A review of the first Sidonia no Kishi anime series
The first trailer that I saw for Sidonia no Kishi (Knights of Sidonia) was linked to by someone who was obviously very excited at the prospect of the series. For me, the trailer produced only indifference: giant robots, monsters, space; I’ve seen all of this before. Even the post-broadcast Netflix announcement trailer wouldn’t have convinced me, and I only saw that having watched the whole series. The core issue being that robots fighting in space is an easy sell but it’s not what makes Sidonia a special series. You can’t tout super-massive architecture, questioning the nature of humanity or glorious science-fiction as selling points in a minute and thirty seconds.
what humanity was before has ceded to pragmatism and necessity, to survive it must change and adapt
Many people have categorised the series as “hard” science-fiction which seems like a misuse of the term. Sidonia is very rich, but its use of laborious and detailed scientific explanations is extremely limited and most of the time non-existent - this isn’t Banner of the Stars. This is about a gargantuan colony “seed” ship, the titular Sidonia, floating through the cosmos defending itself against grotesque aggressors, the Gauna.
There aren’t many ways of describing Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess) that don’t boil down to it being “solid”. It starts pleasingly enough pitching a late medieval fantasy world where unicorns aren’t brushed snow stallions but grotesque slathering monsters, then proceeds to flesh out its trio, then quartet, of main characters before concluding with a satisfying end. A second season (or continuation of this season depending on your point of view of staggered broadcasts) has been announced which is unsurprising given that the series has been well received and has enough mileage in its premise to carry it through another dozen or so episodes.
The titular Chaika is an amnesiac goth loli with apple cheeks and a clipped, almost breathless cadence to her speech who is looking for the remains of her father, Emperor Gaz. Enlisting the help of the mercenaries, or “saboteurs” in the series’ lingo, Toru and Akari, the group set off to help Chaika in putting her father to rest. The issue being of course that Gaz was killed because of the war he started that lasted two hundred years, and his remains were separated so that his immense magical powers would not allow him to reform, T-1000 style, and start up hostilities all over again. Nothing is ever easy.