Knights of Sidonia vol. 4 – Tsutomu Nihei

4 out of 5

Back on board.

The first fourth or so of volume four is rough, though, going full bore with Nihei’s time-shifting narrative tendencies in a way that kept making me feel like I’d skipped a chapter or was reading the book in the wrong direction.  I’m also stupid, so the internal numbering for the gauna – a G number – conflicting with the faux-garde ships’ numberings, as well as that we have this one highlighted gauna thing we’re calling the Hawk Moth, had me doing the page-flip dance, trying to straighten out who was who was attacking who.  And Niehi constantly highlights what I guess is the “face” of the Tsugomori but I just can’t contextualize it in my head.  Ugh.  But part of this is just how Tsutomu writes, and the constant reshuffling of what you know goes part and parcel with his big-bang sci-fi approach.  So it’s not completely unexpected, but at points – like the opening of this volume – the uphill climb is especially steep.

But once the opening battle tapers off, we delve back into the history and some earned character drama between Tanikaze and Norio and appropriate advancements in the Director’s backroom dealings.  Even the love/hate Midorikawa / Shintoze thing starts to level out to something amusing, and that particular duo leads to one of the series’ funniest scenes yet.

Lots of moving gears in the volume, but it doesn’t feel especially cluttered, Nihei’s narrative smoothing out as those gears begin to move in sync.  As usual, though, he shows off yet another new idea (in the latter section with Kunato) that I’m sure will just confuse the fuck out of me next volume.  But at least for now I’m back to being more wowed than flustered by the growing world of Sidonia.