There aren’t too many CG shows that are able to fight their way to the top of a given season, but Sidonia no Kishi had a fabulous setting and story to push it into the limelight this past spring. Sure, the vast majority of characters were exact templates of one another and I sometimes couldn’t tell the difference between one girl from another, but the original concept of the main character and his world held me enthralled. I’m reminded greatly of one of my favorite sci-fi television shows, Battlestar Galactica. Like in Sidonia, theirs is an existence shaped by alien invasion and the last resort for survival. They float boundless through achingly beautiful, yet cold, stars, constantly on the lookout for hostile encounters and natural resources for harvesting. As terrifying and abnormal as such a life may sound, their many years in space have given them the time to adjust to their new reality.
The first time I met Hiyama, I honestly didn’t think about it too much given my previous exposure to series like Polar Bear Cafe. So what if a brown bear stands upright and serves food and drink like any other person? But as we explored the ship and met others, I realized the strangeness of Hiyama’s appearance and placement. She is the only animal-hybrid character on Sidonia, and no one makes mention of it other than the protagonist’s “grandfather.” It isn’t until much later in the show that we pick up on the negativity between her and the original crew; even then, the choice of appearance doesn’t make much sense other than as a reference to another work by the creator. Regardless of the reasons, I approve of Hiyama’s bear face, claw hand, and motherly cooking style. One more paddle-full of rice, please!
While we’re on the topic of food, let’s continue on to the way Sidonia’s people survive. Nagate’s necessity for foodstuffs is immediately remarked upon by others, and it’s revealed that inhabitants no longer eat regularly for nourishment. Their bodies have been engineered to feed off of light via human photosynthesis. As useful as this seems, I can’t help but shudder at the idea of chopping the pleasure of biting, tonguing, crunching, chewing, and talking into food out of my daily routine. So many sensory pleasures satisfy me when I eat. Another oddity of the photosynthesis move is its sexual connotations. At the beginning, one of the main girls is propositioned by another man to photosynthesize together. The request sounds very much like an invitation for something else entirely. The reasons for this become clearer when we see that same girl later on in the series remove all her clothing to fully let in the light and save on their meager rations. Although Sidonia’s residents can now clone, the desire of physical intimacy remains. Us viewers don’t really receive much information on this whole process of photosynthesis and intercourse, but I still find it remarkably fascinating that the new setting has adapted a couple of the things that give such vibrancy to every day life.