Knights of Sidonia(シドニアの騎士,Shidonia no Kishi?) is a manga series by Tsutomu Nihei, published by Kodansha in their magazine Afternoon. The manga series has been published in English in North America by Vertical. An anime adaptation has been announced.
The story is set in a distant future, a thousand years after humans flee from Earth, which was supposedly destroyed by shapeshifting gigantic alien monsters called Gauna (奇居子?), aboard massive spaceships created from the remains of the planet. One of said ships is Sidonia, which has developed its own human culture closely based on that of Japan where human cloning, asexual reproduction, human engineering such as controlled hybrid human/animal mutations and human photosynthesis are commonplace, and is arguably the last human settlement remaining as the fate of the other ships is unknown. Little is known about the true nature of the Gauna or the huge ship they board to pursue Sidonia. Each Gauna has its core protected by a huge mass of seemingly impenetrable material known as the "placenta", and once the placenta is shed away and the core is wounded beyond repair, the Gauna's body disintegrates.
Sidonia is defended by large mechanized weapons called Guardians (衛人,Morito?) whose weaponry and mobility is powered by "Higgs particles", armed with a high output cannon for long range assaults and a special blade known as "Kabizashi" for close combat, which is made of the same material that forms the Gauna's placenta. Most people in the surviving human population are screened and drafted as Guardian pilots at a young age, if they are shown to be capable of piloting them.
The story follows the exploits of Nagate Tanikaze, who lived in the underground layer of Sidonia since birth, raised by his grandfather. Never having met anyone else, he trains himself in an old Guardian pilot simulator every day, eventually mastering it. After his grandfather's death he is found by the rest of the population and after being tested in a new simulator he is selected as a Guardian pilot, in hopes of defending Sidonia from the Gauna's attack using his incredible combat skills.
The series main protagonist who was raised by his grandfather deep inside Sidonia, thus he did not underwent the special genetic treatment to develop the ability to sustain himself through photosynthesis and must eat on a daily basis like a regular human for nutrition. Despite having a hard time adapting to Sidonia's way of life and gaining the trust of his peers, he eventually becomes their greatest hero after saving the day on several missions. He pilots an older but capable Guardian mecha model called "Tsugumori" (継衛?) but later is entrusted with its far more advanced successor unit. Later it is also revealed that Nagate's grandfather was in fact the war hero Hiroki Saito and Nagate was a clone of his designed to be a replacement for his aged body. However, Hiroki decided to have a natural death and raised Nagate by himself instead.
Belonging to a new, hermaphrodite third gender that originated during the hundred of years of human emigration into space, Shinatose is also a Guardian pilot and quickly becomes Nagate's best friend, constantly following him and eventually moving to his house. Later it is revealed that she can switch her body to become fully male or female according to her chosen partner and considers becoming a female out of feelings for Nagate. She has lost an arm and a leg in combat and had them replaced with two automated, prosthetic limbs.
The mysterious young female captain of the Sidonia spaceship who commands the Guardians against the Gauna's attacks. Known to most just as "The 28th Generation Captain", her face appears concealed behind a JapaneseKabuki mask most of the time and so far only a few people (including Nagate) had seen it.
A scientist who lived decades before and was a researcher on the gaunas behavior and biology. He once tried to create a gauna/human hybrid which almost caused the destruction of all Sidonia. Later his mind is transferred to Kunato's body and he resumes his research, leading to the advent of Tsumugi and Kanata.
A gauna/human hybrid created by Kunato Heavy Industries for fighting against the Gauna. Similar in size and appearance to a guardian, but having a gauna-like appearance, her prowess in combat is rivaled only by Nagate's. She becomes friends with Nagate and Izana, usually interacting with them at their house by a tentacle she sneaks by the vent system while her main body stays at her hangar. Later it is revealed that Tsumugi was created from a sample of a Gauna with Shizuka's DNA.
The manga is written and illustrated by Tsutomu Nihei. It debuted in Kodansha magazine Afternoon's June issue in 2009. Since then, 11 tankōbon have been released. The manga has been licensed in North America for an English release by Vertical. The first English volume was released on February 5, 2013.
An anime television series adaptation, produced by Polygon Pictures, has been announced. The series will be directed by Kobun Shizuno and directed by Hiroyuki Seshita, with scripts by Sadayuki Murai and character design by Yuki Moriyama. The series will also be localized and streamed by Netflix at all its territories in Summer 2014.
The manga was ranked #47 in Oricon Charts on October 30, 2013 with an estimate of 20,934 copies sold. Carlos Santos gave the first manga volume a B stating, "It's got a young man piloting a giant robot against alien enemies, but Knight of Sidonia is no Evangelion. Yet it's not as bleak or incomprehensible as Tsutomu Nihei works like Blame! or Biomega, either—rather, it's the best of both worlds, bringing Nihei's hard sci-fi mentality into a more conventional space-adventure environment."