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Yes, I know, I know – I lied. It turns out that it took me even more time to write this than the previous Simonu entry but I am inclined to blame the heat which had a very bad effect on me, epsecially combined with my general laziness. But this episode of Simoun is one of the best which spurred me to action once the heat had subsided despite my recent obsession with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni which made me lose quite a lot of tiem debating its mysteries. Anyway, if someone is still watching Simoun but wonders whether to continue depsite not liking it that much and does not like episode eight my advice woudl be to stop watching. I really doubt the series can get much better than this, although I would be ecstatic if it does.

After a brief recap of previous evens the episode begins with the start of the peace conference aboard the Arcus Prima. The Priestesses from the Highlands translate for their delegates and it’s also explained that they are there because such important events require their presence. It’s suggested that a few Sibyllae are summoned to attend the negotiations, too but the guests reject the proposal because of the military role of the Simoun flying girls. Oh, well, some of them would probably be bored if they had to just stay there for ceremonial purposes anyway.

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Mamiina is still crying because her stupidity seems to have brought about the end of Tempus Spatium (after trying to Kill Aaeru this serves her just right, IMO) . Rodoreamon tries to calm her down by asking her what she has done before becoming a Sibylla but Mamiina is still in an uber-angsty mood and continues with “I have to keep flying Simouns” prompting Rimone to make a remark about the blue haired girl being the same as Aaeru.

The other new girl, Yun, is shocked by Aaeru’s claim of being a Sibylla just to avoid visiting the Spring. She says she is proud of being a priestess and that she has never seen someone with Aaeru’s motivation. The latter is reply is in her typical brash style – she makes a funny face and tells Yun to look well at it. Hilarious scene which contrasts well with what is to come in the episode.

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Choir Rubor attacks the fortress of Choir Tempest and after a pitched battle the latter are forced to retreat. OK, I exaggerrated things a bit, the members of the two Choirs just quarrel over who gets to stay in a certain room. Anyway, moving to the more important parts of the episode – one of the three Highland priestess aboard the ship is kicked out of the conference but got a gift – a guided tour of the ship with none other than her fellow priestesses, also known as our main characters, acting as her guides.

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The name of the guest is Anglas and she can speak the Simulacrian language. Apparently the population around the border is similar on both sides. Not only that but the god of the Highlanders is said to have derived from Tempus Spatium. Not that this should necessarily stop fierce religious hatred, at least judging from the religions in our world…

Floe introduces everyone to Anglas who repeats the names in a funny way which if I were sentimental to the point of idiocy I might also have called cute or endearing. Aaeru gets angry because her name isn’t repeated. Seems like her uncanny ability to guess future events was again shown here (as you will see later) or maybe she was just being petty.

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Yun and Anglas discuss the Sybillae double role as priestess and warriors. Anglas’ rather stupid reply was that in her country many people freeze to death so she prays for them. Say what, Anglas? Rodoreamon and few others express their longing for the days when they have just been doing ceremonial ri-maajons but Mamiina’s opinion is quite different.

She says that if it hasn’t been a war she would have never become a Sibylla. In the flashback one of the Sibyllae mentions that “Tempus Spatium chooses the Sibyllae” and that with Mamiina’s family background she should forget about becoming one. Seems like someone is choosing instead of the deity and favours rich and influential people. The more I learn about the Simulacran government, the more I dislike them.

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One day Mamiina’s town is attacked but the Sibyllae refuse to fight. Seems like that has been common in the early days of the war. Mamiina volunteers and with the help of other cadets drive off the invaders. She says she had only been tolerated because of being an outstanding pilot and that for her being Neville’s pair would have been the only way to stop being considered an upstart. Well, that certainly sheds new light upon her antics in the previous episodes. Nice to see characters who have reasons and motivations even for their most stupid deeds, unlike many an anime villain who seem to do all their evil deeds for no reason other than thwart the plans of the good guys or just move the plot forward. And the joy on Mamiina’s face when she first flew a Simoun was quite moving, knowing her current plight.

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The second half of the episode begins with one of the priestess in the conference room sending signals to the Highland ship below. Hey, someone is thinking about treachery… Anglas goes to pray in the Tempus Spatium temple and is baffled by Aaeru not bothering to pray despite being a priestess.

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Meanwhile Rimone is checking something in a Plumbian dictionary. She shows character again and tells Dominura to go away. More importantly, the main sequence events starts with Anglas puling out a gun and taking Kaimu as hostage, after seeing a signal flare from her ship below. Note to the Simulacrans in charge – next time check the visitors for hidden weapons, you utter idiots!

Naturally Anglas’s goal is the Simoun hangar. Neville, who surprisingly takes charge of things at that point tries to prevent the rest of the priestess of reaching it, too. But Anglas is not after stealing a Simoun, she takes out a bunch of explosives and activates them, dying in the explosion. Well, I can’t say I expected to see suicide bombers in this series but this scene was really emotional. And at least she blew up machines, not people unlike your average suicide bomber. Moral of the story – do not negotiate with crazy fanatics.

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Meanwhile, the other two priestess kill the rest of the delegation and then shoot themselves. Maybe the goal is to pretend that the Simulacrans were the one who commited a treachery and the explosion was some twisted form of self-defence. Anyway, their suicidal determination is quite unsettling,

Arcus Prima is engulfed in flames as only the Simouns of Choir Tempest have survived the blast. Aaeru is quite simply shell shocked – maybe I should have mentioned that Anglas’ last words were “Aaeru”, no actually more like “AAAAEEERUU!”. Rimone’s time spent with the dictionary proves fruitful and she explains that Aaeru means “the love of God” in the Plumbian language and it is apparently the highest form of love they know. The emotion in her voice is, how should I describe it – raw. Awesome performance by Noto Mamiko again.

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This whole scene is set against the somewhat surreal background of the burning Arcus Prima. I have to say that in “Simoun” evwen ugly events like fires can be beautiful in a lyrical way. After Rimone’s revelation Aaeru is even more shocked, tears start rolling down her cheeks. The treacherous Highlanders choose this exact moment to start firing at the Arcus Prima. Neville is so regal in that moment, she stands there like some force of nature that cannot be defeated by mere flames. Mamiina chooses this very moment to ask her to be her partner again.

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But Neville turns to Aaeru. The latter just doesn’t know what to do which just reveals how shocking the events of this episode have been, after all Aaeru usually has enough confidence for dozen people. The feeling of despair and resignation in her voice shows that Rimone’s seyuu is not the only one who has put an extra effort for this episode. The quiet piano music just gives us the feeling that the tiem has stopped in a sense and that although the battle rages, the real battle is in the characters hearts and soul, they have to somehow keep their sanity and motvation to fight.

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Neville says she is not sure of her role, either. She claims she and Aaeru are different in every respect apart from this. Then comes the moment of truth – Neville proclaims Aaerus as her pair which finally causes the latter to stand up. In the end Choir Tempest flies out to defend the ship from the enemy barrage of fire.

Hands down the best episode of Simoun thus far. The pacing was nice, we learned a few things about the Plubum Highlands, we learned a lot about Mamiina, Neville came out of her isolation and of course, last but not least we had emotional intensity that was off the chart. First time I watched this episode I really, really wanted to see the next one right now just to see whether these treacherous Highland bastards would get their ass kicked as they deserved. Mamiina’s story was touching, Aaeru’s shock was so natural and well shown that whoever is not moved probably has a heart of stone. Even Anglas’ last words were moving, as much as suicide bombers can really move someone, that is.

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As far as plot and details about the world go we learned a few things, too. First, the Simulcrans are too naive and incompetent to wage a successful war. They didn’t check the priestess for weapons and explosive and they allowed the meeting to take place on a ship full of their most coveted secret – the Simouns. The Highanders are an enigma (apart from being damned fanatics) but their god being similar to Tempus Spatium is a very interesting detail. It’s weird that Anglas found it normal to pray in the enemy’s temple, yet also found the resolve to sacrifice herself and blowing a lot of the sacred Simouns in the process. Aaeru having the same name as such an important concept in the Plumbian language proved well how different these peoples are despite the similarities between the deities. It seemed that having such a name would be considered blashpemy in thr Highlands.

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I doubt anyone has expected Choir Tempest to be disbanded just like this and now it seems that will either not happen at all or they will say goodbye after a battle rather so their last battle won’t be Maiina trying to kill Aaeru is the maajon pool. Great series, I am enjoying every minute of it, although watching this right after episode 19 can be quite bittersweet. Watch and you will see what I mean.

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