When talking about second episodes probably the most often asked question is how they compare to the first efforts. Well, not surprisingly Simoun's second episode is not as good as the first one. It's mostly setup but I love setup when it's handled right (refer to exhibit number one – random Bee Train series) and that's exactly we have here.

Somewhat contradictory to what I just said, the episode start with a dogfight. Aeru uses a Simoun used for training and defeats the enemies without using Ri Maajon. It seemed to me that she just crashed her machine into those of the enemies but nevertheless she controlls the Simoun superbly and actually does a Jade Ri Maajon which amazes Neville. Of course, without yuri power the spell (or whatever it is) doesn't work and Aeru later even claims ignorance about anything connected with Ri Maajon. Moreover, apparently she is a volunteer which may explain her eagerness to fight. I just hope she won't turn to be an orphan driven by revenge, that would be such a cliche. The other Sybillas scold her for claiming to be a pilot rather than a priestess (in other words for not calling white black) but that doesn't stop her from bluntly informing Neville and the rest that she wants Neville to be her co-pilot…I mean, co-priestess. Floe though decides to ask Aeru to be her partner but the latter is interested only in Neville and doesn't take no for an answer.

However, Neville decides to go on a bit of holiday cruise in a bid to overcome her depression caused by Amuria's death (although I suspect Amuria is not really dead since we saw no body, right?). The reason for the trip is to accompany Erie to the holy spring where the sex choice ceremony is conducted. Being a Sybilla Erie is not required to visit the spring (btw, it feels weird writing about anime and not adding "hot" before "spring") but she chooses to do so and effectively retire from her Sybilla position. Before the little excursion takes place Aeru manages to convince Neville to fly with her in a real Simoun. Apparently, it's the blonde's first time piloting such a machine but being a main character she shows an exceptional skill. For some reason, I am not that annoyed by this cliche as I usually am, probably because Aeru has experience with the training Simouns and it's not exactly following the ultra cliche "the hero pilots a meccha for the first time and defeats a seasoned veteran (or an army)". It seems that Aeru and Neville will have a bit of quarrel as to who will be the Auriga or the pilot and who the Sagitta or the navigator in the next episodes. Well, I guess we just need to see the opening for a conclusive answer to that. 🙂

Finally, Erie and Neville embark on their trip to the holy spring. The travel by train, which is simply amazing to watch and it seems it's powered by the same rotating mechanism that the Simouns have. That leads to the logical question – is this state of the art machine powered by yuri power, too? We don't find an answer in this episode, alas. What we do find out is that ordinary people of Simulacrum (the theocracy state that our character live in) adore the Sybillas. Not exactly surprising but still the scene in which a group of citizens came and bowed in front of Neville to honour her was quite moving. She then experience a flashback of her first meeting with Amuria which a lot of people might discard as just a random moment of fanservice but I liked it a lot and not just because of the kiss. It just served well to portray Nevile's mental state and trauma of losing a friend in the war.

Erie and Neville get to the capital or at least to what I assumed was the capital. The water coloured style setting is really a joy for the eyes once again. They get to the actual spring and Erie gets into the water and chooses her future sex. The weird thing is she was not sure what she wanted to be so I don't know whether she picked anything consciously in the last moment or it was just decided in some other way. The importance of this ceremony is really obvious, with the brilliant music once again adding a lot to the impact of the scene. The piano version of the opening song really fit the mood. It turns out that Erie is going to be a man from now on and will be called Erif. I think this episode showed Erie's immaturity which combined with the stress of battles and the expectations to go to the spring to be considered a true adult forced her to act rather rashly. Neville decides not to follow her example (not that anyone should be surprised with her being a main character and all that jazz) and gets back to Chor Tempest's base. Another training flight with Aeru follows but this time the Ri-Maajon is activated before they take off and you know how that's done, right? Aeru is a lucky girl, although Neville still has not agreed to become her permanent partner.

This is a very impressive setup episode, a lot of details about the world were shown and we had quite a lot of character development. The music and animation are still great, the emotional intensity is still there. There is less fanservice, proving that the shoujo-ai element will not be the key one in Simoun. For now this is the best series of this spring for me and it's a pity it doesn't really get the attention it deserves.

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