Weeaboo Wednesday – Knights of Sidonia
Some in the anime subculture of geekdom might shudder at the term Weeaboo, a non-sequitur term created originally by the Perry Bible Fellowship it’s said to be on the level of Otaku…however I am taking it back, and using it as a general term for being a Japanophile. So yes, welcome to Weeaboo Wednesday where I do my best to sway you to watch, play, or read something from Japan…which isn’t hard at all these days to do.
If you have a Netflix account, on streaming right now, there’s a new anime series titled Knights of Sidonia (シドニアの騎士, trans. Shidonia no Kishi, lit. Sidonia’s Knights) that aired in between April and June of this year in Japan. The series was licensed to Netflix under their original programming banner much like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. I don’t normally fall so head over heels for a series but this was literally one of the most engrossing series I’ve had the pleasure of watching in years.
It’s a shame that it only produced 12 episodes thus far.
The anime is based on the manga by Tsutomu Nihei (Biomega, Blame!, NOiSE, Abara) and features cel-shaded computer generated animation. It is a very very pretty series that is set in a distant future of humankind time frame.
A basic synopsis is as follows, humanity discovers of the Higgs Particle (not the same as the boson) that can be used as a strong and abundant power source and communications medium. The use of this particle attracts an alien species known as Gauna who attack Earth and split it in two. People who escaped the initial devastation did so on seed ships in the hopes they could eventually find suitable planets to colonize outside of Gauna inhabited space.
On the seed ship Sidonia, the series protagonist (Nagate Tanikaze) has grown up with his grandfather who was an ace pilot for the military and has been reared in solitude, away from all other inhabitants of the ship and has only had a VR training module that taught him how to pilot a Guardian mecha in battles with the Gauna threat and served as his only form of entertainment.
Well as luck would have it, he runs out of food and goes on a search for sustenance that unwittingly leads to him being reintroduced into Sidonian society which features humans who photosynthesize, an intersex best friend, and a dorm matron that is a bear with human consciousness with a cybernetic arm. I know it sounds wacky but you quickly grow to enjoy each of the members of the cast.
Coinciding with his return is the return of the Gauna threat after a period of decades since last contact with the enemy. There is political tension, military coverups, immortal ship councils, a captain who wears a mask, and some of be best hard science fiction that I could ever hope to see in such a popular medium.
As an example of the hard sci-fi, gravity and inertia are actually used as pretty important plot points in the series. There are scenes of mass cannons that fire extremely dense and heavy projectiles at relativistic speeds as attacks, and even worries about the guardian mechs hitting bingo fuel and points of no return when battling. I can’t say enough good stuff about this show to suggest it further really.
I’ve read up on the entirety of the manga available in Japan and the surface has only just been scratched about what we can expect to see in the future. A warning if you plan on reading the manga ahead of the series, they do veer off in certain directions in the anime that aren’t covered exactly the same way as the manga, however it’s nothing near as bad as what happened with Fullmetal Alchemist’s first series.
In short, if you’re looking for a non confusing Evangelion-lite science heavy harem mecha heavy space battling anime that will put you on the edge of your seat in more than one scene, this show is for you. It gets my highest recommendation, and that should mean a lot as I’m VERY picky about what I spend time watching.