Yuri Anime: Simoun, Volume 3 (English)

May 23rd, 2008

You know those moments?

When you’re watching a really good anime and all of a sudden you think, “Crichey, this anime is stellar.”

Volume 3 of Simoun is when an excellent series becomes stellar.

I took 4 pages of notes about things I wanted to mention, but I realized that if I mention any of them, I will simply be spoiling things. So I really can’t talk about what happens in Volume 3, except to say that *everything* changes in this volume. Episode 13 is particularly key, there are so many details; so many little, extremely subtle touches that it would be impossible to notice them all, but when taken together make a piece of anime that is absolutely stunning.

Now I remember why I said this was the best series of the year – because it was! What fantastic writing, what brilliant characters, what a delicatly crafted and well-handled plot.

Let me digress – plot, in anime is often treated as a nag. If it gets any attention at all, it’s whipped and beaten until the poor thing is lifeless. Not here – the plot in Simoun is treated like the thoroughbred it is. Handled by skilled trainers and given the finest feed, what we get in Volume 3 is nothing less than anime its best. (And just in case you think I’m overthinking this, wait until you listen to the staff commentary on the extras – it will prove to you that I am not at all exagerrating in the slightest. So there, nyah.)

But, here’s the thing that I really want to say about this volume. Media Blasters did a fabulous job on this volume. Not a typo, not even an awkward moment of translation. This was the best work I’ve ever seen from MB – it was up to the standards of the anime itself. What a genuine pleasure to be able to simply enjoy the excellent translation without worrying about technical details. Thank you, thank you Media Blasters! Great work.

And, while I’m thanking them – thanks to them too, for adding me into the credits under “Special Thanks To”. I have to admit, it made me go a little blushy, but considering that all I do is rag on you guys, I can’t imagine what you’re thanking *me* for. LOL

The extras were interesting once again. I already mentioned the fascinating Staff Interview, but also included was an interview with Yukana (Dominura) and Noto Mamiko (Rimone) – and unlike the other cast interviews, they were totally relaxed and comfortable talking to each other. :-) But – why are we still getting snotty asides from the lollipop and not being allowed to just hear them talk? Beats me.

Anyway, did I mention that this volume was stellar? It was. Every second of watching the first two volumes is made completely worthwhile when you watch Volume 3.

Ratings:

Art – 7 (I’m being a little kind here, it’s so variable)
Story – 10
Characters – 9
Yuri – 7
Service – 6, but they make them pay for it, by reminding the viewers that Wapourif is really male. Hah.

Overall – 9

Stellar. Stupendous. Spectacular. Splendid. Superb. Superior. Stunning. “S” is for Simoun.

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4 Responses

  1. oneplusme says:

    I remember when I first saw MB’s episodes-per-disc count, my first thought was that disc 3 was going be absolutely stellar – the arc from episode 12 to 16 contains pretty much all of the very best moments of the series, and it’s all on one DVD. 13 and 14 in particular are simply outstanding – complex, evocative, dramatic and subtle all at once. For the money you’d be hard-pressed to find many better things to buy, anime-wise.

  2. mdgirolamo says:

    Whereas I agree that Simoun has taken the plot/setting/characters dynamic to a level very rare in anime, it sometimes leaves a rather odd aftertaste. I don’t know…but, quite frankly, the not too subtle loli with reference Rimone squicked me – it’s even worse than Kagome in SP!, and that was unhealthy as it stood. Not a damning criticism, but really something I see occurring all too often in anime.

  3. The director addresses the issue with Rimone – and he clearly netiehr likes children, nor is a lolicon. He definitely tried to handle the situation carefully. I think he did a good job.

    I agree that the series leaves an odd aftertaste – that, for me, is part of what makes it so goo. It is not victory, or defeat, but these weird bits of unresolved life.

  4. DezoPenguin says:

    I find it amazing how many different (and positive) reviews of Simoun I’ve seen which forget or just miss that Waporif is male (of course, I had that “What the…?!?” moment myself a couple of months back, but it’s still funny to see it in professional print).

    I have to agree with your “variable” rating on the art–I got a little annoyed that throughout Episode 16, in which we were treated to so many deeply character-defining moments with Dominura, that we were also treated to so many up-the-nostrils shots of her nose. I, personally, found the whole thing with her and Rimone to be “squicktease”–it looked as if it might get squicky then veered away on a different sans-squick path. Episode 12, of course, still provides plenty of squickable content for those who require it.

    I found the defining point of this volume to be Aer’s utter emotional innocence (and the first cracks in it starting to show). Her reactions in Ep. 12 followed by how she dealt with Neveril in Ep. 13 really reveal an almost terminal level of cluelessness about people’s emotional relationships to one another (I don’t mean only in an inability to perceive what others are feeling, but a complete disconnect with the very concept of having those feelings), which explains a lot about her reactions earlier in the series.

    And since Paraietta is my least favorite character…well, except maybe Floe…I found other elements of this volume immensely satisfying as she is smacked with the “Get a clue!” stick repeatedly and often.

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