Sidonia no Kishi Ep. 8: Undying

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This episode’s title is “Undead,” and it’s a fitting title too. The funny thing is, Shizuka’s “return” isn’t even what’s undead about this week’s episode. As much as Nagate would like to believe otherwise, I think the girl is gone for good. The Gauna has long since assimilated the girl and her knowledge. It has now even turned her knowledge back against her former friends and allies. Ultimately, this is what the Gauna seems to be: they assimilate, they adapt, they evolve. As such, I don’t think the placenta sample that Nagate collects is anything but a sample. It may resemble Shizuka on the surface, but this merely mimicry at its best. Nevertheless, I believe this shows that the girl has thus gone through a process of death and rebirth. She has simply been reborn as part of the Gauna. More specifically, her death leads to the birth of the Benizsuzume, the powerful Gardes-like enemy that had succeeded in taking out five more of Sidonia’s best and brightest. More importantly, this is what makes her different from Sidonia and its Immortal Council. This is why she is not an undead.

Death and rebirth are the key things here for me. Kobayashi and her ilk can never die from old age, and they are thus never reborn. Kobayashi remains able-bodied, strong enough to walk about the ship and command it with a physical presence, but the same cannot be said about the Immortal Council. They hide in their dark chambers away from the rest of Sidonian society. Sidonia’s inhabitants do not even realize that the technology of eternal life exists, and the Immortal Council would love to keep it that way. That’s why Kobayashi wears her mask in public. That’s why the Immortal Council fears Nagate’s existence. He, too, is an immortal like them. But why? What are they truly afraid of? From Kobayashi’s words, we learn that they had once assumed their roles as Sidonia’s leaders in order to serve their people with their vast knowledge and experience. But eternal life is a long time. It’s a terribly long time to spend your life trapped in your brain and all its myriad psychoses. So who knows? Perhaps most of the Immortal Council have gone mad with power, and they will not tolerate anything that might threaten their existence. In any case, they are undead.

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I believe Sidonia itself is undead as well. It is supposedly a seed ship, yet it is seemingly condemned to wander the cold depths of space indefinitely. After all, what can Sidonia do? Thanks to a tragic event during the Fourth Gauna Defense War, “[m]ost of the knowledge of the past and its technology is gone forever.” We’re simply told that Ochiai had done something bad. As a result, Sidonia’s archives and most of its population were the biggest casualties of the war. Even though a copy of the archives have been recovered in Ochiai’s brain, he’s too dangerous. They’ve thus sealed his memories. With a group of dissenters primed to abandon Sidonia, however, Kobayashi is forced to access Ochiai’s auxiliary brain once more to Lala’s displeasure. It turns out the demilitarization faction are requesting crucial information from the archives. Specifically, they need to know how to terraform a planet. Whether or not they succeed, however, Sidonia will continue to float on through space for the time being. It can never go through that death and rebirth process that I’ve talked about. Hell, many of Sidonia’s inhabitants have resorted to cloning themselves instead of giving birth to something new. The ship, too, is essentially undead.

Speaking of clones, you could even argue that Nagate is undead. It turns out Nagate never really had a grandfather. Rather, he is a clone of Sidonia’s former ace pilot. The only difference is that  Kobayashi had had our hero’s DNA modified so that he would be immortal. Unlike his friends, Hiroki Saito gave up his  eternal life in order to die peacefully. After all, eternal life within a dystopian society is not exactly sunshine and rainbows. Not only that, he never knew if the Gauna threat would ever go away one day. At some point, Saito got tired of fighting, so he decided to allow himself to die. Unfortunately, Kobayashi did not feel the same way. That’s why she had created Saito’s clone in secret. When he learned of his clone’s existence, Saito tried his best to give the kid a chance at a normal life. Unfortunately, Nagate’s destiny had already been determined for him. In the end, Saito taught the kid everything that he knew. As a result, Saito may have died, but he didn’t create something new. Nagate simply becomes him. More importantly, he becomes an immortal version of his “grandfather,” something Kobayashi had always desired ever since Saito had abandoned her and the Immortal Council. Nagate is his undead “grandfather.”

Stray observations

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— Norio ends up faltering in battle and abandoning his position. What had troubled him? The realization that he could die? Or did his guilt finally catch up to him when he heard Shizuka’s voice over the communication channels? Perhaps it is even a little bit of both. Nevertheless, running away with your tail between your legs is rather shameful, especially for someone with Norio’s stature. I think he’s pretty much shot himself in the foot for good.

— Well, now that Shizuka is — at best — a monster girl, let’s just root for Yuhata the rest of the way, ’cause at least she seems capable. From what we’ve seen in the previous episodes, she might be a bit off-kilter, but I always go for capable. Izana seems useless.

— I’m just joking, by the way. I think they all suck.

— In that very same extended flashback scene, we also learn that the Fourth Gauna Defense War had left Sidonia with only 392 survivors among the population. A recent study from Portland State University suggests that you need around 10,000 people just to feasibly colonize another star system. Suffice it to say, the 392 figure fall quite short of that mark. Is it any wonder then that Sidonia as society would have to rely upon clones and whatnot in order to survive? It has only been a 100 years since the Fourth Gauna Defense War too, so I doubt that population has grown by leaps and bounds since then. On the plus side, the story finally gives a glimpse at the size of Sidonia’s society. Needless to say, it is tiny.

— Really? Sidonia’s soldiers are fighting with swords and arrows? Then again, we have a talking, giggling bear.

— Speaking of Lala…

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Yeesh. This is pretty much my reaction to the scene.

— Even for a decrepit-looking old man, Saito could fight off a bunch of soldiers on his own. Then again, they kind of charged him one-by-one.

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17 thoughts on “Sidonia no Kishi Ep. 8: Undying”

  1. And THIS is why Sidonia No Kishi stuck with me even thought I stop following the manga all those years ago – all those science bubbles are great & all but the characters are dull and the flow of the story is even worst in the manga (they change up the arrangements of events quite a bit for the anime)

    But damn, recasting the main girl of the harem as one of the main baddies? I just thought she just die or something, no.

    Then I thought the MC gets to end her misery or something, hell no.

    She gets to come back again & again as a somewhat commanding officer for The Gauna. Responsible to hundreds of dead pilots & kill half of them herself.

    Come to think of it, this is the part that makes me go: “Holy hell, this is totally the Zerg & the Queen of Blades.”

  2. You have something against bears? For my part I found the giggling a little much. I hadn’t quite imagined it like that and it seemed a bit too silly.

    Overall I was impressed. Actions scenes like the first 10 minutes are where CG is at its best, and the swordfight wasn’t half bad either. The little humanizing tear for the Captain was nice, and Kunato’s “tell-tale heart” moment in battle was great. The writers/directors are giving some sorely needed followup to what was essentially attempted murder that succeeded against the wrong people. At this point in the manga Kunato basically dropped off the radar as the author ignored what was going on with him, so I’m glad that they’re giving us the impression that his actions are affecting him. Hopefully they’ll touch upon the consequences of his actions a little more than in the manga.

        1. Well, if you think people are wrong, then why don’t you explain it to them? But don’t worry about it. I’ve found a better solution.

    1. You have something against bears?

      I think she looks dumb in every scene that she’s in. As for Benisuzume’s giggling, I just saw it as another trite horror element. You know how giggling girls are supposedly always creepy.

  3. Something I wonder about immortality is how much could you remember during all those years that you have lived? I mean, biologically speaking there should be an amount of information that you can store in your brain before it gets full, shouldn’t it?
    Now, another question, are we the same person after a hundred of years of life? A thousand? Our psyche should be changing according to our experiences, so I doubt that I would be the same after that period of time. I doubt I would have the same priorities for that much time, after all we go through a cycle of birth and death, in order to be a different person our current psyche should die and a new one should be born to give us the opportunity to move beyond from where we are in life, otherwise we will be stuck with the same priorities and the same mindset. Sidonia will never go beyond its current state, it is frozen in time, they neither age nor evolve, because they don’t allow things to change, they don’t allow a natural cycle of death and re-birth biological and mentally speaking. They are just surviving and while thats the ultimate goal for humanity, I think they are not humans anymore.

    1. I mean, biologically speaking there should be an amount of information that you can store in your brain before it gets full, shouldn’t it?

      If you could make yourself immortal, however, you could probably enhance the brain in other ways as well. But maybe this hasn’t happened. Maybe they do choose to forget certain pieces of information. It’s probably not a big deal though. IF you’ve lived for six hundred years, what happened during year 349 is probably insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

      Now, another question, are we the same person after a hundred of years of life? A thousand? Our psyche should be changing according to our experiences, so I doubt that I would be the same after that period of time.

      That really depends on how you define personal identity. And if personal identity is one particular bundle of memories, goals, inclinations, etc., then maybe you’re right. But other people simply define personal identity as one long continuum of human experience. After all, if I hit my head one day, and suddenly lose all of my memories, does that make me a new person? Perhaps metaphysically speaking, but on a practical, more scientific level? Probably not.

      1. I think identity has to be related with something unique and transient. If I clone myself, each copy will be a new guy with its own identity. If I make myself immortal, I will be a sum of different identities sharing the same body.
        Anyway, I think once those boundaries are broken (immortality, cloning) we can not longer determine what identity (or a human being) is. Maybe, identity by itself will be lost or not important at all.

        1. If I make myself immortal, I will be a sum of different identities sharing the same body.

          Are you tying our personal identity to our psyches and our psyches alone? In any case, I think the question of identity is unanswerable without first addressing the problem of what constitutes us to begin with, and I don’t think linking ourselves to our psyches alone will solve that problem. After all, we can look at a picture of ourselves as a fetus, and still reasonably assert that this was once what we used to be. Identity can thus have a physical component to it as well. There’s a persistent “I” whenever we reflect upon our personal identity, but that “I” can be attributed to all sorts of things. It is thus too indeterminate by itself, and without a solution to this dilemma, the search for personal identity beyond any sort of commonsensical folk approach is equally rife with contradictions.

        2. A physical component is needed to define identity as well. It helps for self-awareness, retrospection and so. It also helps people to interact or relate to someone else by having an image of it. If I were in a 1000 years trip with someone else, during that period of time I would recognize that person due to its physical features besides his/her personality. The same applies if my human body is destroyed and my psyche is downloaded in a robot, I would feel different even if my psyche is the same, my way to interact with the world will be different than before.
          I still think that, being immortal, will corrupt the concept of identity. Even if I preserve my body as it has been for most of the time, there will be a point where my memories and past will be lost. My current self will be different than before and If I can not relate my current self with an image of mine from 1000 years because of lack of memories, I could say that I am different person (identity) in the same body.
          I agree that the concept of “I” can be attributed to all sorts of things, so I agree to disagree in the concept of identity while immortality is involved.

          1. My point isn’t that our identity stays with us despite our immortality. Rather, I’m saying that perhaps the question of personal identity is unanswerable. We know too little about what makes us us, which would seem like the first question you would have to answer before you even start pondering about the persistence of personal identity. We cannot start coming up with answers to questions that we have no business asking in the first place.

    2. There is a school of thought that I am not brainy enough to recall the name of that believes you as a person are equal to the sum of your experiences. And to appropriate a Doctor Who line, when you think about it, we’re all different people throughout our lives.

      Of course, if we run with that thread…if a person IS the sum of their experience…does this also apply to Gauna-based Shizuka? After all, she possesses those memories. Or at least a few of them, we’ll probably find out how many and how she sees them, all that wonderful “being Human” stuff. Of course I’d fully expect Sidonia to pull the rug out from under us and throw the cliche stuff out the window. xD

      1. There is a school of thought that I am not brainy enough to recall the name of that believes you as a person are equal to the sum of your experiences.

        Yeah, it’s the bundle theory I was alluding to: “In short, what matters for Hume is not that ‘identity’ exists but that the relations of causation, contiguity, and resemblances obtain among the perceptions.” I don’t buy it, but I’m too lazy to recall the arguments from one of my term papers from college. In short, I just think it’s metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. After all, I don’t think the new Shizuka is the same as the old Shizuka. I don’t think memory alone defines a person. If technology permits, you could copy my memories to a robot. It would thus have the sum of my experiences as well. Well then, who’s me?

        1. It will be interesting to see which side Sidonia falls on, if it even chooses sides and doesn’t find its own third option. It’s one of those sci-fi questions that, as inappropriate as it is to apply, comes down to personal opinion. Not a great guess-and-check model to use yet xD

          It’s like the horror aspect of the transporter on star trek, and the idea it kills a version of you and builds a duplicate, which is hand waved away as being identical but every now and then the writers tackle it and say “Damn, we are monsters”.

  4. The anime majorly screwed up on a simple plot point that would have took 20 seconds to put in. Norio had a thing for Shizuka that was 1 of the 2 reasons he was jealous of Nagate.So her death effected him and seeing her came back as a Guana just broke him mentally since it is all his fault. Huge screw up on the animators part.

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