Knights of Sidonia vol. 13 – Tsutomu Nihei

4 out of 5

While its first half lacks the kind of momentum you’d think KoS would have at this point, rearing into its final cluster ship battle – after Tsutomu has wasted our time on harem comedy for two or so tankobons worth of chapters – the series does some requisite subplot wrap-up and then finally gets back to future alien war insanity in its latter half, to fantastic effect.

And even though it’s rather tonally different, that subplotty stuff, cheesy as it is, and by no means really justifying its overall inclusion – I’m talking very much about the soap opera nonsense that’s been part of this space opera – is fun, as Nihei leans into it rather hilariously, much the same way he brought some levity to Tsumugi’s role by going full penis monster with it. From a top-down view, if we had to include this stuff, I think its conclusion here makes sense for Tanikaze’s character, and I like that (at least as it stands in this volume) Nihei doesn’t even drag it out with any bickerings between the others involved – Tanikaze, naive and laser-focused as always, has decided on how he feels, has shrugged his shoulders and gone with that decision. It’s in line for his personality, both in his approach and the nature of that decision. It’s still a stupid as fuck aspect of KoS, but at least its been charmingly stupid as fuck at points, such as it is here.

So while I’m bashing on that, I’d still consider it a successful part of these chapters, and the book is then capped off by the Captain finally explaining what the endgame is going to look like, the requirements for which also retroactively justify why the pace had to slow down, as Sidonia marshaling resources for this plan. And as the series has done at the best of times, it doubles down: as soon as we get the fires of war stoked on, things go very, very wrong, with other subplots also rearing their heads to build to a great cliffhanger.