First Impressions Digest – Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, Sidonia no Kishi

Nanana - 01 -8 Nanana - 01 -12 Sidonia - 01-7 Sidonia - 01-22

As Yin and Yang shows go, these two are pretty Yin-Yang-y.

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 01

Nanana - 01 -1 Nanana - 01 -2 Nanana - 01 -3
Nanana - 01 -4 Nanana - 01 -5 Nanana - 01 -6
Nanana - 01 -7 Nanana - 01 -9 Nanana - 01 -10
Nanana - 01 -11 Nanana - 01 -13 Nanana - 01 -14
Nanana - 01 -15 Nanana - 01 -16 Nanana - 01 -17
Nanana - 01 -18 Nanana - 01 -19 Nanana - 01 -20

I’m at the point now where I pretty much look at NoitaminA as just another hour on the schedule.  Why?  Because there’s clearly no longer a broad mandate to air a certain type of series, and more and more we’re seeing the block air shows that could just as easily show up on any other late-night slot.  When they aren’t showing repeats (or just not showing anything) there will still be the occasional daring and different series – like Ping Pong – but no more often than in any other slot.

That brings us to Nanana’s Buried Treasure, which is far from the worst series NoitaminA has aired recently but may just be the most “un-NoitaminA” one.  It’s a LN through and through, a silly premise engineered to pay off some moderate fanservice and generate a fantasy/action storyline.  I didn’t dislike the premiere at all – it was nicely drawn and animated, and well-directed by Kanta Kamei (Usagi Drop).  I just fail to see anything in it that’s remotely original or unusual, and it appears to be so lightweight that a stiff wind would would blow it away.  Even now, that makes it puzzling to contemplate just what makes it a NoitaminA series.

The story, such as it is, follows a 16 year-old named Yama Juugo (Ono Yuuki) who’s “escaped” his parents’ house and is moving into an apartment on Nanae Island, a man-made paradise for students that sounds an awful lot like Academy City in the description.  He’s got a boilerplate busty/boozy landlady, Maburo Shiki (Uchiyama Yumi), and an unexpected roommate – Nanana (Tanabe Rui), who’s the ghost of a girl who was murdered in the apartment 10 years earlier.  She spends her days eating pudding and playing online games and everyone takes this with a preposterous lack of protest, and she immediately starts in on bossing around and physically abusing Juugo.  There’s also a backstory about a treasure worth “hundreds of billions of Yen” which also contains several magical items, which is going to loop us into a criminal outfit full of moe girls called Matsuri, who’re no doubt also after the treasure.

I could go on, but it’s pretty self-explanatory.  As for as NoitaminA is concerned Ryuugajou Nanana is pretty much proof that the dream is truly dead, but on its own terms it really is halfway decent.  Nanana is pretty annoying but Juugo has more spark than most male leads, the visuals are quite pretty, Kamei knows what he’s doing and with the adaptation written by the experienced and capable Kurata Hideyuki (Kamichu, Samumenco) it’s likely that the crisp pacing we saw in the premiere will continue. Don’t expect substance here, but you could do a lot worse for fluff.

Sidonia no Kishi – 01

Sidonia - 01-1 Sidonia - 01-2 Sidonia - 01-3
Sidonia - 01-4 Sidonia - 01-5 Sidonia - 01-6
Sidonia - 01-8 Sidonia - 01-9 Sidonia - 01-10
Sidonia - 01-11 Sidonia - 01-12 Sidonia - 01-13
Sidonia - 01-14 Sidonia - 01-15 Sidonia - 01-16
Sidonia - 01-17 Sidonia - 01-18 Sidonia - 01-19
Sidonia - 01-20 Sidonia - 01-21 Sidonia - 01-23

If Nanana is a Miata – a pretty little thing without much going on under the hood – then Knights of Sidonia is a Volvo.  I can’t help but hearken back to the Kingdom anime experience when watching the first episode here, because it looks like we’re going to have a very interesting epic story, but the CGI…  Why – just why?

There’s a pretty important difference with Kingdom, actually, in that Sidonia no Kishi will get nowhere near the length of run that it had, and in fact is rumored to be one-cour.  That strikes me as a very bad idea for this type of story, which has echoes of Legends of the Galactic Heroes and Uchuu Senkan Yamato.  This is also an interesting one to check out because the studio behind it, Polygon Pictures, is also the CGI house that will be partnering with Ghibli and Miyazaki Goro on Sazoku no Musume Ronja later this year.  Early returns are mixed – the backgrounds are actually quite well-drawn and the CGI works fine in the set pieces, but as always it’s brutal in the character modeling and the close-up scenes – borderline unwatchable.  And there figures to be a lot of that in “Ronja”.

But that’s something to worry about in the Fall – for now, as with Kingdom we have a very engaging story right out of the gate here, if you can get past the eye poison.  The hero of the piece is Tanikaze Nagate (Ohsaka Ryouta – a very good seiyuu who’s seriously risking overexposure at the moment) the “mole man” who’s been living underground with his grandfather on board the giant seed ship Sidonia.  The solar system has been wiped out by an alien called the Gauna (though humanity hasn’t encountered one for over a Century) and the human race apparently survives only in these ark-like ships.  After his grandfather’s death Nagate comes to the surface in search of food, and immediately gets himself injured and captured trying to steal rice.  But someone in the hierarchy clearly knows him, because he’s plucked up and placed into the pilot training program, eventually to pilot one of the Gardes, huge robotic weapons.  On a routine ice-mining sortie he and his party of cadets are attacked by a Gauna, and the cycle of war apparently begins again.

I’m not going to say there’s nothing in this premise we haven’t seen before – it’s actually pretty derivative – but there’s nothing wrong with a classic sci-fi scenario if it’s well-presented.  And so far, this is well-presented.  There are interesting little tidbits tossed out there – anti-military protestors warning of “undead” running things, a third gender having been created – though the example, Shinatose Izana (Toyasaki Aki) looks and sounds 100% female – and a rival for Nagate in Kunato Norio (Sakurai Takahiro).  My two concerns here are the CGI and the likely one-cour length – this looks like a good story, but it’s going to have to be very good to overcome those obstacles.  Still, epic sci-fi is a pretty rare thing in anime these days and if Sidonia no Kishi truly is an example of the species, I suspect I’ll stick with it to the end.



  1. Z

    Visually they are on different levels but as of Episode One, content wise, Sidonia>Captain Earth.

  2. M

    Why bones, WHY??

  3. M

    I think Captain Earth was paced and directed better than Sidonia, though. While Sidonia's substance may be superior from a hard sci-fi standpoint, Captain Earth may still end up the more entertaining experience.

  4. Z

    Cap'n Earth crammed too much into its premier episode (most of which was entirely unexciting). Although I've said elsewhere am willing to give CE a second chance to prove it can bring something new to the table rather than BONES just doing the same crap they always do.

  5. M

    Quite enjoyed Sidonia; solid sci-fi tone akin to the classics that the last few seasons were lacking. The CG certainly takes a bit of getting used to once you're in the zone – no small thanks to those glorious backgrounds – it's cool. I had a bit of issue distinguishing some of the dollfie-like characters from on another, that the could have some thematic intent. On the whole exciting.

    Never planned to watch Ryuugajonanamobleh and, unlike SnK, none of the other LNs this season fill a void that needed filling. Already feel healthier for it.

  6. F

    I just finished the first episode of Sidonia and for me it was an effortless watch. Before I knew it the ED was rolling. Thank goodness a competent sci-fi anime! I didn't have any trouble with the CG for some reason.

    For me it gives off a vibe similar to what a combination of Ergo Proxy and GITS might produce. Maybe that's why I like it so much. It introduced a fair number of questions without cramming the dialog with non-stop cliches, unlike Capt. Earth where I felt lost at the half way point. I just hope Sidonia keeps it up!

  7. E

    "Early returns are mixed – the backgrounds are actually quite well-drawn and the CGI works fine in the set pieces, but as always it's brutal in the character modeling and the close-up scenes – borderline unwatchable."

    Yep, just like Clone Wars, Transformers Prime, and Tron Uprising before it. Polygon Pictures just doesn't know how to do anything that aren't CG backgrounds, which they should stick to doing (I mean, Ghost in the Shell II. Oh my god that film was so pretty).

  8. w

    Sigh… I'm not sure if I want to like Sidonia. On the one hand, there's some really good stuff here and a sci-fi epic is always welcome. On the other hand, CGI. I really don't want to encourage animation studios to make more CGI series by giving them successful ones. It could be a death knell for 2-d animation.

    I'm also gonna go ahead and admit that Nanana was my favorite premiere so far.. It took less than 10 seconds for me to be hooked. It may be very light (it's basically floating) but I had an awful lot of fun watching it, and there is a good sense of mystery and adventure here. The characters are likable so far as well and don't yet feel like they're immersed in cliches. I'll be looking forward to this one.

  9. m

    You really didn't like Ryuugajou? I thought it was one of the better premieres so far. Not Mushishi or Baby steps level, but better than most of the rest. Yeah, it is a bit of same old same, but the MC is relatively different from the usual and you can't beat an Indiana Jones treasure hunt storyline. Haha maybe that's what got me I just like that stuff better than most other plots.

  10. As I said in the post, "halfway decent" about covers it for me.

  11. m

    Well I can't argue that there's nothing groundbreaking about it. It is pretty cookie cutter Ln, but I find it more entertaining than most of what's on anyway.

  12. T

    I think I'll just read the manga for knights of sindaria, if it is any good that I HAVE to see it then I'll just read it. I didn't really have a problem with Nanana's treasure, I'm still holding out some hope that it may do something unique later but for now it is legitimately entertaining without pissing me off too much with annoying trends I get sick of.

  13. R

    I wasn't planning on checking out Ryuugajou, but I did, and I'm disappointed. I was curious about Sidonia because of CG. Turns out…I'm happy that I checked it out, and I'm totally not a mecha fan to begin with. The story was quite interesting, and despite the CG, I was hooked. It's challenging to identify who's who though — I had to rely a lot on my ears. I may check out a couple more episodes to decide.

  14. I see a lot of references to Sidonia as a mecha show and while I haven't read the manga, my sense is that seriously misses the point. I think it's closer to space opera than traditional giant robot anime.

  15. R

    That will be a good news to me — I prefer stories of space and sci-fi than mecha.

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