Sci-fi may be one of my favorite genres not only in anime but in some general media as well but time to time in anime, the sci-fi or better yet, the sci-fi mecha genre has not made any acceptable content as of lately and it ranges from suffering from being too edgy in its execution or lacking any graceful execution in its ideas, no matter how original it may have been.
The anime title for today has been described as Attack on Titan in space although the manga for this existed long before AoT. Not to mention the title sounds similar to a Muse song. (Yeah, this is Knights of Sidonia, not Cydonia.)
It’s been a thousand years since the Gauna, a strange alien race with no known method of communication, destroyed the solar system. A portion of humanity managed to escape using enormous “seed ships” like the Sidonia, which have allowed them to maintain the population while drifting through space. Nagate Tanikaze is a young man who has been raised deep in the bowels of the ship. When he goes into training to pilot the huge robotic weapons known as Gardes, Nagate is entrusted with piloting the legendary unit known as Tsugumori. Nagate and his fellow pilots put their lives on the line against the Gauna, in the ultimate battle for the survival of humanity.
Looking back at this show, to say this is Attack on Titan in space is a bit much as some of the tropes like the threat of a large monster, humanity at stake, weapons and military exist in other anime as well and this is very much standard mecha show fare and yet this was actually one of the better mecha anime I’ve seen in a while. For one thing, it doesn’t take its emphasis away from the main plot and while it has some subplots, it stayed as minimal as possible or make it some way to connect to the main plot. Not to mention doing that keeps the pace from being slow and monotonous and since that’s 12 episodes, it needed to be fast-paced or go little on the filler.
While there are some character deaths, some of them happened to characters that the show never showcase that much until when they die (at least for one character in episode 2) but there were one or two characters’ deaths that actually meant something as the show progresses. I will say this like any other show……don’t get too attached to characters you like.
The main character Nagate Tanikaze is that one character who has the skills to take on these creatures although he does make it seem like they was some effort in there so he’s not that overpowered as a character and he does get some death and exploration. His friends (or potential love interests) Izana Shinatose, Shizuka Hoshijiro and Yuhata Midorikawa was in danger of that cliché anime harem of girls that have a crush on Nagate although it does help that one of them doesn’t have a specific gender and that aspect isn’t tact-on or forced so that gets a pass. As for the other characters, you have some basic character archetypes like Kunato, who’s basically the ‘villain’ that gets in a fit when he’s not on top and the Honoka series, aka 11 identical pink-haired sisters that are different personalities as they go. Did I mention there’s a talking bear in there, too? Don’t worry, it made sense.
Polygon Pictures has been experienced with making CGI watchable as they are responsible for U.S. shows like Transformers Prime, Tron: Uprising, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and assisting in movies like Oblivion Island and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and I know the first thing people are going to say about the animation that it looks blocky and too much like a Playstation 2 (or 3) video game but actually, it doesn’t. The CG actually blends well with the rest of the animation in further episodes. It does take time getting used to the effects but the mecha fights and Gauna attacks are the highlights of their work.
Music is really not too much of a highpoint as it goes with the usual orchestral sounds of danger and doom and doesn’t really effect much on the show. The opening theme by Angela was a good starter for every episode and plays of a cinematic soap-opera-like experience but the ending theme felt like it should’ve been in another anime because the metal thrash music does not go well with this show at all.
Oh and here’s another first of an anime. This is the first anime title to debut on Netflix but not as a simulcast as Netflix’s model is more towards binge-watching and of course, there is an English dub and for the part being, it was well-acted even though it did sound like a dub done in the 90s but that doesn’t hold against the series as there is some great performances coming from a mix of well-known veteran VAs like Johnny Yong Bosch, Wendee Lee, Spike Spencer, Cindy Robinson and up-and-coming VAs like Todd Haberkorn, Cristina Vee and Erin Fitzgerald.
FINAL VERDICT: Truth is, while there wasn’t much good picks of mecha anime in 2014 (blame Aldnoah.Zero, Argevollen and Buddy Complex for that and you know what, Valvrave gets some blame too.), this was actually a good show that didn’t have to do much to impress as all it had to do is tell a story, make some interesting characters and situations without going too long or overly dramatic in either plots. This may not be the greatest mecha series ever but it is a damn good show that goes what it needed to be.
So, all that said, Knights of Sidonia fights their way onto a…..
8.5/10 – Low FIRST CLASS
KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA is available on DVD and Blu-ray via Sentai Filmworks. The series is still streaming on Netflix as of this date. A second season subtitled BATTLE FOR PLANET NINE is currently on air in Japan and coming soon on Netflix as well.
And as usual, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.
KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA – animated by POLYGON PICTURES / distributed by SENTAI FILMWORKS (home video release) & NETFLIX (streaming rights)