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The Writer Behind Madoka Magica Also Scripted a Great Sci-Fi Anime – That Wasn’t Psycho-Pass

Well known for Madoka Magica and Psycho-Pass, Gen Urobuchi also created Gargantia, a coming-of-age mecha anime with a subversive plot twist.

While Gen Urobuchi might not be a household name, many of the writer’s works are well-known and just as well regarded. Beyond co-creating the acclaimed magical girl anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica, he was also the writer of the hit series Psycho-Pass. While these and other shows he’s worked on are all definitely classics, there’s an overlooked and underrated part of Urobuchi’s resume that many seem to forget.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet may have a less than conventional name, but this belies what was one of the better mecha anime to come out of the early 2010s. Combining science fiction and mecha action with a very relatable coming-of-age story, Gargantia is much more than the sum of its admittedly varied parts. It’s overshadowed by the other works of its creator thanks to being part of a more niche genre, but Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet easily deserves to be remembered in the pantheon of mecha anime.

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The story of Gargantia is set in a far-off and advanced future, with humanity having long ago taken to the stars as their domain. Forming the Galactic Alliance of Humankind, the human race now finds themselves at war with the Hideauze aliens. One of the soldiers in this war is the young Ledo, who pilots a mecha called Chamber. Sucked into a wormhole, he and his mech end up on what turns out to be the mythical planet Earth.

Completely unprepared for life on his new home, Ledo is forced to learn how to survive in its environment, all the while learning about himself just as much. If this weren’t enough, he soon realizes that many of the realities about humanity and the aliens that he had been taught are far from true. This makes the final battle even more dramatic, as everything about life changes for Ledo once he lands in the Gargantia space fleet on Earth.

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On the surface, Gargantia seems almost like Avatar or Dances With Wolves featuring giant robots. Once this is looked past, however, a lot more originality can be found. The worldbuilding is top-notch, making Ledo’s journey into exploring the culture of Earth feel organic and ultimately earned. Everything about Earth is different from what he’s been used to, including the language itself, making it a huge jump outside Ledo’s comfort zone. The romance also feels organic, never coming off as forced or over the top.

The show was intended by Urobuchi as a metaphor for young adults going out into the world and encountering an adulthood that’s quite unlike what they thought they had been prepared for. In the end, however, Gargantia is meant to show them that, despite the surprises, the real world isn’t so scary. Nonetheless, the series’ plot twist and its implications can be harrowing. This is par for the course with Urobuchi, whose works such as Madoka Magica are known for being deconstructions.

The mecha elements are almost strangely implemented, and it sometimes feels hard to even call the series a mecha anime. This is somewhat similar to Code Geass, which many times put its mecha aspects on the backburner. Though an unconventional choice, this makes Gargantia into something that even non-mecha fans might enjoy. Thankfully for them, watching the series is a lot easier than being sucked into a wormhole. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet can be streamed through Hulu, as well as via both Crunchyroll and Funimation, and fans of mecha, Urobochi’s other works and anime in general should check it out.

Timothy Blake Donohoo is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he majored in Communication and minored in Creative Writing.

A professional freelance writer and marketing expert, he’s written marketing copy and retail listings for companies such as Viatek.

In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, watching documentaries and catching up on the latest Vaporwave and Electro-Swing musical releases.

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