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.
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 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.