As part of its quest to compete with the likes of HBO and AMC, Netflix has backed a diverse array of original content. They resurrected the beloved-but-canceled former Fox comedy Arrested Development and ensured fans got to see the sixth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. They served up the critically acclaimed political drama House of Cards and prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black.And, well, they also gave us Hemlock Grove, but they can’t all be winners. Now Netflix is stepping into another corner of new territory, with the anime series Knights of Sidonia due to premiere on the streaming service this Friday, July 4. You can check out the trailer up top. (Hint: you can turn English subtitles on via the “CC” box at the bottom of the video.)
Knights of Sidonia is based on the manga series by Tsutomu Nihei. I’ll fully admit my knowledge of manga and anime is limited, but it definitely seems to have a Robotech kind of vibe going for that. (And that’s a compliment coming from me, because I have a lot of fond memories of that show from growing up.) Here’s the official synopsis from Netflix:
An original anime series about Nagate, a low-born youth in a society of genetically engineered humans, refugees that escaped the destruction of Earth one thousand years earlier and now occupy the massive ship Sidonia. When Nagate’s talent as a pilot is revealed he becomes one of Sidonia’s elite defenders against the Gauna, shapeshifting aliens bent on eliminating humans from existence. Based on the popular Japanese manga comic.
Produced by Polygon Pictures, the Knights of Sidonia anime has actually already aired in Japan beginning this past April. The series was directed by Kobun Shizuno (Detective Conan), written by Sadayuki Murai (Space Battleship Yamato 2199), and with character designs by Yuki Moriyama. Among others, the anime earned praise from Hideo Kojima, creator of the Metal Gear video game series, who said:
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.
With the exception of Clone Wars, Netflix hasn’t really tackled science fiction yet. I realize anime sci-fi is a whole other beast from the American breed, but it’s still good to see Netflix dipping a toe into the genre with its lineup. They’ve actually got a major potential ace up their sleeve in the form of Sense8, an upcoming original science fiction series from the Wachowskis and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, his first “TV” series since Jeremiah back in the day. Due out sometime in 2015, Sense8 will follow eight characters from around the world who find themselves connected to each other, able to access each other’s minds and interact even across great distances. Naturally, there’s an unseemly group out to track them down and “capture, kill or vivisect them.” Ouch.
Hopefully Knights of Sidonia and Sense8 will be just the start of future forays into science fiction for Netflix. Even if they do stubbornly refuse to resurrect Firefly.