Thursday, July 31, 2014

Anime Review: Knights of Sidonia (Season 1) (TV)

Knights of Sidonia (Review)
Japan/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...an action-packed anime with an engaging and interesting story."

On the brink of extinction, humanity lives on a spaceship called Sidonia and attempt to survive encounters with a deadly alien species called "Gauna."

I'll try to keep the story details short for the sake of this review. Knights of Sidonia follows under-dweller Nagate Tanikaze when he's captured stealing food and brought to mainland Sidonia. Soon thereafter, captain Kobayashi promises guardianship to Tanikaze as long as he becomes a pilot for Sidonia to fight off the Gauna -- of course, Sidonia hasn't been attacked by the Gauna in over 100 years. As you'd expect, Sidonia eventually faces their first encounter and Tanikaze's journey to becoming a Knight of Sidonia begins. There's plenty of action packed into these 12 episodes, as well as some surprisingly effective romance and humor elements. The climax is epic, and the ending leaves you wanting more.

Right off the bat, Knights of Sidonia shares a handful of similarities to an anime I recently reviewed, Attack on Titan. A highly skilled and "special" protagonist, a mysterious enemy who attacks humanity for no apparent reason, 100 years since the last attack... the Gauna even have to be killed in a similar manner. Fortunately, Knights of Sidonia differentiates itself through different action sequences and a greater focus on a specific set of characters. The latter, in turn, I think makes Knights of Sidonia slightly more effective than Attack on Titan, at least during certain moments.

But, enough comparisons, Knights of Sidonia is an action-packed anime with an engaging and interesting story. The story kept me hooked from beginning to end, especially the very interesting background information. In fact, I was so interested in the background story and the characters, I wished the season was longer. Every time an episode ended, I wanted to jump right into the next. The only aspect of the story I didn't like was the cliché rivalry subplot -- fortunately, it's short-lived and actually becomes refreshing during the ending. The action is very fluid and thrilling. The pilots fly out into space in their mechs and weave and dodge through several types of Gauna -- its exciting, fast, edge-of-your-seat style action. If you want loss and emotion, there's plenty of that -- fortunately, the melodramatics are limited.

I watched the Netflix Instant stream, which features both Japanese and English dubs. I opted for the Japanese because it never disappoints. The Japanese voice acting is as genuine and as enthusiastic as ever. I'm not certain because I'm not a huge anime fan, but Knights of Sidonia seems to blend computer and traditional animation for its style, and it doesn't skimp on animation. The series looks amazing with fluid movement and a very vivid use of vibrant colors and amazing particle effects. The music is also fantastic in creating an epic mood and atmosphere. Directors Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita are great in crafting their vision with minimal filler.

Overall, Knights of Sidonia is a fantastic anime. This first season is epic and thrilling, with a balanced blend of character development, action, humor, and some romance -- all of which are very effective. Aside from a few striking similarities, Knights of Sidonia is also original and refreshing. (That may be because I'm just getting back into anime, though.) There was only that one subplot that I didn't like; otherwise, it was an amazing experience.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood. Some brief nudity. (you really never see anything "specific", but most characters in this series must be nude for photosynthesis -- I forgot to mention that in the review, but that's how they adapted to stay nourished.)

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