I spend a lot of time here at Okazu commenting on random slivers of Yuri lodged in the fingers of larger and un-yuri manga and anime series, so it’s nice, sometimes, to be able to review something that was actually created to appeal to the Yuri fandom, and yet not jam-packed with nothing but fanservice and lowest common denominator plot bunnies. Simoun, as it ran in Comic Yuri Hime is both those things. (In stark contrast to the evil twin Simoun manga, which runs in Megami magazine as a parody gag manga and deserves a review of its very own.)
Let me start with the biggest negative of this Simoun – it ended WAY too early, before the story even started, really. With this great, complex world, and all these characters to work with, the manga reads almost like a summary of the main relationship’s storyline from the anime. I can only imagine that there was a management decision involved in this. (And bizarrely, as I type these words, my iPod shuffle just started playing the Simoun anime opening song. The chances are 2:120 that I’d get a song related to Simoun. lol)
As the story begins, Aeru is a newcomer to the Chor, where she finds and confronts Chor Tempest’s Sibylla Aurea, Neviriru. Why aren’t you flying? she asks. And in doing so, she sets off a series of emotional confrontations. Her first confrontation is with Parietta, Neviriru’s close companion and self-proclaimed protector. Aeru then encounters Mamiina, Rodoreamon’s partner, who eventually challenges Aeru to a battle of will in the air, from which Aeru emerges triumphant.
We learn through flashbacks that at least in part, Neviriru is still grieving for her former partner and deceased lover, Amuria.
Also though narration and flashbacks we see that this is the same world as in the anime, a world in which all people are born female and must choose their gender. In the manga, they make their choice of gender at 15, not 17 as in the anime, but the choice is equally as fraught with…well, fraughtness. It’s THE choice they have to face. And Aeru quite openly shuns it. We also learn that the Chor are fighting a war, as they do in the anime, but the politics and pressures that affect them in the anime are absent here; as I said, the series was cruelly cut short before we could get into any of that.
Aeru’s success in breaking down Neviriru’s walls upsets Parietta, who now has to face her own feelings for Neviriru. On the cusp of forcing herself upon Neviriru – who may or may not welcome it – Parietta finds the strength in herself to give Neviriru up completely.
Free, Neviriru runs to find Aeru and vows to continue to fly with her. As priestesses, they pray together, and hear each other’s vow of loyalty and love. In a finale marred only by the fact that it comes too soon, they kiss.
A final chapter entitled “Intermission” follows devoted Rodreamon as she discusses her evil-eyebrowed, but good-hearted partner Mamiina with Aeru, then as she shows her devotion with a little emergency hair care and gentle words. Mamiina walks away, vexed that she cannot despise gentle Rodo’s affection. ^_^
The art throughout is solid, if not to my personal taste, with those little girl faces, a tendency to close-up in a decidely soap opera fashion, and clothes that quite frankly distress me in their design. LOL The color pages from Yuri Hime are reproduced, as they have been with all other Yuri Hime collections.
Honestly, the ONLY bad this about this story is that it’s over before it begins. I would have gladly read this for years and years to come. But oh well. There’s always fanfic.
Art – 7
Characters – 7
Story – 6
Yuri – 9
Service – 6 (Did I mention the distressing clothes?)
Overall – 7
Undoubtedly Yuri in every way, for a female audience, Simoun will probably make my “top ten” list for the year, but I just can’t stop thinking about what might have been….