Volumes 8-11 of Knights of Sidonia are where Nihei steps firmly into New Battlestar Galactica Territory. We had a bit of that in the earlier volumes, but here there’s the level of internal political dissension I associate with that show.
These volumes have a pacifist movement on the Sidonia, the members of that group splitting off, experiencing a disaster that leads to a rescue mission, and the survivor(s) facing (and struggling with) reintegration. And, on top of all of this, there’s Tanikaze’s harem antics.
Where this section of Knights of Sidonia gets weird is stuff like the character of Tsumugi Shirauni, a half-human, half-gauna who is the size of a mech, and who is also an absolute moe-blob. Also, she’s able to send a very phallic looking tentacle through the Sidonia’s air-ducts to the house where Tanikaze and Shinatose are rooming.
In other words, while the first batch gamely managed the tonal whiplash, these 4 volumes are in a position where you might need to bust out your neck brace.
On the other side of things, this stretch of the manga features the return of something that has been missing in this series that was so striking about Blame – a sense of scale. For the first time some of the mechs from the Sidonia get an up-close run on the Gauna nest ship, and we get a sense of how big they are in comparison with that ship, and in turn how big it is in comparison with the Sidonia.
Similarly, we get a couple of big weapon shots from the Sidonia this volume, one from a really tough sniper shot, the other from an ostensible Wave Motion Gun analog, which also get that across. They all get across the raw size of the threat the Sidonia faces, and how small they really are, not just in terms of the universe, but in terms of the Gauna as well.
Knights of Sidonia, at this point, does feel like it’s coming to a head – even with the introduction of yet another character and potential love interest in Tanikaze’s harem. By the end of volume 11 it feels like it’s settling on a tone – but with no guarantees that it won’t shift gears again in the last few volumes.
Now, Knights of Sidonia is currently being reprinted as a series of larger Master Editions by Vertical, which should benefit some of the art from this stretch. That said, the Master Editions are doing 2.5 volumes of the original manga per book, so the breakdown would put this stretch starting partway through Volume 3, all of Volume 4 ending partway through Volume 5 of the Master Editions, which are all available from RightStuf. Buying anything through those links helps to support the blog.
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