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Knights Of Sidonia: Love Woven In The Stars (2021)

The colossal space-craft The Sidonia is home to the last known remnants of humanity, seeking a new home after the Earth was destroyed by shape-shifting aliens called the Gauna. Centuries after leaving their home they are still fending off attacks from the Gauna. 10 years after the events of the Knights Of Sidonia (2014-15) TV series, Nagate Tanizake is now an ace Garde pilot and hero of the fleet. With an uninhabited planet finally identified for possible colonisation, the Sidonia faces a final battle with the Gauna- who seem to have learnt a trick or two since we last saw them.

The Knights Of Sidonia TV series (now streaming on Funimation) was adapted from the manga by Tsutomu Nihei and ran for two Seasons on Japanese TV. Outside of Japan, it was marketed as Netflix's first Netflix Original anime series (although unlike with later anime, the streamer had no part in the series production). Knights Of Sidonia: Love Woven In The Stars is a feature-length conclusion to the franchise, with a brand new story not adapted from Nihei's manga. It opened in Japan in June of 2021 and is being released in the United States cinemas by Funimation from September 13, 2021. The film was directed by Hiroyuki Seshita and Tadahiro Yoshihara, and the animation production was from Polygon Pictures.

To a certain section of anime fandom, Polygon's involvement in anything is an instant turn-off. They have a particular style that unites all their productions. Utilising 3D CG over the 2D still used by the majority of anime studios makes them unpopular with those with a strong preference for the hand-drawn style. Polygon tries to combine CG with a more traditional anime aesthetic, using a cel-shaded look and a lower frame-rate to try and recreate the look. The two styles gel pretty awkwardly. It looks pretty enough in still images but in motion it appears jerky and character movements look puppet-like. It works way better when dealing with non-organic matter however, so spaceships and mecha look great. Resultingly, the action scenes are visually impressive, kinetic and exciting- it's just in the more oganic human moments and basic movement it struggles.

Polygon's technique doesn't seemed to have evolved much, if at all, since the TV series, and so it looks much the same as its predecessor, and other Polygon productions such as Blame and Ajin Demi-Human. Of course, if you're intending to watch this sequel movie to the Sidonia series, you'll have already come to terms with your feelings on their style, and presumably somewhat like it, or at least are able to look past it for the story and characters.

Similarly, I would not particularly recommend this to a newcomer- or at least not without doing a little research first. It is a complete story in of itself, so it's not completely inpentreable to newbies- but you will be missing out on two seasons worth (or at least a recap movie) of backstory. Sidonia newcomers will find themselves wondering what's with the talking bear (it's actually a cyborg) why, all the clones and why humans can perform photosynthesis now? The movie isn't about to give them any answers.

Sidonia veterans will find that Love Woven In The Stars provides a satisfying conclusion to the saga. It features more of the same of what made the series popular, but now on a bigger, more cinematic scale. The title indicates a romantic subplot, and while it's there it's certainly not the main focus of the movie. It feels somewhat perfunctionary and a bit rushed in comparison to the rest of the story.

There's a lot of action here on a grand scale, with space battles featuring the Knights fighting off Gauna forces. It successfully feels like a last stand for humanity and the stakes are as high as they get. It's also a rereshingly definitive ending. Although the epilogue could be open to more if they really wanted to, this feels like the end of the story for the main characters at least.

If you're a fan of Evangelion-esque control room scenes, with flashing lights on screens and officers barking orders at their troops, you'll get them here in spades. It really adds to the space-opera feel. Have no doubt, this is sci-fi through and through.

Pushing the two-hour mark, this is on the long side for an animated film, but propelled by its action set-pieces and plot, it moves along at quite a clip. There's also character revelations and secrets unveiled, some that were apparently not even answered in the manga. This isn't just about the action.

All-in-all, Love Woven In The Stars is an enjoyable culmination of the saga with plenty of thrilling action and a side-order of romance. Long-time sci-fi anime fans will likely have seen very similar stories time and time before- often better told. But if you're looking for a dose of flashy sci-fi adventure then this certainly fits the bill.



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