Category Archives: Ouran High Host Club

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.

New Season Checklist 3

And 40 days after the flood of new anime had stopped, The Bad Guy opened a window and let loose a pair of CRV7 70mm rockets.
Black Lagoon 1

I think the winners, barring the remaining contestants, are clear.

Notice how each of those are spearheaded by a different significant production studio. Deen, for example, has their lovely Simoun flying machines complete with sound effects akin of Vader’s Custom TIE. It’s a war out there. Well, with exception of Bones and Madhouse, who also manages to hit really, really hard with Juuousei, the Lord-of-the-Flies tale of survival and becoming something more; and Black Lagoon, probably my #1 selection for the masses this season. Sucks to be Gonzo right now, though…wait a few months? This season, it seems, the studios have taken cues from 1-2 years ago and suddenly every one of them produced shows that started at around the same time, all very appealing.

And they fight like as if it’s a war–in the flea market of our minds. Some of the arsenals include kiss. Lots of kisses–girl-girl, girl-boy, boy-girl, boy-boy (well, we tried to avoid this one). Lots of blood, even more action (some involving kissing); comedy shoujo-style, comedy-no-style, no-comedy. No romance, lots of romance, mostly in-between. Low blows. Guns; lots of guns. Hot moms, lots of sisters; bunny girls? CG, fake CG, CG-looking-like-it’s-not, REALLY BAD CG. Snail-pace, non-linear storytelling, action-packed. And of course, fanservice; the shoujo/josei crowd is still at the lead of that (so much sex in Nana, so little time), of course, closely followed by the snuffy Tokko (funded by Manga Entertainment???). Can maid boys beat out magical girls from the 90s? Only if you’re a dream user…

The casualties are lost in the mindshare bloodbath, deemed to wander in the obscurity known as “faint recollections” when one browses through a list of anime at their favorite torrent site or wallpaper listing. Who the hell cares if your close friends are gargoyles or a badass tank AI?

It’s fierce, and as well it should be. That said I am not holding my breath; the second half of this year has some of the more exciting titles coming out. UFOTable’s newest project and more KyoAni in the form of Kanon are just some rememberable teasers waiting to happen.

New Season Checklist 2

Not quite yet over, but I gave in to the Cap.

Nordic != Bagpipes?

AMG TV2 knows what it’s doing. Same with Aria 2. The sequels generally score high and because they exist second-generation that’s probably indication enough. OTO…Wulong? Hack//ROOTS?

Eh. Well, the CG fest anime this season, Zegapain, scored well with me; I probably still won’t follow it, but I dig its high school romance aspect. The combat was very well-done, too. Especially if they can get it all on HD. Simoun, OTOH, was better called “Lez Exile” in its similarity to Last Exile but the whole airship/feudal warring states concept wrapped around a very strange weird girl-girl relational triangle, tied with equally impressive mishaps when the balance breaks. Pass.

The rest of the average grind mill seems barely worth mentioning, even if it has its gems in the rough. Ray had a great pilot but it’s a BlackJack spinoff, so I don’t know. Inukami is probably worth checking out if you can handle the zany UY-ness. Airgear is pretty but the manga hits the spot way better. Seeing the skating in action helps, along with the right dose of fanservice…but it’s going to tank as a matter of time.

Witchblade seems to take root between something like Guyver and Blood+, so that’s probably doing exactly what it’s trying to do (the Mamiko helped). Magipoka, for me, was the surprise hit. Loli comedy, if such a thing can be called, is usually hit or miss. Definitely superior if you’re looking for that in terms of Girl’s High, or the disappointing Disgaea animation. A more curious comedy, in the form of Ouran High School Host Club, is probably worth checking out for its Utena-esqe character constructs. It’s totally not-serious shoujo anime done with a self-parodic bent, so guys can probably enjoy it as a mockery of shoujo generical norms. Shoujo as aberration in anime continues to be a rule of thumb with Nana, too. Not a piece for Noitamina, this Nana bosts way more production value than ParaKiss, if that’s even the right piece to compare to.

I’ll probably update next with PriPri, Spider Rider, Gargole Family, and the rest of the lot. Otanoshimini~