In a world where all the inhabitants are born female live the Sibyllae. At the age of 17, they have to choose a gender in a rite of passage ceremony. These girls are priestesses assigned to fly the Simoun, an artifact considered sacred within their theocracy, mostly for ceremonial rituals. Unfortunately, their country becomes immersed in a bloody war with a neighboring state; their role was modified to protect their territory from invasion and the possibility of the technology being captured. In exchange for carrying out that duty, the Sibyllae are allowed to delay gender selection until they finish the assignment. Now these brave, young girls have to face the tough decision of a war that goes against their nature or giving up their priestess status to avoid it altogether.
summary by Soundchazer
Highs: Great soundtrack; nice artwork; rich and original world
Lows: Yuri elements can be distracting; characters could use more depth
When you get to watch anime for almost 30 years, one recurring problem is finding stories that do not resort to the tried-and-true formulas that have made other shows work. After watching the first couple of episodes of Simoun, I was surprised at the number of elements found here that are not common elsewhere. The ship designs, the heavy use of Tango-like music, the very smooth use of CGI and the backdrop of the anime, where every single character uses a voice actress because of the uniqueness of their circumstances, made this a very special concept.
Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to this almost perfect scenario. The first was the introduction of too many characters. The writers tried very hard to dedicate time to each one of them and in doing so, it ended up costing the series in terms of depth. Don’t get me wrong; you do get to know a bit of their stories, but somehow by the end, it almost feels like you barely scratched the surface and you want to know more about them. This is frustrating to tell you the truth, because many of the characters are enigmatic and charismatic enough to make you curious, but in some instances, not enough to make you care when you are presented with their tribulations.
The excess of characters also meant that the producers could not focus on the main storyline, either. There is only so much time you can dedicate to the story when you also have too many personalities to introduce, and that is a shame; this story also had many interesting elements worth following. This makes the anime lose some of its focus and become overwhelming to the casual viewer. Here is one of the few occasions where the lack of pauses or even filler elements ended up having a negative effect on the show. There was really no time to digest the information… and this anime kept serving you more than healthy doses of it.
The other main drawback was the yuri element. Granted, when you know from the start that all the characters are girls by proxy and only become guys later on, you should know what you are getting yourself into. Unfortunately, while being tasteful, certain actions were overused for no good reason, like the activation sequence for the Simouns. That was done completely for the benefit of the fan boys (and fan girls), but that time could have been used to add more information about the story or the characters.
In the end, even with the problems it carries, this is probably one of the better examples of yuri done right. Simoun does have enough merit to be a good selection. Even if you are not interested in girls having crushes on other girls, you should give it a try. Who knows? It may even make a yuri fan out of you.
Simoun can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.