A post in the ‘Released and Relinquished‘ series.
(In case you missed it, go see Part 2: GaoGaiGar over at The Gaming Dungeon) Simoun is one of the most recent anime we’ll be talking about here, having aired in 2006 in Japan and been released between November 07 and 08 here in the states by Media Blasters. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many of the people who’ve seen it, Simoun deserves to be called one of the greatest anime of our decade. Let’s check it out!
The show takes place in a steampunk fantasy world and has lots of great art and cool locations that fans of stuff like Final Fantasy will appreciate. The show’s story is very complex, but it centers around a war between two nations, one of which is an industrial nation in the middle of a longstanding depression who is launching war against the seemingly unstoppable forces of a theocratic nation where the main characters are all from.
Now, in the world of Simoun, everyone is born female, and it is only when you reach seventeen years of age that you head to a magic spring and choose whether you want to become male or remain female. The main characters are all young girls who are nearing seventeen but don’t have to go to the springs as long as they continue to pilot their sacred machines, the Simoun, in defense of the kingdom. So there is a lot of political, social, and religious background to the show, to the point that you could easily write a spin-off series just with the established universe if you want to, and I think I might one day myself!
The first thing you’ll probably learn about Simoun is that it is a serious yuri series – for those who don’t know what ‘yuri’ is, it means that the show features lots of lesbian characters. In fact, the ships called Simoun that the characters pilot take two people to fly, and to activate the machines, the two pilots have to kiss each-other and then kiss the ship, so you see a LOT of girls kissing in this show.
However, you have to understand that this is a part of their culture so it’s not really sexual. That said, there is still some great girls love in there!
Even though the show is about a war and about airship pilots, there isn’t much action in there and the politics pretty much are all in the background. The real meat of the show is the characters, who are some of the deepest and most well-written characters you can probably expect to find in anime. The show is very straight-up drama – there is no comedy whatsoever and there are some moments that will probably move you to tears that occur throughout. It’s really heavy, powerful stuff like an old-school war story ought to be.
Everything about this show is just done perfectly – the background art is fantastic and is done by one of the most famous art directors in the field, the script, the character designs, all of it is just fantastic. The director, Junji Nishimura, is a genius who worked on seasons six and seven of Ranma 1/2 and the OVAs (which were all the best parts!) as well as Soul Hunter, True Tears, and Kyou Kara Maoh! which some of you may be a fan of.
Now, Simoun is actually one of the few cases where not selling well didn’t hurt the series because Media Blasters knew it wasn’t going to be a big release. They released all 26 episodes on just five disks which were sold for only 18 bucks at full retail, and they did not do a dub. So if you only watch anime dubbed, I’m sorry to say that there is no way you will ever see Simoun dubbed, but if you’re like me and you think dubs are a sin anyway, you’ll be fine — really, you should check out this amazing anime regardless! The DVDs also have a TON of excellent bonus features like commentary and cast interviews, and you can find them literally anywhere that sells anime DVDs so there’s really no excuse not to check the series out! I cannot recommend it enough!
Anyway, because this show doesn’t really have a whole lot of action and because I didn’t want to spoil any of the great twists for anyone, it wasn’t easy to find a good AMV, but I thought this one was okay just for giving you a sense of the show’s general feel, how it looks, and kind of some of the show’s underlying religious themes there as well. Remember to check out part 4 of the Released and Relinquished series tomorrow at The Gaming Dungeon!
(for those reading on the blog, I recommend checking out my spoiler-free Simoun review from a few months back to get a deeper sense of the series in far more words lol.)