Simoun – Episode 8

Let’s return to Simoun! We’re really in the thick of it now, with the last several episodes having firmly established Chor Tempest as a meaningful team. Key character-building episodes have built up Para, Kaimu, Limone, and Aaeru, and the overall volume of ensemble scenes have made sure we also have reasonably strong impressions of the team members who haven’t been specifically highlighted. The ultimate effect of all these episodes has moved Chor Tempest from our emotionally neutral vehicle into Simoun’s worldbuilding to a group I personally want to see succeed, just in time for Neviril’s father to threaten the team with total dissolution. I’m guessing this will be the point where Neviril herself returns to being an active part of the narrative, but the show has essentially cleared all its initial hoops of investment, so I’m happy to follow wherever this story leads. Let’s get right back to Simoun!

Episode 8

“My name is Anibituf. I am the captain of one of the Simulacrum Theocracy’s largest warships: the Arcus Prima.” Ah, very good. The Arcus Prima’s two leaders have been somewhat distant figures so far, and like with the members of Chor Tempest, it’s sometimes felt like the show’s expected us to be more invested in them than we really have reason to be. Giving us these characters’ perspective could possibly do for Prima as a whole what the last few episodes did for Tempest specifically, and on top of that, putting us inside these characters’ heads will also offer a very different perspective on the Holy Land altogether. While Neviril and her fellow pilots are too young to really imagine alternatives to their existing culture, I assume the adults have a greater sense of perspective – something that was underlined through last episode’s discussion regarding the religious disagreements between the Holy Land and the northerners they’re negotiating with

“Three chors are stationed on the Arcus Prima: Chor Tempest, Chor Caput, and Chor Rubar.” Yeah, even this stuff is really valuable information. We’ve seen Tempest exchanging remarks with the other Chors, but haven’t really had the societal context to evaluate that. As it turns out, the ship’s society is a bit smaller than I’d expected: it’s just three close-knit combat groups here, which is a small enough number that we in the audience could conceivably develop strong individual impressions of most of Tempest’s rivals

This is also serving as speedy recap. This is an efficient first minute!

“Prayer”

The northern country’s priestesses are acting as translators. We zoom in on one of the priestesses in the back, implying she’ll become an actual character

And back to Tempest, now sulking, Mamiina thoroughly defeated

“Everyone has their own reasons for being a priestess, but you’re the first person I’ve met who’s doing it just to avoid going to the Spring.” The new blonde priestess Yun is not impressed by Aaeru’s motives. Right, she was the one who’s remained a sybila purely due to obligation: she doesn’t want to fight at all, but she’s lost friends in battle, and feels she can’t run away because of that. Unsurprising that someone who’s staying a sybila for Aaeru’s reasons would rub her the wrong way

One of the other chors is literally encroaching on their territory, pushing them out of the ballroom that has been their traditional hangout area. Another of the cute ways this setup reflects a boarding school – they jockey for position like rival social groups, picking favorite hangout spots and abiding by a wide array of unspoken social rules

Alright, here’s our introduction to that Highland priestess, Angulas

They’re teaching Angulas all their names. Good friggin’ luck Angulas, it’s been eight episodes and I still can’t remember half of these convoluted titles

It actually does make narrative sense that they’d dump the bonus priestess with Tempest, considering Tempest doesn’t have anything else to do. Of course, the fact that they have a “bonus priestess” in the first place was a narrative choice made to prompt this exact situation, but it’s good that the pieces fit together well given our other existing knowledge

Yun confronts Angulas, and Tempest by proxy, on the wrongness of using Simoun for war. After half the team murmurs about the tragedy of using vehicles meant for prayer for battle, Mamiina offers the counterpoint. This is all a hypothetical situation to the privileged sybilla of noble birth – to her, it was only the fact that a war began that allowed her to escape her original circumstances. I’m not sure “war is good because it means I got a better job” is a wholly defensible take, but it’s very nice to have someone here who can counterbalance the lofty and limited perspectives of the upper class. Aaeru obviously performs that role to some extent, but she lacks Mamiina’s genuine anger at the overall structure of this society. Aaeru sees the hypocrisy of others, but doesn’t really mind it unless it interferes with her own desires

Ah, here we go. Back in Mamiina’s village, she was spurned by the sybilla for her low birth. But when a raiding party crossed the border, the priestesses refused to fight, as they only used their simoun for prayers. So Mamiina’s willingness to fight was born as a direct challenge to the stuffy original order, which preserved its own values at the expense of real human lives

“So I became a sybilla. But only because I was an excellent fighter.” Yeah, this is a very sympathetic backstory. Mamiina is both understandable for her own sake and also the series’ biggest counterpoint to the cruelty of Holy Land society. It’s a good position to be in, narrative-wise!

Jeez, this show is just totally incapable of making the simoun look good in combat. Watching this CG object get dragged back and forth over a static background is not nearly as thrilling as the show hopes

“If I became a pair with Neviril, the Sibylla Aurea, no one would treat me as an upstart again.” The scope and limit of her dreams. Mamiina hates this society for how it’s judged her, but she still can’t see success in any terms outside of validating that society’s systems. Which certainly isn’t a failing – you can’t really expect people to frame success in terms outside of the world they’ve grown up in

I don’t really get this running gag about Angulas not calling Aaeru by her name. The show’s general speed of dialogue isn’t really snappy enough to make this feel offhand, so it comes across more like Angulas is intentionally sniping at her, which doesn’t seem like an Angulas thing to do

Man, this show’s eyecatches sure are a lot hornier than the rest of the show

Well shit, the Highlanders are doing some covert signaling with mirrors. Looks like this whole conference was some kind of trap

“When you’re uncertain, forcing yourself to decide anyway is just silly.” Spoken by Aaeru, but accompanied by a very appropriate pan over Neviril

I would love to visit the Prima’s library. Such a beautiful, overwhelming space

Welp, the signal flare goes up, and Angulas immediately takes a hostage. That was a short-lived friendship

Yeah, this was all planned in order to steal a Simoun. Damnit Highlanders, this could have been a wonderful partnership!

Of course, just like with the islanders, their position is perfectly understandable. The Simoun are incredible technology that could easily elevate the lives of these far more impoverished nations, and the Holy Land has squandered that technology on meaningless rituals for generations, flaunting their wealth

Or is she just going to blow up the Simoun?

These desperate circumstances are actually forcing Neviril to take action and demonstrate her strong leadership qualities

And now she finally says Aaeru’s name. I see – her unwillingness to say Aaeru’s name was a reflection of her doubt and guilt, her screaming it now reflects her suicidal dedication to her faith

And then the other priestesses kill themselves and the visiting politicians. It appears like this may have been a coup even within Highland society, a conspiracy only known about by the fanatical priestesses. Thus this looks from the outside like the conference devolved into a battle, and the Holy Land killed all their visitors

Only Tempest’s simoun survived

“The love of god, in the Plumbish language, is known as aaeru.” Orrrr that’s the explanation. Some harsh irony there for Aaeru herself

Aaeru can’t fathom doing what Angulas did

Oh man, this climactic scene is so, so good. Angulas’ sacrifice has shaken Aaeru deeply, but it’s actually Neviril who comes to her aid. And Neviril finds something important in that very uncertainty – she is just as uncertain as Aaeru, and that unites them

The show knows this is the key moment, too. Love this combination of a dramatic overhead shot with all these screen-in-screen cuts to the various Tempest members

“Stand up, Aaeru. I am your pair.” HECK YEAH

And Done

Hoo boy! We’re in it now. Not only has Neviril both taken a stand and united with Aaeru, but the overarching war has come all the way to Arcus Prima itself. It was very satisfying seeing the various perspectives within Chor Tempest bounce off each other in the context of Angelus’ visit, and we even got enough Mamiina backstory to solidify her character as well. On top of that, the whole last act was a thrilling encounter topped off with one of the show’s single best moments yet, a rousing validation of Neviril and Aaeru’s slow journey towards each other. The dream team has finally paired up. I’m ready to see them fly!

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4 thoughts on “Simoun – Episode 8

  1. I’ve heard people refer to Episode 8 as “Simoun’s first good episode”. I don’t necessarily share that sentiment, not only because I’ve never really bought into the idea that the first third of Simoun is bad, but also because I think the show’s real upswing doesn’t occur until Mari Okada comes on as writer in Episode 12. Nevertheless, I can understand why people who have had issues with the first seven episodes’ pacing, level of exposition, Nev’s character arc inertia, etc., might hold the opinion that this episode “fixes” those problems.

    As a side note, you might expect that, since this show was originally released in the US as DVD singles, Episode 8 represented some kind of cliffhanger, and that fans had to wait until the next release to find out what happened to Chor Tempest. However, Media Blasters chose to pack six episodes onto the first disc, so this episode came right smack dab in the middle of Volume 2!

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