Netflix is becoming one of the few powerhouse names of online entertainment that spearheads it’s own original content. Originally reserved for live-action dramas like the infamous House Of Cards and
that show about the friendly girl vacay prison Orange is the New Black. But it seems they are making the brave journey in creating animated series, an effort that has to be commended at the very least. Knights Of Sidonia is Netflix’s more recent attempts of creating an animation which, unlike BoJack Horseman, falls outside the humour bracket.
Knight Of Sidonia, based on the manga series in the Afternoon magazine by Tsutomu Nihei, takes place, like all great sci-fi animes, in the future, where the Earth is no more, and colonies and large space stations built from her remains try to ward off the gargantuan, shapeshifting, near-indestructible aliens known as Gauna, who threaten to again destroy their world after a century-hiatus. Sidonia is the last spaceship who helps lead the fight, where young pilots are drafted in typical Israeli-fashion and made to use mobility offensive suits called Gardes.
It is however with the arrival of Nagate Tanikaze that we realise this Utopian world is not all it’s cracked up to be. Nagate, the ‘under-dweller’ that lived in Sidonia’s underground and ascended to become a Guardian pilot, is made to operate the fabled Mark-17, much to the disgust of fellow cadets. Nagate amazingly masters his suit on his first routine-turn-crisis outing. Not bad considering his only experience operating a Garde was through years of simulated runs.
Sidonia is a Brave New World so to speak; asexual reproduction, cloning, Eternal life for the Elites and ‘human photosynthesis’ (a process that makes eating only necessary once every two weeks) are all commonplace in society. So you can imagine any form of ‘individuality’ and rebellion isn’t celebrated here much. Aldous Huxley would be proud.
I’m sure the ‘cloning’ theme makes certain aspects of the animation’s creation easier, but to be fair, Knights Of Sidonia produces a very decent animation with a narrative that holds up. Of course there are elements that I think could be better; parts of the animation I felt like I was almost being shown a safety video about working in Sidonia. Like Gravity belts must be on at all times in case there is another artificial gravity malfunction that killed loads 100 years ago.
Ok we get it. Sidonia has a lot of need-to-knows. But in all I felt this was a start to something greater, and the 3D animation does well at times to mimic the lithe characteristics often congenital to traditional cell-shaded animation. Art lessons from the Gauna then. Sounds good too, reverb-y at places, maybe too much for some. But I tend to like brassy sound design.
And with production of season 2 already on the way, Knights of Sidonia has great potential to become even grander in scope. I for one love what they have done and being as greedy as I am, can’t wait for more. Still need some convincing to part with that Netflix subscription fee? Not sure why, but may the trailer jog your decision-making on its rightful path: