Sidonia no Kishi has always been one of the most underrated anime series ever in my mind. Actually I'm genuinely confused as to why it isn't higher rated than it is because I swear I almost never see anyone say anything negative about it. It's an anime which is not afraid to kill off characters, has a storyline on an epic scale, excellent usage of battle CGI and probably the best sound directing I have ever heard. Overall it's an incredibly joyride from start to finish and I really wish more people would give it a shot.
--Story & Characters--
Continuing from where the first season left
off, we once again delve into Sidonia's epic struggle for survival against the ever so frightening and mysterious Gauna. The theme and overall plot progression is generally just more of the same as the first season, but there are some differences.
For one, we have a new main character in the form of Shiraui Tsumugi, a human/Gauna hybrid called a Chimaera who joins Sidonia's side as their new trump card. She's basically a child put inside an infinitely powerful body, and the interaction between her and the other characters is very interesting to watch. Most of the people of Sidonia are afraid of her and fears that she'll turn on them, whereas Nagate and Izana try their best to make friends with her and teach her about the world.
The scale is also ramped up even more. Some of the battles of this anime, be it in space or inside a planet's atmosphere are simply epic. The guns and mechs are bigger but so are the Gauna. You can really feel the power behind every strike and just how dangerous everything truly is. As a result, Sidonia no Kishi provides the viewer with an incredible sense of urgency and sometimes also makes you feel like you're actually there yourself. There is also a lot more going on behind the scenes in this season as the Gauna have successfully infiltrated Sidonia in secrecy and are causing all sorts of havoc on the inside while the fighting is going on outside.
In contrast though, there are also a lot more slice of life-esque elements in this season in-between its momentary peaks of hyperactivity. This is partially because of the addition of Tsumugi of course since quite a lot of the time is spent on her character development, but also this season has a lot more romantic progression between Nagate and Izana. There are even some stereotypical romcom clichés used a few times over the course of the anime (just a little bit though) which arguably felt somewhat out of place but I didn't particularly mind too much.
--Animation & Sound--
Like I said before, I almost never see anyone say anything negative about Sidonia, but if there is one complaint I do in fact see every so often, it's about the CGI. Case in point, Sidonia's animation uses lots and lots of CGI. That much is a fact. Many people don't like this at all, and in fact I generally don't like CGI either but in this particular case... I don't really mind at all. First of all, the CGI is *way* better in this season than in the first one, and it honestly feels like it just keeps getting better and better the longer the season goes on. And in terms of the fight scenes, it looks simply amazing. Truly. It just feels like it fits the tone of the series like a glove.
And then... there's the audio. Oh boy...
I'm not even sure how to best put this, but I want to give sound director Iwanami Yoshikazu some sort of award for his contribution to this anime. Simply put, Sidonia's second season has without a doubt the absolute best sound directing I have ever heard in my anime career. It sounds *amazing*. I have gone back and rewatched certain scenes from this anime for the sole reason of listening to some of the battles' sound effects one more time. I have *never* done that before for any other show. Every punch, every blast, every crash into a solid object makes me feel like I'm having an eargasm. The amount of intensity and just pure power is enough to give you goosebumps. Ironic given that space is supposed be the one location where sound doesn't exist to begin with, but let's ignore that part.
And as the cherry on top, believe it or not but the soundtrack itself is just as epic. The opening theme alone is by far the best OP of 2015 thus far in my opinion, but also the usage of music throughout the anime is close to perfect. When the show wants to appear creepy, then the music is incredibly creepy. When the show wants to appear epic, then the music is incredibly epic. It always compliments the atmosphere of the visuals more or less perfectly, and thus it enriches the overall impression and experience tremendously. The timing of the music is also spot on, and as a result it makes every scene transition feel so much more intense, energizing and dramatic.
--Enjoyment & Overall--
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki is without a doubt one of the best anime of the year thus far, and one I find almost impossible to dislike unless you have some serious issues with the excessive CGI usage. I find it very reminiscent of Shingeki no Kyojin except that it's sci-fi instead of fantasy, which only makes it even stranger to me that so few people have tried watching Sidonia given how popular Shingeki no Kyojin is. Anyway, the point is that Sidonia is one of the most captivating and just plain impressive series I've seen in a long time and I have almost nothing negative to say about it at all. Yes, the pacing is a bit uneven and yes, the CGI will turn off a lot of people but other than that... it's truly an excellent anime from start to finish. Especially episode 11 is probably the best episode of the year thus far.
Sidonia is a true space opera with an epic scale and outstanding directing. It draws you in, captivates you and never ceases to impress you with what it can do. The only problem is that now we have to impatiently roll our thumbs while we're waiting for the fateful day when season three finally comes around...
It's truly perplexing to see how often anime enthusiasts overlook Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia). It's a show with a tried-and-true formula for mainstream success. With a dense bishounen protagonist that catches the fancy of all the female characters, a premise that warrants lots of over-the-top carnage and narrative twists, a simple setup that requires very little qualifiers to buy into, and even less thought process to grasp; it's easy to watch, easy to merchandise, and made for mass consumption. But for reasons beyond comprehension, it's only viewed by a few stragglers that come upon it by happenstance, with the only reasoning I could
surmise behind its dismissal being the visual output itself. But even then, that's also taking into consideration many other titles of equal or lower audiovisual effort still managing to sustain a sizable viewership.
While I'm not inquiring into this audience disconnect as a reason to rush out to view this series, since I can't justify most of its content as anything noteworthy, I still do think that it registers high on the pulpy side of "turn your brain off" entertainment for those with a mild interest in checking it out. Well, that would have been my response had we been discussing the first season, as for this follow-up installment, there are a few shortcomings that it falls victim to that lessens its viewing experience. Where the first season played up the suspense of imposing figures lurking out in the vast vacuum of space, season two temporarily abandons that, and for what you may ask? Well, a gender-fluid harem... IN SPACE!
Picking up from where we left off, we follow our pussy-magnet Tanikaze as he continues the uphill battle against the threatening amalgamation of creatures known as the Gauna. And when he isn't fighting for the future survival of mankind, Tanikaze is winning women over with his autistic boyish charms. Thankfully, there's more going on this season than just that, as we're introduced to a new character that disrupts the status quo of Sidonia's community. The character in question is a chimera named Tsumugi; a Gauna/human hybrid made for the sole purpose of aiding humanity in the fight against the Gauna threat.
Similar in appearance and anatomy to the malevolent Red Gauna of last season, what separates Tsumugi from that anomaly (or any other Gauna previously introduced) is her humanistic tendencies. Having the behavioral pattern and intellect of a prepubescent teen and a sense of empathy equal to that of a human, she's essentially a girl stuck in a Gauna's body. Half of the intrigue of this season comes from the implications of including a species that, up until this point, were humanity's greatest threat towards continuous survival. A not-so-ironic twist on the matter that's immediately shown when the onboard crew is introduced to her, responding with abject horror at the partnership proposal announced by their superiors. Unfortunately, the ramifications of such a dynamic team-up were quickly glossed over. And as you've probably guessed by now, this was where the gender-fluid harem came into play.
This is perhaps the show's biggest downfall. Instead of the promised "Battle for Planet Nine" that the namesake alluded to, no such thing ever happens. What we got in its place was rom-com shenanigans and a small-scale skirmish towards the latter half of the season. No "battle," no epic full-on assault, just a damsel in distress mission and an excuse for Tanikaze to build up his harem. While there were a few cliffhanger moments and general "spookiness" revolving around the Gauna threat, the meat of this season ended up being unneeded slice-of-life pulp. A majority of the episodes were dedicated to introducing new future concubines-to-be that fawned over our lead, even when he exudes the behavioral shortcomings of a socially inept beta-male. This would be fine if it had led to something, but that never happens. It just became a series of cock-tease vignettes, all the while placing the actual Gauna intrigue as a mere backdrop.
Thankfully, the last handful of episodes brought the focus back to the core conflict. We may not have gotten the promised "Battle for Planet Nine," but at very least, the focus shifted away from the harem that hijacked the show up to this point. It was still an enjoyable viewing experience, but nothing ever quite hit the same "edge-of-your-seat" moments found in the first installment.
For anyone that followed this past season one, the mixture of CGI and cell-shaded animation shouldn't need much elaboration. At this point, it's become the trademark style that Sidonia is known for. For the most part, the animation output was relatively the same, although it should be noted that the frame-rate for the character movements themselves were improved upon. It didn't stop the uncanny valley effect from being any less distracting, but it certainly made the viewing experience far more palatable than what was previously offered. It's still not on par with any other series, but for the show's in-house standards, it was a step up.
Where Sidonia truly shines is with the CGI fights themselves. By not being bound to the limitations usually presented with 2D animation, the CGI artists were given the liberty to play with the character and mechanical models with far fewer restrictions. Since these battles are carried out by mechs and the Gauna creatures—two things with very otherworldly appearances—the computer-generated imagery complemented the fight sequences. There was weight behind every fight. A sense of tangibility that 2D animation often has difficulty emulating.
As previously mentioned, all the character suffered from uncanny valley, so naturally, they were far from appealing-looking. Just a bunch of creepy mannequins dressed up as "people." Coincidentally, this very issue ended up working out particularly well towards the Gauna's benefit. Being rendered entirely in CGI meant that the creators could make them as grotesque as possible. With a flaky yet malleable cartilage-like substance being used as their exoskeleton, these ungodly monsters had a dilapidated look about them that the likes of H.P. Lovecraft would take delight in. It's not that often that we get monsters with such fantastic screen presence. They're definitely some of the best that the 2010s has to offer.
Another area where Sidonia strutted its stuff was in the sound department, more specifically, the sound effects.
Everything, from the haunting choir wails of the background vocals to rumbling gargle of the rocket-thrusters, had volume behind it. Whether it was the deafening roar of explosions on impact, or the granular screech of laser weaponry cutting through metal and monster flesh alike; every sound in this anime was amplified, bringing the environment to life and placing you in the middle of the action. Whatever shortcomings the show may have had visually, it more than compensated in the audio department.
And like last season, the voice actors all turned in a suitable performance, with the biggest standout this time around being Aya Suzaki's voice acting work for Tsumugi, as she added a certain bubbly-childlike charm to the role. Her interaction with the other characters also meshed quite well despite being new to the ensemble.
And speaking of the characters, the second season carries over the same problems that plagued show from day 1.
There's only truly one character in the entire lineup, and that's Tanikaze. Everyone else is just reactionary NPCs. For any female character in the support role, that means being treated as mere love-interest variants awaiting the moment that our innocent Gary Stu woos them over. The only real difference in the lineup is the addition of the chimera, Tsumugi, but even she is reduced to being another love-drunk female infatuated with our protagonist. You read that right, even the Gauna/human hybrid want some of dat Tanikaze D!
Tanikaze's harem game is strong as fuck! If Kirito is the king of harems, then Tanikaze is the undisputed God! Nothing with a vagina can resist his awkward autistic charms. From chimeras to full-fledged Gaunas, if it's sentient, the urge to drop their coochie on him is too strong to withstand. He even made asexual people change their gender to female just for a chance to be with him. He's HaremGOD-sama, and he's coming fo yo bitch!
But despite potential love-interests crawling out the woodwork to greet HaremGOD-sama at every turn, the creators at least had the common decency to keep its focus on that of the appointed centerfold Izuna and her growing relationship with our primary lead. Of course, there wasn't any actual advancement between the two, but choosing to hone in on the initial sparks that started in season one at least showed that the creators understood that its audience had an invested interest in where their relationship status was heading next. And who knows, maybe with a third season, this too will come to fruition. Not that I'm holding my breath for that to happen. This show's character handling is far from anything I would even deem "riveting." But that's neither here nor there and what we got was one Gary Stu surrounded by a stockpiled harem brochure dressed up as "characters."
With a healthy dose of violence, harem misadventures, and occasional monster encounters, season two never had a dull moment, if only falling victim to multiple brain-cell reducing plotting along the way.
While not up to snuff with the first installment, season two of Sidonia still had its moments of effectiveness. It may not have been as consistent or nail-biting as anything season one had to offer but it's still a nice attachment to the franchise and one I recommend to those that were followers of the first.
Finally, the second season becomes available on Netflix as of July 3rd, and honestly I just plowed through all 12 episodes like a junkie with a drug addiction.
Picking up where the last season ended it seemed to focus more on Nagate's personal life and his personal Heram, which brings up something I consider to be a flaw. For me, to have the full female cast fall for Nagate pulls away from the series plot, which is a shame since we only get 12 episodes with the possibility of not getting another season. We get it, he's a bad ass. 7/10
a major strong suit for the series, as it is very beautiful to look at. It may confuse some and it seems like the CGI is alienating and unattractive. Ignore this! It is done this way for a reason, and flows perfectly. The battle scenes was art by itself, and I was on the edge of my seat trying to take in as much as possible. 9/10
Wow. This should be the standard for all anime! Everything sounded realistic, explosions, metal on metal contact, footsteps(Occasionally had to look over my shoulder to see if someone was there haha), etc.. 10/10
We need more anime like this! I've made it a habit to not binge watch a series as I want to get every ounce of enjoyment, but with this anime I had no self control. Each episode ended with a cliff hanger almost forcing you to the watch episode after episode. Was it perfect? No, but its flaws were apart of the show and was thoroughly enjoyable and addicting. 9/10
This series is entirely underrated, even I am guilty of thinking it was MEH(My Eyes Hurt) and dropped it after the first couple episodes when it came out last year. This was a mistake, and I'm glad I gave it a second chance it deserved.
Note: This is a SEQUEL and will include spoilers for the first season.
The story takes place shortly after the ending of the first season. The Hoshiijiro ena has been "moved" and early on a lot of backalley type set up goes around to make the viewer question the motives of certain characters. Besides all this the other main focal point of the story is a big one, and quite literally at that since it's the hybrid, Tsumugi.
By itself the story is not anything special, but it has set itself up to have some pretty stunning resolutions and encounters down the road. Watching
the internal conflicts unfold within the show is almost as interesting as watching the huge space battles. The show does a really good job at keeping you surprised. It does also telegraph some short term things like a part where Nagate is fighting a group of Guana and he runs out of ammo and you just know what's going to happen, but it doesn't make it happening any less awesome.
Most of the main cast has not changed much from the first season and maintain their stock personalities. Tsumugi is obvious addition and is essentially a little girl with the body of a super monster. Her actions are clearly driven by her instinct to protect those around her and because of her curiosity. The show goes out of its way to really paint a full picture about Tsumugi and it does a good job, although at the expensive of the other characters.
Again the majority of the cast does not change much, this includes Nagate, who is still "the good guy" and Kunato who is still "The Schemer". However, this does not mean what they do is not entertaining. Kunato, who I found to be a glaring issue in the first season has brought a lot of intrigue to the second.
One of the real draws of the show are the battles. They are massive. It's rare for an anime to do something and make me think "wow, that's cool." The animation and art work during these sequences measures up to some of the best there is. However, some of the issues with the CG from the last season remains, especially awkward sluggish movement that makes no sense at all. It makes it very difficult to suspend your disbelief when there is sometimes sudden shifts in animation quality almost instantaneously.
There is a good balance between the tense action scenes and the more simply relaxing parts. I'm glad it didn't try to really be melodramatic about things and it tends to resolve smaller issues that arise within an episode quickly, while using them to build the major plot points they established for a better climax.
Speaking of those relaxing scenes. There is probably debate over whether those comedy segments with Tsumugi and friends really belong in a show like this where they are in constant danger of being wiped out and are humanities last hope and all that. However, I say that these segments are where most of your character development and the viewers connection to said characters happens. Again not like there is a lot of development in the first place, but it's those simple parts that make characters real.
The sound production and direction is the best I've ever heard in an anime and I can say this without a doubt in my mind. All the sound effects are crisp and not only fit what they represent but also the mood the scene is portraying as well. The music is also stellar as it fits whatever scale the show is currently running at. I know I often tout that good sound is sound you don't notice (because that means nothing is wrong with it), but great sound is sound you remember. You remember this.
Knights of Sidonia S2 is a huge surprise for me especially after what I considered a middling first season. However, the production value, overall chemistry of the cast, and just plain enjoyability has skyrocketed. This is clearly worth the cost of admission (seeing the first season) to get the full impact.
It was just announced that your favourite manga, be it Ajin or Berserk, is getting animated! There's one catch: it's going to be CG. But don't worry, we're here to help you feel better about this traumatic news and guide you through the steps to recovery and acceptance.