Archive for January 24th, 2008

Simoun in a Library, or: A Feeble Excuse to Talk About Simoun Over a Year After the Fact

So, as a kind of Christmas gift to the public library I work at, I bought an extra volume of Mushishi DVD 1 and Simoun DVD 1 and donated them. Mushishi showed up a month or so ago, and today I noticed that Tech Services had processed Simoun and it was now available for checkout. Behold the marvelous spectacle of Simoun with a bar code sticker:

In celebration of this monumental event, I will now discuss Simoun for no real reason.

Back in 2006, I was still in the process of maturing as an anime fan, growing from mere fan-fledgling into full-blown otaku, and I kind of glossed over Simoun at first glance, like a good many people did, thinking it would be a silly, trashy series full of thinly veiled excuses for pantyflashes. Instead, it was a thrilling, moving series full of thinly veiled excused for girls to kiss. What’s not to like?

Simoun, unfortunately, has, to a novice viewer, a slow and somewhat confusing start. It’s one of those shows that operates on the bell curve principle, in that the middle is several orders of magnitude better than the beginning or ending. It’s somewhat similar to, again, Eureka Seven, which had a similar beginning pattern (slow start), in that people tend to be driven off by the early episodes for varying reasons. However, I had it on good faith from several friends that Simoun was actually good, so I, eager and always hungering for new anime to devour (this is one aspect of my style of anime fandom that has never, ever changed) gladly took their word for it. And I, like everyone else, was mightily confused by the first episode, but by episode four I was solidly convinced that this would be a great series.

Episode four, for those who have seen the series, is the episode where a lone pilot from one of the neighboring, warmongering countries to Simalcrum kidnaps Aaeru and Limone and runs off with them to the woods in an attempt to steal their Simoun. There was just some air about this episode, in the way that Nishimura and the writers portrayed the enemy pilot not as an unspeakably evil person but, instead, as a human being who just wanted to help make his country’s lot in the world better. Although this pilot never says anything intelligible to the audience, you’re almost sad when he dies at the end. The very humane portrayal of the enemy convinced me that this series was going to be a doozy, so I figured it passed the four-episode test within a reasonable margin.

And then Rodoraemon cut her braid off.

That single event starts a chain of events both external to the Chor Tempest and internal, as they contend not only with the enemy’s machinations, but with their own relationships within their own Chor. And episodes ten to twenty-one were glorious. From the cute, yet extremely character-building moments like Limone planting a kiss on Dominura’s cheek after having love explained to her in basic, childlike form, to Mamiina taking a page from Rodoraemon’s book (and winning my absolute love at the last second), Simoun truly was at the top of its game. I’d seen Maria-sama ga Miteru before, but I think Simoun was the first yuri series that knocked me down and said “This is what we’re made of”.

Simoun is an excellent example of the recent trend towards anime/manga adopting elements both from male-targeted anime/manga and female-targeted anime/manga. It’s a process that’s been going on since at least the 70s and maybe even back in the 60s, as the lines between what is “shoujo” and what is “shounen” (and what is “josei” and what is “seinen”) consistently blur the line. Anime fans are already the most ignorant of target audiences, crossing gender-defined genre borders seemingly at will, so it’s nice to see that there’s still anime/manga that effectively takes elements from both and combines them to form something that anyone could theoretically enjoy. It’s part of why, even after five years of watching the stuff, anime still holds the power to amaze and astound me. And that is the best thing something can do–the loss of that sense of wonder is usually what leads to people abandoning fiction-related hobbies and taking up different tastes and different genres, and so, when one retains that sense, staleness and boredom never set in. And this is a Good Thing indeed.

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NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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