*This review is for both seasons of KoS*
One of my 'Fast Food Anime'. An anime series watched not because of particular quality or merit, but simply because it's easily consumable. Shows like 'Akira', 'Neon Genesis Evangelion', or 'Perfect Blue' may be far superior, but you do need to be in a particular state of mind to enjoy them properly. 'Knights of Sidonia' fills that niche for when you just want to veg out and enjoy an anime without having to put much mental effort forward. If something like 'Evangelion' is a fine meal at a top Italian restaurant, 'Sidonia' is a drive-through Big Mac (but sometimes you just want a Big Mac anyway).
Pretty bare bones here, 'Battlestar Galactica' crossed with 'Attack on Titan' is probably the easiest way to describe it. There are hints of deeper conspiracies and unseen forces at work that could complicate things, but those elements only pop up too sporadically to truly drive the plot. You're signing up for a bunch of cool battles as mecha slug it out with aliens, the rest is just fill time or set up the next fight. The set-up is basic: we have a teenage male protagonist who's a crazy good pilot, gets to fly a special mecha, and is tossed into a full-scale war for survival on short notice- hardly something we haven't seen before. The second season suffers from a badly sagging middle as 'Sidonia' spends time frittering around in fan-service and slice of life and a small harem- as if the next logical season end point was too far away to fit into 12 episodes so they just decided to strech the current arc out. It isn't a good thing when a story that depends on spectacular events forgets it needs to show spectacular events.
I don't hate CGI simply for existing, it's a tool and like any tool it can be used well or poorly. Studios like PIXAR and Dreamworks have delivered top-quality works in CGI, but the catch is that those studios are devoting huge budgets, large staffs, and years of development time to 90-minute to 2-hour films. TV anime means developing several times the content on a much shorter production cycle and with less money. All that to say, the animation here is far from impressive. The human characters move and emote like puppets- and frankly that's probably an insult to some elite puppeteers out there. The aesthetic is pretty standard 'Used Future Sci-Fi', with nothing to make it stand out. The only real standout point is where CGI does its best work: machines in motion. The mecha battles are cool, fast-moving, and fluid. Otherwise, the all-CGI animation is a miss.
The best area of the anime. I LOVE the two techno openings, and the sound effects used during combat are very good. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Johnny Yong Bosh's voice, for some reason it's always rubbed me the wrong way, though I can't chalk that up to much more than personal preference. The English dub is passable. I feel I can't be too critical of the voice actors because the dialogue is so basic, there's only so much you can expect people to be able to do with lines and characters like this.
Swing and a miss. Predictable and bland. They're serviceable for a story centered on action and special effects, but when the plot slows down and they have to carry the show themselves, the generic writing becomes all too obvious. Tanikaze is a textbook example of the a bland protagonist, but at least he does an OK job as a fish out of water so that all the infodump explanations everyone gives him are bearable. Then you have the Captain, who could be cool if she got enough screen time to make her mysterious actions seem like part of a master plan and not random plot contrivances. The White-Haired-Pretty-Boy is already in a hole from the start, given that he's an archetype I've never been particularly fond of, and despite supposedly also having a master plan he just sort of fades into and out of the story. The rest of the cast is largely female, and before long you'll realize they're just filling slots in the harem. So the cast is largely a dud.
I gave 'Knights Of Sidonia" a pretty good thrashing here, but I can't bring myself to dislike it. The enjoyment factor was still fairly high for me. That doesn't change what I think about this show from a critical standpoint, but I will tack on an addendum saying when I watch "KoS" I'm not approaching it from a critical standpoint. I try not to think too hard about the individual components of a Big Mac, I just sit back and enjoy it when other foods are too much effort to get. Same for 'Knights of Sidonia'.
This review is for the second season only. I have already reviewed season one HERE.
Synopsis: The scientist Ochiai is up to something. Whether or not it’s good or bad is somewhat ambiguous. He’s definitely obsessed with creating a human/Gauna hybrid, one of his old projects that he never was able to complete before, and there’s no time like the present. The Gauna are headed for the Lem star system, where a human colony will surely be destroyed if they aren’t stopped. Captain Kobiyashi is dead set on exterminating the Gauna, unfortunately, nobody is quite sure how they will accomplish such a feat. Never the less, she has set Sidonia on an intercept course. And don’t count the Crimson Hawk Moth out, cause she’s back and still obsessed with Tanikaze. But whether or not she wants to kill him or kiss him is a little unclear.
Animation: 9.0 Nothing new to report. It looks exactly like season one. All 3D CGI, a little bland in the pallet, but overall still very good. One good point is in character and mecha design. The new character, the Hybrid Tsumugi, is an absolutely fantastic and original design. Basically an unbelievably long worm, she can snake her way all around Sidonia through tunnels and pipes in the walls, one end of her must always be attached to her main body which must stay in a hangar sized room. Tsumugi’s mecha-like body is as large as the garde units and has a humanoid form which is refreshingly organic and feminine, which is nice in an environment where everything is mechanical and uniform.
Sound: 7.5 Same voices, of course, and the music is similar but different. I am knocking off a half point from my season one review because the opening credit song is nowhere near as good as that from the first season. It left me wondering, “Where is that fantastic march from the last season?” I have to admit; it was used to grand effect. It does reappear, in the final episode of the series, just at the climax of the episode and adds an epic feel to the scene.
Story: 7.5 I am giving the story a two and a half point upgrade from last season. I complained a lot last season that characters were killed off too quickly, and even the ones that lived were never developed. Not so here. The death rate for characters is way down, they live longer, and we get to really see them interact and share their motivations and back stories. Season two is everything that season one lacked. Well done! Not only that, but this season is far more original, departing from the cliché origins of the first season. Unfortunately, we still get no explanation for Lala, the robotic bear who serves as a cook and was apparently a fully human pilot back in the day. Seriously, why are we ignoring the obvious elephant (bear?) in the room?
Characters: 8 Yet another upgrade here, almost entirely due to the hybrid Tsumugi. However, I must factor in that the pre-existing characters were also made far more interesting than they were in the first season, but the introduction of Tsumugi eclipses them to some extent. Tsumugi is one of the most alien characters I have seen in any science fiction, although the criticisms that she looks a bit phalic are justified. She has a distinctly alien form, the design of which is very original. She is likeable and believable, and engenders an emotional attachment which only enhances the story. Kunato, who was a self-centered egotist in the first season, practically two dimensional, is now a highly mysterious character, with a hidden agenda which will keep you interested. Would you trust him, or not? I wouldn’t, but he does often come through in a pinch to help out in some unexpected way.
Overall: 8.0 The second season of Sidonia is a dramatic departure from the first. Sure, the same environment, but a completely different treatment of the story and characters, all of which are upgrades. If my review of the first season turned you off to the series, you may want to re-think that. This makes up for nearly all the flaws of season
Story: Dam just as good as the frist one, mabe a little better, But this what a blast had so much fun seeing it on video it makes me sad sometimes that it is over or at least the 2 season it tell season 3 come hope the Sidonia keeps safe
Animation: Crazy good with this animation/ I mean CG/3D I am just at a lost for words to say great job on it keep up the good work
Sound: Blasted me out of my seat hearing it in 5.1 with Klipsch R-2650-w in wall #2 5.1 Home Theater System-Free PL-200 dddaaaaammmm what a good sound
Characters: Again the cast and the character in the show where top of the line when it came to this show. Just what a great job ever time the mouths moved they where right there to say it
As a continuation from the previous season, you would wonder "oh where can they go from here". This season is the very definition of not only political reform, but also clearly shows us the evolution of combat. For every battle, there is something else completely new, that will certainly raise your eyebrows. In addition to more technology, we get to see the addition of how Gauna research impacts not only combat, but we also get to see the public opinion and politics behind it. Aside from being an action junkie, there are also lighter episodes which cater to those who like the romance aspect. Lastly, we get so see Sidonia as a whole go further down it's ambitious task of re-conquering the galaxy and freeing humanity from the fear of the Gauna. Overall a very great story, on par with attack on titan.
If you've seen the first season, you know that the animation still has room for improvement. The space action looks a lot smoother and clear cut, almost makes the CG better for combat, but the in-person CG, while also smooth, could still be improved. What is really appreciable is that the new weapons, technology, and battle animations look fabulous. Overall it is definitely an improvemnt from last season, and while not the best it can be, it still has a very high potential; here's to a (hopefully) badass looking season 3.
The voice actors certainly did their job right; the lips match very well, and also the sound effects are spectacular. The mech sounds aren't cheesey and give off the feeling that a person, just from hearing the machinery move, can probably guess the weight of said machine. There is also a really big lack of repeating sound effects, which editors love to use to save time, which makes it sound not cheesey. Lastly, the music really makes you feel the emotion and tension of the scenes. The music, in combination with the badass combat sounds, really makes you cold sweat out the whole battle scene.
They went into a lot more character depth than last season. You get to see most of the important characters behind the scenes, learning their hobbies and more about their personalities. But at the same time, it doesn't spoil any of the plot; for instance, the captain still remains as mysterious as ever, which is also part of her character. Plus the jokes during and after combat also show lots of personification.
Season two: Was more exciting then season one, and not a massive death scene like one.... season one was rough... Loved everything in this season, we've got the Gauna in front and something sneaking in the background that gets hinted here and there, but does'nt come out yet. Great continuation from season one. The only thing I'm not to keen on is the Tsumugi character, it's great when she's out blasting Guana and what not, but in the down time she's a tentacle.... thing... you'll see. Here's looking forward to a season three.