Sidonia no Kishi is nothing if not consistent. When it does characters, it’s clumsy and stiff in every way. When it turns to sweeping plots, action scenes and hard sci-fi intellectual navel-gazing (no other recent anime has a better claim to use the name “Lem” in its plot) it soars in every way. It’s just rare that we see that dichotomy illustrated so starkly as it was this week, with the episode split straight down the middle.
What’s also rare is for a series this bad at characters to have one that’s so good they really stand out, but Izana does. He/she is really the only character on this show I care about, the only one with any real pathos – Tanikaze could hardly be a more stereotypical bland lead. And when the usual trope of every girl falling for the bland lead kicks in with the mass-produced harem like Yuhata and the triplets (I really think Ro should have been named “Gyo”) things get positively awful, especially when Sidonia tries to be funny. It’s no better at it than Plastic Memories, but at least it doesn’t try as often.
Izana really is important, because it’s Izana that makes me edgy every time Sidonia sends it’s dewy youth (and Seii) off on another glorified suicide mission. Consequence is a vital narrative tool, of course, and it’s nice to have someone who’s death would really impact you in addition to the more abstract overall tragedy of watching these clusterfucks play out. The addition of Tsumugi theoretically tilts the odds, of course, but my sense of Ochiai is that genius or not, he’s so megalomaniacal and overconfident that his judgement in battle (or anywhere else) can’t possibly be trusted.
As things stand, the fate of Sidonia is entirely in the hands of the two sociopaths, Bunrakunato and Kobayasahi, and they decide to sail off to the Lem system to take on a massive Gauna that’s threatening a human colony there – though neither gives a whit about the colonists themselves. The game here is genocide – the new buzzword among despotic immortals is that the Gauna must be wiped out completely. For now Tanikaze is as usual merely swept up in the wave, though he has token reservations about the notion of blindly trying to wipe out a species. Where is resistance to these twin terrors going to come from now, with SEELE dead? Perhaps Kuma-san – who we’re conspicuously shown agonizing over what’s going on at the top of government – may end up being more than a confidante for the kiddos and comic relief.
The aim for the Gauna in this skirmish seems to be to lure Sidonia to attack, then further lure Tsumugi into a trap (and not Izana, either) – suggesting that the Gauna have figured out that the chimera are the real threat. This implies (again) that there’s a good deal of reasoning and creativity behind the Gauna’s actions, which only deepens my curiosity to find out just what the hell they really are. Is Bunrakunato really so cocky as to have walked right into this, with Kobayashi’s blessing – or did that massive brain of his foresee this and devise a trap to spring from within the trap? Schmoo-magi hasn’t had a chance to play with Izana’s cat yet, so I suspect she’s going to survive this one way or the other – but as usual, look for a healthy chunk of the human pilots to join the choir invisible.