Sidonia no Kishi is nothing if not predictable. I think you could read a one-paragraph synopsis of any episode in the series so far and predict with almost total accuracy how successful that episode was going to be. This is a show that’s very good indeed at what it does well, and pretty darn mediocre at what it doesn’t. Given that, it was always a pretty good bet this was going to be a strong ep, and indeed it was.
I’m not a big fan of villains like Kunato, but there can be no denying that he’s committed to the cause of being a douche. Turns out he was responsible for the “blacked out” part of last week’s episode – the mission that led to Nagate becoming a pariah and Hoshijiro a corpse. It says something about how petty a guy is that he’d be willing to risk the lives of everyone on a mission (including himself) and his entire civilisation in order to make a comrade he’s jealous of look bad. It almost feels like a cheat to have someone like that in a hard sci-fi story like this one, but if every society gets the hero they deserve I think Sidonia is every bit as fucked-up as it seems to be.
In a stretch one could blame Nagate for what happened to Hoshijiro – she did die trying to save him after Kunato’s betrayal left him momentarily dumbstruck – but in truth, Kunato shoulders the responsibility. I find it a bit odd that there would be no recordings of cockpit communication that could implicate Kunato, and that Nagate would be willing to leave this unchallenged, but that is what it is – and the results are that Sidonia has turned on Tanikaze and he’s a funk so deep a bear has to come and physically drag him out of his hole. Nagate does seem to have a pattern of spacing out during missions and sulking in-between, but at least his gender-neutral friend is always there for him.
There’s a lot going on here that I’d certainly like to learn more about. My sense that there’s a nationalist bent behind the politics of this series is growing and I do find that a bit unsettling, but there are clearly a lot of dark secrets behind what happens on that world. I have my suspicions about what’s going to happen to the protesters who’re supposedly going to be allowed to “emigrate” but we’ll see in due time. And these don’t seem like the sort of people who ought to be trusted with missiles that can destroy entire planets.
I think it’s when the Gauna are directly involved that Sidonia is at its strongest. There’s an almost Evangelion-like quality to the part of the series that directly involves creatures, and it’s in these scenes that the CGI works best. Just what are they – why do they assume the forms of the humans they kill? That’s the most interesting question in the series for me – I find the Gauna generally speaking more interesting than the people they’re menacing (which was certainly not the case with Evangelion). It would be nice if this series could do everything well, but very few science-fiction series can approach that standard – the ones that do go down as genuine classics, and it’s no shame to fall short of that mark. When Knights of Sidonia sticks to its element its a genuinely interesting and engaging series, and the more it does so over the next five weeks the better off it’s going to be.