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Simoun #4: Crescendo of Lamentation PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 12 October 2008 16:00
SimounThere's a natural tension that comes from using religion to fight a war, and Kyuukoku is suddenly having to deal with that - the military leaders are pragmatic, the religious - including the Simoun Sibyllae - have other priorities. Whose priorities will prevail, and whose will win the war..?

17 - The Ruins
Chor Tempest is back on board the Arcus Prima, and with Shoukoku apparently having formed an alliance with the Highlands, it's almost a given that they'll be launching a joint attack soon - and with Prima's two other Chors having been destroyed, the girls of Chor Tempest will be expected to play their part in defending against it. The loss of Dominura and Rimone means that the girls have other things on their minds again, but with evidence mounting that the enemy will attack Kyuukoku's most holy region, they're left with no option but to fight - and fight against other Simoun...

ContemplationEnemy Simoun

18 - The Funeral
Arcus Prima has returned to the capital for the funeral of Anglas - despite having almost destroyed Prima, she's a priestess of Tempus Spatium and deserves to be laid to rest as such. The mystery, though, is what her body was doing inside the Ruins - after having detonated her bomb on the ship, her body should have been torn apart in the explosion. That's one of many mysteries from the Ruins that the girls are trying to figure out. Aer may have the answer - when she was a kid, her grandfather had told her that the Simoun would lead her to a different world - she never understood it, then, but could he have been referring to what they found inside the Ruins? And if that power could save Anglas - or at least her body - then what of Dominura and Rimone? Meanwhile, Kyuukoku's leaders are getting jumpy about the continuing attacks by Shoukoku and the Highlands, and are showing a marked lack of respect towards the Sibyllae in their quest for results...

PreservationWar Council

19 - Sibylla
Chor Tempest have been dispatched on a reconnaissance mission, to find out as much as possible about Shoukoku's flying base. Two members of the Chor are missing from the mission, though - Aer and Yun, who have been ordered to sit it out for reasons that no-one's prepared to explain to them. During the mission, the Chor get too close to their target, and Neviril's Simoun is shot down. Forced to land on the Shoukoku base, Mamina expects a battle to get Neviril to safety - but soon finds that she has unexpected allies amongst the Highlands Sibyllae based there...

PlanningEnemies

20 - Lament
Mamina is dead, and Chor Tempest has been further weakened. The greater fighting experience of Shoukoku, and their access to Simoun of their own, means that they now have the upper hand in the war - although the damage Chor Tempest have caused to their aerial base means there's a window of opportunity to strike back with minimal risk. Mamina's death has had a devastating effect, though, with both Neviril and Aer blaming themselves for her death and Roatreamon taking the death of her friend particularly badly. Meanwhile, the religious leadership are looking to end the war as soon as possible - but not by force of arms. Instead, they plan to follow Tempus Spatium's lead and "open the door to a new world", and the key to that plan is the "phantom chor", Chor Dextra...

Caught in the actHigh Priestess

21 - The Door to a New World
The divide between the religious and military authorities is growing wider, with the religious side now openly questioning the military - in part egged on by High Priestess Onasia's arrival on Arcus Prima - and with the girls of Chor Tempest also beginning to ignore the chain of command. The religious authorites are clearly planning something, but what? Unbeknownst to the others, meanwhile, Dominura and Rimone are alive and well - Tempus Spatium often speaks of "a different world", and that's where they found themselves after attempting the Emerald Re Mājon. You see, the technique was never intended as an attack, but as a way of transporting to another world. Now this secret is being shared with Aer and Neviril, with the aim of using them to re-form Chor Dextra...

Still aliveChor Dextra

Usually, the divide between religious and military is a simple one - force of arms will always win over abstract belief, when push comes to shove. What's becoming clear in this volume of Simoun, though, is that Tempus Spatium has a firm grounding in fact, with the clue to its powers being in the name: time and space, control over both. The Emerald Re Mājon is the key to unlocking that power - Neviril and her former pair didn't quite manage to pull it off, resulting in an unfortuante death, but Rimone and Dominura have been more successful. Where they are now, though, is up for debate - a parallel world? The future? The past? Who knows - but the ability to simply move elsewhere could provide an easy way for the war to be ended.

That's if the religious side get their way, of course. For the military side, things are looking somewhat bleaker - the enemy now have access to their own Simoun, wiping out Kyuukoku's historical advantage; their pilots are being eliminated one-by-one, and the ones that remain can't be relied on to follow orders. That's not a good situation to be in, and if the war eventually comes down to pure military might, then it's likely that Kyuukoku is going to lose. The plot, it certainly thickens.

Or it would, if the girls weren't so obsessed with navel-gazing. Up to a point, they have an excuse - they're in their mid-teens, thrust into a world of violence and death far before they were ready for it. But they spend a huge amount of time analyzing, talking, blaming, and working through issues, when in reality they should be out in their Simoun fighting the war - there'll be plenty of time to ponder mistakes and decisions once the war is over. All this takes up time, and breaks up the flow of the episodes to a certain extent - not to the point where the series becomes a chore to watch, but every so often you do catch yourself wishing they'd just get on with it. Even Aer, who came to the Chor as a gung-ho girl who didn't believe in the religious aspect of her job and just wanted to fight, is now more given to introspection than combat, and that just doesn't seem quite right.

For all the frustrations, though, this disc and its revelations leave the story very nicely poised going into the final volume. There are ways that Kyuukoku could win the war, and ways they could throw it away; the space-time mangling that Tempus Spatium offers gives an interesting other-world approach and sidestory; and there are plenty of divisions on both sides of the war that could yet come into play. Plenty going on, and no way to call just which way events are going to unfold - and that's just what you want to keep the interest high. Simoun has a far lower profile than it deserves to have, partly because of its sub-only release, but there is plenty here to enjoy. Well worth seeing.

Rating - ****


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