There’s something of a power struggle going on in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. Although he doesn’t seem to want it, Ledo could easily become a tyrant. His robot is so powerful that the sheer disparity in strength between him and everyone else is frightening. What will he do next?
One need only think back to last season’s Shin Sekai Yori for a potential answer. In that story, the most powerful PK users, no matter how sadistic, attained God-like status and sent the world tumbling through centuries of subjugation and rebellion. In Death Note, Light starts out by using his power to enforce a sense of justice, but soon loses perspective and starts abusing it to serve his own ends. Of course, there’s an argument to be had that those with the ability to change the world are fine as long as they aren’t also crazy (Legend of the Galactic Heroes,) but that still means our fate being decided by another, imperfect human. Is this the path that Ledo will take? I doubt it, he isn’t the ambitious type, but it’s still interesting to consider what he’s capable of. When he disposes of the pirates in episode 3, he’s received back by the people of Gargantia as if he were an angel sent down from heaven. That is what he could become, if he so desired it.
But ultimately, Ledo’s just another soldier waiting for his next round of orders, which brings into question his moral responsibility, and lack thereof. When Amy asked him to attack the pirates in episode 2, he routed them, mercilessly. It’s a shocking scene, but the fallout from it is just as important. At first, I blamed Amy for it all: she asked Ledo to attack, and he did, killing them all.
It was a naive thing for her to do. His attack was her order, but this whole idea of responsibility brings into question Ledo’s role, too. He used to be a soldier, yes, which is to say, he would act on the behalf of others. He was a weapon, pure and simple, but now he’s alone and stranded is it still fine for him to abdicate responsibility like this? It’s an idea that ties into the underlying themes of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, as mooted by writer Gen Urobuchi on Wikipedia, where he talks of a story that’s “[…] aimed towards those in their teens and 20s, who are either about to enter into society or recently have, and is meant to cheer them on and to encourage them that “going out into the world isn’t scary”.”
Children grow-up without responsibility in their lives. Your parents and school teachers look after you and tell you what to do and how to act, but once you reach adulthood, you’re expected to start making decisions for yourself. In other words, to be an adult, you have to become responsible, and I suspect that’s what Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is driving at with Ledo especially. When he was a soldier, he wasn’t expected to question orders, but if he’s going to become more than just a weapon/child, he needs to become responsible for his actions and recognise the effect he’s having on the world around him.
Quite where this story is headed for both him and the world at large in Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is a point of fascination for me, and seems very finely poised. How will the leaders of the Gargantia come to treat him? As a mere tool to be used in domination of the planet? And how will Ledo react to them? Rebel or acquiesce? How much will his presence fundamentally affect the world? In Gurren Lagann, great opposition led to great strength and evolution, but can anyone stand against Ledo here? So many questions, and not nearly enough episodes!