Welcome back anime fans and ComicAttackers as the Knights of Sidonia coverage continues! If you read the first installment then you know that I happened upon this while browsing Netflix. After taking in a few episodes I found it to be entertaining despite some issues with certain plot developments. So now we’ll get into the last half of the first season to see how things developed with Nagate Tanikaze and the crew of the Sidonia. Now, there may be minor spoilers in this one, but they will be kept to a minimum.
It may have taken a while, but Knights of Sidonia really does pick up in the second half of the season. Where the first six episodes are about setting up the characters and the plot, the last six are that huge drop from the top of the roller coaster! A drop that goes pretty deep when it comes to the secrets behind Nagate’s origin, as well as how The Immortal Council operates behind the scenes. After a last minute rescue of Nagate and Shizuka by their fellow Garde pilots, we return to Sidonia where the focus is shifted to allow for some more character building. Since getting to know some of the crew was such a task early on in the series, it’s good to see that when fleshed out it’s not such a chore. Nagate is one of the most likeable characters as he’s a bit unsure and awkward during interpersonal relationships, but a bit more assured of himself and determined while piloting his Tsugomori. He deals with the loss of a friend and being blamed for their death while on a combat mission. This is probably the hardest thing for him to deal with other than the Guana themselves. One the most noticeable changes is that of Kunato who is seen as the antagonist to Nagate’s character on board the ship. His failure as team leader has shaken him, and he’s gradually slipping into what seems to be a depressed state. Hopefully he comes out of it, because he was one of the few characters that wasn’t fawning all over Nagate and was a nice change from the rest. My favorite of all of the characters so far is the bear/human hybrid, Lala. She’s very concerned about Nagate and seems to take a special interest in him. Later we find out that she was best friends with his grandfather and sees a lot of him in Nagate.
There is an episode that focuses on Nagate’s grandfather, Hiroki, who is a serious bad ass. This is where we get our first look at the turning point in Sidonia’s history a century ago. Many secrets are revealed here that tie much earlier plot elements together rather nicely. This is refreshing and a bit frustrating when compared to how silly some of the other plot elements have been in the series. From here we also see the dark past of Sidonia, and meet the scientist responsible for its near downfall. As far as the Guana are concerned, we don’t get a lot of information about their motivation, however, just when things get a bit repetitive we’re thrown a curveball! It seems as if a few Gardes that were taken out by Guana were absorbed and partially replicated, making them the deadliest thing in space, and posing a new challenge for our heroes. Command has named them the “Crimson Hawkmoths,” and their inclusion into the story really amps up the space dogfights between the pilots. The other side of this is the psychological aspect, since the most dangerous of them all seems to have replicated a pilot that was dear to many. The hybrid’s chilling voice over the Gardes’ coms makes it difficult for some to respond quickly, and the losses for the Sidonia keep rising due to the skill of this particular Hawkmoth.
By the time the finale rolls around the story seems to have found its stride and moves at a much better pace. What is even more impressive is that Nagate doesn’t get all of the spotlight during the epic battle. It’s reinforced here that he is part of a squad, and there are others who are more than capable of pulling off impressive feats of heroism to save the day. We’re left with a few cliffhangers and more questions when it’s all said and done, but that’s the point of a season finale. All of which makes you want to come back for more when Knights of Sidonia returns for the second season.
There’s a moderate amount of violence here which isn’t overused or on the side of gore just to be flashy. Pilots usually die in a fury of fire and metal, while Guana are destroyed in some of the best non-pyro assisted explosions I’ve seen. A bit of nudity is also present, but again it’s necessary as the inhabitants of Sidonia (except Nagate) gain sustenance by photosynthesizing once a week. Most of it is either partial and tastefully done, while other shots are from far away not trying to emphasize detail.
Knights of Sidonia started off a bit questionable, but soon found its legs and actually impressed me. It has political intrigue, sci-fi action, space combat, and a giant one-handed hybrid talking bear! All of it fits together as the events play out, and even with Lala you soon see her character for what she is, and the fact that she’s a talking bear kind of falls by the wayside. That is until someone makes her mad and the teeth come out. So if you have Netflix and want a new anime to take a chance on, I’d say to give Knights of Sidonia a try. Despite its rough start it ended up being fun for me, and now I have the opening theme song firmly stuck in my head!