Notice: This is a review for both 2 seasons of Sidonia.
Well, well, well, what do we have here? A fully computer generated anime series, based on an incomplete manga by the creator of Blame, with a premise that is basically Attack on Titan in the far future. What could possibly go wrong? Let’s analyze the previous elements, one by one; shall we?
1) Fully computer generated. Major disadvantage. CGI sucks ass without a lot of time and effort put into it, something that isn’t the case with Sidonia. It does make machines look cool and aliens creepy, which adds to the atmosphere of the series, but when it comes to character designs, it looks very off-putting. Unless you have an extreme tolerance to choppy motions and robot-like characters, you will drop this show like a hot potato.
2) Based on an incomplete manga. Major disadvantage. You are left with no ending, or an anime original one, which will contradict the manga, and nobody will like. Sure, you can always wait a decade until enough material is out, but by then, very few will care anymore, and the difference in technology will be making it even harder to get into.
3) By the creator of Blame. That sounds like a plus, because he excels in mindfuck stories full of machinery and bizarre monsters, but in this case it works against him. This is a much more mainstream type of story, full of anime stereotypes that take it one step away from thinking it is a light novel. The expectations are too high because of his fame, and the final product is disappointing.
4) A premise that is basically Attack on Titan in the far future. That sounds like it doesn’t mean anything, when in fact it does. Because of the undeserved praise AOT got, everybody and their waifu are now making shows with the same premise, just to milk those addicted to shock factor and bad storytelling. Meaning, this show is in effect a cashgrab, made on a tight budget just to run to the casual oasis before shows like Black Bullet, Arpeggio of Blue Steel, and Seraph of the End dry completely the money well. And yes, Sidonia began as a manga before AOT, but its adaptation came into being only because of its success.
Well done Sidonia, you already failed before you even began. But for the sake of argument, let’s give it the benefit of doubt and assume everything I said so far, are not enough to drive you away from enjoying it… It’s still terrible. For the same reasons AOT is terrible.
5) Shock factor. You know the drill; lots of gruesome deaths, destroying the characterization of its cast. It doesn’t give them depth, nor does the story become more serious. Wasn’t Akame ga Kill enough to realize that? It doesn’t help how most characters look the same and move like robots. When they die it’s like they get deactivated and replaced by other robots. Also, none of them get enough screen time or feel important enough in the plot, so you don’t give a shit when they die.
6) Lack of focus. As for those who survive and live to fight another day, they don’t get much fleshing out, because the audience is either too busy staring at the creepy aliens, making bets about who is going to die next, or doesn’t give a crap about their personalities because the whole show is an ecchi comedy.
7) Wish fulfillment. For a show that is supposed to be about humanity trying to survive against alien monstrosities, you constantly get fan service moments which break the immersion. There isn’t that much of it, but it is more than enough to not take the show seriously. The protagonist feels like he was transferred there from a harem. Weak, passive, constantly bumps into naked women, and feels like he is incompetent in everything. But as soon as things get serious, he will be a super pilot who will be single-handedly wiping out aliens that not even elite groups could scratch. And then he will be cheered by everybody, and all the girls will be after his D, before reverting to his useless mode and keeps bumping on naked women. All this pandering makes him look like yet another Jesus for introverts.
8) Creepy factor. And it’s not good fan service either. You can’t even enjoy it as guilty pleasure because the characters look like robots. Also, it has some really deviant fetishes that are too gross to even count as sexy. One of the chicks who wants the protagonist’s D is a hermaphrodite with cyborg arms, and another chick is an alien freak which can’t even speak properly.
9) Unused concepts. There are lots of interesting sci-fi concepts that either don’t fit in the setting, or are not used in any good way plot-wise. There is a bear woman with a hook arm that is supposed to be some sort of genetic hybrid. That’s so out there; it is never explained, never used in any way, and it belongs to a school comedy. There are people who photosynthesize instead of eating, as well as hermaphrodites; again part of the genetic engineering going on in the future. Those are not relevant to the plot, and are used only for silly comedy and deviant fetishes.
10) Weak mystery. Not even what the aliens are, or what they want means anything in the longrun, since just like in AOT, the show deliberately never explains their motives, as means to keeps them scary by being a mystery, and not a faction with an agenda or characters with personality. And since by now we all know it is always some variation of Soylent Green, you might as well not give a damn about them.
11) Bad storytelling. The show has no idea of how to surprise you without insulting your intelligence. There is a scene where a guy gives the protagonist an inappropriate command, just to fail and be accused of being useless. Everybody indeed accuses the protagonist and doesn’t even attempt to verify what exactly happened, even when the whole thing was recorded in the robot he pilots. There is another scene where the protagonist bumps on a secret facility by complete chance, and it turns out he is already chosen as a test pilot there, making all the time spent on the accidental discovery pointless.
12) No objective. The whole show is aimless, since the motives of the aliens are never explained, and all the humans are doing is surviving alien attacks. It is a very passive goal that never fixes the problem, and gets dull very fast if all you get is aliens attack, humans fend them off, aliens attack, humans fend them off. And the worst part is that, this formula can never change, because it will mean the death of everybody and the end of the show.
Thus once again you get a good premise that is ruined by bad handling and I do not recommend it, unless you are one of those people who think that constantly killing robots we don’t know or care about is a stroke of brilliance. How about simply watching that wonderful music videoclip by Muse, which happens to share the same name? It doesn’t have pitiful CGI and it actually has a cool space western vibe to it. Also, it’s retro, so it’s better.