The second season of Knights of Sidonia really should be renamed: “I Can’t Believe My Giant Half-Monster Mecha Girlfriend Is This Cute.”
[This review contains major spoilers for the first season of Knights of Sidonia (and minor spoilers for the second season). For a non-spoiler look at the anime, check out our review of the first season.]
After the climactic battle at the end of the first season, Tanikaze finds himself recognized as Sidonia’s ace pilot. However, when a new Gauna threat appears, Sidonia’s newest secret weapon is revealed: an incredibly powerful Human-Gauna hybrid named Tsumugi who has the voice of Tanikaze’s dead girlfriend.
Tsumugi is easily the strongest part of Knights of Sidonia’s second season. While she is a several stories tall living bio-weapon, she is also, at her core, an innocent young girl—and one who doesn’t quite understand who or what she is. On one hand, she knows how to kill Gauna with brutal efficiency; but on the other, she becomes so flustered when meeting the crew of Sidonia that her fidgeting causes the equivalent of an earthquake onboard the spaceship.
Given Tanikaze’s infatuation in the first season with the Gauna-made clone Hoshijiro, it is no surprise that he is the first person who befriends the alien hybrid. Despite killing the Gauna en masse and generally hating them, he is completely accepting of Tsumugi and views her as a normal girl despite her monstrous appearance. Of course she in turn quickly develops feelings for him—though remains unsure how to act on those feelings or even if she should.
Izana, Tanikaze’s other potential love interest also befriends Tsumugi—forming the series’ love triangle. While Izana is a member of a third gender who is capable of becoming either male or female, Izana has clearly carried a torch for Tanikaze since early on in the first season. But like Tsumugi, Izana has been unsure what to do in regard to Tanikaze, especially since he has shown that he is romantically attracted to women and yet has always treated Izana as male.
This all comes to a head when, after being invited to move in with Tanikaze as his roommate, Izana subconsciously decides on the female gender, leaving her feelings plain for all to see—and those are far from the only bodily changes she has to deal with in this anime.
But while both Izana and Tsumugi wonder about how to pursue a romantic relationship with Tanikaze, neither realize that they are in fact in more of a love quadrangle. While months have passed since the events of the first season, the death of Hoshijiro still weighs heavily upon Tanikaze and it’s obvious a new romance is not something he is prepared for.
Izana’s relationship with Tsumugi is likewise a strong part of the anime as it allows Tsugumi to develop socially with someone she isn’t romantically interested in. Both characters grow immensely through shared trials and—once Tsumugi’s phallic-like appendage moves in with Izana and Tanikaze—everyday life.
Because the whole series is built around the three of them and their deep attachment to each other, the season’s climax works well. It greatly raises the stakes when you empathize with their attachment to each other and know that each would give anything to save the other two.
Visually, Knights of Sidonia’s second season is excellent—especially when it comes to Tsumugi. As a character with no visible eyes or lips and a non-human appearance, it is impressive how well the animation is able to convey her emotional state. The action is no slouch either and makes great use of the anime’s 3D animation to show battle scenes that would be prohibitively expensive in a traditionally made 2D anime.
But while it’s full of well-developed characters and great visuals, the series is not without its flaws.
The largest problem with the second season of Knights of Sidonia is the pacing. In a lot of ways, it feels like we are watching an abridged version of the story. Time skips abound; and so while we get to see all the big action and character moments, we rarely witness the fallout of these events. Things like a main character being body jacked or a governmental coup d’état happens suddenly, and the immediate ramifications are all but ignored. In other words, some of the potentially most interesting moments of the plot are simply skipped over.
Another problem with this season is that it largely discards the best facet of the first season: the realism. Despite being a space opera with mecha and giant space monsters, the first season paid special attention to real world physics. Things like fuel supply and damage that can be caused by inertia were major plot points.
In the second season, all this goes out the window for the most part—especially once Tanikaze gets his new mecha late in the season. This mecha is a full-on Gundam that can take unreal amounts of damage and magically keep the pilot perfectly safe even as the mecha is slammed into the ground at high speeds. Tsumugi is likewise outside of the established laws of physics as being part-Gauna is basically on par with giving her space-magic.
Along the same lines, now Tanikaze falls heavily into the “abused boy” anime trope, with the female characters constantly punching him for perceived slights. But while in the first season the physical damage he received was played straight, the second season shrugs it off, with his injuries always being so minor as to disappear between shots—even when he’s punched by a girl who has cybernetic super-strength.
With its focus on character development for its leads supplemented by amazing-looking action, the second season of Knights of Sidonia is another strong outing for the series. However, the sudden time skips and abandonment of the series’ signature realism does drag the show down a bit.
Of course, there’s a good chance you won’t even notice the show’s weak points—you’ll be too focused on wondering how a giant inhuman abomination can be so painfully cute.
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