Simoun – Episode 2

Let’s get back to Simoun! Simoun’s first episode was an astonishingly rich premiere, packed with compelling worldbuilding and intriguing thematic subtext. The twin pillars of the holy land’s strange, martially-focused theocracy and its gender-related cultural assumptions gave me a whole bunch to dig into, and on top of that, the episode was also just fast-paced and beautiful. We were given enough natural hints to draw up an alluring portrait of life in this world without exposition ever overrunning narrative, and I’m already somewhat invested in several of our apparent lead characters. Fantastic premieres are a lot more common than fantastic shows, but a great premiere is certainly a good way to start. Let’s see what episode two brings!

Episode 2

Alright, so the opening sequence of the first episode actually was the show’s standard OP, and not some specific introductory sequence

Panning down over that big ol’ CG fortress. The Simoun are pretty good at hiding their CG nature, but this massive fortress looks awkwardly low-resolution when it’s put on display. Reminds me of Bokurano’s robots

And our new girl is off in a one-pilot training ship to go fight the enemy

Looks like the enemy is doing some reconnaissance at the moment. These little helicopters they fly are flexible machines

So her “Simile Simoun” is an imitation that can’t create Ri Maajon, since it wasn’t blessed by their Tempus god

Neviril is in some sort of chamber that allows her to fly freely within the center of the ship. An interesting practice space for Simoun lines, and also clearly a place where she goes to clear her head

It looks like Erii, the pigtailed member of their Chor, is giving up on being a Priestess. Briefly introducing us to the whole Chor in the first episode has allowed them to toss off characters for purposes like this, demonstrating the different ways they all react to actual combat

The new girl just outright rams all the enemy ships, relying on her own ship’s sturdier construction. It’s a completely insane strategy, but it seems to be working!

It’s baffling to the higher-ups that they’d get a volunteer in a time of actual war. Being a Priestess has unsurprisingly become a ceremonial position in the lead-up to this series

Neviril’s style of “combat,” this graceful dance, is directly contrasted against the new girl ramming her ship into enemies. They’ve made war into something beautiful, but this scene doesn’t let you forget what their actions mean

Apparently the new girl accidentally replicated the Emerald Ri Maajon

“When we fly, we call it ‘praying to the sky.’ Don’t use words like ‘sortie.’” Yep. These Priestesses want to downplay the ugliness of war at all costs, and reframe their actions as something beautiful

Aaeru’s her name, right

She’s about as straightforward as can be, immediately stating she wants to be Neviril’s pair

The orange-haired girl immediately wants to pair up with her, lol

A lovely piano track as Erii helps Neviril into her coat. This show is certainly willing to let scenes breathe

“My seventeenth birthday passed a long time ago, so I’m thinking about going to the Spring.” Unsurprisingly, the fact that girls “grow out” of being Simoun pilots is tied to the end of adolescence. Again making the historical framing of girl-girl romance as a passing phase into an explicit narrative element of this world

The fact that all this worldbuilding is handled naturally, without exposition, is what enables the show to be both dense with narrative information and also filled with sequences dedicated largely to tone. It’s a terrific combination

“I’m scared of going to the Spring.” And so Neviril agrees to go with her. A very natural way to introduce us to the Spring, giving one of our viewpoint characters a believable reason to go there

Meanwhile, we get introduced to the ship through Aaeru searching for Neviril

Neviril actually may enter the Spring

“That would mean Tempus Spatium making you a man or a woman, right?” Ah, alright. So their gender is considered mutable until they become an adult, at which point they must choose. That again speaks to the freedom of adolescence, versus the assumptions placed upon us in adult society

“You have Onashia’s permission not to go to the Spring, so…” Apparently it’s assumed you’ll go after you turn seventeen unless you have specific permission

I love this show’s dramatic, heavily shaded freeze frames. It amplifies the sense that this is following in the footsteps of shows like Dear Brother, the classic melodramas that established the terms of this sort of anime storytelling

“For society to function properly, it is necessary for half of people to become men.” Highly debatable

Aaeru again poking holes in their very flimsy cultural assumptions. She deliberately frames the choice to fight in the Simoun as a rejection of going to the Spring, whereas the party line is “going to the Spring is a sacred passage into adulthood, but our country needs us right now”

“Don’t call it ‘piloting.’ You’re ‘speaking to the Simoun.’”

I’m still not sure how piloting duties are split between the two members of a pair

“You don’t know what the battlefield is like.” “I do. I was a cadet on the southern front.” Interesting. So are there people who fight without Simoun?

It’s odd that this show is making me so fond of a girl who just seems to like fighting for its own sake, but the linguistic gymnastics everyone else uses to downplay the fact that they’re soldiers who kill people makes me side with Aaeru’s honesty

So the two roles are auriga and sattiga, and apparently auriga is the front pilot

“You decided you were going to become a man for her a long time ago, right?” Interesting. Paraietta’s relationship with Neviril seems pretty thorny

It seems like all Holy Land vehicles use these shell-like, smooth-edged designs. We see a train utilizing the same system

“If I don’t become a man, it’ll limit my career choices.” JEEZ. So we’re really embracing the patriarchal assumptions this whole system plays off of. Mari Okada’s not pulling any punches here

A group of travelers on the train treat Neviril with religious reverence

Another wordless segment, as Neviril and Erii complete their pilgrimage to the Spring

The Spring is marked with a crumbling winged statue. Freedom and wings seem intertwined

Grand Oracle Onashia appears

Really nicely emphasizing Erii’s terror here

And she becomes Erif

It’s not a joyous moment. Erif is overcome by the pain of what he’s lost, and we get this great ugly-cry

A gorgeous shot of their local temple at dusk

“Go higher.” Concluding once again on the idea of flight as tied to freedom, an escape from the rigid assumptions of their world

And Done

Alright then! That was a much slower episode than the first one, but that’s to be expected. This episode pretty much entirely explicated the Spring-related assumptions of this world, and established a solid working partnership between Neviril and Aaeru. Erif’s scream at the end was likely this episode’s best moment, but I consistently enjoyed seeing Aaeru push back against the ways the Priestesses framed their behavior. We’ve got a strong platform now!

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One thought on “Simoun – Episode 2

  1. Most of the jargon is fairly straightforward latin: sagitta is “archer” and auriga is “chariot driver”, war chariots typically having a two-person crew. Although since the simoun aren’t technically armed this doesn’t explain the control breakdown…

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