Yet another series chosen by YR visitors, Simoun tells the tale of a tightly-woven group of priestesses who defend their homeland from intruders, all the while infighting threatens to bring down the empire their people have built for themselves. A war drama that takes a closer look at the individuals involved rather than on the bigger picture, Simoun mixes armed warfare with yuri, resulting in an interesting and unique combination.
Taking place on a planet where everyone is born female, Simoun largely centers on an ongoing war between three countries: The Holy Land of Simulacrum, The Argentum Archipelago, and The Plumbum Highlands. Shown from the Simulacrum viewpoint, the story delves into their worship of a deity known as Tempus Spatium. Young priestesses known as “sibyllae” use sacred aircraft called “Simoun” to offer prayers to Tempus Spatium in the form of “Ri Maajon”, patterns drawn in the sky that hold incredible power. Once these sibyllae turn 17, they are strongly encouraged to visit a mystical spring where they’ll choose their permanent gender. And once they visit said spring, they are no longer sibyllae and can no longer take to the skies in the Simoun.
The Simoun have proven pivotal to the war and have tipped the balance of power in favor of the Simulacrum Theocracy, which is a major reason these other nations want to learn the Simoun’s secrets and acquire the technology for their own benefit. The problem is, even among those who reside in the Holy Land of Simulacrum—the Simoun sibyllae included—the Simoun remain a mysterious technological marvel from the distant past, and their origins are unknown.
The major problem I had with Simoun was the slow pacing. For extended periods of time, it feels like the story is moving along at a snail’s pace, and there isn’t much happening. I’m all for character development, but it feels as though the narrative is stretched to fill the 26 episode quota, and I think it might’ve been better to condense the existing content into 13 episodes instead. Alternatively, a movie recap would’ve particularly been phenomenal. The fact that Simoun spends far more time on interpersonal conflict than it does on the conflict between the warring nations isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it does eventually settle into a better flow and becomes more easily watchable, later on. The narrative’s conclusion is somewhat mixed. Nearly all loose ends are tied up, and pretty much everyone gets some closure to their individual storylines. Overall, the narrative is rather adequate and doesn’t do anything to hurt the series’ standing.
The cast is large and diverse, and with so much emphasis placed on the characters, a majority of them grow and evolve throughout the course of the 26 episodes. Nearly everyone gets ample time to have their personal stories told and connect with viewers, with some characters’ stories being far more interesting than others. The various personalities of the characters span a wide range from easygoing (Aaeru), to serious (Yun), to bitchy (Mamiina), to mysterious (Dominura), to several others that I don’t really feel like listing. The main character in the series (Neviril) is borderline unlikable due to her attitude early on, but she eventually thaws and turns things around. The show’s creators put a lot of faith in the characters being able to carry the show, and they do an admirable job of doing just that. Long story short, it’s likely you’ll find someone within the expansive cast to root for and get behind.
It’s been quite a while since this series originally aired (2006), but from a visual standpoint, Simoun puts another yuri series from the same timeframe (Kashimashi) to shame. That’s probably not saying too much, but Simoun was a very respectable-looking show, and it still looks decent, nine years later. For the most part, the character designs are above-average and run the gamut from sexy vixen (Dominura) to adorable munchkin (Limone) to flamboyant ice queen (Neviril). All told, it was a good-looking series that does a pretty good job of standing the test of time.
For me, this was probably the best aspect of Simoun. The OP “Utsukushi Kereba Sore de Ii” and the ED “Inori no Uta” offer contrasting styles, but both achieve desirable results. The OP has a certain gracefulness about it that fits in well with the series, while the ED’s pumping beat complements the vocals nicely and produces a catchier theme, in my opinion. The themes are solid, but what’s even better is the background music. From grandiose orchestral pieces to an oft used—yet still great—tango-influenced track, the music absolutely shines. It’s epic, emotionally stirring, and adds a lot to the overall tone of the series. Who knew war could sound so beautiful?
Simoun sibyllae work in pairs, so you don’t go very long without seeing copious amounts of yuri. Kisses between pairs are essentially mandatory, and since the girls are cooped up in a warship for most of the time, several relationships emerge. Whether it’s the long feeling out process between Neviril x Aaeru, the childhood friends turned chivalrous platonic friendship of Neviril x Paraietta, the incestuous sibling love/hate between Alti x Kaimu, or any number of other pairings; there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy, from a yuri standpoint. Aside from the higher-ups within the Holy Land and aboard the Simulacrum Theocracy’s largest warship the Arcus Prima, the only male character that frequently interacts with the sibyllae is Wapourif (and he’s still fresh off becoming a male), so the show is free to become a giant yuri-fest. And that’s exactly what the show becomes.
It may not be the most excitement-filled series ever, but if you can survive the sometimes-sluggish pace, you’re rewarded with an excellent character-driven drama that has more than enough yuri to keep fans interested.