Knights of Sidonia Review

Knights of Sidonia, anime, netflix, Tsutomu Nihei, Kōbun Shizuno, Polygon Pictures,

It’s the distant future, Earth has been decimated by a monstrous race called the Gauna, and humans have reached a new level of evolution. Cloning, asexual reproducing, and photosynthesis are commonplace on Sidonia, one of the largest and final human civilizations present in the galaxy. Hope is not lost though, as several of the survivors take up arms in Guardians who defend Sidonia from the Gauna and are trained relentlessly to ensure humanity lives on. One particular pilot is Nagate Tanikaze and until the start of the series was completely underground and alone. Naturally, as anime does, Tanikaze isn’t alone for very long as his entire life is changed and he’s thrust into a new world where he must now save civilization. It’s a rather clichéd synopsis, yes, but Knights of Sidonia brings heart, character, and real likable motivations to its forefront and creates a series that could possibly see the sci-fi, mecha genre make a new life in the US.

Knights of Sidonia, anime, netflix, Tsutomu Nihei, Kōbun Shizuno, Polygon Pictures,

Yes, yes, shows like Gurren Lagaan and Evangelion were successful, but one is overrated to hell, and one is as pretentious and over-the-top and up its own ass so much, that they’re hard to recommend to some. Of course, if I were to recommend this series to anyone, it would be towards fans of 2013’s Attack on Titan. I’ve said my piece on that series long ago, but while watching Knights of Sidonia I got the same feelings and similar responses towards what was happening. This isn’t a happy-go-lucky series; people die, almost nonstop, without warning and it’s rather heartbreaking. I mean, it’s war, they’re at war with almost overwhelming odds, but in the same vein as AoT, you care about a bunch of these characters and why they’re doing all that they’re doing. Naturally there’s some intrigue and behind the curtain orchestrations happening too, but they’re never without their own motives either.

Nagate is a likable lead, and several of the other cast are too; especially the bear cook, chef, and dorm mother Lala. Yes, she’s a bear, she has a claw for her hand, and is awesome! The majority of the cast can fit in to your typical archetypes, but that doesn’t automatically make them groan-worthy or forgettable. They’re diverse and unique enough to stand out, rather than look like instant fodder or background characters. They may not all get a lot of screen time, but their roles are just as important as Nagate’s, and by the end, their motives and existence will make sense. And it helps that the voicework and soundtrack are fitting and well done. Noriyuki Asakura (Ruroni Kenshin) really sells despair, sci-fi, and mecha as sweeping strings and bellowing cellos accompany the battles and many of the scenes.

Knights of Sidonia, anime, netflix, Tsutomu Nihei, Kōbun Shizuno, Polygon Pictures,

Knights of Sidonia leads you at a pace that’s brisk, but explained and well-traveled but fresh at the same time. It’s not doing too much new to the genre, but it’s doing it so well that you forgive it and enjoy the ride. Knights of Sidonia will likely receive a lukewarm reception when it firsts arrives, but those who give this short series the benefit of the doubt and try will find a respectable, pleasurable series. It’s hard to say if we’ll look back fondly on it and appreciate it, especially with the CG animation, but it seems a series that could easily stand the test of time aside from the CG. Not to spoilt too much, but a second season has been confirmed, so we’ll be thrust back into Guardians soon enough while Nagate and crew’s story will continue. Knights of Sidonia makes its English (and worldwide) premiere on July 4th exclusively via Netflix. The entirety of the series will launch at once, so prepare the sortie! If you’re going to check out Knights of Sidonia this summer leave a comment and be sure to check back with Geekenstein for more anime reviews in the future.

Rating Banner 4

  • Is that a penis?

    I’ve seen a lot of penises in my day, so I like to think I know one when I see one.

    • Curtis Stone

      There are a few ‘questionable’ design choices in this series!

    • Aris Boch

      Yeah, the only more blatant phallic gun I remember off-hand is the one from Gunnm (from the planet of out solar system, that was consumed by nano-machines, I forgot, which).

  • prisoner223

    It was alright. Just watched the whole series in one sitting. The English dub was surprisingly tolerable, unlike most other anime I’ve watched on Netflix (looking at you, Fairy Tail)

    • Curtis Stone

      I’ll check out the dub at a later date, but I was pleasantly surprised by the series as a whole. I wonder if it has a bigger effect in a marathon setting as opposed to a weekly burn?

      • J X

        Yeah, in a marathon run of both seasons, it really becomes clear just how unfathomably large the number of dropped arcs and plot threads is, and you also get a good feel for how major events have zero repercussions (like the assassination of the entire council, the return of Ochiai’s in Kunato’s body via the “Blood Nematode”s inexplicably kept in jars behind a locked door in Kunato’s house, etc.). It’s also good for drilling into your head just how obnoxious and cheesy both seasons’ opening songs are.

    • darius_sinclair

      Yes. The english dub was excellent. It made the series watchable. The only anime TV series I’ve ever watched completely. I think they have created a new fan.

  • Owen

    Watched the series in one sitting, wish there were more seasons available and didn’t wanna wait untill November or whenever for the release of the new season so I went online and found that they have enough menga suitable for the next couple of seasons and actually found myself reading every chapter and now I’m totally finished and am waiting for the next chapter to be released. Ha. I was reluctant to give this weird ass anime netflix original a shot but id have to say I’m totally friggen surprised and completely addicted to not only the netflix series but also the menga involved. Freaky huh.

  • BigRonTx

    I havent seen much anime but i appreciate a good story and great production… this has it!
    i recommended it to all my friends(since everyone has Netflix) and everybody has enjoyed it… I watched it in English dub and felt it was well “acted”.
    Great show and cant wait for second season! Thank you Netflix for makin this available!

    • BigRonTx

      btw im 28, i watch shows like Game of Thrones, Sparticus, Southpark etc.. this is my first new anime i completed. my friends are all grown and dont do anime, yet appreciated this one. its smart and not too overdone(it feels believable)

  • ScarletPhantom

    I’m usually not a huge fan of Mecha but I really enjoyed this series… it was different in a subtle way.

  • GBannis

    Just finished watching all of the first season, in Japanese with English subtitles, and found it … confusing! Couldn’t tell one character from the next, partly because they’re clones and look alike and partly because the character development is poor.

    What the heck are the “gauna” anyway? “Ena”? “Core”? Nothing is explained. And the odd angles used to show the spaceships and gauna in flight add to the confusion. I still don’t know what a gauna looks like, or one the spaceships.

    • Leinad10

      The Gauna are a carry-over from one the manga authors previous works “ABARA”. In which the gauna are mutant humans with the ability to create constructs from the Ena/placenta.
      The manga does a far better job of explaining everything. But as the authors style is odd the visuals are even more confusing. Basically the Core/ True Body is the Gauna’s brain and the only critical element in the creatures construction. it is made of a material that is both harder than diamond yet can change shape. The Ena / Placenta produced by the Core ./ True Body makes up most of the creature’s mass and can take any form and a variety of properties. It can be formed into complex forms like machines, living creatures. It can take on a multitude of properties and is able to simulate many other materials including explosives.

      • GBannis

        @Leinad: I really appreciate your explanation! Thanks.

    • V

      I know it’s been a while since this was posted, but I had to reply to this. You either dislike science fiction in general and this just turned out to not be something you could find interest in, or you are just too dim witted to have to read at the pace of the subtitles and keep up with the plot at the same time. I mean I can understand disliking the show, but you just seem to be unable to keep up. How can you not know what a gauna looks like after watching the whole season? I came into this without having read the manga, and yes there are some things that could be explained better, but overall I found it to be a very good show with a good pace and fairly good characters. You are entitled to your own opinion, but try and convey it less rudely next time around please. Someone (many people actually) put a lot of time and work into this.

      You obviously didn’t dislike it that much. You made it through a whole season.

      • GBannis

        V: People like you need to be called out.

        First, nowhere did I say I disliked the show. So your entire post makes no sense.

        Second, you do not get off calling others rude since you are the one calling people names.

        Third, lay off the passive-aggressiveness. If I’m entitled to my opinion, then act like it.

        • Damian Bakay

          But how you didn’t understand the concept of gauna? (human mutation aside is nothing to complex for a non manga-reader) Maybe you’re new to the genre or something like that? And the angles are just fine, gauna (a basic one) is like a mass with “tentacles” (octopus alike) But can imitate everything it gets contact to, at a really high peace. Gardens (guardians) are the classics mechas, humanoids with edges. There’s a season 2 airing right now, are you following it?

  • Aris Boch

    The animé is good, the manga is even better (read it).

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  • Good review.

  • Novi

    The animation of this series is cumbersome. The blend of drawn and digital artwork is rough looking; which matches the storyline. The characters are two dimensional, and not especially likeable. In some cases it’s hard to tell them apart, as many don’t possess distinct features or voices.
    Altogether I find the concept intriguing, but there are certainly other anime within this genre that I would recommend over this.

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  • Graylin Showell

    I like that they try to incorporate some real world physics. Trying to turn or accelerate a ship that size can have terrible implications for the people living inside. I loathe that they ignore real world physics. Accelerating in space when they are tens of thousands of kilometers away from celestial bodies with significant gravitational still results in G-forces, there’s an obnoxious amount of sound in space (mostly forgivable since most sci-fi does this, but annoying when you have particle cannons making a sound 3 or 4 times in a single shot), and energy weapons with massive recoil. Also, why do they need to be naked to photosynthesize if all of their skin can do so. Seems short sleeves would be more effective…

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