Sidonia no Kishi – Episode 1: First Battle [First Impression]
“One hundred years have come to an end…” – Captain Kobayashi
Chris’ First Impression:
I’m not sure how to feel about this 3D CG…
Before we delve into the ‘good stuff’, I’d first like to make known my thoughts on the use of 3D CG in this anime: simple put, they should have simply kept it to the fight scenes. Why? Because it doesn’t actually look that bad when the Guardian’s are moving about in space – they’re robots after all – if they moved as smoothly as they do in most anime it’d just be weird. But when our cast of characters look like they’ve been created using claymation…’tis rather disconcerting, no? I felt as though, for the first half of the episode anyway, Polygon Pictures had warped Sidonia no Kishi into a comedy series – hell, I half expected Nagate to burst out of one of those rice bags on the conveyor belt after he fell so comically into the ‘rice pit’.
But I digress.
As a fan of the manga (now coming into it’s fifth year of publication, also being published in English by Vertical) I had high hopes for the anime – episode 1 did not disappoint. Nagate Tanikaze is the series main protagonist, having been raised deep inside Sidonia by his (now deceased) grandfather and therefore never having had the treatment necessary for him to sustain himself via photosynthesis. Thus, when his food supply runs out, he takes a trip to the surface, fearing being sent to the biothermal reactor as he does so…naturally, everything goes wrong, and he ends up, first, breaking two fingers, then smashing his head against a large chunks of metal whilst moving on a fast moving cart, only then to jump out of a window at least three stories high and hit the ground, which results in his being punched in the face by the haughty Norio Kunato (voice by the highly acclaimed Takahiro Sakurai, Psycho-Pass‘s Shōgo Makishima and Code Geass‘s Suzaku Kururugi)… The poor guy just can’t catch a break.
The first thing I’d like to note about the plot is how fast paced it is. In this sense, it is much like the manga, Nagate being discovered, being welcomed by Captain Kobayashi, and then being sent out on a mining mission in Kunato beloved Tsugumori only to meet a Gauna. That said, it never felt as though the speed at which the episode was moving was unnecessary. The only real issue I had with the pacing was the fact that we were being introduced to so many characters so quickly it felt as though I didn’t have enough time to process all of them separately, an introduction to one character leading into the introduction of five more, for example.
Sidonia itself is an interesting place. Again, we were introduced to so many concepts it was all really rather overwhelming. Photosynthesis? Third genders? Cloning (or, at least, that’s what I assume was going on with the band of pink haired ladies)? Asexual reproduction? These staples of the science fiction genre were very interesting to see and they were weaved effortlessly and smoothly into the plot, allowing the viewer to gauge the fact that they exist without having to think too much about it. I’m sure the various facets of each will be delved into at a later date, the need to actually fit all the necessary plot points into this first episode restricting development on such points, and so I guess we have some world building to look forward to… And what a world it is! Bland? Yes (and not necessarily in a bad way). Dystopian? Possibly… The fact that Sidonia is under martial law would suggest so (because, and let’s be honest here, most dystopian cities are under martial law), but I felt as though martial law was, perhaps, necessary in this case? I mean, the Gauna hadn’t been seen in one hundred years – yes, this is true – but the fact remains that they’re still a threat, as the last minute or two of the episode proved? That said, the leaders of Sidionia would imply further dystopian features… I mean, the protester did say, “Sidonia is ruled by undead! They wage a false war to prolong their own lives!“, and if that’s not indicative enough of an issue, I don’t know what is! Foreshadowing? I think so!
Now let’s talk about the characters… Nagate Tanikaze (or, punching bag extraordinaire) is your average dopey hero. We can tell that he excels at killing Gauna, but his inability to pilot a certain model of Guardian simulator made him seem in the eyes of all others to be somewhat incompetent. To be fair to the poor boy, he didn’t exactly talk a whole lot and so we don’t really know much about his character or his personality and that’s quite surprising considering the fact that he’s the main protagonist and in most first episode the main protagonist tends to steal the spotlight. Feasible love interests have so far come in the guise of Shizuka Hoshijiro (the cute, if not somewhat shy female who said about two words) and Izana Shinatose (the much more interesting hermaphrodite third gender). As of right now Hoshijiro seems to be the most likely love interest as she and Nagate shared the most ‘love stare’ moments, Izana and Nagate falling into ‘good friend’ territory, which is a shame considering Izana had much more character and probably won’t remain silent for the entire series like Hoshijiro… Then we have Kunato – Mr ‘I’m-Angry-For-Anger’s-Sake’ white haired snob… He and Nagate aren’t going to get on very well are they? Firstly, Nagate ‘stole’ his Tsugumori – Kunato’s Guardian of choice for defending Sidonia. Secondly…is Kunate interested in Hoshijro? “Let’s go to my place after this,” said Kunato, “Saying you personally know the current head of Kunato Development is no doubt going to help your career once you’re a pilot.” That bastard. I have a feeling Nagate is going to suffer at the hands of Kunato. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
We were also introduced to a slew of other characters (including a anthropomorphic talking bear named Hiyama…), but I feel as though I’m unable to discuss them without restricting their descriptions to single lines. There wasn’t a whole lot of character development in this first episode, but I suppose that’s to be expected from the first episode of a series with such a large cast. Hiroki Saito is one character that I would like to talk about however – Nagate’s grandfather. Who is he? The Captain made mention of his mummified corpse, but you have to wonder what kind of a man takes his grandson down into the depths of Sidonia and raises him there amongst battle simulators… Especially seeing as the urban legends details people going down into Sidonia’s depths never to return, although I feel as though that’s probably a form of governmental passive persuasion (more dystopian cliches!). I have a feeling there’s more to this old man than the Captain was letting on, especially seeing the way she greeted Nagate after he’s seemingly never met her before and the fact that she simply asked him straight out “I want you to be a Gardes pilot.” She knows something about Nagate and his grandfather…that said, if you spend your time talking to disembodied heads, you should probably know something of importance (that’s how anime works, right?).
Finally, the Gauna. Single point to attack? Placenta disintegration? Gauna cores? Only useful weapon is the Kabizashi? Color me confused and intrigued. It would seem that a lot is known about the Gauna and how to defeat them, but you’d expect this I suppose from a military school that has been preparing for attack for one hundred years. With the appearance of a Gauna at the end of the episode and the damage sustained by both Nagate and Yamano (the brown haired pilot who earlier abated Izana for her apathetic attitude), episode 2 looks to be an interesting and insightful battle between humanity and an enemy that these rookies have only heard of and seen in hologram form. I imagine there’s going to be a lot of helpless and hapless pilots flying about, and Nagate’s condition doesn’t put him in the best position to be fighting these enemies, but let’s hope his Guardian is as useful as Kunato alluded to or it’ll be Kunato who’ll have to save the day.
I wasn’t going to mention this, but as this is the summation of everything I’ve spoken about so far, I’d like to talk about the similarities that’ll most likely be drawn to Attack on Titan. Yes, humanity is now secluded in a single area and must fight an enemy seemingly much stronger than them, this enemy having a single weak spot and teenage children being used to fight them… I’m just going to put this out there – the first volume of Knight’s of Sidonia was published several months prior to Attack on Titan’s premiere. Don’t label Sidonia no Kishi a copycat! Fools. Otherwise, episode 1 of Sidonia no Kishi was great! It introduced us to the world, to the characters, and gave us a cliffhanger that left me wanting more of both. The 3D CG will put a lot of people off watching the series, but I implore you to hang on because I can almost taste the potential for this series to be a great one… That is all.
P.S, to all the manga readers out there…weren’t a couple of scenes missing? Mostly unimportant ones mind you, but character building ones nonetheless? I assume they’ll be in episode 2…
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed
Possibility of Blogging: Highly Probable