Sidonia no Kishi S1 & S2 Review

Sidonia no Kishi Review

Humans and aliens have always had a very detestable relationship in the world of science fiction. Whether it be giant ships firing down death rays from above or little bug eyed tin men kidnapping and probing people, it seems like the aliens have rarely been nice to us.
Produced by Polygon Pictures, Sidonia no Kishi is no exception. When the mysterious Gauna appeared out of nowhere and started wiping out the entire solar system, a few ships were able to escape from their 'tentacles' of death. After several hundred years of running away from these aliens, the ship called Sidonia gets to enjoy a brief century of peace. The story follows Nagate Tanikaze, who was raised in the vast puzzle of pipes from the biothermal reactor deep inside this ship. After running out of supplies, he is forced to defy his grandfather's orders of not going on the surface. And when he finally gets out of that maze, he finds that he is getting special treatment for something. As it turns out he is exceptionally good at killing those giant aliens. And so the journey of "the Chosen One" begins.

In past works of science fiction, aliens have been defeated by a number of ridiculous ways - bacteria, cowboy yodeling, water or even a mac virus or your everyday head&shoulders shampoo. And the idea that they just happen to find the only material capable of killing these beings just lying around in the vast cosmos seems a little far fetched. But the whole mystery surrounding it has been the only thing that has been holding me back from saying "Ha! That's bullshit!" Now, I'm not saying that the story is poorly done. In fact, the author has went to great lengths to make it as much detailed (and plausible) as possible with things like the humans on the ship capable of cloning and photosynthesis, a biothermal reactor to help with the power/water shortage and the actual change in the artificial gravity on the ship whenever they change course. Not only that, the plot is very interesting and had me clicking next as I marathon'd the whole series. But the presence of some rather illogical elements hinder me from giving this an excellent score. The story is not too convoluted for anyone to get mixed in as they pretty much spoon feed you most of the info on how they ended up in a situation. Things like other characters explaining what the main character is doing in battle to let the audience know what's going on are also helpful. Though that does not act favourably for the show as it severely damages the character's development by taking up screen time. Still, the anime manages to keep you hooked on the story thanks to its rather brilliant execution when it comes to the mechas and the fighting.

Hoshijiro's gauna placenta

Because there are mechas involved, Sidonia no Kishi is a rather action heavy series. And these mecha fights are the best thing about this anime (Season two really takes things to another level.) Especially how they execute their battle plans in the group missions by going in with formations. (the symmetry really helps calm down my OCD, haha) I was glad that it wasn't just mechas flying in hyperspace randomly shooting things, instead they actually went in with a strategy every single time. (though sometimes they didn't work, of course) Also, besides the main character, everyone else does not seem to be protected by plot armor. That is to say that they don't hesitate in killing their characters or drag out their deaths for drama.

Speaking of characters, I think that the anime just took a shining diamond and just tossed it straight into the trashcan. They could have done so much with their characters because of how much freedom their premise allowed, but they didn't. Besides the main character, who gets fleshed out a little, everyone else on board just stayed either pretty much the same or too mysterious. You see, the new generation of people on Sidonia were genetically engineered and bred inside specialized chambers until they turned teenagers. So, their bland and boring nature in the beginning was rather justified. Also, living on a ship where you don't have to look for food because you had photosynthesis and the only job is to work for the military would take out a lot of those 'normal' character traits from the equation (Take Ergo Proxy for example, how Raul and Deadalus behaved) Not to mention, they've spent hundreds of years on that ship running away from the Gauna. So, when these characters remained in their cocoon of being only tools even at the very end of season two, it left a really bad taste in my mouth. In the end, the only satisfying character at the end of both seasons was Tsumugi, who actually acted like a 10 year old because she was just born AND she gets some significant development as the series moves on.

Tanikaze vs Benisuzume

Now, the one thing that really impressed me here, was the animation. The 3D CG animation style might not be everyone's cup of tea but I think it was a perfect choice for this anime. Yes, the character designs do take a huge hit from it and I won't defend that aspect as it was hard for me to distinguish characters at first too. But since, every action scene is centered on the mechas and the gauna, I got used to it pretty soon. Everything else on the other hand - the ships, the mechas, the gauna and the VFX, was just perfect. I already mentioned how impressive all those formations and coordinated strategies were and how they were executed. This out-of-the-box animation style played a vital role in the success of those aspects. And to top it all off, the sound effects for all the vfx were just spot on. Yes, the anime lacks a kickass soundtrack for it's action scenes, but the wide variety of sound elements used in conjunction with the animation is just brilliant. It really enhances the overall aesthetic experience. The openings are nice and they even made music videos cum PVs on them, which are pretty good.

Overall, the two seasons of Sidonia no Kishi are a good watch, even though the premise of a saviour mecha pilot is a shounen cliche. I found the execution of the action scenes to be amazing. It is not so mindblowing or exhilarating for the most part but there were times when I was blown away by it's goodness. So, if you don't have a problem with 3D CG animation and a bit lacklustre character development, you will find yourself enjoying this series. But if you're looking for a really well thought out story (with little flaws) where character development plays a crucial role, you might end up being a little disappointed.
Sidonia no Kishi Rating

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