Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Hey Attack on Titan fans! Good going on supporting the Kodansha USA release of the series. From the looks of the recent New York Times Best Sellers Lists, and the news of a release frequency speed up, it has been a real success. I'm sure that with this level of sales, we'll be able to enjoy many more Attack on Titan volumes to come. But did you know that there is another series currently being published in English with a lot of the same qualities that make Attack on Titan so good? That's right, and it's called Knights of Sidonia, by Tsutomu Nihei, and published by Vertical Inc. Let me tell you some of the reason why you might want to give Knights of Sidonia a try if you've already become a fan of Attack on Titan.
The driving force of both of these series is arguably their respective enemy. In the case of Attack on Titan, it is of course the titans. A constant threat to the survival of humanity, people are forced to live in fear enclosed within a series of massive walls. Main character Eren Yeager wants nothing more than to experience a free life outside the confines of the walls and likens the domination of humans by titans to being held captive in a bird cage. Like the titans of Attack on Titan, Knights of Sidonia has its own monstrous threat to mankind. That being the enormous, shapeshifting alien species known as "Guana". The Guana nearly wiped out the entire population of Earth, and forced a small number of humans to flee on the spaceship "Sidonia". The Guana can take many shapes, from clustering together to make a planet sized super organism, to breaking off into individual creatures and mimicking the shape and function of the human mecha suits. And not unlike the titans' weak spot of the back of their neck, the Guana can only be killed by destroying their placental core with a rare and special weapon called the "Kabizashi". The range of the Guana from cold and mindless murder blobs, to calculated and tactical anti-mecha kind of reminds me of the different types of titans. You have the seemingly mindless eating machines, and then you have the unusual "aberrant" that show some semblance of intelligence and are able to choose their targets. There's even more aspects that they share that I don't want to give away, and plenty of unique traits too, so if you think that the titans are a frightening series "villain", I think the Guana of Knights of Sidonia may impress you even more.
Main characters Eren Yeager and Nagate Tanikaze don't actually have much in common when it comes to personality, but that's a good thing because you don't want to read the same basic character twice. They are, however, in similar situations. They both play the role of the hero. The hope of humanity. Eren, with his power to form and control a titan body to fight against other titans, and Nagate with his uncanny skill at piloting the Garde mecha, "The Tsugumori". You might even say that Eren's titan controlling ability is sort of like a "biological mecha", to Nagate's traditional nuts and bolts version. And just as it is suggested that Eren got this mysterious ability from injections his father gave him, Nagate too has a peculiar past. How did he get so good at piloting a Garde while living underground for most his life? And why is he the only one forced to fight in mission after mission? Nagate's origins, and the origins of his origins are among the most interesting aspects of Knights of Sidonia. And while we are still waiting for some concrete answers about Eren from the basement in his old home, the author of Knights of Sidonia won't test your patience too long. It seems like every new volume another revelation is made, as well as more questions asked to give us more to look forward to.
Another interesting aspect that I noticed that these two stories share is there setting. I know what you're thinking. What do future outer space and and a medieval-ish terrestrial planet have in common? Well, it's more the specific location of humanity's last stand. For Attack on Titan, it's within the series of walls. And for Knights of Sidonia, it's their spaceship, "The Sidonia". Now, so far, none of the main characters of Knights of Sidonia have really shown the level of dread from being confined into their respective location like Eren has, but that theme isn't entirely absent. The goal is to be rid of the Guana and to be able to settle freely on a new planet one day. There is even a faction of civilians on the Sidonia who wish to leave the ship now and take their chances. Neither the humans of Attack on Titan nor the humans of Knights of Sidonia understand their enemy as of yet, but what is clear is that they are both being oppressed. Forced into walled cities and forced to flee constantly in outer space. Even if sometimes it is left unsaid, I'm sure the characters from both series are having similar feelings.
As you know, Attack on Titan is blowing up right now, both in Japan in the U.S. And with Kodansha USA doing a speed up, we should be caught up with Japan by next January. But then what are you going to do? After experiencing a new volume every month, you might have to wait up to three months for a new volume. No worries though. I know Knights of Sidonia can give you your manga fix. And it already has four volumes out now, with volume five slated for October. As a fan of Knights of Sidonia, I want nothing more than for it to attain a great level of success like Attack on Titan has. And with so much crossover appeal, there's no reason why it shouldn't if Attack on Titan fans get on board. Until then, I'll cross my fingers in hope that the upcoming Knights of Sidonia anime gives it even a fraction of the popularity boost that Attack on Titan has gotten this year.