Genres: drama, romance, science fiction
Themes: gender switch, religion, shoujo-ai, war, yuri
Number of episodes: 26
Plot Summary: In the world of Daikuuriku, everyone is born female, and chooses which sex they wish to become at age 17. In this world, the peaceful theocracy of Simulacrum is guarded by magical flying machines called “Simoun”, which can only be piloted by young girls who haven’t chosen a sex yet. The Simoun can activate a magical power known as “Ri Maajon” that can destroy large numbers of enemies at once. When the industrialized nation of Argentum decides that it needs to invade Simulacrum to acquire the secret of the Simoun, war breaks out, drawing the Simoun “Sibyllae” (priestesses who fly the Simoun) into a lopsided battle. Because the war is raging, the Sibyllae are granted an exemption from choosing a permanent sex for as long as they’re willing to keep flying. Aaeru, a determined young Sibylla with a mysterious past, and Neviril, the leader of Chor Tempest, Simulacrum’s most elite Simoun squadron, must lead their fellow priestesses through conflict both within their ranks and in the sky.
Simoun. It is the one of the finest examples of anime I have ever witnessed, and certainly one of the most overall superior anime series with yuri as a major element. It is a story of breathtaking artistry and power, depth and maturity. The life breathed into the characters, their circumstances, their relationships…the story, the setting, the themes, the moods, the artwork. It is superior in all ways. The final episode broke my heart. The final scene is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.
The hallmark of a truly immersive fantasy is when you feel as though you’re just getting a glance at something much deeper…that you are hearing only one narrative among countless others which will never be told. Simoun makes an art of creating this feeling.
It never compromises, and it never panders. There are times when Simoun will give you what you want, but it will never be in quite the way you expected, nor will it ever be done in the way you might wish for the most. With a very few exceptions, this show is not interested in crowd-pleasing.
In attempting to avoid specific details and spoilers in these write-ups, never have I felt more constrained than I do now. There is so much I wish I could address, pages and pages of speculation, interpretation, and observation that I could write about the characters, their relationships, the setting, the mechanics of their world, the society of it, its past and future, and so on and on. Initially, I had planned to simply write until I ran out of things to say, but I’ve managed to exert reason over passion, with difficulty.
I will say this however, and those who have seen the show will understand me well:
Simoun leaves us with so many unanswered questions. The hallmark of a truly captivating enigma is when you feel as though if you contemplated it just a little longer, a little harder, you could pierce the veil and gain some true insight into the heart of the mysteries. Simoun makes an art of creating this feeling.
Certain logistical matters aside however, the lack of answers is not a failing of the show’s storytelling, but far more intentional. As with Haibane Renmei, we’re not supposed to know the answers. Like the characters themselves, we only get glimpses of what the truth might be.
This anime will also tackle in its own way, the journey of a teenager into adulthood. Trust me, the rite of passage here is an incredibly difficult decision to make when each girl has to go to the spring and have their gender determined based on their thoughts and feelings. The sacrifice that these girls will make, the first step taken into the world of adulthood, where everything that you treasured in your youth, all the good times, bonds shared together with everyone, will either be gone or never be the same again. It’s hard to explain so you’ll have to watch in order to understand what I mean.
I’ll tell you all this much: If you truly wish to experience something new and unique, THIS SHOW IS ADDICTIVE! At least it was for me. Trust me, you won’t be satisfied after only one episode because it will continue to lure you in over and over again. You can’t stop wanting more. On the other hand, there’s so much to sink in, that you’ll want to take your time and appreciate this glorious work of art, one episode at a time. It’s up to you.
Oh, if you have homophobia or can’t get into yuri, my bad.
Also, there’s an easy cure for those who may have issues with the gender bending logic in the circle of life in this anime’s universe. All you have to do is…remember that even though the decision of which gender you wish to become in this world requires a LOT of thinking, keep in mind that the male species serves one purpose and one purpose only: Continuing the life span of the human race.
All seriousness aside, that is their primary purpose in this anime.
This anime deserves recognition. There will be characters you’ll like then dislike and possibly like again later. There will be good times and bad times. This show will leave you thinking for a while.