Check-in Station: Knights of Sidonia ep1 (See? They really do all look alike!)
What a strange show. Being my first attempt to jump into the Spring 2014 season, I decided to go with something familiar. And something that would keep my attention at the same time. As people will learn as they stick with this show, Knights of Sidonia is an acquired taste. A mix of grimdark, twisted and coy, it’ll be interesting to see how this show reverberates through the anime community.
This show is such a weird mix, but I’m gonna just focus on this first episode before things get too weird.
This is the story of Nagate Tanikaze, a young man with a mysterious past who wanders up to the surface world in search of food after his “grandfather’s” death. Just with that set up, the story could go anywhere, for KoS Nagate finds himself on a giant floating spaceship/colony with what may be the last remnants of human society left in the universe. It’s here that Nagate learns that his years of solitude and training have made him a great candidate to pilot the colony’s primary means of defense – mecha. What is the threat requiring mecha? Giant evil, mysterious tentacle monsters – duh!
There are all sorts of logistics to get into in this sort of world, but for now the focus is on Nagate and the slowly unfolding world around him. And this is kinda where I have a problem with the manga and the anime that it spawned. The protagonist of this show this isn’t a good representation of the audience, nor is there a narrator in any form to help bring us along and connect us to this new world. What we get in result is a disconnect that never leaves as the show plays out. There’s nothing to help us understand this dude and the fact that he’s likely the last “normal” human left in this world. He’s just kinda there for now. Sure he’s obviously gonna be a bad ass later. If you pay attention you’ll learn in this very first episode that he was the one person trained by the mysterious Ace, and has practiced this tutelage day after day until his emergence on the surface world. But for now, he’s just a donk with a lot of perceived potential.
What I find more interesting right now is the world we’re shown, and some of the science behind it. More specifically, the decisions that have been made around the situations that lead to them choosing the different sciences that they’ve chosen. Though it’s been said in the show that they’ve enjoyed about a century of peace without the presence of evil alien tentacle monsters (hence all the safe and sound Japanese girls running around), it’s clear that this world is highly geared towards survival of the race. That may seem like an obvious thing for anyone who decides to travel perpetually through deep space, as this colony has done. However, when you see how the human races have evolved and “modded” itself of the many, many years they’ve been away from Earth, you’ll see some pretty extreme choices that point to a desperate focus on survival. Not only is it clear that this colony is choosing from a very limited gene pool, as we notice by seeing all the people who look identical to each other. It’s clear that there’s heavy gene manipulation going on. When Nagate meets Izana Shinatose, he learns that there’s now a third hermaphrodite gender that’s appeared that’s capable of mating with a male or female depending on the mate they choose. In essence, if Izana falls in love with a male “IT” will develop breasts and a vagina, but if “IT’ falls in love with a female, then Izana will receive no luscious knockers and swinging shlong instead. It’s an interesting way to go about conserving the human race, but quite effective if you want to make sure that no matter what, you’ll have two compatible people to repopulate the human race should the worst happen.
There’s a lot more going on in this episode, but it would be better explained after the second episode. Then we’ll see a bit more characterization to match up to the loads of set up we’ll be getting as well. Plus we’ll see more of the infamous evil aliens, and their habit of murdering cute little Japanese girls, too. Everything will come into place. There will be a rival, a love interest, a rival for the love interest who also doubles as the best friend, some really disturbing gross sh*t and what will hopefully be some great and intense battles.
Before closing out, I know that this show will be heavily compared to two very popular series that have already ended. Attack on Titan, because of the very similar set up. And Neon Genesis Evangelion because this is another of the classic, dark do-or -die, all hands on deck epic super mecha anime that so often get compared to the legendary series. And I’m perfectly OK with that, but I’ll be trying to keep the comparisons to a minimum, even if it’s kinda eerie that they would air such a comparable show in almost the exact same spot they aired its predecessor.
In the end, this was an interesting first episode. I don’t think it’s the best way to introduce an ignorant audience to its world, but it should have been effective enough to get most people’s attention.
Note: I did take notice of the weird bear lady in this episode. I still don’t get it even after reading all those manga chapters. She’s just weird man.