3 out of 5
With some of the big dynamic shifts and the 1-2 punch of surprises leading up to this volume, it does make sense for Nihei to allow us a bit of a “break” and delivery a relatively more laid back set of chapters, focusing on establishing the new character dynamics. Volume 8 thus does its best to dial back the penis-y nature of Tsumugi and turn it into a kinda cute, penis-lite pet for Tanikaze – and also maybe a romantic interest? – giving it arms and a slightly more expressive face for humanization. Having the naive Tanikaze structure his whole lifestyle on whimsy – pursuit of food, and now an out-of-the-way domicile with pipe extensions that allow Tsumugi to transport itself there – has been an amusing way of guiding the narrative, and that continues in an upbeat way here. Izana’s crush on Nagate is surely deepening as well, so of course he completely innocently asks her to move in with him. Y’know, as friends. The meet-cute stuff can be a little cringey at times, with an accidental boob squish, but it remains on the side of harmless for the most part and is a fun will-they / won’t-they aspect, because of how ignorant Tanikaze is and how in denial Izana is, but also because they are friends who care about one another. Less harmless is another completely pointless upskirt shot. One day, one day I really hope we can do without that stuff.
Meanwhile, on the edges, we get drama surrounding the cluster ship: it attacks the human outpost, and now the Captain, in her mysterious new frenzy, is piloting the Sidonia straight to intercept, and sends out an investigatory crew on something of a suicide mission, leading to this volume’s cliffhanger of another ship prototype, piloted by Nagate, teaming up with Tsumugi for another gauna go-round. Inbetween this stuff, we’re mostly playing house; it’s a good pause in world- and event-building, if essentially rather lightweight.