As I mentioned in my First Impression post, Knights of Sidonia is an anime that showed a lot of promise with it’s concept, plot and production. While the show’s animation wasn’t what I hoped for, I thought that it would just take some getting use to.
Now having finished the series I’ve found that it’s better than I first thought.
Knights of Sidonia is an anime series written by Sadayuki Maurai and directed by Kobun Shizuno. The series is based upon an ongoing manga series of the same name by Tsutomu Nihei.
The series follows Nagate Tanikaze (Tyota Osaka/Johnny Yong Bosch), a former underworlder that lived deep in the ruins of the ship Sidonia. He finds his way in the military at the request of their leader Captain Kobayashi (Sayaka Ohara/Wendee Lee).
While Nagate spent much of his time underground with his grandfather, he was practicing combat in his own mysterious simulator. Long after his grandfather died, Nagate continued to hone his skills in piloting a mechs called guardians.
Now a military cadet, Nagate is introduced to several other pilots; the quite third sexed Izana Shinatose (Aki Toyosaki/Joie Marlowe), the brash star student Norio Kunato (Takahiro Sakurai/Todd Haberkorn), the friendly Shizuka Hoshijiro (Aya Suzaki/Stephanie Sheh), the younger yet more strategic Yuhata Midorikawa (Hisako Kanemoto/Lindsay Torrance) and the many Honoka sisters (Eri Kitamura/Cristina Valenzuela).
Despite not having any experience piloting the current model simulators, Captain Kobayashi allows Nagate to use an older Guardian, the Tsugumori, a mech once used by the legendary Knight of Sidonia.
While out on his first mission, his team is attacked by a Gauna, a giant alien creature that destroyed earth and nearly killed all of mankind. Soon after an all-new war starts between the two sides, and Nagate finds himself on the battlefield more and more.
On the technical side, Knights of Sidonia is a bit strange. While most anime, are 2D drawn animation enhanced with the use of computer rendering, this title is completely done with the use of 3D computer generated graphics. The production studio Polygon Pictures had made a name for themselves through the production of Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series and feature film and this is their first project not attached to a major franchise. Despite my thoughts before hand, the style works quite well for the show.
While the majority of the characters movements don’t feel fluid, the style works best during the shows action scenes.
When the show is focusing on the characters their movements seem, at times, choppy or like their lagging or missing frames. However, these moments are few and far between and the style allows the creators to get creative with the show.
Series director Shizuno creates some interesting camera angles and actions scenes. Most notably near the end of the series the action is intense and fast, creating some large scale battles and dog fights.
Character design wise the show isn’t as strong, with all of the characters looking similar to one another. That being said the could be forgiven due to the many themes of the show. More on that later.
Past the animation, the music of Sidonia is solid as well. Composer Noriyuki Asakura might be more known for his work on the Tenchu franchise but he ends up putting up a competent score this time round featuring plenty of strings and traditional instruments.
The opening theme, Sidonia performed by Angela, is also strong featuring a meshing of both a traditional orchestral and choir workings with modern electronic sounds and beats. Couple that with some pretty catchy parts and the song matches the tone of the show.
What’s truly impressive about this show is the overall quality of the English voice cast. This is the first time that Netflix has ever tried to do something like this, and their first effort is good.
The English script was handled by Robert Buchholz, who’s worked on translating a number of other popular titles such as Digimon and Rave Master. Cast wise, the show features the voices of long time anime actors such as Stephanie Sheh (Eureka, Naruto), Spike Spencer (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Wendee Lee (Cowboy Bebop, Haruhi Suzumiya) and even casting Josh Yong Bosch (Power Rangers, Trigun) in the lead.
All of this is solid, which really helps when a title like this is so strong plot and setting wise.
The world of Knights of Sidonia takes place hundreds of years in the future where everything from the way human’s breed, eat and grow are different due to the use of genetic engineering. Humans are cloned and after so many years and so few original-cloning subjects most people look the same.
The engineering also allows for some interesting developments in gender as one of the main characters (Izana Shinatose) is a third sex, neither man nor woman, that can change depending on their partner.
These changes make Sidonia one of the more interesting titles in recent memory. The world is so deep that any problems you might have with the animation are quickly forgotten due to interest in the plot. Each episode seems to build towards something and while we don’t get a lot of answers, the show is strong that’ll you’ll have a hard time waiting for the next season that starts up in Japan later this year.
The plot, animation and production are strong, but Knights of Sidonia isn’t free of problems. While I mentioned issues with the animation earlier in the review, the show’s biggest issue is tone.
I noted in my First Impression post that the first episode featured some oddly placed comedy, and this continues throughout the series. Sure all shows need some brevity it break up the doom and gloom, but the goofy nature of Nagate makes him look stupid at times.
While Nagate can kill the aliens with efficiency he’s beaten up on several times in comedic settings, such as the girls changing room. The rest of the show is so deadly serous that these bits just feel out of place.
Additionally the inclusion of Lala Hiyama, a dorm mother who appears to be a bear, brings up more questions. While I understand that her back-story is brought up later, her odd appearance isn’t brought up once by anyone. You’d think it would come up in casual conversation from time to time.
Despite the changing tone, Knights of Sidonia is great title. It’s fast paced, well plotted and leaves the audience wanting more. Netflix picked the right horse to enter into the anime race with. Here’s hoping there this good in the future.
Knights of Sidonia is licensed by Netflix and is available in all of their regions.