Knights of Sidonia (Season 1)

Despite the undeniable fact that the Anime fan base continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate everywhere around the world, mostly among young people, in the West the Anime remains largely a fringe form of entertainment. In the East however, Anime is hugely popular, especially in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

In Japan, far from being simply children’s entertainment, Anime became a real social phenomenon, pervading all walks of life. In this country, Anime is a huge, multi-billion dollar business with a diverse range of genres and themes targeting all demographics, and the Anime industry, consisting of over 430 Anime production companies, is always looking for new talents and new material for their TV series and feature films.

Having nothing else to do, Nagate spent many a day of his childhood in an old discarded Guardian simulator, becoming an expert pilot in the process.

The most obvious source material are successful Manga series which are frequently adapted into animated television series. To this end, Anime studios are constantly looking for new or up-and-coming Manga artists, and if a certain Manga series is popular enough, it may be animated after, or even during, its run. Longevity is usually a fairly good indicator of success and almost every long-running Manga series has its Anime counterpart. It was therefore only a matter of time before Knights of Sidonia, a 13-volume Manga series by Tsutomu Nihei, published since 2009, also got Anime treatment.

An Anime television series adaptation of Knights of Sidonia, produced by Japanese animation studio Polygon Pictures, premiered in Japan in April 2014 (on Netflix in July) and ended its first season in June 2014.

Sidonia’s population of over 500,000 souls is comprised equally of men, women, hermaphrodites and clones, such as the identical Honoka Sisters.

The series was directed by Kobun Shizuno (Detective Conan, G.I. Joe: Sigma 6), with script by Sadayuki Murai (Alien Nine, Astro Boy, Space Battleship Yamato 2199) and character designs by a relative newcomer animator Yuki Moriyama (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, Real Drive, Psychic Detective Yakumo).

The above team produced an overly satisfactory result in adapting the original Manga series into Anime format - the environmental art is of a reasonably high quality, as are character details, with all the main protagonists instantly recognisable. My only reservation is that there seems to be a big disparity between the quality of animation in the battle scenes taking place in space (outstanding) and in scenes that take place on the spaceship Sidonia (not-so-outstanding). My gut feeling is that this is due to different animators working on different parts of the series.

Guardians - gigantic space-faring mecha suits, and their pilots, serve as the Sidonia’s first and last line of defence against the threat of Gauna.

The opening song of the series is "Sidonia" by a Japanese pop band Angela and the closing theme is "Show" by a Japanese voice actress and singer Eri Kitamura, who also voices the identical cloned Honoka Sisters in the series.

Knights of Sidonia centres on Nagate Tanikaze, a youth living in a futuristic society of genetically engineered humans - descendants of the refugees who escaped the destruction of the Earth one thousand years earlier aboard the huge starship Sidonia, that now carries the last remnants of the humanity, roaming the vastness of space in search of a new home. Nagate, who lived his whole childhood in the underground layer of Sidonia with his elderly grandfather, spent his days in an old discarded Guardian simulator, eventually becoming an expert pilot.

After his talent as a pilot is recognised, Nagate joins the ranks of Sidonia’s elite defenders, initially assigned the call number TS-028.

After his grandfather's death, Nagate emerges, first time in his life, to the surface and, when his talent as a pilot is recognised, joins the ranks of Sidonia’s elite defenders - pilots of the huge mechanised exoskeletons called Guardians, who serve as the first and the last line of defence of Sidonia and its inhabitants against the Gauna - mysterious shapeshifting alien life form, that attacked the Earth a millennium previously and now is bent on finishing the job and wiping from existence also the remainder of the human race.

Knights of Sidonia was renewed for a second season titled Knights of Sidonia: War of the Ninth Planet (Sidonia no Kishi: Dai-kyu Wakusei Seneki), returning in November 2014.