Thursday, April 17, 2014

Knights of Sidonia vol. 8

If you've been following my blog(who am I kidding? No one does hehe...), you have probably noticed that with today's review of 'Knights of Sidonia' volume eight, that I skipped three volumes. Well, I have no excuses. I'm just a slacker. I love those volumes to death, I just plain couldn't gather enough coherent thoughts to make a full blog post, and I fully believed that my Attack on Sidonia post would be my final words on the matter. But volume eight was so good in several ways that I had to get off my lazy butt and write something up.

Captain Kobayashi has killed off her hibernating fellow captains and taken full control over the Sidonia, deciding that they will no longer sit and wait to act on the defensive, but make the first move and go on the attack. After the Guana wiped out the peaceful settlers unprovoked, I can't see any fault in her logic. The Guana seemingly can't be negotiated with and are incredibly hostile. Why wait for them to hunt you down? At the same time though, as a reader, I feel like there is a sense of foreboding from this decision. Part of that comes from the fact that Captain Kobayashi is a dictator of sorts and just usurped complete power over the ship. Not that she did it for the sake of gaining power, but from a story perspective, I can't see everything going perfectly her way after what she has done. So I think the decision to go on the attack will backfire in some way in the future.

Meanwhile, the hybrid Tsumugi is on the mend from her heroic sacrifice from the previous volume. After she is up and running again, her friendship blossoms even more with Nagate and Izana. This is by far my favorite part of the volume. Not only is there great interactions between the three, but I'm impressed that Nihei managed to humanize and make me care for what is essentially a giant, scary tentacle monster, in such a short time. I actually was sold on Tsumugi last volume just as soon as she put herself in harms way to protect the citizens of Sidonia, but now that her relationship with Nagate and Izana is more fleshed out, this giant tentacle monster is already one of my favorite characters. Tsumugi also comes with some good laughs. Specifically the way she tends to interact with her enormous phallic tentacle(as seen on the cover image), even using it to sleep with him. You could even say she has become a part of Nagate's growing harem, which also includes a clone and a third-gendered person(who sports a new awesome yet creepy ten-fingered cybernetic hand in this volume).

Not unrelated to Tsumugi, but on a different note, Nagate looks for a new place to live in this volume. After having to move out of his dorm, he stays with Izana for a night, which leads to a subtle, but kind of awesome character moment. We all know how much Nagate loves food, so when Izana trips and sends Nagate's dinner flying through the air, we see him eye it passionately, only to see him forget about the rice ball to break Izana's fall instead(comically grabbing her(?) boob in the process) As an aside, Nagate specifically referred to Izana as "her" in this volume. I can't recall if anyone has done that before, but I do remember Izana telling a vendor that she(?) is not a girl, and Yuhata wondered why Izana didn't go to the "middle" bath and referred to Izana as "Mr.". Is there just no third-gendered pronoun in this story, or is this just a Japanese translation thing? Or perhaps Nagate just sees Izana as a girl, and Yuhata prefers to see Izana as a boy so that she can subconsciously eliminate Izana as a romantic rival. Anyway, I'm definitely over-thinking that detail...

Getting back to Nagate's housing issue, so that he can more easily spend time with Tsumugi, he finds an awesome place on the perimeter wall that is close to Tsumugi's living quarters. Close enough for her to easily send her tentacle though the pipes and ducts to hang out with Nagate and Izana, who has also moved in. The house itself is really cool and I can only describe it as a house built on the side of a cliff. I would love to live there(especially if I had a cool tentacle monster friend and a cool third-gendered cyborg friend). Nagate's new house, along with the first good wide shot of the Sidonia residential quarters is definitely Nihei at his architectural art best. Speaking of art, the opening color pages of this volume are kind of a departure from what we have seen so far. They feature some of the settlers that left the Sidonia landing on a brilliant blue ocean planet. A stark contrast from the dark and edgy color pages set in outer space, these color pages are kind of peaceful and hopeful, if only for a brief moment...

I just can't get enough of this series. It's the total package as far as I'm concerned. Good characters and interactions, world building, great art, action, and a compelling story. Volume eight especially epitomizes that. And it steps it up more and more with every new book. This volume ended with Izana in a dire situation and Tsumugi and Nagate are rushing to the rescue, so I have no doubt that volume nine will deliver and continue this series' awesomeness.

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