Annotated Anime: Knights of Sidonia episode 5


The Little Prince


Polygon Pictures must have really taken it personally when I basically paid Knights of Sidonia a number of backhanded compliments, because this week's episode feels like them beating me over the head with evidence designed to refute my claims.

"'Low framerate', huh?! Here's your framerate! 'Fish-faced CG', you said? Well, take this! We'll show you depression and despair! When we're done with you you'll look like you forgot to wear your safety belt during an uneven Stage 5 Acceleration!"

And so on. But were they right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, this episode was frankly stunning, but the beauty was largely a result of some really great storyboarding and direction rather than an improvement in CG's technical quality. For a studio that handled the beautiful CG of Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (though admittedly on a much more forgiving budget and timeframe), it's a bit disheartening. The framerate is as low as it was before, and I'm afraid that if this improvement in the framing doesn't hold up, other, newer episodes with less adept direction could even look worse.

Either way, now's the time to enjoy some genuinely beautiful scenes as Knights of Sidonia slows it down and spends a bit of time adrift. Which is also the title of the episode, incidentally.

When I remarked earlier that Knights of Sidonia seemed to be taking it upon itself this week to refute my many backhanded compliments about its fatalism and sense of despair, I wasn't kidding. Not counting the false tension of wondering whether or not Nagate and Hoshijiro would make it back to the Sidonia (of course they would, they're lead characters!), this episode is patently hopeful, containing concrete triumphs and largely free of suffering and trauma.

It helps that it's also beautiful. Whereas the first four-odd episodes of Knights of Sidonia left me scrambling to find good-looking screenshots to populate the post, I could take any number of frames and stills from this week's offering and, cleaned up right, turn it into a great-looking high-contrast wallpaper. Just seeing the Tsugumori deploy its auxiliary Hyggs Particle-collecting "shades", the two budding lovebirds stand against the backdrop of space, or Sidonia's glorious 256-unit "rescue formation" is something to behold. If only the last four episodes had looked this good.

Of course, the calm and serenity of this week doesn't eradicate the horrors we've seen up until this point, or put us into the impression that mankind's ordeal is anywhere near over. In fact, Hoshijiro's brief snippets of exposition about the history of humanity's war with the Gauna suggest that the fight's been going on for far longer than anyone could've imagined.

Just imagine it. Assuming Sidonia's been floating about for at least a thousand years since the destruction of the Solar System (demonstrated by this rather horrific visual), and humanity and the Gauna had made first contact at least a few centuries before that, then having dozens of generations growing up and living in the shadow of cosmic monsters no one's ever been able to communicate with must have some nasty effect on your society.

But of course, there's more to it than that, as more hints about the truth behind the Sidonia's upper leadership are dropped. Like, for example, how the bear dorm lady, Hiyama, Captain Kobayashi, and her minion Ochiai are all at least 600 years old, having been among the first people to discover the Kabizashi from a giant swiss cheese wedge. Clearly, they know more about the Gauna, and about Nagate (or at least Nagate's grandfather Hiroki Saito) than they're letting on.

Either way, it's a rare moment of peace and triumph for a show badly in need of one. Even if Knights of Sidonia has been at its most impressive when being a real bummer, one can hardly begrudge it this.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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  • Knights of Sidonia Blu-rays releasing with additional angles - Brittany Vincent
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