A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Knights of Sidonia involves characters in constant danger from giant scary monsters. Space battles have deaths and loud pops, swoops, and bangs, which may be intimidating for younger or sensitive viewers. Anime characters, especially female ones, are shown in lingerie or nude from behind. Sex is referred to and includes variations such as asexual reproduction, and some characters are born neither male nor female and change gender when they mature. Depending on which version you watch, the series may be dubbed in English or may be in its original Japanese with subtitles that move very quickly and are difficult for young children to follow.
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What's the story?
On the massive ship Sidonia, created from the remains of an Earth destroyed 10 centuries ago, the KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA continue to fight for the survival of humankind. Giant monsters known as "Gauna" were responsible for the obliteration of the solar system, sending the Sidonia and other ships hurtling into space. With no other home to cling to, humankind then made something of a new start on Sidonia, pioneering new skills such as cloning, human photosynthesis, and asexual reproduction. As the story begins, young "underdweller" Nagate Tanikaze (Ryota Ohsaka), who has been living in the subterranean levels of Sidonia with only his grandfather, has made contact with the rest of the Sidonian population. All the time he's been underground, he's been using an outdated training module to sharpen his space-fighting skills. Now he's swiftly selected to be one of the elite Guardian pilots who defend Sidonia from the ever-attacking Gauna.
Is it any good?
For the uninitiated, Japanese anime can be a little hard to get into. Every character looks alike, females coo and giggle, male characters huff and grimace, and there's a tendency for the animation to freeze on a character's giant-eyed face as his or her hair swirls around the head, which is often meant to convey an emotion that may be a mystery to new viewers. In addition, since Knights of Sidonia is an example of "mecha" anime, which heavily favors visuals and sounds of industrial machinery, it may turn off those who aren't enthralled by huge spaceships squirting firepower. Knights of Sidonia, though, is better plotted than most anime, with interesting quirks such as a main character who's neither male nor female -- its body will transform into one gender or the other once it finds true love.
Alas, Netflix's decision to subtitle instead of dub for American viewers likely will shrink its audience in the States. Even adult Americans grumble about subtitles; it's too much to expect a child under age 12 to be able to read these quick-moving subtitles while simultaneously decoding dialogue loaded with subtext. This is an interesting whole-family watch -- but only for families with older kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the intended audience for Knights of Sidonia. Is it young people? Old people? Men or women, or both? People with particular types of interests or enthusiasms? How can you tell?
Are you familiar with Japanese anime conceits, such as all the characters looking alike? Do you think being familiar with Japanese animation style helps viewers appreciate Knights of Sidonia?
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