I spend a lot of my leisure time with people on IRC. It rubs off on me, that pattern of behavior, you know, the entire bit about conveying emotion through emoticons, capitalization, image macro links, and just very clever asshattery. Jaded and now gotten used to the usual tricks, it is amusing what can be salvaged for my tarnished mental innocence, left floating in the gutter that is known as the internet.
Perhaps that’s why every time when I tune in to the plight of the Chor Tempest, I am right there as if I am Guraghief! Ah, this is the essence of the Battle Miko fetish, is it not? Or better yet, the best spin on the children of war theme? A symbolic coming of age?
But like most rewarding things in life, it doesn’t come to you without effort. Simoun is totally a show that got the shaft from the fansubbers at the get-go, but the fault lies on Simoun itself for being the best internally-consistent, unconventional fantasy setting probably since Last Exile. On top of that, the massive cast, the steadfast pacing, and a confusing (yet important) beginning can leave viewers bored, confused, disinterested, or all three.
However it has rather solid production values. Simoun boasts a competent voice acting cast, and it is directed by the director of Ranma 1/2. Working what’s left from their Fate Stay Night splooge, Studio Deen does what they do best: gorgeous (animated) illustrations. They’re frameable paintings, for crying out loud. The 3d-CG Simoun aerial fights covers their still-frame butts this time around, and while that looks cheap and takes getting used to, it doesn’t bother me after a few episodes. The music is nothing to write home about, but it is good.
What really captivated me was the focus on character drama. While we can pun away all day and night about the “they’re not really girls!” thing, Simoun presents itself very similar to a shoujo version of Last Exile–in fact the whole Tatiana and Alestia angstfest is a glimpse of what we see in Simoun. As opposed to renegade mercs, Chor Tempest is a parade of priestesses, offering their usual, but deadly, prayer to their theological object of affection when they dance in the skies.
On the other hand, you can look at it not too differently than day soap–it’s full of surprise, innuendo of rape; illicit relationships; people empathizing each other, people manipulating each other, and people growing up. Falling in love, falling from faith; claiming success, losing prestige. The whole nine yards. It’s a lot more subtle than offerings you find from Strawberry Panic, so it’s a little less “exciting.” At the same time, it deals with something that is just much more fundamentally resounding in me that I have to take it seriously. I just can’t do that for a 3rd rate Marimite spoof.
And again, there’s the whole children of war aspect. It’s blatant that shrine maidens are not meant for war (at least outside of Touhou). The mixed expectations crossed with the sacrilege of turning tools of worship into weapon for destruction goes beyond merely the secrets hidden within the Spring of gender crossing or the Simouns machina themselves, but in the heart of the Simoun pilots, or Sibyllae. It’s being backgrounded over time as the series marched on, but with the interplay of its setting, the enemy states against the Simulacrum, and the variety of priestesses for the one and only Tempus Patium, there’s so much stuff there that a 26-ep run will not exhaust it all.