Manga in Minutes: Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 2
Tsutomu Nihei’s sci-fi/mecha series continues with Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 2! Things start off badly for the beleaguered Seed Ship, the Sidonia, facing tragedy following tragedy following a failed attempt at staving off a Gauna attack. Will our hero, the clumsy and accident prone Nagate Tanikaze be able to turn the tide?
Much like Attack on Titan, at this point the most interesting thing about Knights of Sidonia is the world building. Aside from that the entire thing feels like Nihei trying his best to adjust his style to fit a shonen mold, but it doesn’t quite work. Nagate’s a bland and forgettable character, which isn’t shocking for Nihei, but at least in previous series his characters had the cool, capable, bad ass thing down pat which in turn led to wonderfully insane action pieces. Nagate just stumbles along cluelessly, something that occasionally leads to some slap stick humor, but more often than not just leads to bland interactions with potential love interests. The few tidbits we get of humanity’s past encounters with the Gauna are tantalizing throwbacks to the wild and insane concepts that peppered Nihei’s previously released work in the US, and it’s something that gives me hope for the future of the series.
Likewise there’s just something about the art that doesn’t quite click with me. Nihei’s been using this style since the end of Biomega, and I didn’t like it there and I’m not too keen on it here. The shift in artwork kind of takes the edge off of his ability to instill the sense of scale that helped make things like Blame! and Biomega visual treats. In addition, the stripped down, thicker lines seem to highlight his inability to create easily distinguishable faces. On more than one occasion I found myself relying strictly upon hair styles to tell characters apart, something that’s made all the harder since a large chunk of the action involves the characters wearing helmets or wearing similar uniforms. Likewise his mech designs aren’t terribly interesting or exciting to look at, and are next to impossible to tell apart. On one hand this does help give them the mass produced feel they’re clearly intended to have, but when it comes time for the action scenes battling the biological nightmares that are the Gauna, it just makes it difficult to tell them apart. That said, the mech designs are slowly growing on me, mostly due to their habit of making cool looking formations by holding hands. It’s an ability that’s put to fantastic use in this volume and creates one of it’s most memorable visual sequences.
Knights of Sidonia is a series I want to love, but there are a few things keeping that from happening, primarily the artwork and the unfortunately bland characters. Hopefully as the series goes on things will improve, but right now it just feels like it’s lacking in the elements that made me love Nihei’s work when I first encountered it.
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 2 is available now from Vertical, Inc.