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Simoun – Episode 24 | Wrong Every Time


Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be returning to the skies of Simoun, where Chor Tempest is currently on the verge of total abolition. In fact, it’s not just Chor Tempest, but the foundations of Simulacrum society that’s threatened by this new peace. At least during the war, Simulacrum could still cling to its identity as a chosen land, and the sole wielder of the Ri Majoon. But with the walls between these societies falling just as foreign engineering catches up with them, all of the things that defined Simulacrum as special are swiftly disintegrating.

Of course, as Onashia just revealed, the alternative promises its own form of disintegration. To maintain Simulacrum’s status as a pristine gem, and to fully embrace the power of the Ri Majoon, is to separate yourself from the natural cycles of life and death. Simulacrum’s overall society has been mirroring the nature of its sybillae: kept pristine through isolation, utterly preoccupied with the fear of “contamination,” and in many ways contained to a perpetual adolescence.

The parallels between simoun sibyllae, Simulacrum itself, and the Class S narratives this story is drawing on are abundantly clear, and at this point, the show’s proposed solution seems clear as well. To seek perfection is to seek non-existence; only through embracing the world will Simulacrum survive, just as how only through embracing their imperfect humanity will the sibyllae grow into adulthood. Perfection is beautiful, but it is also static; Simulacrum was a wonder, but it was built to fall. Let’s return to this mirage’s final days, as we explore one more episode of Simoun!

Episode 24

Feels like this show’s soft, almost pastel-based color design was a common choice back in the early-mid ‘00s. The combination of that color design and the show’s architecture immediately brought Aria to mind, but other shows like Kino’s Journey or Haibane Renmei had similar “color-faded picture book” aesthetics. Perhaps these choices were actually products of necessity – in the early digipaint years, limiting your color hues to a narrower band possibly helped mitigate the aesthetic incongruity of the new style. It’s always interesting how aesthetic choices born of necessity can essentially can become a defined style in their own right, to the point where I actually feel nostalgic for the results of this particular set of limitations

And man, this show just has such a complex yet coherent thematic thrust. In an era of total adaptation saturation, where nearly every show is hoping to justify its own sequel, it’s so refreshing to see a show that has a point to make and just goddamn makes it

“I have lived for all these years… without ever making a decision. This is… my penance.” Onashia is a living embodiment of the destruction this desire for “purity” will ultimately wreak. To live as a pure maiden, to embody the people’s hopes by never “sullying yourself” with desire, is to deny the self entirely. Onashia has retreated so entirely into Simulacrum’s ideals that she’s turning into beautiful dust

“I was unable to become an Eternal Maiden, nor was I able to go to the other world. I remained here, never to touch another.” Given the show’s conflation of Simulacrum’s spring system with Class S yuri tropes, the reality that the “other world” is actually the past makes particular sense. Simulacrum is worshiping a conservative ideal that has been lost to time, and possibly never existed in the first place

Because Onashia would not choose a sex, she was chosen to serve as the shrine’s guardian, and a living embodiment to future generations not to repeat her mistake. Of course, as we’ve seen in characters ranging from Aaeru to the Arcus Prima’s co-captains, there’s nothing “destined” about this shrine process, and the process can itself result in mistakes and regret. It is only their faith that defines this process as anything but arbitrary

Onashia herself fully believes in Simulacrum doctrine, and thus assumes her fate is punishment for failing to do what’s “natural,” rather than an awkward result of an inherently flawed procedure

And Yun just peaces out

“Choices”

With Chor Tempest disbanded, it is announced all its members must now visit the spring. Even within one scene transition, we see the shrine being exploited for political reasons, rather than it being some natural process

Arcus Prima’s captains beg for Chor Tempest to be given a little time

Wapourif and the rest of the maintenance team will be sent to the Highlands, to work for the Simouns’ new pilots

“I’ve realized something. I don’t care about the Simoun anymore. I’ll be happy as long as you are safe.” Wapourif was a genuine true believer, but this team has simply spent far too much time learning how the sausage is made, and it’s now clear that Simoun are simply political tools. That demystifying effect has also dispelled Wapourif’s hesitancy about achieving closeness with the sibyllae, allowing them to truly admit their feelings.

“I wanted to become a man and tinker with the Simoun with you.” I love how Simulacrum’s conflation of rising to adulthood with choosing your gender naturally highlights the gendered assumptions of all societies, with Morinas here underlining how specific professions are inherently seen as appropriate for male or female workers. Choosing your gender based on your preferred job is an interesting but natural repercussion of Simulacrum’s structure

Kaimu snaps at Alti again, who at last admits she’s terrified

“The ones who were going to inherit a family business became men. The others, well, it depends.” Vyura from Chor Rubar makes the link between gender choice and professional opportunities even clearer

“It feels kind of lonely.” “That’s what becoming an adult is like.” The shrine only enhances the sense of dislocation and loss of community that traditionally defines graduating from high school. And of course, this ties in even more directly with Simoun’s Class S commentary, as the close girl-girl friendships of adolescence are defined as something you physically grow out of

Kaimu reflects on when she and Alti were much younger. Their younger dress styles are far more explicitly gendered: Kaimu is dressed in masculine shirt and suspenders, while Alti’s femininity is exaggerated by her frilly dress

I frankly think their story would be a lot more interesting if it didn’t have incest dumped on top of the rest of their problems, but I suppose that’s anime for you

Kaimu admits she didn’t even notice her sister growing past her. I do appreciate the ways this particular thread reflects on the idea of a “protector” in a society like this

“If we can forgive, I think we can still be sibyllae after we choose our sex.” Fascinating statement from Para. Though sibyllae were traditionally defined by their ability to pilot the Simoun, Para is here redefining their fundamental nature as the possibility for fluidity – for assuming multiple roles, and receiving transformation through forgiveness. To be sibyllae is to not be defined by your gender identity, which is still something you can choose to do even once your gender is solidified

Neviril wants to take the High Priestess’ advice, but Aaeru refuses to perform a Ri Majoon with her if it’s just to see Amuria

Rea is perhaps the most well-adjusted of any of them at this point. Her priorities center on bringing back tokens for Mamiina’s mother, and she finds comfort in the idea that even as adults, they can still save one person

Rea’s words inspire Yun to flee, presumably in hopes of saving Onashia as her “one person”

Para has already assumed that Neviril and Aaeru will perform their flight, and thus comforts the rest of Tempest by stating that at least those two will always retain their current forms and feelings

“I want to know what happened to Amuria. But the one I love is you.”

Aaeru is now seriously on the back foot. She didn’t want to play second fiddle to Amuria, but she’s also far from certain that what she feels or desires is love, either. Aaeru has generally evaded acknowledging the emotional aspect of sibyllae bonding in the past, but for Neviril, that feeling is everything

As expected, Yun heads off to save Onashia. Onashia’s uncovered form shimmers like a jewel, making their embrace seem almost like a Gustav Klimt painting

We jump to their last day on the Arcus Prima, where spirits seem remarkably high, given the circumstances

The other members of Chor Tempest all head for the spring. What a melancholy air, what a charged silence they leave behind

And at the spring, Yun has taken on the role of guardian

And Done

Oof, what a weighty episode that was! It’s clear now that the time for combat has passed; Chor Tempest saved their city, and thus commenced an age with no need for Simulacrum sibyllae. With their duties abruptly stolen from under them, Chor Tempest’s various members were all forced to reckon with the sudden approach of adulthood. This was a rich episode on both a character and thematic level, exploiting the Tempest members’ various journeys to examine the strained relationships between faith, culture, and personal identity. Ultimately, the specific religious strictures of Simulacrum society have done little to aid our heroes; in the end, precisely what we believe in is of little importance. We find faith in whatever resonates with us, and can only hope the future promises not just loss, but also renewal.

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