Friday, June 3, 2016

Knights Of Sidonia S1 Ep4: Sacrifices

"One of Japan's best space-based anime since Star Blazers."
-The Sci-Fi Fanatic (ha! no quote for this episode so you can quote me)-
There's much to pick from within anime. Make one of those choices Knights Of Sidonia (2014-2015). It stands worlds apart.

Knights Of Sidonia once again reinforces the cold hard fact that Knights Of Sidonia is one of the finest space-based, science fiction, survival series to ever hail from Japan alongside the likes of Space Battleship Yamato (1974-1975) a.k.a. Star Blazers (1979-1984).

It's rare to discover such an immersive anime with which one can get lost.

Anime, too, is sometimes so culturally unique this sci-fi fanatic can be all too aware of that fact. Instead of losing one's self within the mythology and the world-building one can be distracted. Of course, other times it is that cultural sense of other that can be so alluring. In the case of Knights Of Sidonia there is that inviting feeling of something entirely unique and culturally special about the series, but also a series that is mythologically vital from the best in science fiction.

Despite underwhelming anime productions, of which there are many, there are a good number of classics that do take us into their imagined worlds and allow us to escape into an entirely moving experience like any great television series or film. Ghost In The Shell (1995), Akira (1988) and Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996) are exquisite examples of the art form performed meticulously through its visual medium conveyed through animation and story. Add Knights Of Sidonia to that list. Consider and count its qualities among the very best.

Knights Of Sidonia, Season One, Episode 4, Sacrifices, also referred to as Choice, recounts the final events surrounding the demise of Team Akai Squad at the hands of the Gauna in Ep3, Glory. Here.

Captain Kobayashi orders implementation of the mass heavy cannon and a cylindrical, physical cannon is fired from Sidonia's weapon toward the Guana.

If the Guana cannot be destroyed, the hope is to at least alter the Guana's trajectory from reaching Sidonia. This indicates the Guana is slow to course correct.

There is a genuine sense of urgency in play throughout the series and Sacrifices is no exception. Much is at stake as Kobayashi leads the charge.

Unfortunately the cannon fails.

Kobayashi must make an extremely difficult decision. She must move Sidonia herself in an accelerated diagonal direction. The sheer number of casualties is often catastrophic. Mass casualties are projected to result but Kobayashi is unmoved fully aware that a Guana must not breach Sidonia. As difficult as the decision is humanity's fate is at stake.

And with the fate of humankind at hand and once again facing extinction in yet another climactic moment in humanity's ongoing struggle against the Guana hard decisions are made. Decisions are critical and every second counts in the heat of battle with this shape-shifting, lethal enemy.

Residents scurry receiving word of an anti-gravity alert in one of the most harrowing sequences in the episode. The suspense is palpable as residents rush to fasten gravity belts to railings and space becomes limited as railings fill up and residents are left with seconds to tether to a fixed rail. Lives are dependent on railings to hold as Sidonia will whip residents to and fro in a matter of mere moments.

Close-ups of metallic belts grapple their respective rails.

Sidonia will alter its own course as one of Sidonia's two massive double barrel accelerators forces the floating lifeboat to change course.

When Sidonia does alter its course the internal structures shift and break and debris and shrapnel fly through the air. Residents unable to hang on are crushed against Sidonia's inner walls. Blood splatter mark walls as people fall to their deaths and are crushed by debris or against structures. It is a horrific sight as the consequences of these decisions are fatal for many. This is indeed the weight of the many outweighing the few, but not few enough. This maneuver is a nightmare and clearly remains a fact of life for Sidonians.

Caught in the moment of what was in play, this writer considered alternatives to avoiding the kind of mass casualties sustained by Sidonia in such a scenario, but came up empty. How does a lifeboat acting as both a ship and a teeming civilization avoid such losses? Apart from affixing more secured posts with which citizens could fasten, the catastrophic damage and heavy losses seems almost unavoidable amid such drastic circumstances.

It is with these sizable life and death decisions that one can only imagine and understand why Captain Kobayashi must wear a stone-faced mask. No emotion can be seen on a face that must bear the weight and countenance of such austere, command decisions. One can only imagine the mask is there to protect others from the pain of such a display and promote an appearance of strength and resolve to those around her.

There are indeed many sacrifices for the choices made. Choice and sacrifice are indeed entwined. One can only surmise that Kobayashi must feel like a virtual island in such a lonely position.

As the Guana alters trajectory Sidonia fires its second giant thruster to further accelerate from its path. Sidonia evades the Guana by seconds as the Guana continues its course away from Sidonia. Maneuverability is clearly a weakness of the Guana as well as Sidonia herself. The casualties and loss of life are on an epic scale leaving a blood bath in its wake as artificial gravity is restored along with the calm that follows a storm of destruction.

Cadets and Pilots are assembled tasked with retrieving one of two lost Kabizashi spears. The spear is located at the very limit to which a Garde may return to Sidonia.

The midway break.
100 Sights Of Sidonia: Small Size Factory Level.
100 Sights Of Sidonia: East-I346 Outer Environs Connecting Bridge.

A massive wave of Garde pilots are assembled whilst a small Kabizashi retrieval team is tasked with the spear's return. The four pilot team moves to the search area via clasp formation. Nagate Tanikaze is backed by Shizuka Hoshijiro.

Knights Of Sidonia gives its lead Nagate a nice visual differentiation by placing him within the red accented Mark 17, the Tsugomori, while the others are in the newer, blue accented Mark 18s.

The remaining squadron takes up a defensive formation around Sidonia.

With the Kabizashi retrieved, it is learned the Guana is moving toward the retrieval team.

The group escapes via clasp formation only to discover the Guana is changing. The enna shapes like a flower and fires upon the group which must disengage clasp formation or perish. A stalk-like feature akin to a flower's stamen, anther or stigma fires upon the group.

Fired upon by heigus particles the Garde units sustain damage. Hoshijiro's Garde malfunctions and its engines traject her away from the others and spin her away from Sidonia.

Hoshijiro's Garde unit explodes but Hoshijiro is able to eject. Interestingly she is later inside a small bubble, but when she ejects she is not. One can only assume the back pack upon Hoshijiro's person creates this small lifeboat-like bubble.

Against orders Nagate grabs the Kabizashi and heads straight for the Guana.

Fired upon by the Guana with Heigus Particles, one of Nagate's Garde arms is severed. With the Guana's core still exposed from its offensive maneuver Tanikaze quickly uses a high-output laser cannon essentially shocking the Guana and wounding it long enough for Tanikaze to attack its core with the Kabizashi. Guana 487 is destroyed.

Despite being low on resources the heroic Nagate sets course outside of the point of no return to find Hoshijiro who is floating in space adrift (the title of our next installment).

Not only is Sacrifices yet another exceptional science fiction entry in the series, the series itself, Knights Of Sidonia, continues to exemplify quality as one of the choicest anime in recent memory. This is quite simply several cuts above your standard mecha anime. With so much at stake for humanity and characters to care about it's easy to invest emotionally and explore the Knights Of Sidonia.


TS Hart said...

What a wonderful review. Keep up the good work.

SFF said...

I really appreciate that. Thank you. Why KOS isn't bigger I'll never know.