Knights of Sidonia (Japanese: シドニアの騎士 Hepburn: Shidonia no Kishi) is a mecha manga series by Tsutomu Nihei, published by Kodansha in their magazine Afternoon, and in English by Vertical. An anime television series adaptation, produced by Polygon Pictures, aired between April and June 2014 and a second season aired between April and June 2015. The localized series is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix in all its territories as part of its original programming.
The story is set in the year 3394, a thousand years after humans flee from Earth, after it was destroyed by shapeshifting gigantic alien monsters called Gauna (奇居子（ガウナ）), aboard massive spaceships created from the remains of the planet. One such ship is the "Sidonia", which has developed its own human culture closely based on that of Japan, where human cloning, asexual reproduction, and human genetic engineering, such as granting humans photosynthesis, are commonplace. It is also revealed that the top echelons of this society have secretly been granted immortality. With a population of over 500,000 people, Sidonia is possibly the last human settlement remaining as the fates of the other ships are unknown.
Little is known about the true nature of the Gauna or their motivation for attacking humanity. Each Gauna has a near invulnerable core protected by a huge mass of material known as the "ena" (胞衣 ena). Once the placenta is shed away and the core is destroyed, the Gauna's body disintegrates.
Sidonia is defended by large mechanized weapons called Gardes (衛人Morito) whose weaponry and mobility is powered by "Heigus particles" (ヘイグス粒子 Heigusu Ryūshi), armed with a high-output cannon for long range assaults and a special spear known as "Kabizashi" for close combat. The tip of the kabizashi is made of an elusive material which has the unique property of being able to destroy a Gauna's core. Later the Guardians are also equipped with firearms whose ammo have the same material of the Kabizashi after a means to artificially mass-produce it is discovered. Most people in the surviving human population are screened and drafted as Guardian pilots at a young age, if they are shown to be capable of piloting them.
See also: List of Knights of Sidonia characters
The story follows the exploits of Nagate Tanikaze, who lived in the underground layer of Sidonia since birth and was raised by his grandfather. Never having met anyone else, he trains himself in an old Guardian pilot simulator every day, eventually mastering it. After his grandfather's death, he emerges to the surface and is selected as a Guardian pilot, just as Sidonia is once again threatened by the Gauna.
The manga is written and illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei. It debuted in Kodansha magazine Afternoon's June issue in 2009. Since then, 13 tankōbon have been released. The manga has been licensed in North America by Vertical, who released the first twelve volumes in English between February 5, 2013, and December 2, 2014.
Chapters not yet in tankōbon format
These chapters have yet to be published in a tankōbon volume. They were serialized in Afternoon.
- "The Type-20's Sortie"
- "The First Assault Fleet's Decision"
- "Tsumugi's Wish"
- "The First Assault Fleet's Interception"
- "Captain Kobayashi's Resolve"
- "Kunato Squad's Assault"
See also: List of Knights of Sidonia episodes
An anime television series adaptation, produced by Polygon Pictures, premiered on April 10, 2014 and ended its first season on June 26, 2014, on MBS and later on TBS, CBC and BS-TBS. The series was directed by Kobun Shizuno, assisted by Hiroyuki Seshita, with scripts by Sadayuki Murai and character designs by Yuki Moriyama. The series is also localized and streamed by Netflix at all its territories since July 4, 2014. The first season has been licensed for home video release by Sentai Filmworks. The opening song is "Sidonia" by Angela and the ending song is "Show" (掌?) by Eri Kitamura. A second season aired from April 10, 2015 to June 26, 2015, with Kishi Kōshinkyoku (騎士行進曲 Knight March?)by Angela as the opening song and "Requiem" by CustomiZ as the ending song. The second season was released on Netflix on July 3, 2015.
The manga was ranked #47 in Oricon Charts on October 30, 2013 with an estimate of 20,934 copies sold. Carlo Santos gave the first manga volume a B stating, "It's got a young man piloting a giant robot against alien enemies, but Knight of Sidonia is no Evangelion. Yet it's not as bleak or incomprehensible as Tsutomu Nihei works like Blame! or Biomega, either—rather, it's the best of both worlds, bringing Nihei's hard sci-fi mentality into a more conventional space-adventure environment." The Young Adult Library Services Association listed Knights of Sidonia in its 2014 list of Top 10 Graphic Novels for Teens.
The anime series was received with high praise by famous members of the Japanese anime/game industry, like Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear series, who claims that "It's a kind of anime that we haven't seen for a while that has that sci-fi spirit. Using digital technology cultivated through games, it creates animation that encapsulates Japan's cultural assets like manga, cel animation, kanji, giant robots, etc. What's born is a unique made-in-Japan work that could never be cooked up in Hollywood. Japanese culture has lost its "cool," and Knights of Sidonia will be the white knight that saves it." Other industry pros left acknowledgements as well, including Akiko Higashimura, Digitarou and Yoshinao Dao.