Netflix has had many successes with its original television shows since House of Cards set the whole thing off back in 2013, but its first anime, Knights of Sidonia, is still one of my favorites. The first season was released last July and it left me with so many questions: just what is the nature of the captured Ena? What is Kunato’s plan to regain the respect and admiration of his peers? How can humanity possibly stop the endless onslaught of the Gauna threat? Luckily, Knights of Sidonia: Season 2 answers some of these questions, though not in ways I would have expected.
Season two begins with our hero, Tanakaze Nagate, mourning the disappearance of the captured Ena, the sample taken from the deadly Gauna Crimson Hawkmoth that bears the appearance of his dead friend Honoka. At the same time his former rival Kunato and his assistant are attempting to recover the research of the condemned scientist Ochiai, a former ally of Sidonia’s Captain Kobayashi, who was attempting to create a Gauna-Human hybrid before his incarceration in the most secret depths of the ship. As the season progresses this research could prove to be the savior of humanity – or its utter destruction.
Knights of Sidonia, while not varying too far from the typical tropes of the mecha genre, does manage to surprise me on a regular basis. Yes, Tanakaze may be the typical young, shy, male teen with an uncanny knack for piloting giant robots cliché that runs rampant throughout the genre, but he has something that a lot of writers tend to forget: a character arc. He starts out very much like Luke Skywalker, just a know-nothing kid who lives on the boundaries of society, but holds a massive potential for good. As the series goes on, especially in season two, Tanakaze begins to accept his role as not only a Garde pilot, but as a leader, and as a friend.
Just as you’d expect from the first season, the second has plenty of eye candy in the way of environment and prop design. I especially thought the design of the cybernetic hand that one of the characters gets that allows for more precise control of the mechs, as well as the design of the Crimson Hawk Moth, the only Gauna known to take the form of a Garde unit. The only problem I had with any of the art was the way the new hybrid unit interacted with Tanakaze and the other characters. It needed some more characterization, as well as being a generally boring design altogether, although the way she got around the ship was fairly clever.
The main problem I have with the series is the pacing. There will be a stretch of three episodes that have some fantastic action scenes, with a lot of plot and characterization happening, and this is really where the series shines. After that, though, the next episode feels more like an after-school drama than a space opera. Characters will also be introduced with much fanfare and then either killed off – or just not mentioned again. One scientist in particular was introduced as the main mediator between Tanakaze and the captured Ena, but was then nearly brainwashed and subsequently never heard from again.
Other than some minor writing gripes, I readily recommend this series. Knights of Sidonia: Season 2 continues a great series with some fantastic moments, and it’s great binge watching material to boot. It may be relatively new to the scene, but Knights of Sidonia is definitely in my top five sci-fi anime list. You can currently find both seasons on Netflix, either dubbed in English or in their original Japanese with subtitles.