The nation of Simulacrum has prospered due to alien helical engine technology buried under their lands. While not understood, these are put to use to power peerless aircraft known as Simoun. Two priestesses are needed to pilot the craft. Only women are born into the world, girls in their teens must choose a sex to become as an adult. Only those who haven't decided can become priestesses, so Simoun pilots tend to be young.
Neighboring nations covet Simulacrum's helical engine technology enough to wage war with them. In past wars, the Simoun craft dominated the skies with an overwhelming advantage. This time the war goes differently with the other nations having advanced their technology enough to possibly take on even a Simoun.
Aer doesn't want to go to the spring to decide what path to take as an adult, so she signs up as a Simoun pilot. Her partner is the best in the squadron, but the two disagree on nearly everything. They may find common ground in a war which may change the planet forever.
The "girls only" setup gave me a bad feeling when I started to watch Simoun. I didn't expect the pilot and co-pilot needed to kiss in order to fly. Kinda makes me wonder what other kind of girl on girl action is needed to power more complex parts of their society. Despite the highly suggestive promotional art, DVD covers, and commercial eye catches, the relationships in Simoun are very chaste. I expected Simoun to be a vapid anime lesbian star wars, but I became very impressed with the depth of the show. Unfortunately this became a anime I wanted to love, but couldn't.
It's hard to keep the characters strait because there's so many, and worse still some of them don't live past the first episode. The "central" two characters are the best of them, but annoying in their own way: one being a drama queen, the other being an insensitive idiot. These two stand above the others, but not by much. Lacking a strong lead, the show feels unfocussed. Characters depth varies with about half developing well. They all have more than one side to them, but few have any distinct feature making them worth remembering.
My biggest issue with this series is the music oddly enough. It's not exactly bad, it's misplaced and misused. This seems insignificant at first, but I lost count of the scenes royally screwed up by the music. Over and over the suspense or emotion are sabotaged by the wrong music. I found that very frustrating, and Simoun would substantially improved with a better soundtrack.
The action for Simoun is pretty bad. Typically enemy forces shoot in the backdrop with token explosions happening away from the characters. Which isn't surprising considering they often shoot in random directions. The Simoun craft themselves aren't well animated either, and their signature power involves them drawing sparkles in the sky... which basically is an shiny etch-a-sketch pattern causing enemy forces to explode. As bad as all that is, it's still dramatic. There are three art styles in Simoun which clash terribly. Backdrops are attractive sketches, characters look like typical anime characters, and aircraft are rendered using 3D CGI. When combined nothing looks like it should go together. Characters in particular are very inconsistent. Sometimes they look great, then sometimes they look crude compared to how they appeared even just moments ago.
This entire anime is almost good and bad at the same time. The main redeeming feature of the story is the war taking a very unexpected turn later on. Expect to scratch your head wondering if you didn't miss something. There are many interesting points in the story with the nature of the Simoun aircraft, the nature of religion, and even the history of the world. These things are brought to the brink of being intriguing, but fall flat. The ambiguous ending is a bit annoying as well, but if you get that far in the show, it's not unexpected.
I'm not sure what I recommend for Simoun. It has all the makings of something great, but was patched together by someone who didn't know how to link the concepts. While I liked parts of the story and the unusual turn in the war, I found many parts very boring. Even though I was scared Simoun would end up a brainless anime lesbian star wars, at times I wished it would have done that instead. I know I wouldn't watch it again, so that's telling.
Amuria: If she's resting her wings, it's all right. But a bird who can't fly because she's wounded has no hope of survival.
Onasia: There are very few things that people can actually believe when they are unable to believe in themselves.
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