Saturday, April 12, 2014

First Impression: Knights of Sidonia

KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA: Arguably the most interesting sci-fi title this spring

The anime season of Spring 2014 has a lot of sci-fi titles, but those titles that captured my attention turned out disappointing -- well, that is until Knights of Sidonia aired a few days ago.

It has been a thousand years since an alien race known as the Gauna has destroyed the solar system, and humanity has managed to survive by drifting through space in seed ships like the Sidonia. The story follows Nagate Tanikaze, as he unwittingly becomes a pilot for the battle between humanity and the Gauna.

The first thing that really got me is the design. Knights of Sidonia has some solid backgrounds -- very detailed and colourful, that they come to the point of 3D CG. It is very consistent all throughout the episode, and it is not just limited to the battle scenes.

This consistency is either good or bad, depending on the viewer. It could be good because it beautifully portrays the world of Sidonia, making it more interesting and visually appealing, meaning that the creators also invested aesthetically in exposition sequences and not just in battle sequences. It could be bad because it greatly contradicts the character designs. The character designs remind me of Mamoru Hosoda’s style -- distinct but not very detailed. Inherently, it is not a bad design. But the fact that Knights of Sidonia has some solid backgrounds makes this simplistic style kind of awkward.

As for the story, this sci-fi anime also has something interesting to offer. The story is not yet fully expanded, but it is obvious that foreshadowing and exposition will play a role to pull it off. There are also some plot elements that add mystery.

But like the design, there is a problem in the story. The weak exposition makes the story direction somewhat confusing. Why is this character doing that? Why is this plot element important? There are just many sequences that seem to make no sense because of the lack of explanation.

The pilot episode's climax

To be fair, the lack of explanation could be a positive trait too. It has the potential to grab the viewers’ attention, as they hold on to the story to know more about it. It could subtly serve as a hook.

The characters of Knights of Sidonia are fairly interesting. The main character is just an ordinary person, and not some version of The Chosen One or Messiah. The character frameworks of the side characters are also interesting. We have a Captain that has hints of antagonism, a new friend that belongs to the new third gender, a jealous and ambitious co-pilot, an anthropomorphic talking bear, among many others.

The problem I have with the characterization is their overwhelming introduction. The pilot episode bombards the viewers with character introductions, that it comes to the point that, sometimes, you can’t connect with the characters any longer. Another problem is its limited potential for character development. The characters have little to no conflict inside them that could open them to development, or maybe we would see some internal conflicts in the later episodes.

Overall, I think Knights of Sidonia will be an interesting watch. Each department has its positives and negatives, but if the anime is viewed generally, it emits a positive impression, positive enough to give it a watch.


  1. From what you describes, Knights of Sidonia's concept intrigues me as well. I might have to at least watch the first episode.

    However, I have never been a fan of 3D animation in anime (especially when it is mixed with 2D animation), so I am a little skeptical about the animation. But from pictures you posted and the promos I saw earlier, I do agree that the character designs do remind me a lot of Mamoru Hosoda's work.


    1. Knights of Sidonia is not exactly amazing, but it does deserve to be watched at least a few episodes. The story seems interesting too.

      I'm actually fine with the animation, maybe because I easily got used to it because of the cut-scenes in some of the video games I've played when I was younger.

  2. Nice impression! And just curious, how many other Spring season anime have you been able to take a look at?

    1. I saw Captain Earth and the return of Fairy Tail, and wrote my impressions on them too. I've also seen Mekaku City Actors but I figured my impression of it wasn't worth writing. LOL. Haven't seen the original JBA and Mushishi so I'm skipping those for now.

    2. I know I shouldn't push you, but you really gotta see Mushishi and Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Both are simply fantastic, haha

    3. Thanks! And since we pretty much agree on a lot of things, then I think I'll like JBA and Mushishi. I'll check the original series first!