OP: 「シドニア」 (Sidonia) by angela
This series is packed full of many interesting ideas realized in a gritty, realistic fashion. If you like sci-fi, watch this. If you want to see some of the pathways science may take us, watch this.
Fish out of Water
It’s an ancient problem with heavy sci-fi, fantasy, or any situation or setting that is radically different from one your readers would instantly recognize: How do you explain everything to the audience without having the characters spout exposition unnaturally? The fish out of water (trope!) is a classic example, and I quite like how it was used here.
Starting out in the simulator was a nice touch, because it gave us a glimpse of the action to come – and revealed that protagonist Tanikaze Nagate (Ohsaka Ryota) is going to be a badass by showing it instead of telling us – but it preserved his fish out of water status. Him being familiar with the setting but not – not being able to perform photosynthesis, not knowing about the third gender, etc. – allowed them to explain things to us without the characters spouting off things they would normally all know (except for the mention of the 28 special spears that can kill Gauna, the Kabizashi, but I’ll give them one). I called the first episode of No Game No Life one of the smoothest first episodes I’ve seen in a while, but this one matches, if not beats it, in smoothly introducing details about a very complex world. Compared to the first episode of Mahouka, I never felt confused.
Though this is more Zephy’s schtick than me, I find sci-fi like Sidonia fascinating because it explores the possibilities of the future. Good sci-fi can do that with a single idea – Steins;Gate did that with time travel – but Sidonia is doing that with a lot of them. Humanity in this series is radically different from the one we all know and belong to, but it’s both interesting and somehow realistic. They’re not wearing super-futuristic leotards, they’re wearing spacesuits, the idea of splicing photosynthesis into humans is a very believable one that’s been explored before, and building a ship out of/into an asteroid is something I can see humanity doing. Sleek and elegant aren’t hallmarks of our species, at least not when we’re on the cutting edge. Rough and utilitarian are more our speed.
Another thing I can easily see humanity meddling with is sex, what with how obsessed we are with it (hur hur hur). Note that I deliberately said sex – depending on your view, we already have far more than two genders now, that being a social construct rather than a biological one. Sex though, we Earth humans only have the two, whereas Sidonia’s humans have come up with one more – intersex, or neither/both. What I find fascinating is that intersex characters like Shinatose Izana (Toyosaki Aki) apparently are not both sexes, they’re neither until they decide to be one. (I hope I got that right.) I don’t have a clue what’s in Izana’s shorts right now – or what pronouns to use for him and/or her, though I look forward to watching Zephy write around that language snarl – but it’s probably not crowded at the moment, because apparently her and/or his body adapts whenever he and/or she picks a mate. Gods, this language is not equipped to deal with Izana! Which is kind of fun in it’s own right.
Bonus points: Pants = male, skirt = female, shorts = neither/both. Convenient!
Thank you Arpeggio for getting me over my bias against CGI, because here it works. The piloting sections work especially well because it really feels like you’re in the cockpit with Nagate and the others, because once you get used to the CGI characters they’re no more obtrusive to one’s suspension of disbelief than traditionally animated characters. As I’ve long said, it’s only in the switching between the two that immersion is lost, so if we never switch, all good right? Apparently so, because it’s working here so far.
It did get a touch slapstick at time, such as when Nagate fell into the rice thresher. Movement is cheaper with CGI, so sometimes they’re more willing to indulge in it, which is great for combat but not so much when heavily telegraphed comedic slapstick interferes with the tone. It wasn’t bad though, a minor quibble really. Keep that down and focus on the mech spaceship vs Gauna action and I’ll be a happy camper.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this introductory post. The good news is you won’t have to put up with me yakking about this series for long, because once Zephyr is back from saving starving children or whatever-the-hell he’s doing this weekend (Edit: PAX East, that was it! Oh well, saving starving children sounds better) he’ll be covering this week to week! Yes, Zephy has picked up Sidonia no Kishi, so look forward to posts from the Sci-Fi master from next week onwards. Enjoy!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Photosynthesis, three sexes, & colony carved into an asteroid. That’s the rough & gritty space future I can believe in #sidonia_anime 01
- Catch all that about the mummified Saitou Hiroki? That was also the name on the board that told Nagate to not go out of the basements. Though I have to wonder if the timing of when Nagate ran out of food was a coincidence or not…
- Ruled by the undead, iiiinteresting…
- Arai Satomi as a bear who runs the dorms! I don’t think it’s possible for her to get a serious role…and I’m okay with this!
- The contact boots were another good example of using the fish out of water to deftly add a bit of color to the world. Very well done.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: I’ll allow it; Useful lies; Missing the point; and You don’t get credit for the words you don’t write.
ED: 「掌 -show-」 (Tenohira -show-) by 喜多村英梨 (Kitamura Eri)