Company: Bandai Visual/Studio DEEN/Simoun Production Committee/Sotsu Agency
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 3 Apr 2006 – 25 Sep 2006
Synopsis: In a world called Daikuuriku, all humans are born female. In order to maintain a proper balance between the male and female ratio, many countries use drugs to decide a person’s permanent sex immediately after birth. There is one country, Simulacrum, that gives its denizens the power to choose their permanent gender at the age of 17. Those who do not wish to choose a gender may defer their decision by becoming a priestess and piloting a gravity defying vehicle known as Simoun. Only Simulacrum has the technology to make these “Chariots of God,” the Simoun, and only war can break their monopoly of this technology. In earth-scorched battlefield, the young Aaeru and Neviril must fight for their uncertain future.
Premise: A unique concept laid on top of an old one.
Plot: A powerful story spearheaded by strong characters and a solid script.
Characters: Likeable but not quite loveable.
Fanservice: Liberal, somewhat redundant, but not all too obtrusive.
Niche anime typically rely more on fanboy gimmicks rather than actual quality to attract an audience. Only after years of meticulous trial and error does a worthwhile product rear its head. Hailing from a well-known sub-genre known as yuri, Simoun is most definitely a niche anime, but it ingeniously twists its characters and plot into a riveting, edge-of-your seat piece of entertainment.
If anything is true, you’ll hear few complaints about the production value. Yes, the animation has numerous inconsistencies, but it is good enough not to usher in vehement outcries. The seiyuu give a strong performance and the music assumes a unique style that fits the show exceptionally well. All the aesthetic values only complement this fascinating world where everyone is born female. However, the real meat of the series lies in its dynamic duet between the characters and the story.
The war story provides the problems while the characters provide the edgy drama. Dilemmas are lined up one after another to wreck havoc on any semblance of peace. With a massive collection of emotionally vulnerable characters, the show has numerous conflicts occurring side by side. As the series progresses, the battles become secondary to the character drama, and it becomes evident that the various webs of interaction between the characters is the real focal point of the series.
The large cast, however, proves to be a double edged sword. While there is never a shortage of conflicts, few characters receive deep, meaningful development. Due to this, I had a hard time wholeheartedly cheering for or crying for any specific character. Furthermore, in light of the well-paced and powerful story, the less than superb ending may disappoint. Then again, the show has so many interesting, sometimes poignant, twists and turns that the final impression of the show is nothing but positive.
If you enjoy a character driven shows seasoned with action, melodrama and yuri, Simoun is one of the best you can find. This show has the right balance of originality, fan service and genuine quality that definitely deserves a try.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Shadowmage