In many ways, I’m at a loss to explain Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki. There was an awful lot of plot drift here – in fact, I’d go so far as to say the entire cour could easily have been compressed down into the first three or four episodes of another season and the story wouldn’t be markedly different. Episode 11 was probably the only one that was indispensable from start to finish – you can pick some critical plot points from the others and easily discard the rest, and I don’t think anyone would be the wiser.
That said, I don’t think there’s any denying that the season ended on a high note, and left things poised at a very interesting jumping off point for a potential third season (more on that in a moment). While this finale wasn’t as thrilling or epic as last week’s episode, it was nevertheless a good one, both from a character and action standpoint. Enough so, certainly, to make one wish that the entire season had been as purposed and on-point as the final arc.
Hoshijiro is a big part of all this, no question. She/it was arguably the main MacGuffin of the first season, but Tsumugi has usurped that role this time – until now. Hoshijiro is back in the picture in a big way, and the scene where the “human” version invaded Nagate’s cockpit was admirably creepy and surreal. That “kiss” was especially striking – enough to make you wonder just how much of the human memories (and impulses) still live inside the placental copy, and just what was driving those actions when all was said and done.
Fortunately for Tanikaze, Izana was like a mother lifting a car off her child – crises can do remarkable things to adrenaline levels, and seeing what was going on in the cockpit clearly put her in fight-or-flight mode. She managed to restore the auxiliary power in the Garde and cut off Placentojiro from its mothership, which allowed Nagate to regain control (of both himself and his ride) but overall, the results were not what I expected. Even isolated, Hoshijiro is able not just to move, but to cuddle. She’s now a big part of the mystery going forward, especially after Bunrakunato notes to Nagate that “important things need to have a spare.”
Bunrakunato is full of interesting tidbits this week – perhaps most crucially that he’s close to his dream of seeing humanity’s “rebirth as a superior being”. Between he and Kobayashi, Sidonia is teetering betwixt the grasp of two megalomaniacs with aspirations to immortality. That’s one of the core reasons why this is such an interesting premise overall, despite the glacial plot progression and usually wooden characterization. Despite the relative flatness of the cast, there’s a genuine pathos in seeing the cream of Sidonia’s youth (otherwise known in this instance as “the bait”) discarded and tossed away by the ghoulish “leaders”, who should by rights be long dead themselves. I still don’t quite know what Nihei-sensei wants us to believe about Sidonia, or what he himself believes – to me it seems like a harsh and stifling place led by callow charlatans (and that’s as depicted by Nihei of course), but sometimes it seems as if Nihei’s sympathies lie with the powers that be.
As for the ending, it was an interesting one in context – that is, the uncertainty as to whether Sidonia no Kishi is going to continue in anime form. On the one hand, this entire season – or at least the small chunk of it that mattered – was basically setup. Plot and character-wise, we’re left with nothing but uncertainty on every front. But the choice to send Nagate “home” to pay tribute to his Grandpa and to affirm his love for Sidonia (maybe it happened in the manga here too, I don’t know) had the feel of a benediction, of an attempt to provide closure to a story that wasn’t going to find it any other way.
So will there be a third season? Well, Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki was announced at the end of the first season finale, and that certainly didn’t happen this time. Sales look pretty good – the series is likely to average about 5-6000 units, which would normally be right on the borderline of “good enough”, but a decline of about 15-20% from the first season. I certainly have no inside information, and I can’t get a good read on Polygon’s intentions based on this finale – I think it could go either way, but if I were to bet I’d put my money (but just by a hair) on a continuation or at least an OVA or two.
The last couple of episode of this season certainly did enough to make me hope for a third season, though a few weeks ago I would have been pretty indifferent to be honest. There were some things Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki did better than the first season – I thought the humor was marginally more effective, largely thanks to the ludicrous dynamic Shmoomugi’s addition created. Too much time was definitely wasted, but there’s still a lot of stuff for serious sci-fi gearheads to get behind here. And let’s be honest – there just isn’t that much hard, intellectually dense science-fiction in anime these days, and we need to appreciate what little we get – even if it’s as flawed as Sidonia no Kishi.