If there’s one thing this episode demonstrated, it’s the fact that after three episodes, Sidonia’s given us one of the best introductory segments of any series this season. It’s no small task considering how good the season’s been so far, but it goes to show what kind of quality Sidonia brings to the table. Then again, when you have a series where the animation and soundtrack improve week after week, the world building blends seamlessly with story progression, and the original creator and director clearly know what they’re doing, I guess it’s to be expected.
That said, it’s really is a treat to see how things are tied together in this series. Each week, there’s a clear thematic or developmental focus that drives the entire episode—the first episode focused exclusively on Tanikaze’s introduction and rise to Guardian Pilot and the second episode tied together Yamano’s flashbacks with her death and various developments that came from it—and it’s absolutely superb how each episode maintains an individual identity while also clearly being only a piece of the overall Sidonia puzzle.
Suffice to say, the third episode continues this in spectacular fashion, and it was great to see how they tied together the Gravity Festival and its “friendly” competition with the Elite Four’s actual combat with the Guana at the end of the episode. Each part essentially sets up for the next, and there’s something to be said about how the fight at the beginning (between fellow pilots) of the episode sets up the atmosphere for the skirmish that occurs between Kunato and Tanikaze in the middle of the episode, and the final flight of the Elite Four at the end as well. At the same time, it set the foundations for letting us see how strong the Elite Four were both individually and as a team, which serves the purpose of showing just how strong the Guana are, the difficulties the people within the Sidonia universe had to deal with a hundred years ago, and ironically the exact reason why our elite pilots don’t end up surviving their sortie. Granted, it’s quite possible the Elite Four would not have succeeded regardless, but it’s quite clear their teamwork and their closeness—particularly that of Akai and Momose—played at least some part in their defeat, and the Sidonia universe is not without its fair share of cruel irony.
The great thing about it all though, is just how detailed the Sidonia universe actually is, and each episode demonstrates the great care that was taken to develop it, and properly incorporate it within the story in a way that info-dumps isn’t necessary. Suffice to say, this is how writing and world-building should be—a few shows this season could learn a lot in this respect—and I can’t sing enough praises about how natural the interactions between the characters and the world are. It might be a world quite different from what we know, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from how the characters react to their everyday lives—a notion that makes their interactions and the setting much more compelling than it already is. The “if I win, will you photosynthesize with me?” pick-up line… the little luxuries of seeing the “sea”… the nervous jitters some of our Elite Four had before the fight… these are the little things that get emphasized in series like this, and these are the kind of elements that power a show to great heights if executed correctly—which is something Sidonia does.
On that note, an element that’s really gone under the radar for me is the occasional quip by Tanikaze about his injuries—which seem to grow by the week—and how they’ve “already” healed despite a small amount of time passing between episodes. Whether it’s a red herring or not remains to be seen, but its quite suspicious how quickly that healing does occur, and there’s much to be said about how Tanikaze’s different from the rest in terms of his VR simulator influenced personality too. Midorikawa Yuhata’s added involvement only brings the focus even harder on Tanikaze and his above norm abilities and virtually blank past, and there’s just a lot here in this story. It’s just too bad ts first season’s only running a measly 12 episodes…
Author’s Note: Please refrain from discussing content the manga past this point, ESPECIALLY if it’s not in response to a query of some sort. If you must, use a spoiler tag and indicate what spoiler is within.