An alien race called Gauna has destroyed Earth leaving humanity struggling to survive, aboard the spaceship Sidonia. Even though it’s been a century since the last encounter with the Gauna, military service is mandatory. For Nagate Tanikaze, whose grandfather secretly hid him in the forgotten bowels of Sidonia, it’s a strange new world as he’s forced to come to the surface. Yet his recruitment comes just in time, for the Gauna have suddenly reappeared.
Source: Sentai Filmworks
This was originally a recap on the finale (containing spoilers) as well as the following final impressions. You can read the post on my website found here. Sidonia no Kishi – Knights of Sidonia, title screen. Welcome to the literal future. This is a time traveling review about an anime that weirdly became my favorite of the Spring 2014 season. With the initial premise, the computer generated creation, some sneeky-peeky at that source manga — well, let’s just say I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the beginning of the season. Now that’s it over, I am thrilled at the thought of a second season. So what’s this futuristic tale about? To briefly summarize, it’s a tale of a giant “seed” spaceship, one of many that has left Earth hundreds of years ago, due to an ongoing war with the Gauna, a race of mysterious deep-space flying spaghetti monsters. During the course of the first season, we get to know a lot, but not all, of the Sidonia‘s past, including seemingly ageless crew members and the history of the science and technology used by its citizens. Hoshijiro photosynthesizing, not gratuitous at all, duh. Knights of Sidonia is based on the manga by Tsutomu Nihei and was animated by Polygon Pictures, a studio known for their 3-D animation expertise. In North America, the streaming company Netflix, has acquired the rights to air the first season. With the relevant information out of the way, let’s get into what I enjoyed about the story. First, the series doesn’t pull any punches. When stuff gets real on Sidonia – people die, get eaten by horrifying space monsters, get slapped by a bunch of clones — and that’s just the first 3 minutes of episode 6. The story mostly focuses on Tanikaze Nagate, a younger dude, who was raised under the surface of the Sidonia, but has mysterious ties to several ongoing events. Humanoid Gauna is pure horror. Nagate is the least complex and most straight forward character on the show. This is by design however, as he was raised by his grandfather, a just and honest man who we learn about later in the series. We follow Nagate as he becomes a pilot, tasked with defending the giant ship from Gauna invasion. There’s a large cast of supporting characters to familiarize ourselves with as well. While many of the characters aren’t exactly at the epitome of originality, there tends to be a slight twist to people we meet on Sidonia. Shinatose Izana, for example, is one of Nagate’s friends and a potential love interest. Izana is not a female though. It’s not a male either, but a third gender that were genetically created. Izana makes perpetual sad faces though, because Tanikaze only has eyes for number-one-space-cutie Hoshijiro. Izana is then relegated to being Nagate’s space-bro. Tanikaze and Shinatose – Space Bros. I don’t want to make the show out to be some romantic-harem style series. Overall, it’s mostly heavy on the suspense, with a good amount of action, and some lighter comedic and sometimes touching moments. The Sidonia gets repeatedly attacked over the course of the season, which each threat slightly more dangerous than the previous one. In this regard the show has been compared, by myself included, to Attack on Titan. Both shows feature a ton of gloom and doom. Both sets of characters are facing a threat they know very little about and both shows have researchers who take the monsters hostage to learn more about them. Both Sidonia and Titan also don’t mind killing off some of their characters — especially it’s citizens. The biggest comparison I can make though, is less do with the actual content, and more to do with my anticipation of both series. Blushing Space Opera, Knights of Sidonia. Sidonia is a bit more episodic when dealing with its monsters however. While watching Titan, you’re always aware there’s more to the horrifying creatures than meets the eye. We’re even giving hints as such, and we assume we’ll get some explanation eventually. It’s just another reason to keep watching. I get a similar feeling while watching Sidonia, but there’s no hints, no real exploration of the Gauna besides some history lessons and scientific research. In that regard, the drama that plays out in Attack on Titan is more multi-dimensional. Although I think that with its longer first season and well explored universe, it was actually a little better than Sidonia, I liked the futuristic space show more. On that note and before some discussion on the production, it’s time for the rating. With its quick 12 episodes, nicely paced action and exposition, I’ll be giving the never-a-boring-moment Knights of Sidonia a 4.5 out of 5 on my Kitsune Scale. I read reviews, comments, blogs, forums — you name it — and a good number of people seem to dislike the computer generated animation seen in this series. They’re crazy and I’ll explain why. They’re like the same people who think that music on vinyl records sound better than digital, or that shooting films on actual analog film and then converting it into digital film for editing, is somehow better than shooting it digital to begin with. I hate to break if to you guys, but as computers continue to become more powerful and as users continue to master rendering-type software at younger and younger ages, computer generated anime will one day be the norm. And, studios and directors that prefer hand-drawn anime, will pay more for materials and pay higher salaries for capable artists, because everything in 10-20 years will be done on the computer. Nagate just rendered 5 seasons of anime in 12 seconds. I’m actually an old guy, so I don’t know why I’m more flexible with the design choice inSidonia. Scratch that, I do know why. It’s because I don’t take anime seriously in the first place. I do to certain degree obviously, I consume a ton of it, write about it and take great enjoyment from doing so. But it’s still entertainment. So, when one of my friends told me they couldn’t get past the CG and how all the characters looked the same, I had to smile, because this is the same person who enjoys every silly loli-based harem style anime ever made. You ever see the shitty character designs on these shows? If you’re watching anime, but a certain style of animation will get in the way of actual story content, you should stop watching anime and take up another hobby. Snob. Best looking show this Spring. Not only was the animation in Sidonia adequate all the time, but was superior at other times. All the action sequences, ship modeling designs, including interiors and monitors, were a visual treat on the eyes. Along with great opening and ending songs, matching the serious nature of the show, the production was top notch. If I had to nitpick at all, I would start with the 12 episode length of the series. There was always a feeling, with the quick-pacing, that it was a little too quick. That the show was playing catch-up to the source material. Nagate, as a main character is a little cringe-worthy to be honest, but he was isolated from everyone, even carrying the moniker, “Mole Man.” That’s really it. I loved the show, and each week looked forward to it with building anticipation. I look forward to watching season 2 and I hope you’ll all be watching it with me. Well, not actually with me here, that could weird. You know what? Come on over, anything for my space bros. Special thanks to Underwater Subs for providing quality translation all season. See you all for Season 2 of Knights of Sidonia!
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.
When I saw that it was a 3D attempt I wanted to drop the series. I continued watching because of the environment and plot staging. It was interesting. I thought it might be a lame attempt at 3D, not even coming close to the Final Fantasy 3D movies. Surpisingly it was not bad. Some of the things early on that caught my attention was some of the grotesque visuals. There was also an interesting story behind it. The history of the world that was presented was extremely interesting. One problem was that the anime was too short to cover enough of the past to satisfy me. There was so much more to cover and not enough time to do it. Then I was worried that this was going to be an anime where all of the action presented was denounced because the point of the anime was pacifism or "communication" with the aliens. Luckily the story did not betray itself. This anime ended up have a very solid amount of action, good character building and a uniqe animation style which made for a nice overall effect. Now granted, there were many flaws in the anime and that is why I give it an 8. Being only 12 episodes is part of it. It was not a bad anime though and Im glad I got around to watching it. Story: 9, for such a short time the story was not bad at all. This anime was too short to give it more then a 9 though. Animation: 8, the 3D was strange at first but kinda cool later on. It gave a great feeling of disgust when they showed the aliens and the whips they used to attack with. Sound: 7, didnt really feel it was special, but it was ok Characters: 7, maybe this is a 7 because (again) the anime was too short. Too many characters seemed to much alike. Overall: 8.5, it was an ok anime. Wasnt the best Ive seen but was way better then my first impression of it.
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