This is a bit of a strange story – I downloaded the raw mainly because I read that it was full of cute girls kissing (it was me that told you that 😉 and that I was going to watch it) each other. And sure enough, that was true. The surprising thing was that it was just the tip of the iceberg of quality, so to speak. This episode didn't dissapoint in any respect. If I recall correctly the last time when I was so excited after just one episode was when I witnessed Madlax annihillating a small army in episode one of the anime with the same name. I wonder if that makes me an action maniac or just a man fond of seeing girls killing people?

The plot seems simple enough – a kingdom which has very high-tech (nothing beats the yuri power, literally!) fighting machines is defending itself against swarms of enemies. Only a chosen few, called Sybillas can pilot this machines. In order for the secret weapon (which I cannot spell properly but it sounds something like rimagio (it is more like リマージョン [rimaajon] to me, whatever that is supposed to mean) to be activated the two female pilots must kiss and then kiss together the engine. Talk about an excuse for loads of fanservice but I am not protesting. 🙂 Let's see whether this ritual will be explained by anything else than the obvious power of shoujo-ai. The more interesting thing is that all the citizens of this state are born female (although they are sometimes referred to as something of half-male, half-female they look totally female to me) and when they get 17 year old, they choose which sex they want to be for the rest of their lifes. Only the Sybillas can postpone this because only people who have not made this choice can activate the rimagio/リマージョン.

The main character, Neville is something of a lady, although it's not too clear who her parents are. Her partner Amulia seems overjoyed to have an excuse to kiss Neville (I can totally understand her sentiment) and even does that twice before activating the Simoun (which is the name of the flying machines). The other couples (of pilots, not lovers, mind you) don't seem that eager to kiss in public but I suspect they will learn to like it. 😉 Anyway, they take off and find out that the enemy has destroyed a number of Simouns from another base leaving alive just one dying pilot. Of course, our heroines are appalled by that and embark on a seek and destroy mission. The enemies' goal is to uncover the secret power of yuri, I mean, the Simouns.

The invaders and the Simouns are on a collision course and soon they engage in a combat. The Simouns' power allows them to draw patterns in the sky which explode and destroy the enemies. However, there are too many of them and the weaker type of Simoun attacks seem insufficent to achieve victory. One of the Simouns is taken down and then Neville and Amulia decide to take matters into their own hands, or rather in their own lips. Amidst the chaos of battle they come out of their cockpits, stand on the Simoun's frame and kiss. I guess the enemies are all fans of shoujo-ai becuase they stop fighting until this fascinating and holy ritual was over. The newly found power allows Neville and Amulia to try the ancient and powerful Jade rimagio/リマージョン. This seems to do the trick as the enemy forces are drawn into a huge vortex and destroyed. But an enemy pilot gets too close to Neville who loses concentration and control of the machine after getting a glimpse of the pilot's face. This leads to Amulia's death and needless to say Neville is not too happy about that. The moral of the story? Do not kiss your partner twice before battle.

After returning to base, all the Sybillas have to cope with the mental trauma of the deaths and the destruction of the aura of invincibility that the Simouns have had prior to these events. New recruits arrive – one of them is the obligatory loli which is voiced by one of my favourite sayuus Noto Mamiko, the other is obviously the second main character and Neville's future partner Aael. I really, really, really hope she will change and will not behave like Arika from Mai-Otome in the latter episodes. At least she is still not as annoying as that abomination. Aael is more than eager to go and fight which of course is quite a cliche, which will probably be followed by a shock when some of her comrades are killed.

The first episode of the anime is nothing short of stunning. While it is a tradition to throw a lot of effort and quality into the work of the first ep, this is just something rather impressive.The combination of very catchy art, absolutely impressive music (by a composer that I like quite a lot) that fits the ongoing sequence and helps the viewer to fully immerse oneself into the anime. And on top of that we have the very beautiful and imaginative battle-ships (the Simouns) and the beautiful character design (I don't really like Aael, but I guess the loli makes up for her). There are those small details in the animation that make me go into ecstasy, like the way the eyes are drawn, with the small halfmoons in a slightly different colour and the rotating parts of the Simouns. There is also the static painting-like shot of Nevilla and the watercolour style backgrounds that make the animation one of the best I've seen ever.

And to add another good feature of the series, I rather like how they portrayed the pain of the Sybilla's after the painful loss that they suffered. I mean there are not that many animes that start to develop their characters in the first ep. I really felt for the girls and that is I guess enough of a reason to like the series even more.

Maybe I should feel somewhat ashamed of this obsession but I watched the raw several times, which is werid considering that my knowledge of Japanese is appallingly bad. Why? The music and animation are simply too good, especially the music. Its creator is Toshihiko Sakashi, known for his work in Gundam Seed/Destiny, Gunslinger Girl, Full Metal Panic. The epic background music during the battles can rival even the best compositions of Yuki Kajiura and coming from a total Kajiura fanboy like me this must mean something.

The opening song is sung by Chiaki Ihsikawa, the vocalist of Kajiura's group See-Saw and it is really impressive, too. And the ED is also good, even if not as much as the OP.

The animation of the flying machines, their complicated movements, rotating parts and stuff is nothing short of brilliant. I would even compare it with Last Exile which happens to be favourite as far as beautiful animation goes (the maneuverability of the machines also reminded me of Last Exile). The colours are bright but not annoyingly bright. I am torn about the character design – most of the character look impressive, especially Amulia and Neville but Aael for instance is nothing special. The plot looks promising, the characters started dying from the first episode and these deaths were actually quite moving. We have yuri powered flying vehicles. What's not to like?

In conclusion, we are definitely following and bloging this one. And we strongly recomend it to anyone, as long as that person is not an absolute homophobe or a firm hater of shoujo-ai/yuri.

The parts in italics added by Alexis