Archive for February, 2007
February 17, 2007 – 9:52 am
It’s a real shame that Simoun is a commercial flop, because it’s the sort of anime they really should make more of. It’s not plot-driven (there is, however, passage of time and events, set in the background) but rather tells a story of a group of girls and how they react to being part of a war. While not wholly realistic, there’s something very humanistic about their fears and insecurities and hopes and wants and petty fights and time-spanning dreams.
Unfortunately, you get none of that from the first episode. Some people have labeled the first episode of Simoun as one of the worst first episodes in anime. Well, if you consider where the anime went from there, I’m inclined to agree.
I’ll admit, like most other people who checked it out when it first came out, raw, no less, I did so because it was billed as the new yuri anime of the season. The problem was that 1) even knowing Japanese, I had no freakin’ idea what was happening, 2) the kissing was over the top, 3) too many characters, and 4) no like chara designs!
Well, the last is a matter of personal taste, but I think, rewatching this on DVD, overall this episode suffered from being just too radical. For instance, it begins with huge mechanistic airships in stormy weather, bringing to mind Miyazaki anime like Laputa. It opens with a narrative by a female voice, telling us of the dissatisfaction a country has against the Holy Land which holds magical Simoun that they refuse to give up the secrets of. The voice is actually a he, a soldier who is part of a massive invasion force to the Holy Land, so that they may take the secrets of Simoun for the betterment of their country.
Then you switch to the Holy Land, a beautiful clean country where girls are priestesses who fly magical chariots of God. We are introduced to a bunch of girls who are ostensibly the main characters of the show. There are also a bunch of old men and women, all who speak in female voices. An explanation is given of Ri Maajon, which is the act of drawing lines in the sky with Simoun as prayers to Tempus Spatium (God). Our Simoun troupe see the invasion force, and use their Ri Maajon with destructive effectiveness against the hundreds of enemy fliers. But the numbers are too much, and so Neviril and Amuria perform the greatest of all, and as yet untested, Ri Maajon – the Emerald Ri Maajon. They seem to succeed, until Neviril sees an enemy soldier right in front of her and loses her nerve. There is a massive explosion, and while Neviril and her Simoun limp out of the hole in the sky, Amuria’s cockpit is a wrangled mess.
Then we learn that the fight has caused several other losses, and two surviving priestesses have decided to “head to the spring” and choose their sex. Two new characters arrive, and one is to be the main character for the series, judging from the opening. But by this time, you’re already lost…
I think the idea of having half the episode narrated from the point of view of the enemy soldier a very interesting idea. I think this failed because it didn’t give the episode much room to establish who you, the viewer, were supposed to watch. Then, the whole female voice thing just threw me for a total loop – very disconcerting. Then you had characters being introduced, and then characters dying off just as quickly. Unfortunately, you are not explicitly told that Amuria died, just that Neviril had lost her Pal (partner), and so much of the distress is a mystery. Oh yes, and before I forget, you get about 50 million new bits of vocab thrown at us, not to mention a very complicated setting for the political and social setup of this world. Plus the bizarre physiology involved. And then more characters on top. All in 25 mins.
I know the production team tried really hard, but this was a perfect example of too much, too fast.
On the other hand, if you watch the entire series then go back and see this ep, it’s quite amazing how well thought out the world is. They put a lot of work in to developing a completely different reality, and while much of it was never explicitly revealed in the course of the show, the thoroughness shows through.
So, basically a very good show that is killed by its own too-ambitious debut. Ah well.
BTW, did I mention that the music is weird too? It’s absolutely great stuff, but I for one had not even dreamt of using a waltz for an aerial dogfight before seeing this, and that threw me too.
What can I say… I’m just really glad they made this anime. One Simoun for every 10 ero-game adaptations… that’d be a nice balance.
February 13, 2007 – 12:32 am
Found a whole boxload of Simoun pics.
Some are rather questionable… but the relationship chart rocks! Some nice screens caps too, if you can dig through all the hentai fanart. Although, some of the more squicky loli stuff actually comes from the (female) character designer. I feel shades of Takada Akemi…
February 11, 2007 – 9:50 pm
Finished Simoun this morning. Bittersweet. Been running through the AnimeSuki forums and various blogs, and I feel emotionally exhausted. Feel cheated because a lot was left unexplained, feel sad because it’s the end, feel a bit like crying because the final scene of the Arcus Prima was just so ephemeral. Overall, the anime had its flaws, but it was still really good and a big emotional connector. Seishun…
I can’t imagine how the director must’ve felt at the end. This anime really tried to pull together themes of hanging on to childhood, accepting life, the reality of change and the human desire to never change. It sounds like Peter Pan but balance with hope. But, we will always have the memories…
God, remembering Paraietta’s sketch makes me feel like crying again. This was a good show.
February 10, 2007 – 11:23 pm
I was listening to the Simoun soundtrack (which, incidentally, is frickin’ awesome), and on my iTunes after Simoun comes Singing Heart^2… and the first song is “Dance in the sweet memories”. Which got me all teary-eyed for the old days in Ann Arbor watching KOR with the gang. God, has it been 10 years already?
I don’t know why, but something about this song just gets me so nostalgic and emotional for Madoka. It’s the last arc of the series, and she’s finally admitting her attraction to Kyousuke, and it’s tearing her apart… kind of dramatic sort of thingy. I love this ending.
Stuck in a pre-order for the KOR DVD box set. Figured I owed ‘em something. And the 25% Amazon discount was too good to pass up.
God, it really has been 10 years. Hmm, could be just about time to panic about life and shit.
Or maybe I’ll sit back and watch more Simoun :D
February 10, 2007 – 11:50 am
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good anime, aside from Ghost in the Shell SAC. I think the last time I tried something new and liked it enough to post, it was Strawberry Panic. Which, with the lifting of the veil of insanity, is kinda like enjoying garbage scraps because you happen to be sitting in the alleyway. Well, scratch that travesty off the list.
Simoun is another yuri anime, but that can be considered a pity because it’s actually not about yuri, even though it technically has (romantic or platonic emotional) female-female relationships. It’s more about a group of characters and their interactions, based in quite a creative fantasy world, the premise of which is that all humans are born female and are considered children until the age of 17, at which point they go to a sacred spring to choose the sex they wish to be for the rest of their lives and hence become adults. The story follows a group of priestesses, children who have not yet gone to the spring, who have traditionally taken the roles of worship to their God by singing to sacred “chariots” – the flying machines known as Simoun – and offering prayers by tracing lines in the sky.
However, war has broken out as the surrounding countries covet the mysterious technology of the Holy Land. The Simoun are now used as a fighting force and the lines they draw wreak destruction on thousands of enemy targets. Oh, and there’s some political plotting and hidden agendas too, otherwise it wouldn’t be a Bandai Visual anime.
Seriously however, Simoun sounds kinda bleh, but it looks really nice. The production values are very high, the art is generally of high quality (you couldn’t do this in OVA even 8 years ago, much less a 26 ep TV series), and the music is really good while being really weird (orchestra and tango, anyone?). I don’t mind the CG; it seems to add to the ethereal quality of the world. The only thing that really bugged me at the beginning, and still does now sometimes, is the voice-acting of some of the characters. Very flat and dissonant from the images on screen, which leads me to wonder if they took the take first then did the animation after.
I basically mini-marathoned Simoun, hitting about 7 eps in one night, 2 the next, 5 the next, and 1 this morning when I woke up. I discovered last night that eps 24-26 are not yet out, UGH!! And so I try to exercise some restraint.
I’d seen this series when it first came out, and dropped it after the first ep. I guess I watched because it was supposed to be yuri, but I didn’t like the character designs, the story was really weird, and I really didn’t like the yuri fanservice at all. Pointless kissing, bleh. The reason I decided to give it another try was because some blogs had called it the best series of the year (and in a good, story-centric, well-executed etc etc kind of way, not in the ZOMG!! Shizuka pwns Nagisa!! kind of way). Also, I was seriously sick with a cold. :P
Well, now that I’ve seen 15 eps, I thought I’d try to put down what I find so addictive about this show. I think it’s the characters. 12 characters was pretty overwhelming at the beginning, but they’ve each got their little bit, I’d assume. Some have their backgrounds covered, others are fascinating because of how they are depicted in their reactions to the current situation. I have to say I really like Paraetta, not because she is likeable, but because she is so flawed and insecure and painfully inadequate – just a child even though she looks the oldest. The two “main characters” Aeru and Nevriril, I’m not too sympathetic about, but they are the focus for Paraetta’s helplessness and a fulcrum for the cohesion of the team, and hence they become relevant too. The others aren’t terribly interesting in their own right, you just want to know what happens, you just want to see all the complex human dynamic unfold and crisscross and tear through.
There’s not much about the outside world, as most of the focus is on Simoun girls, so it’s a rather narrow focused view of the progression of the war from their point of view. With all that angsting going on, usually I’d drop this like a hot potato, but this time it’s not annoying and whiney. Overdramatic, perhaps, but I never detest a character, just feel pity. Some of the dialog is actually really good too. It’s like Gundam, done the right way. Perhaps if Amuro Rei had been a girl I might have been more accepting. Or maybe not.
In ep 2 or 3, when Nevriril goes to the Spring with her friend. The aftermath was one of the most emotionally shocking and memorable scenes I’d seen in anime. I think this was when I decided whoever was writing this thing had something down right.
February 5, 2007 – 11:30 am
Ugh, it’s the morning after the tour final for Eternal Circle, and I feel like a combination of colossal hangover and getting hit by a truck. And I haven’t been drinking. Or experiencing traffic accidents :P
Haven’t been this, um, active for a Hekiru concert since, oh, 4 or 5 years ago maybe? Or perhaps it’s age. Then again, you try jumping for those 4 cymbal crashes during “WONDER RIDER” and see how well you move the next day.
Ahh, it was far too short. This was a great concert with great music, and dang it it really needed 2 more performances or so for Hekiru and Band to get their sea legs. “September RAIN” rocked, dude.