by Whitney Grace
Forgive me Knights of Sidonia fans, but I fail to understand this manga’s appeal. When I first glimpsed at the manga from Vertical, I thought this book looked neat and would be a nice break from the typical shonen fair. The cover has the main character Nagate Tanikaze standing on the outstretched hand of a giant robot with a katana in his hand, without a helmet, and he is out in space. On first glance, it appears that Nagate is vacuuming, but why would he be cleaning out in space when there already is a vacuum? Haha! The cover art also attracted my attention, because it looks like a project a high school student did in art class–one of the anime/manga fans who shows off his talent whenever he can. Without even opening the book, it is different from the usual manga and it was intriguing.
The problems rolled in from page one. Knights of Sidonia is supposed to be about a space ship called Sidonia that has been in space for ten human generations. The solar system was destroyed by an invading alien force that still poses a threat.
Humans the have changed out in the void, such as developing photosynthesis and new genders. The hero Nagate has never come into contact with another human, except for his recently deceased grandfather. Circumstances force Nagate to leave the ship’s depths to find food, but his first encounters with humans are less than perfect. He ends up being punched in the stomach and sent to the infirmary. He makes bland comments about keeping his humanity intake, fast forward a few pages and he is enrolled in a mecha trainee program. Not surprising, Nagate works his way to the top of the class roister and is offered a chance to become a pilot. Some battles ensure, he and another pilot see the alien up close and that gains him notoriety. Throw in some comments about wanting to stop fighting, splash pages of the mecha, and a budding romance and Ta-da! volume one is complete.
Have I seen it before? Yes. Where? In nearly every other mecha manga. Does it have redeeming qualities? Yes. What are they? The art for some odd reason. I still find the style intriguing, because it stands out from the usual science-fiction stuff. The story does grab my attention towards the end when the alien absorbs one of Nagate’s friends and uses it as a weapon, so the bad guy is clever. Anything else? Not really. It is hard to see how this manga will last longer than the first volume, but I’ll give credit to the art. Manga fans want something different and this is what we get. Check. please.