I’ve said all along that my biggest worry with Sidonia no Kishi wasn’t the complete reliance on CGI (that is what it is) but the length. I think this show is about 25% Yamato, 25% Evangelion, 25% Shingeki and 25% Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. You can read all the positive and negative inferences you want into that, but the truth is that all the best things about Sidonia no Kishi are the things that will be most undercut by its one-cour length – its scope, the grandness of its premise. And that was never more clear than with this week’s episode.
Fortunately, unless Polygon and director Shizuno Kobun do some stupid shit they can’t take back (and even if they do) it’s looking like we’re going to get another season. Sidonia is on-track to be a commercial hit of decent proportions according to Stalker, and with 12 manga volumes to play with I can only assume Polygon is going to leave enough material out there to populate it. I’m glad of that, because for all its faults there aren’t a whole lot of anime than can spin an old-school sci-fi story that touches all the geek G-spots the way this show does.
There was an awful lot of exposition dumped on us in this episode, which is almost unfair in the 8th of a 12-episode run. I remain resolutely fascinated by the Gauna and their relationship with the human race (more so than with any of the humans in the cast, in truth). They’re so much like NGE’s Angels in many ways, right down to how creepy they are and how they keep evolving. This most recent version is certainly the creepiest yet, having not just taken on Hoshijro’s form but also her voice (which caused Kunato to humiliate himself thoroughly, up to and perhaps including wetting himself). Clearly the Gauna is able to retain something of the memories of the humans it consumes, because this Hoshijiro is one step ahead of the pilots trying to kill it. Tanikaze manages to collect a specimen of placenta in a giant Starbucks cup (Venti Hoshijiro placenta, two pumps of vanilla) and it looks like it’s being cultivated into a Hoshijiro back on Sidonia.
At this point we take a trip back in time 100 years, and the exposition goes into full swing. There’s a mad scientist named Ochiai who nearly causes the destruction of everyone on Sidonia (and does cause the death of most of its population) talk of “immortal genes” and the vows the immortals have taken, and we finally get some background on Saitou Hiroki (Koyama Rikiya) the man who raised Nagate. Some things seem pretty clear – Hiayama-san (don’t call her Lala ) was in love with him. He was one of the immortals ( I think) and fled Sidonia after the Ochiai incident 100 years earlier, returning 80-some years later. He wanted to grow old and die naturally but a clone was made of him by Kobayashi, without his consent (or that of the council) – a clone he stole at swordpoint (why no guns?), managing to escape with
Lala Hiyama-san’s help (It’s a bear! Everyone get in the car!). And I think we all know who the clone is.
As if it wasn’t already obvious enough, this is way, way too much story for 12 episodes. Most likely the news that Knights of Sidonia was going to be a strong seller came far too late to impact the creative stage of the production process, so I really hope Polygon doesn’t screw the pooch too badly in an effort to finish everything in one cour. Every answer simply elicits three more questions, seems like, and the surface has barely been scratched on the mythology – the part of the series that really works at a high level. Give this series a good feel for character and solid drawn animation from a top studio and you’d have a classic (God’s in his Heaven and all’s right with the world), but there’s a reason classics are classics – shows like that just don’t happen very often. As it is Sidonia no Kishi brings a lot to the table, and warts and all as a sci-fi fan it’s nice to see this sort of series striking a cord with modern anime audiences.