It’s over, it’s all subbed. But am I ready to move on?
But let’s start with the very first, basic thing: spoilers. Simoun is a show that will not be worth your while if you saw it while spoiled. Try to steer yourself clear of that if you plan to enjoy this show at some point in the future.
That said, it’s hard to talk about Simoun without spoiling, so that’s probably going to happen if you continue reading :)
Another thing that’s easily addressed is the music. Ok, so we know Toshihiko Sahashi is the composer, and he’s famous for, say, grand stuff like Gunslinger Girl and Rayearth OAV; or the more staple stuff like Full Metal Panic and Gundam Seed. I don’t really think he’s superlative in his works in Simoun, but he really nailed it as far as the style of music that goes with this stuff–waltz, classical-appealing orchestrations, of things romantic. There’s the right degree of pompousness, and it characterizes the Sybillas well, as elite, and often rich, well-to-do daughters of other elite, rich people. And enough weird stuff for those more uptempo, mysterious scenes, too. Doubly sweet are those “image” songs, such as the music box song, the one waltz they keep dancing to, and Dominura’s surprising performance.
I think there’s less to be said of the OP/ED themes. They work as OP/ED themes, but standing alone they’re both not really strong. Of course now both pieces are completely covered with the sentiments from watching this show, and the words to “Utsukushi Kereba Sore de Ii” hammers the key points home.
And it really is about these salient points, or as I tend to call them as themes. And there are several prominent ones. The coming-of-age story, the find-one-self story, and the idealist/realist conflict. The confusing conclusion to the show all makes sense once you start to think along the themes, at least so I think.
The ending itself is a little loose, sad, and moody piece generally. It doesn’t tie up any of the loose ends plot-wise but the last two episodes give us the details of their lives after they had to make the choice. I think if you’ve seen it, some of the choices these girls end up with are self-evident (Lodore, Para). Some are fun (Floe, Morinas), others are a little ordinary (Alti, Kaimu). Anubituf and Grageif ended up fairly amusing. Will Vyuraf end up like them? One can only hope so.
But when it comes to Limone and Dominura; Yun; and of course Neviril and Aeru, it’s harder. If you recall Utena the Movie, we can write off Neviril and Aeru in that sense–the duo pursuit something more in abandon of what society has thrust upon them. The differences, mainly, is in the context. Utena was fable-ish within a backdrop of everyday society; where as Simoun had a specific context instilled within its elaborate universe. As a result the act of rebellion and the lesbian conquest had a very different meaning behind it.
Harder still is trying to fit Yun in all of this. She really is a victim of setting–we understand why she did it, but the how really bothers me. Perhaps it’s exactly in this way Simoun fails me as an end.
The same question of how stumbles me when I think about Limone and Dominura. We understand how and why of Limone and Dominura’s context in their travels (one of the several points in Simoun which a spinoff seems appropriate). But WTH? STD (Space-time Transmitted Disease)? I suppose Simoun has given us enough hints to piece together the framework, and I may just too dense to figure out as to why she’s flaking. She has Limone, after all?
The question of how is probably the greatest stumbling block to Simoun. Its unexpected road from climax to end is by no means the problem. Not having things explained, in itself, isn’t a problem either. The issue arises from its elaborate story and context and setting. It’s too good to be cast aside just because explaining it all will unravel this mighty-beauty suspension bridge of belief. Nonetheless, a few more road signs will go a long way.
But the setting, my, the setting. It is probably my favorite aspect of the show and it will stick with me for a long while. Gender bending, the tech, the faux steam-less-steampunk. The foreign languages. The Ri Maajons. The class system. Tempus Spatium. So remarkable. So wonderful twists. And all an integral part of this romance. It’s not just a gimmick.
Romance, I think, is the word I would use to describe the feel of the show. Some would describe it as WWII era drama pieces where a lot of the mood comes during scenes when the cast stare longingly down the runway and into the sky, pining at pilots at war. The similarity are there, and these kinds of elements, more than the interpersonal romance, played a bigger part in painting the show with the right texture, that gives traction to the rest of the drama.
I wouldn’t say the watch was easy, but it has a distinct taste and texture–creative and unique. For a jaded anime faux-intellectual like me, that’s just irresistable. Once you couple that with the roller coaster drama in the middle of the series, it was just too delightful. How the two big dramatic events mid-series affect the story is also pretty interesting, too, and rather unusual.
I won’t deny it, either, when you look back at the show and still only see a bunch of cute girls flying jet planes and blowing things up, while kissing each other…that is probably enjoyable too. But for those of us who would rather take it seriously, there’s a lot to take seriously of!
But when Dominura and Limone took their quantum leap, it was awe inspiring. Both in the acting and in the way they constructed the tension and released it. Now that I’ve had a lot of space and things to put in between now and then, it almost seem irrational and odd for Dominura to do what she did. Or rather, by finding the one (and possibly only) meaning behind her action can we sift through the real significance to it.
Indeed, if she knew what the Emerald Rimaajon did, why did she do it at that point? Are we merely fooled by Amuria’s destructive attempt? Is it unintended irony that Neviril’s moment of mercy caused a massacre? A rewatch (as I had several times since months ago) did show that the emerald Rimaajon is a peaceful transcendence, then and even again at episode 26. Was Dominura meaning to abandon? Probably not. Was Limone looking forward to the magical cure as a way out of their predicament? Maybe. It was what they meant to do as girls, as people living wholly for themselves. But it has other meanings too–Schrödinger’s
CatAmuria, for example. (By the way, there is little doubt that she is dead, even if they left some space for the contrary).
On the other hand, it’s no coincidence that we were flashed back to Neviril’s performance in front of the inquisition regarding the Arctus Prima explosion several times during the show. While I personally would inject a particular perspective (like related to this), it’s probably safe to say that is a defining point in her path to what she turned out to be at the end of the series. Amuria is similar to Aeru in a lot of ways, sure, and Neviril loved both of them. The difference between the two relationships, logically, is where we can see how Neviril has grown and how she learned to come to terms with what she defines herself with. She made important realizations–about Tempus Spatium, about their organized beliefs, and about what a Sybilla is. It’s partly why she could anchor Chor Tempest in the later episodes of doubt and despair.
In fact, there’s a positively lovely domino effect where one girl helps another to pull through this trying time. Without Lodoremon, we won’t have the reformed Mamiina. Without Limone, Dominura would not have made the “right” decision later on. Without Paraietta, Kaimu and Alti would not have reconciled. Without many of theses we wouldn’t have a Neviril that we see at the end of the series. Of course, without Aeru and Neviril Paraietta would not have reformed and become the integral leader for the Chor Tempest girls. Even Aeru learned a few important things from Floe! Even the Plumbum priestesses had a couple big roles.
I think this is where Simoun remarkably differ from Utena or even Evangelion in dealing with these kind of themes. Utena’s characters were, as the show suggests explicitly, puppets pushing and pulling our protagonists along. The movie version does the best job, IMO, in showing that Anthy was the one true heroine at the end, and Utena is just her trusty partner during her trials in some ways. Evangelion, OTOH, dealt with the similar themes in a similar way, but there wasn’t real understanding between the characters, compared to Simoun.
This spiraling train wreck of a post will have to end here. Theories and conspiracies are great for this show because it beckons, yet I think it would still be imprudent to dive into it full force without reason as a safety rope. Meanwhile, enjoy some eyecatches. Simoun’s eyecatches are as amusing as eyecatches can get, and they do a good job highlighting each episode. A short stroll down Neg’s blog is in order here. When it comes to eyecatches I like it when they make the additional effort to make it a part of the entire experience, and they’ve done a great job. It’s like the first thing you see when people post it on 2ch, and it spreads like wildfire with raws and subs trailing behind. Plus, they’re just gorgeous usually.
Until next time.