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.
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.