Well, it’s nice to see you again, Eiko.
Sidonia undergoes an uneven acceleration in order to avoid impact with the Gauna, but this results in a massive loss of lives and infrastructure. Nagate is assigned to a group tasked with retrieving a lost Kabizashi as the rest of Sidonia braces itself for another encounter with the Gauna, but the mission goes awry when the Gauna suddenly reveals its ability to launch a beam of Higgs particles at the retrieval squad. With everyone but Nagate out of commission, our hero suddenly takes it upon himself to attack the Gauna head on. Nagate’s gambit ends up working, and the Gauna is destroyed. He then ignores orders once again in an attempt to retrieve Shizuku before she is lost to cold, deep space for good. The episode thus ends on a cliffhanger.
• Hm, the cold opening is just a recap of last week’s ending. As such, no need to comment on these events a second time.
• What exactly did Sidonia just launch at the Gauna? Considering how this is a last resort measure, whatever it launched must’ve been important. She calls it the “Heavy Mass Driver,” but that’s too vague of a name to really tell me what the object was.
• Sidonia undergoes uneven acceleration in an attempt to get away from the Gauna. As a result of this, the gravity in Sidonia will be all fucked up. The students are advised to quickly attach themselves to a nearby railing, but I don’t know… those harnesses still don’t seem very safe. If Sidonia gets jerked around (you never know what might happen), I can see the characters being flung very hard against the rails, and that would be quite painful.
• Lots of students end up not securing themselves to a railing in time. We thus get to see the entire society flip on its side as these unlucky students find themselves falling out the windows and to their untimely deaths. I think the 3-D works here. I think the same scene would have been difficult to animate while maintaining a sufficient level of detail. Sure, you could always throw more money and thus more animators at the problem, but this is a TV series, not a Studio Ghibli film, so that’s not exactly a feasible option.
• The massive blood splatters, however, are a little unrealistic to me.
• Did Kobayashi give the right orders? At the moment, I can’t really say, but it does raise another interesting problem: even if she’s wrong, who will hold her accountable? Since Sidonia’s society is mostly composed of kids, who even has the qualifications or know-how to criticize Kobayashi’s actions? This is a potentially intriguing dynamic for the story going forward.
• It’s clear that the Gauna is faster than Sidonia. It is thus just a matter of time for the alien lifeform to adjust its course and resume chasing the spaceship. As a result, I wonder why Sidonia had not prepared more than just the Akai squad to deal with the Gauna threat. After all, it’s obvious that Kobayashi’s desperate maneuver is an attempt to buy Sidonia enough time to prepare more Gardes for combat. It seems the spaceship should have had a plan B going into the initial encounter in case the Akai squad failed, which it did.
• As we can see, even the students who had secured themselves to a railing are bloodied and beaten. Seems odd that after a thousand years, this ends up being Sidonia’s best contingency plan for such a scenario. On a related noted, Yuhata seems to be in perfect health. I wonder where she ended up hiding.
• Nagate ends up in a group of four students tasked with retrieving a lost Kabizashi. Ichiro warns the four of them, however, that if they end up outside the designated area, they won’t be able to return to the ship nor will the ship decelerate to save them. Could you imagine just floating through empty space, waiting for your oxygen supplies to run out? It’s basically a new way to be buried alive.
• Man, look at all those Gardes on standby though:
I’m sure Sidonia likely believed that the Akai squad would’ve gotten the job done, but I’ve always subscribed to the idea that’s it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’m sure they had other squads that could’ve backed up the Akai squad. And even if 99% of the Gardes you see here are being piloted by less-than-qualified students, I can’t imagine why this hadn’t been Sidonia’s plan all along. It seems like a massive oversight from the person in charge, which I would assume to be Kobayashi. On a somewhat related note, the frame rate here kind of took a hard hit, which is distracting.
• In fact, the frame rate is very low in a lot of the follow-up scenes. This is disappointing, to say the least. This is the worst it has ever been in the first four episodes, and it really takes away from the viewing experience.
• If the show had time, perhaps we could’ve seen more of the camaraderie beginning to form between Nagate and the Akai squad. Unfortunately, we only got to see them visit the sea together, so Nagate’s words here are not as impactful as they could’ve been: “I can’t believe I’ll never see Akai and the others again.”
• One of these flashback scenes doesn’t fit. Why would Nagate have a memory of what Mochikuni had said to Momose when the two of them were in their own private bathysphere?
• What’s the significance of being down one Kabizashi?
• The Gauna oddly changes its course and is headed for the retrieval squad instead of Sidonia itself. This is like going for table scraps when prime rib roast is in front of you… unless there’s just something special about our hero, which you can never put past anime.
• Huh, the Gauna opens itself up and fires a beam of Higgs particles at the retrieval squad. First, the whole thing seems a bit phallic. Second, it really makes you wonder why the Gauna had chosen not to use this ability until now. Or did it somehow get stronger by devouring parts of the Akai squad?
• Shizuku’s Gardes goes out of control, forcing the girl to eject herself into deep space. I gotta say I like the way this particular scene is executed. I’d take a screenshot, but I don’t think it would do the scene very much justice.
• I expected Nagate to ignore commands, but I thought he would do so in order to save Shizuku’s life. Instead, he quickly detects a weakness in the Gauna, and thus launches himself towards the alien lifeform. Ballsy. It seems crazy, but I almost wonder if this had all been setup beforehand in order to test Nagate’s skills. After all, why would Sidonia have no backup squad on standby in case the Akai squad failed? After all, Kobayashi doesn’t even seem fazed to see Nagate fly off as a one-man army. Granted, she almost always has the mask on, so you can never tell what’s she thinking, but her actions or lack thereof are odd nevertheless.
• In the end, Nagate saves the day and the Gauna undergoes a “bubble disintegration.” I would have liked a more kick-ass demise for the alien, but maybe the explanation for why Gaunas disintegrate the way that they do will make up for it… if we even get an explanation. On a slightly related note, I suspect a certain Yuhata will be even more obsessed with our hero after today’s events… after she mourns her brother’s death, of course.
• I wish the characters noses would be more defined. You can barely see them on the female characters. I had to squint to make sure I wasn’t just staring at dust on my monitor.
• This Samari person sounds pretty old, but knowing anime, she’s probably just in her late 20s.
• Okay, now he’ll play the romantic hero and rescue Shizuku against his orders. Still, why are they concerned about him going too far? I thought the whole point of “We won’t decelerate to rescue you” was because of the Gauna threat. Since the Gauna has been eliminated, however, can’t Sidonia do whatever it takes to rescue Shizuku, or is it somehow still too much of a risk?
• It isn’t hard to see why this episode has been titled “Choice.” Nagate saves the day by deliberate disobeying his orders, and it seems as though he’ll save Shizuku by disobeying his orders again. Will this become a recurring theme throughout the series? Will Nagate eventually butt heads with those strange elders who seemingly rule the massive spaceship?
Anyway, this is what I’ve been asking for all along. Cut out all the fanservice bullshit, and just give me a thriller in space. From start to finish, this episode has been both suspenseful and action-packed. Sure, not every episode can be this way. Sure, the characters will need to slow down and develop their interpersonal relationships. But it’s not as if I mind the possibility of a romance forming between Nagate and Shizuku. Rather, I just don’t want to see more of those cringeworthy “Hurr hurr I walked in on the girls changing and they punched the shit out of me” moments. They’re not funny nor do they add anything to the story. Anyway, if anything mars this episode’s quality, it’s the horrendous frame rate. It’s not likely something that will be fixed in later episodes either. Too bad.
Still, if future episodes are more like this one, then Sidonia no Kishi may join the three shows I have pegged as my favorites for the season.