Simoun Wars I – The Attack of Adolescent Themes

I take back what I said about yuri and Simoun, because it has the most pure kiss scene in anime ever (at least this past year).

The Best Kiss Ever

Positively, this show reminds me of Utena in how wry it transitions. A little bit of a bait and switch, really. Originally I pinned my hopes on Ouran Host Club, but that left me in the cold when it spent a good part of its first 12 episodes making fun of shoujo manga and doing the cliche stuff shounen anime has been doing the past few years. It’s not until episode 13 where I got served. And I sure did. Even then, however, all that mysterious vibe has disappeared somewhere between the light bulbs of episode 1 to the starfield of banana peels in episode 13.

Simoun, on the other hand, cracked its unforgiving whip almost like Glass no Kantai. I don’t know what to say about it because just like Glass no Kantai, I am totally at the mercy of the translation. That’s my first gripe, really: there has been only one “good” translated fansub for this show out there, that I can find. And even then, it reads kind of poorly. In a lot of ways, doing a translation for Simoun is like doing one for 12 Kingdoms, but you don’t have the books for reference. We don’t have that kind of neck-breaking pace, but so much has already happened in the first 8 episodes that if you can’t get a grip, you’re going to get dropped. In that sense I think that is my problem with the show. At first, so much was going on that you have no clue about, it became boring to watch. It’s not until each characters’ introspectiveness grabs you that you can then starting to care.

Staring to care why Nevile was so troubled? Starting to care for the big question about the differences between Mikos and Galaxy Angels? And starting to care who is who? Of course, if you’re like me, the first thing that grabs you is its fantastic setting–a world where everyone is born genderless (not quite female) and people can then “choose” which gender, or have their local deity or doctor do so for them. Oh, that’s the second thing: this is not just a theocracy. Tempuspatium is amongst us.

Yeah, 12K indeed.

The second sin Simoun committed is its odd visuals. I suppose I am not in a good position to complain, but given what else is vying for my attention it really only made sense when I’m done with my HOOOhis and LagOOOs, I can stand to watch this average-looking animation.

To its merit, Simoun is still the story about a bunch of youthful girls, even if they aren’t technically. It’s hard to hate an entire harem of 12, and that’s just those on active duty. Well, it might also be a merit that large amount of Simoun’s adult populations also look like girls…as in fememine guys with boobs. I’m not sure to who these may be meritutous, but I am glad they explain that stuff up front. And as a result, too, its neck-breaking pace made good use of the first half of episodes, and I’m looking forward to see more. It would be pretty hard to call it a day at 13.

But why am I actually blogging about Simoun? Because of its wonderful delivery of its themes. To me, that is the heart of this show. Once you grasp them, you get it. If you don’t, you’ll be eternally wondering what the hell everyone is doing, why they are so emo, and why don’t get just get it over with, whatever it is. That is partly what made 12K so wonderful for me too, but that’s probably another rant.

And Simoun makes it easy. At one point Nevile stated it up front. People’s motivations are clear as a book and as diverse as the harem itself. How can I hate a collage of themes about growing up, about overcoming difficult rejections, betrayals, obstacles, brokenness, heartache, adversity, and finding of one’s self? The innocent lost? The lost innocent? Indecision propelled by circumstances? It’s a bit of a cheat to have such a big cast, and each of them are matched neatly in pairs (at least for now). There are some other nitpicks as far as personalities go, and I was kind of bothered by episode 12 in some ways…

But I’m on board to see how these kids turn out. Even (and especially) Dominura. Seeing Aeru grow up and how Nevile deals with Paraietta would be nice, but so much surrounds our key triangle that even the least of these girls will be of some interest. Maybe it’ll strike out. Maybe not.

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