Simoun: A Tale of Ri Maajons and why Yuri is arguably the most pure and sacred form of love
February 24, 2009
“In the world of Daikuuriku, everyone is born female, and chooses which sex they wish to become at age 17. In this world, the peaceful theocracy of Simulacrum is guarded by magical flying machines called “Simoun”, which can only be piloted by maidens [when they kiss each other] who hasn`t chosen a sex yet. Simouns can activate a magical power known as “Ri Maajon” that can destroy large numbers of enemies at once.” – AniDB
All this may sound like a sorry excuse to feature provocatively dressed lesbian mecha musumes blowing up bunch of airships, but there are plenty of meanings to be found beneath that deceitful facade. You see, only maidens (or ‘shoujos’) can ride Simoun and draw Ri Maajons because they have yet to be “stained” by choosing a sex, and becoming adults in an adult world. From my observations, Ri Maajons are powered by these maidens’ honest and genuine feelings and beliefs, as opposed to duties to worldly matters like military and politics. This is why when forced to perform Ri Maajon against their will, they have failed time after time. Limone couldn’t when pressured to obey Dominura, Kaimu failed to even pilot Simoun when forced to become Alti’s partner and we all know the terrifying consequences of Neviril’s Emerald Ri Maajon with Amurai. In the final episode, maidens who were ordered to shoot down Neviril and Aeru performed Morning Calm Ri Maajon instead, a ceremonial Ri Maajon as a farewell to a comrade departing on a journey.
What hit me the most was when the ‘bad guy’ (who ordered the shooting) reflected on his youth, as he too was maidens before becoming an adult. It was just wonderful see the guy being immersed into the transcedent beauty of Ri Maajons instead of becoming angry, and sad at the realisation that he no longer has the maiden’s heart to perform such a Ri Maajon.
In a way, Simoun is a tale of Ri Maajons. It’s an exploration of the maidens’ feelings and state of minds being expressed through Ri Maajans not only in the sky, but also whenever they’re talking, laughing and crying with each other. The essence of Ri Maajon has less to do with pretty lines and shapes and more with feelings, thoughts and choices of these girls. One must also remember again that these girls haven’t chosen their sex yet. Therefore what we see in Simoun is a journey through feelings and thoughts of these girls, before they eventually become adults. To more succintly describe the essence of Ri Maajon and my attraction to it, it must be its transcendent and temporal beauty. Some may see the girls being naive, immature, but there is beauty to be found in their innocence, pure joy, that is defiant and rebellious, but also honest, genuine and uncompormising. It’s free and not chained by the cruel machinations of adult world. It is also temporal; it is beautiful because it does not last forever.
One exception is the character of Neviril and Aeru. The above screencap is of Simoun‘s last scene featuring Neviril and Aeru doing a Waltz. No clue as to exactly when or where this takes place. Through Emerald Ri Maajon, they seem to have successfully trascend both time and space, free from worldy affairs and expectations. I think the comparison to Brokeback Mountain is appropriate here. In Brokeback Mountain, there is no expectations from society, what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’, no family business and duties to succumb to. Only two men losing themselves in forces of nature, free from everything else, and all that remains is their pure, transcendent and sadly temporal love.
This also ties into Wabisabi’s insight on the androgynous beauty and appeal of of BL: a projection of romance where marriage, childbirth, family obligations, money, social status does not come into play. All factors that are part of the equation of heterosexual relationships are removed, and both persons in the relationship need not compromise their identities and ambitions. This differs from most romance stories that examines how couples deal with such real life issues.
A-ae-ru indeed. In Simoun, it refers to the highest, most sacred and pure form of love. Could one also call it Yuri Ri Maajon?