Knights of Sidonia Season 1 Review

Mankind finds itself facing the threat of the alien species known as Gauna after nearly becoming extinct by its attack on Earth.  Many years following its temporary disappearance, a man finds himself inducted into the newly advanced race of mankind and thrown head first into fighting for its survival.

knightsofsidonia9Synopsis
Since his birth, Nagato Tanikaze has lived his life in the deep undergrounds of the colony space ship of Sidonia.  After his grandfather’s death, Tanikaze is left alone but later finds himself captured and taken into the fold of society above ground.

Going from a life of hiding underground and practicing combat training with his grandfather, to a life of fighting for the colony of Sidonia, Tanikaze manages to prove his worth and skill as he works alongside allies against the Gauna.  The Gauna who nearly destroyed all humanity many years before have reappeared once again to become their ultimate threat.

Story
knightsofsidonia7Knights of Sidonia is definitely one of those shows that is nearly impossible to fit much of its vast world into a small synopsis. That’s because one of its greatest features is its ability to build a deep and interesting world. One that doesn’t tell you about itself, but rather shows you. Never feeling like too much, but rather slowly sprinkling information over the course of the story’s progression. The new advancement in mankind’s bodily structure, the Gauna, the alternate future history, the Sidonia colony, the functions of the colony, clones, and so much more.

While watching this first season, I easily found myself swept up by this world. Eating every bit of it up while getting entertaining breathers in the form of fun action scenes. Action that doesn’t always conclude by a simple blasting of an knightsofsidonia4enemy, but rather a series of interesting twists and turns that always left me guessing and at the edge of my seat. It’s nice that even though the series does feature giant robots that pilots control, it never felt like “just a mecha.”

The only questionable point of the series comes in the form of characters. With such a focus on the colony and an entire army of soldiers, it’s often difficult to really flesh out any particular character. Instead the show really keeps any heavy build to just a select few, while only dealing with the personality of the remaining. For that reason, I didn’t find myself attaching to any particular character, or seeking their individual progression, but rather the colony as a whole. I wanted to see the history of the colony, see it survive, and see its progression.  That said, I can’t deny a little love for a couple of characters.

knightsofsidonia5Though the series does leave off with a lot of questions, it thankfully continues on into another season.  Where that one ends however, remains to be seen.

Animation
Coming into Knights of Sidonia was rather troubling for me.  Full CGI shows make me flee in terror and I honestly didn’t like a lot of the characters similar look and robotic movements from first glance.  Even still, I stuck with it and I’m glad I did.

Beyond the first shock of the CGI is a very visually pleasing show that does a great job at showing detail.  It doesn’t look overly clean and fake, the environments are grand in scale, and the combat sequences are amazingly entertaining.  I still can’t say that it lost its robotic movement completely, and there was some more dire knightsofsidonia1expressions that didn’t seem to come across in CGI faces, but over time it seems to become less of an issue as the animation team seems to perfect their art.

Verdict
Knights of Sidonia managed to create one of those types of worlds that I love finding myself lost in.  A world that seems to be imagined in a great sense over time.  A fascinating world filled with many elements that I enjoyed seeing unraveled one by one.  Thankfully the story continues on past the first season into a second season that I can’t wait to dive into.

While it does struggle with robotic CGI work here and there, it never seems to pull me out of the experience thanks to some really well done combat and storytelling.  It’s world building first, and mecha second, but it doesn’t stop it from being one fun ride thanks to its edge-of-your-seat combat sequences.  If everything I mentioned is your cup of tea, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Want to check it out? Knights of Sidonia is available from Sentai Filmworks and currently streaming on Netflix!

THUMBS UP!

REVIEW VERDICT:
Great!

Goods:

  • Deep and rich world
  • Great action and twists
  • Great sound design

Bads:

  • Bad cliffhanger ending
  • Comedy often falls short
  • CGI faces look plain at times
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.