Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 01

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Sidonia no Kishi is back, and you’d never know it had been gone.

This has certainly been the season of throwbacks so far – they’re all over the schedule in many shapes ands sizes, and in many ways Sidonia no Kishi fits right in with that theme.  With it’s technologically-driven, intellectual hard sci-fi focus and themes of alienation and dystopia it fits right in with what anime sci-fi mostly looked like ten or twenty years ago – though there are some modern concessions in terms of character that one suspects were every bit as uncomfortable for Nihei Tsutomu to write as they have been to watch.

The sore thumb here is, of course, the CGI – though the CGI here is so awkward at times that it almost looks like it could be from 20 years ago.  After having watched Polygon’s Ghibli co-production Sanzoku no Musume Ronja it’s puzzling why the 3D animation is so much more stilted and unnatural here – it was hardly natural in Ronja, mind you, but especially on the character side it was an order of magnitude better than Knights of Sidonia.  Those who know how good Nihei’s steampunk art from the manga is especially can only lament what the transition to anime has done to the look of the series.

“Stilted and unnatural” would also be a good way to describe Nihei’s character interactions – Izana remains the only one in the cast that really feels like a person.  But the big battle scenes continue to be awesome, the best showcase for Polygon’s technology.  And the source of some of the first season’s worst character moments, Kunato, has happily been taken over by some of sort of nematode brain-sucker developed by Ochiai in his lab, along with his imouto and that poor tech at the Hoshijiro lab – all seemingly part of a scheme by Ochiai to score himself a new body and assert command over the Sidonia colony once more.

His scheme, seemingly, is to manufacture a gauna-based super-weapon using placental-Hoshijiro as a template (though that’s pure guesswork on my part), a weapon that makes a surprise appearance when Nagate and his squadron are on their latest suicide mission against an enormous gauna with regenerative powers.  She blasts it from space where the Gardes (even Tanikaze’s) have failed, and introduces herself as Shiraui Tsumugi (Suzuki Aya).  On the plus side this is the first time I can remember the humans taking out a gauna without part or most of their squadron being wiped out, but it doesn’t take a weatherman to see the wind is blowing trouble with this turn of events.

What is Ochiai’s long game here?  Well, he certainly seems to admire the Gauna – he calls them “superior” to humans – though just what his connection to them is I’m not sure.  Obviously he has no personal moral standards whatsoever, so he’ll do whatever he has to do to achieve his plans, and thus may be shaping up as the big bad of the season.  As I did when the first season ended I find myself longing for more background, more explanation – why this conflict started in the first place, and why the Gauna keep attacking humans.  Whether we get that this season remains to be seen, but the more Daikyu Wakusei Seneki focuses on the sci-fi and the less on the awkward character drama (and comedy) the better off it will be.

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  1. G

    Thanks for covering this!

    I am not going to spoil but this was just a nice set up for what's to come.

    There is lot of ground to cover and It's almost impossible to finish ! The manga is not done yet!

    But on to the anime! You are right they have so much sci-fi / tech /social issues and as always a villan or even anti-hero . That little "Shop of Horrors ' made me cringe !BTW Kunato got into there by his use of Kunato Heavy Industries and basically hacked his way in! Ochiai / Kunato ( Kunato is probally gone at least for now ) is an interesting factor as you have pointed out!

    That being said I wish this was one of the regular streaming sites as I heard the subs were poorly done! Plus it's an anime that deserves easier access.

    For the animation the battle scenes are still cool / but you're right I think the anime need more color but that is the authors style!

    Oh a big ?? where was the Captain in while Sidonia was in danger !

  2. E

    I think my comment got eaten up again, I really should stop typing on mobile devices…

    This episode really reminded me of how unsettling Sidonia could be. Not sure which is creepier: the art style or the desperate atmosphere. The people look ugly as usual, it looks cheap but it somehow makes the show feel a lot more disturbing(that really hurts the relationship segments imo, I get a little freaked out whenever these characters talk!). You would've thought that the surprise success of the first series would have led to Polygon improving the facial expressions a little…

    The new Gauna is super scary but I'm sure Nihei Tsutomu could go much darker, the series really is best when it treats the Gauna as mysterious lifeforms instead of an obstacle to fight against. The whole premise I find really interesting, intelligent lifeforms that develop along with humans without clear motives gives off a very very unique scifi vibe.

    The new op i like a little less, still gives a similar tone tho I think. The ending is more interesting, sounds like a horror song(reminds me a bit of that first Monster ending, still the scariest ending I have ever come across), but I'm not very patient to watch diagram like stuff floating around(but leaving out the ugly characters from the ending might have been a good choice…).

  3. I really, really dislike that OP I have to say…

  4. E

    I kinda like the chorus which is kind of falsely optimistic but the "knights knights knights" is pretty dumb

  5. D

    I like the new OP, however even as I've told my friends, that's no OP, that's a national anthem.

  6. Z

    I suppose the production figured it was so successful that they shouldn't change a thing.

  7. J

    I don't see any steampunk in the Sidonia manga art, and I think that's a good thing. There are lots of conduits running all over the place, but that's from hundreds of years building layer upon layer inside the ship.

    RANT: Steampunk was a fun and well done idea in the Jeter/Powers/Blaylock era, but it wasn't long before a bunch of lesser talents used up all the coal, if you will. Plus, if you remove it too far from the Victorian era it just becomes silly. And the stand-alone steampunk art/fashion scene has always been beyond the valley of the lame.

  8. Z

    Agreed on Steampunk.

  9. Z

    "but the more Daikyu Wakusei Seneki focuses on the sci-fi and the less on the awkward character drama (and comedy) the better off it will be".

    Absolutely agreed. The character drama came off more stilted and awkward, and out of place, than the CG animation ever did.

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