Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Knights of Sidonia (Season Two)

I should completely dismantle this season of Knights of Sidonia. I really, really should. And it would be soooo easy to do. As I was watching this I felt a bit disappointed with myself over how much I was enjoying myself. This anime went from Attack on Titan in space to Oreimo (well, without the sister complex) in space without batting an eye. I think I actually have whiplash from the change in tone. 

Damn it, I should be way more pissed off at this turn of events. But I'm not. Compared to other second seasons I've seen recently, this is still one of the better ones. I don't know how much that says, but there you go. 

In fact, I'm reminded of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu right now. If you've never seen Full Metal Panic than allow me to explain my analogy. Full Metal Panic was a mecha anime that had three total seasons, but it's second season was a parody and didn't really follow the series. As a parody it can be viewed by itself without even needing to watch the series. So it wasn't really a second season at all since it had no storyline or tonal ties to the previous or following season. 

Season two of Knights of Sidonia is similar to Fumoffu in that it doesn't feel like a true sequel, but the second season of Knights of Sidonia isn't a complete departure. There are still some major storyline moments that occur that make the second season required viewing. There is also continuity from both a thematic and visual standpoint. But these moments are stifled in favor of the harem story surrounding Izana, Tsumugi, Yuhata, and our beleaguered male lead Tanikaze Nagate. The bulk of these episodes concern how Izana is trying to advance her relationship with Nagate while Yahata and Tsumugi scheme to stop them. Of course, Tsumugi's presence alone is a frustrating and almost wasted plotpoint since she's reduced to this.

Tsumugi is a gauna-human hybrid created by one of the more arrogant characters of this series. The hows and whys are confusing to state in a few short sentences, but I'll try to make things brief as I can.

She was created by a scientist named Ochiai for the purposes of destroying gauna, but she has the personality of a high school girl and the voice of Nagate's dead girlfriend Hoshijiro.

Nagate naturally forms a bond with her (since he even managed to do so with the creepy ena that looked like Hoshijiro in the first season this does seem like a logical progression), but the entire time I was thinking that Tsumugi was a deception. Somehow she was going to turn evil. She was created by a guy that forcibly possessed people's minds and actually pulled off a coup d'etat that left every single member of the Immortal Council dead. Not too mention Tsumugi was part freaking gauna and strong enough to wipe out entire gauna clusters by herself.

At some point, Ochiai and Kobayashi were going to pull out all the stops and say, "Surprise, we own this country now and we have a giant half-gauna that will kill all of you if you don't agree to our wishes." I knew it would happen. I knew it would happen. There was just no way a character like Tsumugi could just be an odd but cutesy member of Nagate's harem. Right? She had to be a HUGE plot twist in the making that would bring destruction on Sidonia...

But nope, someone just said "fuck all that" and made her a member of a harem. Her entire presence in this anime is just agonizing considering her potential to actually advance this plot. Dear God. And who would've thought that a gauna's tentacles sound like a squeaking dog toy when those tentacles get patted together? Or was this a trait special to only Tsumugi?

Many of this season's shocking revelations were overthrown in favor of harem shenanigans that involved a space monster the size of a tall building. Huh?

The coup d'etat? It happened in the third episode and wasn't even mentioned again. Wouldn't someone actually discover that their government had been destroyed at some point before episode twelve? Are people in the far future really this dense? Hell, the only person in the entire series that suspects anything is a talking bear, but she just stands around nervously making the protagonist food.

And what about the people that left Sidonia earlier in the series? Nothing?

Nope, it's harem time, by God.

Instead of journeying to harem land it seemed like so much of this twelve episode runtime should have been put toward actually resolving these important plot points.

That doesn't mean this season was bad, though. In fact, what it did right it did damn right. Tsumugi is a fascinating character and adorable. Yes, she is a wasted plotpoint, but she was also a great character. The fact that she could be adorable and show a wide range of emotions despite being a monstrosity is a large catalyst for this season. Especially since so much of it is about her. She doesn't advance the story one damn bit, but she's so awesome to watch that it is impossible to not watch.

That's why, and I'm really cursing myself for this, I can't call this season a failure. I'd actually call it a success. The animation was great (even though I still prefer my anime hand drawn), the fights were great, and the usual harem and dating bits were pretty hilarious. This all came at a sacrifice to the realism and intensity of the first season, though. So, despite season two still being pretty good, it has a different tone and storytelling style that will probably throw off fans of the first season and understandably so.

The only real big drawback of season two were the introductions of HUGE plot twists that seemed to go nowhere. Tsumugi being an underutilized character, I could accept that since she was cute and done so well. Ochiai's resurrection and the death of the Immortal Council not even being touched upon more, I cannot accept. I imagine a third season will come rolling along sometime soon to elaborate everything left untouched in the second season, but it makes me wonder why those elements were introduced at all at that specific time if so much of this season was going to be devoted to dating humor. Thankfully, I like dating and harem humor. So... I guess I'll call this one a winner even though it probably shouldn't be.

Man, I hate myself now.

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