this episode, as we have learned much about their society in each previous episode. Gargantia is unique as an anime in terms of how strong, dynamic, and logical the social structures of the world seem to be and how well the series’ writers introduce them throughout. We find here for instance, that Gargantia is just the name of the largest ship at the centre of the fleet. It is represented by one of the ship’s people as the Fleet Commander. Every other attached ship in the fleet has its own unique identity both of its people and of its political ordering. Some are more democratic than others, but ultimately each ship has its own Ship Captain as political leader and literal helmsman. These Ship Captains make up the council of Gargantia alongside the Fleet Commander who has final say on all matters. But the Ship Captains are free to leave at any time and as such, this keeps the Fleet Commander from becoming too authoritarian and controlling, as he or she would immediately influence others to leave the fleet and thereby weaken Gargantia, which could prove a future existential threat. The society is set up in such a way that everyone in power is accountable and has more of a reason to cooperate with one another than to feud.
Finally, Amy’s friend Melty must leave Gargantia alongside Pinion and Flange because she is a member of Flange’s ship community. Amy wants to follow Ledo as well, but stays behind because of her brother Bebel, who must remain behind because of his illness and the fact that the only qualified doctor around to treat him is Dr. Oldham: a resident of Gargantia who will not be leaving with the others. Ledo leaves without saying his goodbyes and Amy resents his decision to leave to kill the Whale Squid and also fears for his emotional state, which may be fragmenting his personality as he kills more and more foes: an act of genocide he will come to regret in future episodes.