Female Power/Portrayal in Gargantia’s Dystopia

There’s been plenty of visual eyecandy in each episode so far, but the visual gimmicks that I love the most in Suisei no Gargantia are the sunburned cheeks and shoulders.  It’s such a small detail, but it makes so much sense; Amy is a courier, running and flying around, while Bellows works on salvaging machinery from the ocean floor. They’re out and about, so yes, they would be tanned and sunburned.

Other than a “throwaway” incident in episode 2, it appears that the females in Gargantia possess sufficient influence and agency as the males in the fleet. Bellows is respected and valued as a leader, Ridget appears to be the XO of the fleet, and even the pirates have their queen in Lukkage. Maybe I’ve just been reading too much young-adult fiction where they treat the women merely as breeding animals, but for a dystopia, that’s not too bad…

Of course, three episodes in may not enough time to provide a comprehensive worldview. These four women could just be the stand-outs, maybe all the other female crew do nothing but scrub decks and catch fish, who knows. And, as I mentioned, when the pirates boarded Bellows’ ships, one of them tore the top off one of her crewmates. Maybe it’s a throwaway incident, or maybe it’s just a way to emphasize how pirates continue to rape and pillage even in a dystopic sci-fi Earth; yet the fact remains that oppressive and chauvinist attitudes still persist.

The pirate empress Lukkage was an interesting addition to the mix. She’s dressed like a Carneval performer, has two female slaves in chains, yet operates a destructive mecha like a pro. (Though, really, it’s hard to take a mech called the Surfing Lobster that seriously.) Her defeat to Ledo, while inevitable and feeling more like a comedic effect more than anything, just drove the point across that he’s essentially undefeatable. Lukkage had a fleet of thirty pirate ships, plus submarines with underwater mecha; that’s not something that great boobs alone will get ya. Lukkage’s smart and wily and fierce. If there’s one thing I learned from One Piece, you don’t get to be pirate queen that easily.

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6 thoughts on “Female Power/Portrayal in Gargantia’s Dystopia

  1. The cliche of the slave girls in chains just needing to be rescued was nicely subverted. Lukkage’s slave girls were a vital part of her fighting force and they were right where they wanted to be.

  2. Gargantia a dystopia? I’d say almost all the inhabitants seem happy enough with their lives. A dystopia is “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding” (Random House), or even more simply “an imaginary place where everything is as bad as it can be” (Collins). It’s not something you call a society just because it’s not completely free of any and all problems.

    But getting back to females, Urobuchi never seemed to mind females in positions of power and authority. But he would probably never go out of his way to create “gentleman pirates” who kill and steal but would never think of raping their victims. It’s not even the issue of male/female power relationships here, as I’m quite sure at least some female pirates in a setting like that would abuse male victims in a similar fashion.

    • OED also includes “environmentally degraded” in the definition, so maybe I should have specified it as a physical, if not social, dystopia.

      I’m not familiar with everything Urobuchi has written, but it does appear to me that he would have males/females in his works act similarly; it’s just something that stood out to me when I was watching the episode.

  3. Not so surprising even though Urobuchi has gained a reputation of killing of people, mostly females, it seems that there is a lot of capable women such as Natalia from Fate/zero. Of course, there is Madoka, which have a lot of girls that can fight. Despite butching them all, it’s seems that they have power.

    On the other hand, I find the pirate lady and her servants pretty hilarious…

  4. Law of Anime Probability says Ledo’s going to have to lose a fight sooner or later, although it was a safe bet that it wouldn’t have been this one – it’s just too early on in the series for that. I like how he/his side didn’t just instantly win with no casualities though. His mecha seems to be unscathed but their ship certainly isn’t, and for all Lukkage’s inevitable loss, she’s definitely cunning enough to fight to her advantage (who knows, if she had actually managed to drag Ledo’s mecha into the water then she might have even stood a chance).

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