The first volume of the new deluxe-sized Knights of Sidonia blew me away. Creator Tsutomu Nihei mixed horror with sci-fi in a dark future where the human race is trying to stay alive in deep space with nearly constant attacks occurring from an alien race known as Gauna. In this second volume biological augmentation comes more into focus and the Gauna continue to strike with ever more dangerous attacks.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Knights of Sidonia has been complied into a Master Edition featuring larger print, colored inserts and omibused volumes. Each Master’s Edition volume compiles 2.5 volumes of the original Knights of Sidonia volumes.
Why does this matter?
This book truly is gorgeous. Even the most twisted Gauna creatures somehow look angelic and special thanks to the style of art. There a sense of scope and scale that is never lost due to the art and it breathes easier in this larger format.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This second volume delves a bit deeper into Nagate Tanikaze’s creation while continuing to develop the character in the present. Tanikaze somehow seems to come out alive with every attack even when all seems lost. The flashback to his caretaker, their role at the time, and the focus of raising Tanikaze help reveal a bit more about him and his incredible abilities.
It also continues to lean into a biological augmentation of the people and how society has changed its ways to keep themselves alive. It’s an interesting contrast to the Gauna who are also changing their look and abilities each time they face humanity. There’s a yin and yang thing going on here and deep down the connection makes for an interesting ethical dilemma on both sides. Meanwhile, a Gauna that looks like a human slowly evolves after it was captured by humans. It’s a slow-going story but there are interesting themes at work. At the same time the idea of gender continues to be played with, which may connect in some way to the augmentation element of biology. It can sometimes feel a bit immature in how Nihei approaches this (like in one scene Tanikaze asks his friend which type of catheter they use) but it’s a major element of the series that adds oddness to the overall picture.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
This volume may be even more confusing than the first. Action can be very hard to follow, possibly due to the black and white making it difficult to follow what it is you’re looking at. It’s still epic and exhilarating, but by the end you can’t really track what happened exactly. Outside of this, the drama between characters continues to perplex possibly due to the pacing. Jump cuts can sometimes throw off the flow and more than once I’d turn a page and not understand how the story got there. Ultimately this story is going for a visceral feel that it captures well, but that can leave you confused and unsure of what’s happening even if the meaning is understood.
Is it good?
One of the most visceral horror/sci-fi stories I’ve ever read. There’s deep meaning at work here but it can be frustratingly difficult to pin down what the manga’s really trying to say.