Deep Sea Secret (Gargantia Episode 9)

(If you missed it, check out my essay on episode 8 HERE. To go back to the first episode’s commentary click HERE)

Pinion’s Salvage crew and Flange’s peoples are aboard their ships on the fabled sea of mist and most crew members have a bad feeling about the situation as a result of the eeriness of it all. Stories proliferate about how no one has ever left the sea of mist of alive. We find out that this is not technically true as well. Pinion and his brother entered the Whale Squid’s territory years prior to salvage ancient technologies from the ocean’s floor, but his brother invaded a nest directly and he was killed by the Whale Squids there. Pinion was left alive or somehow managed to stay alive even though he was attacked by a few of them.

Down below, in the fabled sea, Ledo and Chamber are attacking the Whale Squid, Earth-type Hideauze, and immediately realize that they are weaker than their space-type counterparts. In fact, they seem to be 1/120th the strength of Chamber who has little difficulty defeating many of them and only has to be concerned with running low on energy in the process. Over the past thousands of years, the Earth-type Hideauze have had no real competition for resources in their seas, and as such, evolved through a lack of harsh selection factors into a weaker race that remained benign compared to their space counterparts that grew stronger and more vicious.

As Ledo and Chamber draw them out in droves and attack, they come close to the surface and Chamber activates his shields. The Salvage wrecker workers toss out large explosives into the sea and destroy the Whale Squids in the vicinity. As Ledo continues his assault, he gets closer and closer to the Whale Squids, eventually locating their nest and destroying all of the fully-grown members, plus many young polyps, which Chamber refers to as Hideauze larvae. The polyps emit high pitched shrieks when damaged or killed. Killing them all upsets Ledo, so he leaves a number of them alone for the time being.

As they break into the core of the underwater nest, they realize that they are in some complex, ancient research facility. There are data chips strewn about the ocean floor inside that Chamber analyzes, decodes, and assesses. He says that the information is classified by the Galactic Alliance of Humankind and that Ensign Ledo has no clearance for this Research Society Lab data. Ledo balks at this information and reminds Chamber that in the absence of a commanding officer, Ledo is the commanding officer. He forces Chamber to reveal the information and a series of increasingly complex and troubling videos stream over Chamber’s internal console.

Ryan Matsumoto is the Earth’s first astronaut who trains constantly to go into space and man the Earth’s Space Station. The fifth Ice Age is upon the Earth and growing worse every day as fewer and fewer places remain habitable. The Citadel of Science lab, the one they are currently within, works to strengthen the human genome along with support from activists known as Evolvers. Although there are doubts about the efficacy of human genome manipulation, international regulations have become completely obsolete with the dawn of the technologies’ ubiquity and ease of access.

As the Space Station grows, the Continental Union and some of the world’s most powerful governments gain control of it and begin creating a multinational fleet against the Evolvers and the research facility. They target these people with large bombing raids, but there are military coalitions and nation-states on both sides that help even out the balance and prevent the Continental Union’s total victory. Meanwhile, scientists continue to bio-engineer humans to survive in space. They create a being known as a Symbiot, the Hideauze, which are human beings that can travel through space. Ledo realizes that the Hideauze and Whale Squids are creatures evolved from human beings.

The Continental Union creates a wormhole interface drive outside of the ISS to escape the galaxy with all of their technology and to strand the genetically engineered humans and the Evolvers on the Earth, where they believe they will most likely freeze to death and cause no future problems. But the Evolvers and the Symbiots take over the technology and use it to escape themselves and to proliferate themselves throughout the Universe.

Ledo has a crisis on his hands. His whole life, the Galactic Alliance of Humankind has kept this information about the Hideauze’s origins a secret. He has been trained to kill them indiscriminately and with extreme prejudice even though the Hideauze display no proclivity to attack first and only protect their territory from aggressors. Ledo has killed hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of his biological cousins. Sentient beings with emotions and intellects. Fathers and mother who were trying to protect their children. And the children themselves, the little blue eyes not so unlike Ledo’s own. The only moral panic analogous to Ledo’s from our own perspective is that experienced by soldiers after particularly brutal and mindless wars here on Earth. I can only imagine my own grandfather, a Green Beret in Vietnam, special ops. Told to search and destroy men, women, children, burn down whole villages in the name of American propaganda that served no purpose but to kill and maim innocent human beings in the name of an unwinnable political cause. Dreams of American atrocities committed by his own hands haunted him the rest of his ailing, Agent Orange-infected life, and I imagine, similar visions will haunt Ledo.

The creators of Gargantia wanted to create an anime that would encourage young people that the world is not so bad and that they can take their destinies into their own hands and go forth and act within the world. Hitherto, the series has shown us some of the beauty of life, but also of its fragility and of the manipulations that state actors will make of frail human actors with usually, as yet undefined psyches. Young men and women called to arms for causes even when, for example, the U.S. has not been involved in a virtuous conflict for seventy-three years.


Cody Ward

[Continued HERE]


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