by K. Hopson
Knights of Sidonia is like Attack on Titan, except in space. Or at least that’s the impression it left on me. And because of that similarity, I’m a fan. It’s also the first anime series that Netflix has licensed as an original series, so that’s something to talk about.
In the span of just 12 episodes, the series manages to get you semi-attached to a handful of characters and then kill them all off brutally and with lots of flailing dramatics. I LOVE THAT STUFF. Here’s the premise:
1000 years in the future, Guana, a tumor-like alien race, has destroyed the entire solar system, decimating the human population and leaving the remainder to live a fringe existence in seed ships, floating settlements that drift through space. Sidonia is one of these ships and has not been in contact with another ship for years. Little is known about what the Guana are and why they attack, but the creatures can be destroyed using a special spear called a Kabizashi. To prevent future ravages from the alien aggressors, young people are trained from an early age to pilot mechas that can wield the spear and kill the creatures. Even with their training, the survival rates are dismal.
In the midst of this environment, Nagate Tanikaze, a young boy, is forced out of his hiding place in the core of the ship by a shortage of food and the death of his grandfather. Nagate is quickly assimilated into this society and grows to become a skilled garde pilot. He is instrumental in saving Sidonia several times. Unbeknownst to most of the ship’s inhabitants, Nagate has spent his years under the surface training on old mecha simulator. But why, and where did he come from exactly?
There’s way more to the story than that, of course. But you see the similarity, don’t you? Human life dwindling, what’s left sequestered into a protected community, people sent out to kill and learn more about the aggressors, but most of them end up getting killed? Although Nagate is a little too generic to bear any real similarity to the passionate-to-a-fault Eren. But anyway.
My initial problem with this series had everything to do with the animation style. Nearly everything is monochromatic, and almost everyone looks alike. There is very little facial definition. I’m sure that was intended since cloning is a thing in this series, but it makes it very hard to keep up with the characters. In the same token, the 3D CG also helped create realistic robotic movements, amazing space fields, and extremely detailed sparks and explosions.
I enjoyed learning more about how the characters lived on the ship almost more than I enjoyed following the central plot line. In this series, humans have adapted to photosynthesize and only need to eat once a week. (COOL!!!!) And there’s an unexplained bear character who apparently had a major part in the establishment of Sidonia. (Weird…)
There is also a third sex, which is capable of becoming either male or female whenever they feel decide what they want to be. In one part of the series, the ship is forced to make an emergency turn and we get to see what those belt clips the characters wear are for…I won’t spoil it too much. I’ll just say I laughed evilly.
ATTENTION: LIGHT SPOILERS IN THIS NEXT SECTION. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS.
The interaction between Nagate and the Guana sample he captured was also riveting, probably one of the best plot points for me. The sample eventually takes on the appearance of his recently-deceased love interest, going so far as to make outfits to impress him and learning to speak. At the end of the series we find out that the thing has even learned to write by itself. Honestly, that was a little much for me. If a monster sample started speaking and writing to me without anyone teaching it, I would probably kill it quickly.
There were a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the series, and some stuff I could stand to review because I’m really bad at keeping up with information in mecha anime. Thankfully, a second season has already gotten the green light and is expected to air in 2015. I’m hoping we’ll get to learn more about life before the attacks, the origins of the Guana, and more about their connection with the Kabizashi. I’ll probably re-watch this whole thing to make sure I absorbed all the pivotal info sometime before the new series.