This week we’re taking a look at a new manga creator, Tsutomu Nihei, and one of his manga which is going to be adapated into an anime, and which has already been licensed for streaming… by Netflix. And they’re going to do a dub.
Title: Knights of Sidonia, Volume 1
Story and Art by Tsutomu Nihei
Translation by Kumar Swahubramanian
Published by Vertical
In the far future, the Earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to an invasion by an alien race called the Gauna. Humanity’s last hope for survival is the seed ship Sidonia, which is making its way between the stars, in the hope of finding a habitable world free of the Gauna. In the years since humanity abandoned the Earth, it has changed, developing new genders and the ability to photosynthesize and Uplifting various species of animals (particularly bears).
Nagate Tanikaze has only known life within the depths of the ship, somehow living off the grid, scavanging for food and playing a simulation where he controls the mecha Tsugamori to defend Sidonia form the Gauna. After Tanikaze is caught stealing food (as he can’t photosynthesize). He is sponsored for citizenship, and becomes a mecha pilot. His first ship he is assigned to pilot is the Tsugamori.
Nihei does a great job at giving the story a sense of tension without being overpowering. He sets up the dangers of space, combined with the threat of the Gauna, in a fashion where we and reader understand how dangerous everything is, without setting up an Everyone Can Die environment so early that it leads to the reader lose any reason to care about the characters.
The running gag of Nagate’s stomach rumbling due to his inability to photosynthesize gets old real fast.
Originality: The setting is, at this point, a mix of an SF apocalyptic exodus story, plus some trans-humanist elements, and a mecha series (though it’s not clear at this point if it’s a real robot or super robot series). 5/6
Artwork: The interiors of the Sidonia have a nice mix of mundane environments with industrial elements. Also, the Gauna are horrific, with a strong sense of body horror to them. 5/6
Story: While Nagate is knowledgeable enough about the Gauna and Sidonia to not come across like an idiot, he’s not so knowledgeable that he isn’t a suitable audience perspective character – which is important, because this volume of the story is the audience’s introduction to this world as much as it is for Nagate. If Nagate was too knowledgeable, the exposition would be too clunky, and if he was too ignorant, it would be unreasonable to buy into him getting the position of piloting the Tsugamori. 5/6
Emotional Response: I enjoyed the story, and want to read more, but I haven’t really had enough time to get attached to any of the characters yet. 4/6
Characterization: The characters in the manga are interestingly developed, and very likable, though aside from Nagate, we don’t get a lot of time with most of them this volume. 4/6
Overall: An interesting start to the manga, and one that hooked me in a lot more than some of the manga’s peers, like Attack on Titan. 5/6
In total, Knights of Sidonia Volume 1 gets 38/42