I'm having some trouble following the battle of the Akai squad vs Gauna 487 at the end of Knights of Sidonia episode 3 (which I am clearly overanalyzing). I've replayed the scene like five times and cannot figure out how or when Aoki is killed, and I can't follow Momose and Midorikawa's demise.
Something about the animation and visual similarity between characters (as well as similar voices for the men) is making it difficult for me. The only way I could really tell who was who was the unit numbers on their helmets (001: Akai, 002: Momose, 003: Aoki, 004: Midorikawa).
So from what I can tell (Netflix timestamps), I've bolded the parts that I wouldn't mind some clarification on:
- 19:44 Akai and Momose go in together, Momose gets grabbed.
- 19:59 Akai slices off the tentacle, saving her. In a heavy-handed sequence, everybody immediately yells "Akai!" an Akai apologizes, although I'm not sure how everybody knew he was about to die, because from the shot he looked safe and nothing had grabbed him yet. 9 seconds of wondering what he just apologized for follows, until...
- 20:08 Akai gets grabbed and is soon killed; we see him being pulled in in the following scene.
- 20:46 We see confirmation on control room screen that Akai is out and Momose is injured (presumably from when she initially got grabbed, but it didn't look like she took any damage?).
- 20:54 Aoki is told to take command and leave Momose, to which he responds "but Momose is...", but I can't figure out what he means by that or why he was told to leave her at that point or where she even was, because we haven't seen Momose do anything yet, really.
- 21:19 Aoki says "I'm going in" (I had to pause to read the 003 on his arm to confirm) and closes in on the Gauna, instructing Midorikawa to support fire
- 21:32 Momose goes flying past (about two frames, needed to pause to catch it and didn't even see this until like the third time I watched it) and Midorikawa yells "stooooop!". Momose goes into full blind rage mode.
- 21:57 Momose gets too close, takes a hit, we hear buckling metal. She is knocked back quickly. Presumably this is what ultimately kills her (she may or may not randomly explode later).
- 22:07 We see either Aoki or Midorikawa go after her and immediately deduce it is Midorikawa because we see 003/Aoki tell him to stick to the mission.
- 22:09 Immediately we see Aoki's view of some tentacles coming at him. Then the camera switches and we don't see anything else. Somebody yells during the exterior shot of Midorikawa, but can't tell if it's Aoki or Midorikawa.
- 22:12 Midorikawa grabs Momose as he flies past then soon after loses his grip and clearly dies as he is impaled by a tentacle.
- 22:25 Somebody explodes but I can't tell who or why. This part doesn't make any sense to me because:
- Ok, so from 22:12 Momose is further from the Gauna than Midorikawa.
- Midorikawa grabs her. Now they are together.
- His grip slips and it looks like he throws her further because when he is impaled, he is clearly closer to the Gauna than she is.
- Exterior shot we see the person closest to the Gauna explode, unprompted (I didn't see any tentacles?), which is where Midorikawa was like a second earlier.
- But then we see that it wasn't Midorikawa, because we have an interior shot of him floating through space, blood-covered and dead. So somehow him and Momose switched places then she mysteriously exploded? Or perhaps it was Aoki that exploded? But he should be pretty far away (and I guess dead) now. Anyways Momose is definitely presumed dead.
- Adding to this, I later noticed that the explosion didn't appear to be anybody in the squad (see edit below the line below).
I think the final state is: Akai is captured/eaten/absorbed/whatever by the Gauna. Midorikawa is dead and floating through space. One of Momose/Aoki is presumably floating through space too and the other exploded (not sure who; update: see below, somehow neither of them exploded).
The whole scene is a little eyebrow-raising because the mistakes they made and tactics they used didn't seem to agree with the build-up of their skill and confidence to this point (although on the other hand none of them had fought a Gauna before and maybe highlighting their break-down and the contrast with their hyped up skill here was the point). They went down pretty easily.
- Did I get all that right?
- How did everybody (including Akai himself) know Akai was going to die 10 seconds later?
- What was going on when Aoki was told to leave Momose behind?
- When did Aoki actually die?
- Who/what exploded?
I admit I'm overthinking this (and at this point I've spent about 40 minutes dwelling on a 3 minute scene where the only thing that's really significant about it is that it's chaotic and everybody dies), but this is the culmination of my frustration so far at having a really hard time keeping track of who is who (doesn't help that there's like, clones everywhere; at least I assume they're clones - either that or the animators are really struggling to differentiate the characters).
Update: OK, so two new data points that make this even more confusing.
First of all I just noticed that we briefly, for like a half second at around 22:31, see Momose floating through space (interior shot, this happens right before we see Midorikawa's interior shot):
We know this is Momose because if you look at the arm band it ends in "02", and if you look at the status display it's missing 002 (I noticed everybody's status display displays everybody but themselves). (This also re-raises the question of how Momose died; at this point only decompression seems plausible except their skin-suits are airtight)
So now it seems clear that Aoki was the one that exploded (although how he got so close to Momose/Midorikawa I have no idea), until...
We see this map in the control room at the start of the next episode:
So we see 001 (Akai) near the Gauna, which we already knew, and 003 (Aoki) as well. Momose and Midorikawa are not on the map, not even on the more zoomed out views in that same scene. But we know Momose and Midorikawa are both floating through space, we saw them directly after the last battle.
So that rules out Aoki exploding as well, which raises the question, what was that explosion at 22:25 in episode 3? Ahhh!