Yuri Anime: Simoun mid-season review

July 13th, 2006

Simoun first bleeped onto our Yuri-dar as the manga series running in Yuri Hime magazine, followed almost immediately by the anime which debuted in April 2006.

Now the Simoun franchise includes a great Original Soundtrack, an upcoming novels (Volume 1 and Volume 2), a PSP game and some news/rumor to the effect that Megami magazine will begin running the manga. There is some confusion as to whether it will be the *same* manga that currently runs in Yuri Hime or perhaps a manga created for the anime…or something else. Since the anime and the manga are telling related but not at all identical stories, and since the current crop of Japanese anime magazine overviews of Simoun are full of fanservice-y swimsuit pictures of various characters draped over one another, it’s apparent to me, at least, that they’ve discovered their audience hook. I think it’s a good bet that the manga to run in Megami will be less character and more fanservice than the one in YH – if it is not actually the same manga, simply moved to a new magazine.

But we are not here to discuss the manga…we are here to discuss the anime, which only recently passed the halfway point. For folks who are unfamiliar with Simoun or who just need a refresher course, here is a link to my Simoun category.

Before the anime began, the conversations within Yuri fandom were primarily, predictably, about the gender-choosing issue within the series, and how it might complicate any Yuri pairings. I consider it a win for the story that this topic has long ago been dropped in favor of discussion of the workings of the helical motors, the fate of Chor Tempest, and the various internal and external struggles of the Sybilla, the Simoun pilots, themselves. In fact, I’ve been really impressed by the depth of thought that Simoun fandom has displayed.

Simoun is not an easy watch. There is no doubt in my mind that if it and Strawberry Panic were licensed and sold here at the same time, that SP would be instantly popular, while Simoun would lag behind. Lowest Common Denominator *does* make a difference, and the average anime fan does still has the attention span of a gnat. The Simoun anime contains many technical terms, a large portion of which are drawn from Latin and French, and the world constructed within the series is multi-layered and not entirely filled in. The relationships between the characters are absolutely critical to the story, and complex enough that, at times, it’s not all that easy to gain a grasp of what’s going on the first time one watches an episode.

Simoun provokes many questions – a quality that *I* enjoy in an anime, but fans who want simpler entertainment might dislike. It’s a series that takes work to follow – but IMHO is worth twice every second of effort. I look forward to every episode and I am quite looking forward to the next installment of the manga in the upcoming issue of Yuri Hime.

There’s much here to admire – worldview, plot, character backstory and development. There is pandering, yes, and fetish hooks and fanservice but, because the series as a whole strikes me as intelligent, I’m willing to see them more as smart ways to keep a wide viewing audience and less as cheesy things. Call it a “handwave.” I’ll give the series the kisses and the ero-eyecatches, because it gives me more interesting things to think about.

Ratings:

Art – 7 (when its good, 9, when it’s bad 5, so it averages out)
Story – 9 (bottomed out in Episode 4 and has built steadily since.)
Music – 8 (I’ll be buying that soundtrack…)
Character – 8 (I can’t think of anyone I don’t like…seriously)
Yuri – 7 (I’m still ambivalent about this…which is good.)
Service – 5 (I mentioned the ero-eyecatches, but let’s not forget the uniforms….)

Overall – I think I’m going to have to say 8. I know that every Monday evening, I start slavering for a fix, so, yeah. 8.

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8 Responses

  1. Futaba-chan says:

    “What gets lost is the thing that *I* want most, which is a more literal rendition of the words, since I am attempting to learn the language.”

    That’s the nice thing about having two fansubs: Doremi takes a much, much more literal approach to their editing, so you can watch them for literal renditions of lines, and us for an explanation of what’s going on. Embrace the power of “and!” :-)

  2. While I agree with you in theory, in practice, they have too many other errors in both their translation and basic understanding of English grammar for me to enjoy their work.

  3. nae says:

    The Megami version is Simoun on crack, pretty much; everyone got transplanted to a magical-girl school with connections to the military. The Simoun have become wands, and the gender issue appears to have been removed (!). Fans of the anime or manga may find it funny, but newcomers could actually take this on its own and it still makes sense. Personally, I think it could have been more overblown than it currently is, to fully express the humour. Part of the problem is how petty the character interactions already are in anime and manga — with all the triviality of real life — as that’s hard to mock.

  4. So…”something else” then. Sounds…yeah.

    Thanks for the update on that!

  5. Anonymous says:

    “too many other errors in both their translation and basic understanding of English grammar for me to enjoy their work. “

    Im kind of glad I dont know japanese now. I can just enjoy the subs without complaining about the imperfect translation and other insignificant things and just enjoy the show.

  6. neo_hrtgdv says:

    I am learning japanese too and I agree sometimes the translations makes your eye twitch, but I really enjoy it, for some parts I don’t need to actually read the subs and I can just hear, for the trickier parts (as in, the parts telling story and complex stuff) I need to read them; and yes I agree that if you are trying to learn japanese you’ll find “mistakes” that happen because of personal interpretations more often than not, since japanese is very different from english it happens a lot, really.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Would you fix that link to the original review? (Namely, this: http://okazu.blogspot.com/2006/04/Yuri-anime-simoun.html) I was trying to click on it. ^^

  8. Fixed. Sorry about that.

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