Title: Knights of Sidonia (Shidonia no Kishi)
Aired: Netflix (S1 added 2015, S2 added 2016)
Studio: Polygon Pictures
Genres: Mecha, Supernatural, Sci-Fi, Space, Military, Action
Number of Episodes: 24 total
[Light spoilers ahead]
The first thing I have to get out of the way: if you have been procrastinating watching Knights of Sidonia because of its cel animation style, you should stop waiting. Just give it a try. I resisted watching for a long time but when I finally decided to give this show a chance, I marathoned it in like 3 days. I mean I normally can’t stand mecha shows, but here I am reviewing it. xD So my recommendation is: try something new! (Although if you live in Canada you’re out of luck, it was recently removed from Netflix up here. -_-; )
So for those who don’t know, Knights of Sidonia is a mecha-fantasy series based on a manga series (2009 – 2015) of the same name. It takes place in the year 3394, a thousand years after the Earth has been destroyed by an alien race called the Gauna. The human race fled into space using ships made from remnants of the Earth, and Knights of Sidonia centers around one such spaceship named, well, Sidonia. It is never revealed whether any of the other ships humanity sent into space have survived. Sidonia trains most of its young citizens to be Garde pilots (if they show the ability to be able to do so), and they pilot mecha in humanity’s ongoing fight with the Gauna.
Story and Setting
In the thousand years since the Earth was eliminated, the survivors living on Sidonia have developed a culture similar to that of modern day Japan. However there are some rather large changes between these humans and the people who once lived on Earth. The first is that humans on Sidonia are usually cloned and they reproduce asexually, not with a partner. An example of humans being cloned are The Honoka Sisters, twenty-two female humans who all look identical each other and who look like adolescents, despite being chronologically only five years old. Also, humans can now photosynthesize like plants. Yes you read that right. And they have to do it naked. >>;
Oh and some elite citizens are immortal. (But shhhhh it’s a secret.)
Season one focuses on Nagate’s backstory, Sidonia’s history, and introduces its main cast of characters. The tail end of season 1 and all of season 2 focus on the ever-increasing war against the Gauna and the threat their race represents to Sidonia. Without going into too much detail there’s also a new Gauna-human hybrid character introduced, some DNA meddling, betrayal, and lots of space battles.
Characters and Voice Acting
Knights of Sidonia centers around a young man named Nagate Tanikaze. He is unique in that he was raised alone by his grandfather deep within Sidonia. With no one aside from his elderly relative for company, Nagate spends his days training in a Garde pilot simulator. After his grandfather dies, Nagate emerges on Sidonia’s surface just in time for the re-emergence of the Gauna. Having mastered the Garde simulator while in isolation, Nagate is naturally an ace in a real Garde mecha, to the amazement of his peers and superiors. Where did this guy come from and who is he really??
The main cast includes Shizuka Hoshijiro, Nagate’s love interest up until a little more than halfway through the first season; Izana Shinatose, a Garde pilot like Nagate who later starts to fall in love with him; and Nagate’s rival Norio Kunato, another Garde pilot who had been considered the very best until Nagate shows up.
I think Knights of Sidonia has some really clever twists, including one that comes to mind being what happens with Norio’s character. He goes from being the rival to… well you’re just going to have to watch to find out.
Oh, and what do you think about Lala? ;3 She’s something eh?
Animation & Music
Knights of Sidonia uses cel animation, and I have no issues with its quality. CGI is used too, primarily with the fast-paced space battle scenes. I’ve read comments online about fans who felt that this title had a low frame rate, or that the cel animation felt too “flat”, but to each their own. I just urge you the reader to give this series a chance, the animation is not bad once you get used to it (IMHO).
Given that it is comprised of two seasons, Knights of Sidonia has two opening and ending songs. The first OP theme is “Sidonia” by the artist Angela (who also sings “Gravitation” from the series Heroic Age, another great title) and the first ED theme is “Show” by the artist Eri Kitamura. The second season’s OP song is also by Angela, titled “Kishi Koushinkyoku“, and the ED theme is “Requiem” by the artist CustomiZ. I wasn’t particularly head over heels for any of the music in this series, but nothing felt out of place or too over the top. They’re great picks for opening and ending themes, just not really my thing. If anything the first season’s opening theme was my favourite of the four tracks, but I’ll admit my bias and say that’s partially due to the fact that I’m already familiar with Angela’s music.
The two seasons of the anime were aired on Netflix in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and fans of the series will be happy to know that there is some kind of anime project apparently in the works. Maybe a third season? I know I’ve heard rumors online of a third season, but nothing conclusive as of yet. I’m hopeful because the two seasons don’t cover the entirety of the manga, so by the time the viewer reaches the end of the second season there are still many questions left unanswered. A third season could theoretically cover up to the end of the manga.
Also I’d like to add that I love the representation that I see in Knights of Sidonia. For example, there is at least one main character in Knights of Sidonia who is (initially) intersex. Furthermore, characters presenting as androgynous or who use gender neutral pronouns are treated just like everyone else. I’ve always felt that representation is important and I think it’s awesome that Knights of Sidonia has androgynous, non-conforming characters characters as part of its core cast, not just as minor characters or characters who die early on in the series. The only other series I can think of offhand which has characters with non-conforming genders is Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous), which I covered for AAB back in 2017, and Haruhi plus her father from Ouran High School Host Club.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: For a mecha show Knights of Sidonia was surprisingly engaging despite being slightly repetitive in the later episodes. I quickly got over the animation style and became attached to the characters, including all of their quirky charm and human behaviours. Knights of Sidonia has received a lot of positive attention and high acclaims in Japan, including from the creator of the famed Metal Gear series, Hideo Kojima. So if you’re looking for something different to watch then here’s a title for you. ^_^v