It’s time to return to Simoun! Episode five represented a key turning point for the show, in that it was the first time one of our protagonists actually decided they want to do something. It initially seemed like Aaeru would be the driven, goal-oriented character who pulled the rest of this team along with her, but as episode four revealed, the reason she was actually so insistent on becoming a Priestess was because she too was trapped by uncertainty, and unsure of who she wanted to become. With Neviril also paralyzed in the wake of her former partner’s death, the show was left with essentially no one to push the narrative forward – fortunately, Limone was able to step up and remember the passion that sent her down the path of a Priestess in the first place. Limone doesn’t seem like the kind of person who’d care that much about shaking other people out of their insecurities, but with Chor Tempest now back on active duty, I’m guessing at least her and Aaeru will continue to keep things moving.
That said, I don’t know if this is the kind of show that could comfortably transition into a quasi-monster of the week mode. The plain fact is, this show’s two biggest weaknesses are its CG ships and its generally poor direction (along with some misguided music cues). You can construct an action sequence to minimize the awkwardness of questionable CG, but I don’t trust this director to manage that. Episode five demonstrated the problems there: Limone’s character turn came off well enough, but the actual fight was almost incoherent. We’ll just have to see how Simoun handles itself as Chor Tempest returns to battle. Let’s get right to it!
Gorgeous shot of the city at night to open. The show hit on a wondrous visual setpiece in this quasi-Venezian, quasi-Roman main city, and it definitely knows it. The city architecture is also echoed in the design of the main ship in a way that makes that CG ornament actually feel pretty natural in these compositions
Also a nice piano interpretation of the opening song
Okay good, we’re opening with Neviril. The show has definitely sat on her narrative for long enough
And she’s in the midst of one more nightmare recalling that horrible battle
Neviril’s narrative situation is pretty interesting. While she’s obviously and understandably suffering from PTSD, we didn’t really know her or Amuria well enough prior to that battle to be attached to either of them as characters. Her spending all this time paralyzed by that incident is certainly realistic, but a tough situation to invest in given how little time we spent with her as an active character
Ooh, I really like this shot of her grasping forward in bed, her shadow cast against the curtain behind her. This show seems better at creating single iconic compositions than propulsive overall storyboards
“Wounds and Pain.” Well, that title doesn’t beat around the bush. I guess we really are getting back to Neviril this time
The Chor are out on another patrol
God, the fact that they actually have to fly up next to each other to communicate is so absurd. How do they set up group Ri Majoons that way, anyway?
Everyone commenting on how the team is off or distracted. That’s a fine situation to be in, but like with Neviril, it’s somewhat awkward that we were more or less introduced to this team in this period of long stasis
Limone doesn’t wanna work. Limone Is Hungry!
Neviril’s ship still hasn’t been fully repaired. An easy enough metaphor
It looks like we’re getting more focus on Paraietta this episode. Another character with a distinct bond with Neviril
Gorgeous shot of Aaeru listening to her music box along with some birds on the bow of the ship. Birds in flight keep reappearing this episode, another easy metaphor for the caged Chor Tempest
“Whichever choice I make, I feel like it will be a betrayal.” An interesting and understandable feeling. If she continues flying, it’ll be like she’s replaced Amuria. If she goes to the spring, it’ll be like Amuria died for nothing, and she ran away. Neither of those things are actually true, but it makes total sense that she’d feel that way
The blunt Paraietta tells her she was meant to fly a Simoun, even if it means betraying Amuria. This actually feels like her version of compassion – Paraietta is clearly infatuated with Neviril, and would happily escape with her to the spring, but knows this wouldn’t make Neviril happy
But Neviril tells her to get out. Scenes like this lean into Simoun’s high school shoujo melodrama qualities in a very natural way. The show’s music also feels most suited to this sort of material
And now we run into Paraietta’s current partner Kaimu, who obviously feels insecure about playing second fiddle to a girl who won’t even fly
Like the kisses, there’s a nice emotional ambiguity in choosing to fly with someone. It’s a practical, professional choice, but also clearly a personal one
Birds in flight once again
Ooh, great little cut of Kaimu responding to Paraietta drinking her coffee. So much warmth in this smile, you can clearly see the affection she holds for Paraietta, and her eagerness to please
Kaimu testing exactly how much she can rag on Neviril, but Paraietta defends Neviril using the words Neviril used to push her away
“You look like you’re having fun.” “It’s because I’m helping you, Para-sama. And I get to touch you while I do it. Just kidding!” DAMN, Kaimu. You are coming on pretty strong here
“Everyone on board is probably lonely.” An unexpected sensitivity from Kaimu. Which makes me reevaluate her earlier words – perhaps she wasn’t digging at Neviril because she was honestly frustrated with Neviril’s preeminence in Paraietta’s mind, but instead because that’s what she thought Paraietta secretly wanted to hear
“Para-sama… are you lonely?” Love the use of the light on Kaimu’s glasses hiding her expression here. It’s a classic trick, but a very effective one – when a character makes a very boldly honest but carefully phrased statement reflecting their true desires, you make their glasses opaque to reflect the vulnerability of the moment. The fact that we can’t see their expression actually underlines how unambiguous the line is; we don’t need to see their expression to know how much this statement means to them. It creates the sense of defensive posture without having to make the character overact their feelings
“My, isn’t it hot in here?” Aw dang. Shut down by Para-sama
We get a slight reflective scene from the ship’s two captains or leaders or whatever. These two are clearly supposed to represent the leadership/bridge crew, but I feel we haven’t gotten enough interactions between them and the main cast to really give them a sense of personality yet
Aw, this is really cute. Kaimu takes Para to the hanger and play-acts a thrilling midair battle. Kaimu’s affection seems kinda hopeless, but she’s coming across as very likable this episode. This might actually be my favorite episode since the premiere – it’s still focusing on these characters’ melancholy feelings, but we’re also getting to see how they care about each other, which makes it much easier to care about them
Kaimu finally gets her kiss. Get ‘em, girl
But it looks like she has some trauma of her own
The eerie green light of the Simoun’s core adds a nice sense of unease to this scene, underlining the strange relationship between physical intimacy as battle prep and physical intimacy as just plain intimacy
A flashback to Para and Neviril as children. Para is dressed in traditional boy’s clothes, while Neviril wears a frilly dress
“All of us are children. That’s why when we try to heal each other’s wounds, we keep inflicting more.” Some serious self-reflection from Para
Haha, this episode has three times gone to the “someone has an emotional moment, another character solemnly overhears” well. This show knows how to bank on its shoujo trappings
“That does it. Stubborn or not, I’m gonna drag you out myself!” This episode makes for an interesting contrast with the last, where Limone needed to be told “you have to decide for yourself.” Aaeru’s choice there helped Limone, but her actions now seem dedicated to forcing Neviril in a certain direction – and that might also be what Neviril needs
Oh dang, Para challenges Aaeru to a fencing match in the Maaju pool. We are even more Utena now
Excellent animation for this segment, and a very strong contrast of the present battle against Para making her final declaration to Neviril. Para realizes that if Neviril were to continue flying, it likely wouldn’t be with her, and that too made her hesitate in her decision. But Para has finally accepted that she and Neviril will not be together
“Flying through the sky is what they were born to do.” The episode ends where it begins, the birds reflecting Neviril’s ultimate nature
Excellent stuff! After a series of relatively subdued episodes, this one did great work in pushing the overall cast forward, while giving us a much stronger and more sympathetic understanding of both Para and Kaimu. I was worried about the show languishing in its moody stasis for too long, and though this episode was indeed pretty moody, it didn’t feel like we were treading water – in fact, even though Neviril herself didn’t really take a particularly active role, Para’s small arc here naturally revealed some complexity in Neviril’s feelings. This was likely the show’s strongest episode since the first two, and I’m very ready for whatever comes next!