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Knights of Sidonia S2 ep10: wrapped with the red string of fate

June 15, 2015 1 comment

I should’ve known Benisuzume was too good a villain to lose.  though I’m pretty puzzled as to how she survived.  We’re very slowly understanding the Gauna, but their evolution alongside the Sidonia’s advances are disturbing.  You wanna make a bet that it’s us that made them the way they are?  Or after all this time, are you still convinced that Gauna are just mindless, murderous force of nature bent on erasing humanity from the universe?

It didn’t take long for Izana to become the damsel in distress again.  Though I will be fair to her (it feels so good to finally be allowed to assign her a gender), she’s done an excellent job of not just surviving, but observing and adapting in this dire situation.  It’s her observations that allowed her and the last surviving member of her squad to enter the gauna-filled planet’s atmosphere.  It’s her observations that noticed the Gauna were going after the ariticial kabi and the fuel producing the Hyggs particles.  She’s not merely getting lucky, she’s getting good.  Perhaps losing her arm and going cybernetic is the best thing to happen to her since meeting Nagate.

I’ve always been puzzled as to why they allowed so many non-essential staff to see so much of the battle.  It seems to go against the way their very secretive and controlling leadership works.  Though it does make for an interesting and more dynamic watch, having more characters invested in the real time outcome of the battle.  Though this does also allow pilots and other staff to criticize the decisions of leadership in these situations.  And in the case of Nagate and Tsumugi, it causes them to go nuts with grief and worry as they see Izana’s squad torn apart.  With strict orders from Kobayashi, Yuhata would not normally allow them to intervene, but Ochiai sees the possibility of Tsumugi becoming uncontrollable if something bad were to happen, and convinces Kobayashi to allow them to sortie.

The actual mission, of course isn’t simple search and rescue under fire though.  While Nagate in his freshly updated mech and Tsumugi who basically has super powers are one hell of a team, no one is prepared for what’s waiting for them in the planet’s atmosphere.  Benisuzume has returned, far more powerful than before, and still giggling like a little girl for the full creepy effect.

With Izana stuck on the planet with very likely limited resources, and Tsumugi fighting a Benisuzume who may be her match or more, Nagate may have to make a choice here.  He could save Izana and leave Tsumugi to fend for herself  until he can return or she wins, or he can help take down Benisuzume and then begin the search.  And to be fair, Izana may have to sit tight for a bit.  This is some freaky sh*t.  It’s as if I’m watching Claymore.  You just get the sense that blood is going to be spilled.

Overall, a straight forward episode with one hell of a surprise.  It reminds us that Tsumugi wasn’t the first chimera.  It was Benisuzume.  And it goes to show that the red string of fate ties these two warring factions together in eerie ways.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep9: un-uttered anticipation and fear

This is more like it.  I could see comedy, harem and slice-of-life elements in an anime anywhere in this day and age.  I come to watch Sidonia primarily for the sci-fi and the space horror elements.  That whole sort of Game of Thrones element where anyone could die at any moment for any little mistake.  We’ve spent quite a bit of time reinvesting in the cast since the second season kicked off.  Now it’s time for the show to finally start playing with that element again.

Beauty of the Thousand Year Village aside, I’m glad to see the character development take a backseat to the plot’s movement finally.  We may finally learn about what happened to the colonists who were murdered a few episodes ago.  Kobayashi is moving forward with her plan to take the fight to the Gauna, and she plans on using the Lem star system’s Ninth planet as suitable staging ground for that battle.  The problem remains that that very planet isn’t Gauna free, and she needs to know what’s down there and then kill it.

The recon mission isn’t so bad by itself, but the new orbital re-entry craft they created for the Guardians has struck a nerve with some of the rank and file pilots.  They see the artificial kabi at the tip and assume the vehicle is a suicide ride.  One pilot even goes out of her way to voice her anger over the project and taunts Nagate over being leadership’s special pet.  The problem with this is that she ends up deserting, leaving Izana as the alternate to participate in the squad based mission.

The scene of the pilots making their way around coveted planet with all its rings is the scene of the hope I have for this show.  I love space, astronomy, technology and all the things that come with these scenes.  The moments of anticipation and mystery as they fly through this hostile ground are also things I love about this show.  They have this very Evangelion-esque moment of not knowing what they’re looking at in the distance, and then seeing absolute horror and death right before them pop up in their way.  Needless to say there is some death and will be more, but most importantly Izana is out there.  You know Nagate’s coming in to get her.  I’m excited.

To be fair, the awkward romantic scenes and seeing Shiraui and Yuhata fret over Nagate and Izana’s night out was fun to watch.  And it would be nice to see Izana finally confirmed as the winner of this impromptu conversation.  I’ve been pulling for her since before she was a her.  And it seems like the only logical and true option for this love geometry.  It looks like we’ll have to wait to see what Nagate’s true answer is.

This episode was more about the ending than the rest of the episode for me.  Of course, the love geometry is pushed forward a bit.  We also see that Ochiai still has something up his sleeve, though the reveal appears to be something that will have to wait until the end of the battle with the large hive cluster.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming skirmish, and even more to the climactic and massive battle soon to come.  We’ve already gotten glimpses of great and intense space battles in this second season.  The idea of topping them with something even larger and more intense excites me.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep8: lovingly preserved culture and crushes

If not for how much I’ve started liking the characters that actually survive in this show, I’d have a real problem with the slow down in pace here. This series started as hard sci-fi horror, but has been heavily invested in harem comedy territory lately. You’d never know they were at war with god-like alien monsters with all the jostling for penis that’s been going on.

I suppose that I should be grateful that a series that tends to be heavily focused on action and death takes time to build on culture and relationships.  And there are some really nice moments sprinkled through this episode.  We see Nagate, Izana, Shiranui and Yuhata sitting down to enjoy some edgy action movie for a night.  We see even more focus on Izana than in last episode.  As the show seems to focus on her perspective more than anyone else’s.  Nagate seems like almost a side character sometimes.  As we get more personal time and views from Izana, Yuhata, Shiraui and Izana’s grandma, Yure.

Probably my favorite moment was seeing Yure and Izana put on actual dresses and go out for a quick meal at a cafe.  It was short, but it was also nice to see characters in something besides space suits and cadet gear.  Both of them filled out those dresses pretty nicely, I’d enjoy seeing someone cosplay in those outfits.  God knows I could do without another slave Leia cosplay.  And that moment did allow some important questions, or at least circumstances to be brought up.  One of those is Yure’s seemingly infinite youth.  Izana is her grandmother, but Yure looks middle-aged at worst.  It’s not just lifespans, but youth that are preserved in spectacular fashion in this world.  But that only seems to apply to certain people.  I desperately would like to know why and how that has come to be.

Unfortunately, because of Ochiai’s disaster from over a century ago we may never know what really went on in the past.  I don’t doubt that the Gauna are the key, and that really disturbs me.  It makes me feel that I may not like what the truth behind this seeming immortality truly is.  But it also saddens me that we may never know, unless one day Ochiai decides to give us an info dump at some point.  Though right now I’m leaning towards those worms that Ochiai used to preserve his personality and consciousness are also what the Kobayashi, the Immortal Council and other seeming immortals use to gain that ability.  It may be a simple matter of producing clones (which this society seems to make without issue), and then implanting those worms with their “souls” in them into the host.  It may be the reason Nagate’s predecessor  rebelled the way he did.  Seeing the “souls” of the youth bearing his face snuffed out because of his desire to carry on forever.

This still doesn’t exactly explain the constant, evolving attacks by Gauna against the Sidonia.  But if I’m going to be playing with theory, then I’ll go with the human quest to milk them for their own immortality is what starts and continues this war.  In essence, we have stolen from and angered a god, and now it wrathfully hunts humanity down in search for its lost gem.

Getting back to my positive talk about the characters and culture from this episode; the harem aspect of this show is doing a surprisingly good job of covering for one of the shows early and worst weaknesses.  The cast of this show for awhile wasn’t terribly memorable.  The combination of all the murdered youths, the clones, and the masked people made a large cast feel very small and disconnected.  It’s no wonder that what remains is a bunch of freaks for the main cast of buddies.  Nagate is basically a caveman from the past who still is a type of social outcast because of his lack of social skills and his great piloting skills.  Yet strangely, you’d almost assume he’s the only eligible male on the colony given the ever growing and intensifying harem that surrounds him.  Izana was once a gender-less nothing, forever overshadowed by most any other character on-screen.  Though most of those other characters are now dead, Izana has now become female, started growing out of her shell and developing a real personality.  Yuhata is a little genius strategist who is secretly a giant gunpla nerd with a large and passionate crush on Nagate.  And Shiraui is just… she’s just a freak out and out.  I’ve already covered how weird her existence is.  And with these characters now living as well as working together, we’re starting to see a real dynamic set of relationships.  It’s a wonderful contrast from all the seemingly random encounters that seemed to happen for most of the show.

Now on the downside, there wasn’t much action to this episode.  Just some fumbling about in space really, but there was no attempt to build on the terror at the end of the previous episode.  There we see colonists die a horrible and unknown death just as they’re gloating about finding paradise and avoiding the Gauna.  It’s clear the Gauna killed them all, but we don’t know why or exactly how.  Even more frighteningly, it seems as though they discovered the Gauna on that planet.  It was as if they were just there, waiting.  And yet this episode doesn’t address that at all!  We don’t even get to see a short aftermath shot, or the terrified face on a dead body post massacre.  Instead, it’s just a thread left dangling before us as the show tells us to enjoy these nice relaxing character development scenes.  It’s a bit frustrating.

Sidonia has shown at times that it has a knack for pointing out a goal, while still appearing aimless.  This is what I felt this episode.  There were some nice personal character moments in this episode, but it still feels inexcusable to just give the tiniest teases about what’s happening next.  We know the massive hive cluster will have to be dealt with, and the colonists’ fates have to be discovered and addressed, too.  So give us something to even remind us that those things are a priority.  Even in the most light-hearted romcom type of moments, we should never forget the sci-fi horror that this show can dish out.

Note: the thousand year village looked amazing!  It really strikes home how much this is the last piece of Japan in this universe, a most precious piece of their history and culture most lovingly preserved.  Also, the technology of this world is really is awesome, but I probably would have been like Shiraui and been soaking in the joy of having a kotatsu.

Further Reading

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep7: boobs equal lady

For all the constant death and chaos of this show, I find myself appreciating the silly moments more and more.  It’s funny how when you clear up your preconceptions and fresh perspective can make all the difference.  For all its very light elements, there is a harem running through this show.  So when the action dies down, it’s nice to have scenes now with established characters working through their own real life issues.  Though an impromptu sex change is a bit on the obtuse side of life events.

OK, raise your hands if you DIDN’T think that manufacturing a Gauna into a giant planet destroying weapon was a bad idea.  Right.  Hands should all be down.  Granted, Shiranui has been a resounding success.  And I’m still puzzled by why its worked out so well.  I don’t think anyone realizes how important Nagate has been to the equation.  This is reflected in this latest experiment.  Ochiai can conjure up the projects, but he doesn’t totally understand them.  Kobayashi seems to be enamoured and blinded by unfettered power.  And both of these fools are so powerful that no one can stop them.  Even as this experiment literally blows up in their face and does massive damage to the colony, things just continue down the same road.  It’s madness.

On the domestic side of things, there are plenty of smaller threads being tugged on, some for nearly the first time.  Starting off, Samari, the ace veteran pilot finally has some sit down time with Nagate, gets drunk and offers to photosynthesize with him.  I was a little puzzled by this, and I’m afraid I missed the point of the encounter.  I had no idea she liked him in the least.  Though she may have been intrigued by his peerless piloting at first, and his polite compliments second.  Unfortunately, Nagate is as oblivious and brain dead about social interactions as any of the most inept anime protagonists out there.  I’m pretty sure the one thing that could out right defeat him is the sight of a vagina.  He has no training for that.

Then there’s the minor relationship of Ren and En with Nagate that’s slowly being brought up.  There’s been practically no progress on that end until now, and even then the potential for it was snubbed out with Samari’s surprise visit to Nagate’s station at work.  I’m on the fence as to whether this will actually add up to something, or she’ll just get brutally murdered in space without saying much of anything.

And then there’s Izana!  Oh how I have waited for this day when she would BUST out, and BLOSSOM into a young lady!  Yes, I can finally give Izana a gender, because she’s grown boobs – and I can assume a vagina.  Strangely, they don’t go into what was going on down below, even though that’s arguably what’s the more important “set-up” here.  All we get is –

BOOBS = LADY = YOU LIKE BOYS!

I guess they genetically engineered out all those pesky gay genes?

I’m only kidding.  It’s just another slightly strange thing to me in this already strange world.

I imagine some people at this point in the show might be getting bored. While there was action, it was more of a tease.  The offending Gauna just blew itself up in the end, probably from being too greedy and overloading on energy.  We’re just left chewing on more and more potential as the show keeps teasing its eventual massive upcoming battle.  But at some point, the show has to stop making promises and deliver, or at least give us something a little more tasty to chew on until that big pay off.  Right now, I’m just waiting.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep6: advancing & digressing at the same time

The weird harem continues and the Ochiai’s influence continues to seed more and more power and Gauna technology into the Sidonia’s veins.

On the long road that is Sidonia’s storytelling, you have to wonder at this point what the ultimate destination will be?  Sure, it could be pointing towards understanding, or merger.  Or if you prefer to have a more pessimistic view, we could be on the road to ultimate annihilation.  At this point, Gauna material is being imbued into all aspects of Sidonia’s military strategy.  But I doubt anyone truly understands what’s being played with here aside from Ochiai.  With this new graviton cannon being tested, we see the Sidonia having another option for defense and attack, as they have another weapon capable of planetary destruction.  In Shiranui, they have a more mobile weapon able to integrate with and augment their human forces and technology.  The battle with the massive Gauna hive cluster seems more imminent by the day.

The lighter side of this is seeing the ever increasing bond between Nagate, Izana and Shiranui.  I don’t care how native it appears to now be in the show, it’s still really weird.  Things have progressed to the point where Nagate took the time to research and move to a new home in order to better accommodate Shiranui’s visits.  He also takes the opportunity to invite Izana along, who pretends to grudgingly accept the offer.  It’s cute, but I have trouble envisioning how this ultimately plays out.  This isn’t just because they could all die at any point, but because the group dynamic is just so unique.

Overall, this episode isn’t without event, but not much significant happens.  It’s mostly another deliberate step towards the oncoming chaos.  The Sidonia is firmly entrenched on this road towards war with the massive Gauna hive cluster.  Everything being done now is meant towards that end.  All the massive upgrades and experiments and changes in leadership are in preparation to strengthen the political and military machines that keep the floating colony alive.  It’s very much like a boxer training for a match.  They know and continue to learn about their opponent, all while fine-tuning what they have to do to survive and beat that opponent.  I’m just curious if there’s more than a handful of people in Sidonia that knows that they have an enemy strengthening right next to them.  Their next opponent?  Perhaps.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep5: our tentacle monster splooges humanity

I’m finding myself a little puzzled as to what’s going on in this recovery and intermediate phase in the show. On one hand, we’re left to watch Izana and Shiranui recover from a harrowing battle. On the other, we have to watch the shadows for any signs of what’s going on in the background from the people who actually have knowledge and power. So this whole episode, I just found myself wondering, “am I really supposed to just sit around waiting for this alien tentacle monster to climb through some pipes? Is this really the highlight?

This show has one of the weirdest love triangles/harems.  Nagate is just a weirdo caveman basically in this world; full of poop smell and gross food eating habits.  And he finds himself drawing the romantic fawnings of a hermaphrodite, a genius strategist, a Gauna clone of a girl he used to like who is now long dead, and a tentacle monster.  And sadly, the genius is the most unlikely of shots in this group.  If Nagate got impregnated by the tentacle monster, it would be a more likely pairing!  And in this episode, things just get more weird and complicated.  With Shiranui getting gravely injured (as reported, 90% of her body was destroyed), and Izana being horribly maimed, we see Nagate treating Izana like the best buddy.  And then we see Shiranui being treated as something “more”.  Both of them recover fully, though Izana ends up receiving mechanical prosthetics, and we find the three of them becoming this trio of good friends.  I guess in this situation where you can die the next day in the void of space, just getting quiet time to hang out with friends is pretty valuable.

We do see at one point that Nagate still dreams of the long dead Shizuka, his longings for her likely prolonged by his visits with the Gauna clone.  It will be interesting to see how he reacts to the knowledge that that clone is the mother of Shiranui.  It just makes these relationships so much more awkward to piece together.  Nagate still longs for Shiranui’s mother’s original, while having a relationship with the chimera that seems to have a crush on him.  How the hell does the storyboarding for this work out?  Do the writers ever look around and laugh at how screwy this has all become?  It’s like Shizuka’s soul has been chopped and dispersed into this world in so many different ways.

And that’s mostly about it for this episode.  Most of the more important things seem to happen in the background.  The Sidonia is taking its place in this new star system for its seemingly doomed attack on the massive Gauna hive cluster.  As Yuhata remarks at one point, it doesn’t seem like they have any shot at victory, even with Shiranui.  This leaves me thinking that Ochiai must’ve shown Kobayashi something amazing to make her take these bold steps.

It is interesting to see the show’s attempts to humanize Shiranui more and more each episode.  Before, she was a completely alien and terrifying presence.  This recently revealed “cute” form of her’s is bridging that gap quite a bit.  And her actions in the last battle have started to win over the Sidonia’s populace quite a bit.  I still don’t understand how she fits into Ochiai’s end game, but for now she’s proving to be a nice addition to the cast.  Her, Nagate and Izana make this nice, really adorable group of friends, and they bring a nice bit of humanity to this cold show when together.

Further Reading:

Knights of Sidonia S2 ep3 & 4: read the tea leaves

It seems clear that the Gauna and the humans are headed in the same direction, even as they fight each other for survival.  Ochiai’s reseach is leading the humans towards a symbiotic relationship with the Gauna chimeras he’s beginning to create.  He’s impregnated the Gauna clone of Shizuka with human sperm (ew, I hope he used a turkey baster) and is now in the opening stages of mass producing chimera parts, and soon chimera themselves.  If Ochiai’s goal isn’t to subvert the human population of Sidonia with perfected chimera, then I’ll be shocked.

Another worrying aspect is just how aggressive Kobayashi has become since the murder of the Immortal (now ironically named) Council.  She’s diving in full bore into a war with the Gauna, with utter extermination as the only end game.  And while the populace is slowly showing more and more concern over this aggressive campaign of extermination of Gauna and integration of chimera, they don’t have an official voice for their concerns anymore.  Just as the people above her are now dead, the ones supposed to represent the people now can’t speak against her as she’s abolished the parliament.  It all feels very much that Sidonia is being lulled to sleep just before a big disaster.  The only positive aspect to this is a new unified initiative towards the Gauna, prompting a swift and aggressive response to their ever powerful, ever evolving foe. Read more…

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