4 out of 5
While this very clearly settles into a “crisis of the story arc” type format, the relative linearity for Nihei is nice – no new WTF elements are introduced; we can function with the characters / elements already in place – allowing for the pacing to really work as an effective buildup to some great thrills and story evolutions.
The Hoshijiro placenta continues to humanize; the Ochiai personality starts to Cylon more people and mastermind some gauna / human hybrid plan. The alert comes: a shit ton of gauna are shoving an asteroid toward Sidonia, and there’s not really a guaranteed way to stop it besides offing that living propulsion force. So a ton of Knights are dispatched to get that done.
This battle is pretty much the back 3/4ths of the tankobon, but Nihei stretches it out pretty perfectly and logically: The Sidonia plan makes sense in context, the gauna response makes sense, and the way each ends up adapting further makes sense. There’s no last ditch deus ex machina – unless you consider the Hawk Moth that for the gauna – it’s just a hard-fought battle, with every inch earned through grit. Extra points for the Deathstar riff.
While I’ve gotten used to not really being able to understand what’s going on when the POV backs way up to reduce our Knights / gauna to spots in space, the action / who’s doing what, for the most part, is clear, even though everyone’s in their Tsugomori for most of this. However, I still don’t quite get why the Hawk Moth is a big deal beyond looking different, and I also still apparently have no idea what the Tsugomori look like, since every angle puts their “face” and “arms” in positions my brain can’t figure out.
This does continually keep me at arm’s length from immersion, so YMMV, but it affects my rating.
A fairly straight forward storyline allows for volume 5 to pace itself into an especially thrilling entry.