The best parts of 'Sidonia' remain its visuals and its gut-wrenching combat sequences; it's a shame its human elements aren't quite as strong
A side-quel that only makes the audience long all the more for the original, instead of cutting its own path
Calling this a 'sports story' falls so far short of describing how its seething visuals tell a story that'll hit home with most anyone, ping-pong players or not
You would have had a hard time finding a series with a more, well, legendary aura about it than Legend of the Galactic Heroes, one enhanced all the more by its sheer unapproachability. Neither the original novel series nor the anime derived from it — both accorded classic status in Japan — had ever made it to English-speaking shores. Consequently, you would have had an even harder time finding an announcement capable of rattling more eyeteeth than the news that not only had VIZ's Haikasoru imprint licensed the rights to the first three novels, but that Sentail Filmworks had also picked up the TV series. Cue permafrost forming in hell.
But with this undeniably great news came, for me, a troubling realization: How to talk about something of this stature without wearing the blinders of fandom — in short, how to talk about the material itself, and not the hagiographic version of it carried around in the head after decades of hearing about it? I'll figure out the details as I go, but I do know it has to be done.
Rarely is there anything fair, or just, about the death of a creator. At best, an artist will die leaving nothing immediately unfinished, but will still be gone. At worst, they will die young, in the middle of work they have invested themselves in deeply, and leave behind both the work itself and a heartbroken audience. When does it make sense to have others continue work left unfinished, and when is it best to just leave well enough alone? The paradoxes, not all of them obvious ones, at the heart of this question surfaced for me with some news that broke last week.
If an anime, or any popular entertainment, borrows from other things, that by itself is never the crime; it's only a crime when the work in question begins and ends with such borrowing, and never moves past that. Darker than Black is, in the abstract, full of borrowings — some obvious, some more cryptic — but the fact that the creators had good taste guiding what they borrowed from wasn't the only thing that paid off. The best of influences do not automatically make for the best of end products, although they sure help. What ultimately makes the show work is a good sense of the fundamentals: an intriguing premise, a lively cast, the intelligent development of the ingredients, a sense of fun that doesn't distract from the main mission, and a worthy way to wrap everything up. It may not shoot for the moon, but it also doesn't blow off its own toes — and it hits squarely all the things it does aim for.