The Great Feminist Manga and Anime List: Simoun
The premise of Simoun is that it takes place in a world where everyone is born with breasts and a vagina, and everyone is basically identified as female by society until they are seventeen. Once someone hits that age, they are able to go to a magical spring to choose their sex. At least, in the land of Simulacrum., they are. One other land (Argentum) uses surgery because they don’t have a spring. The spring isn’t the only thing Simulacrum possesses that other nations want. They also possess mysterious aircraft called Simoun, thought to be chariots of the gods. The Simoun can outfly everything else, and also draw shining trails in the sky called “Ri Maajon”. These designs are usually used in prayer rituals, but also can destroy enemy airships in war. As a result, other countries wage war against Simulacrum to capture the Simoun.
Only priestesses who haven’t yet gone to the spring and chosen their sex can fly the Simoun, and they have to do so in pairs. As a result, these supposedly sacred young people get dragged into the war and into using what are supposed to be sacred vessels as weapons.
Obviously, the premise itself is heavily tied to concept of gender, and the very concept deconstructs the idea that ones gender identity must be tied to the sex they were born with In a very sci-fi sort of way, the system in place in Simulacrum can relate to some of the stuff trans people deal with. The process of the Spring is similar to transitioning in that it all doesn’t happen instantaneously. The breasts slowly shrink, the voice slowly deepens, and the adjustment of the body is gradual. To drive this point in, the series has an all-female voice cast, so even the adult men clearly all originally had higher voices that just went a little deeper. Also, people can not really be interested in changing sex regardless of gender identity, in the same way that a person who is transgendered may not want a surgery even if they can do it, so apparently to incentivize the change, more career options are available for men in this society.
A lot of the characters in the series are uncomfortable about the idea of permanently choosing a sex, meaning they clearly don’t identify completely with either a male or female gender identity. Their feelings are not derided or invalidated, but explored. It is clear that society disapproves of those who don’t want to choose, and some characters struggle to escape that. One girl finds herself very unhappy after choosing her sex, presumably because she thought something inside her would change with that decision, and it didn’t, and she found this wasn’t to her liking. The social constructions of gender aren’t heavily discussed beyond these struggles being presented, though there is a very nice discussion that questions the idea of wanting to become a man to protect someone else or “be strong”. A lot of the development is wrapped up in the idea you shouldn’t choose your sex based on what you want to be for other people, but what you want to be for yourself. Which is a pretty great message.
Rekishi wa KataruSahashi Toshihiko
Toshihiko Sahashi -Rekishi wa Kataru
Toshihiko Sahashi is an accomplished Japanese composer. He graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1986. Sahashi has composed music for various anime series (including OVAs, movies, and drama CDs), video games, movies, dramas, and musicals. His song “You and I, Unfulfilled Feelings” is often used on the American comedy-drama Scrubs.
The style of his composition is richly symphonic and classical (occasionally jazz). The use of sophisticated compositional techniques, as well as complicated harmony writing such as fugue can be often heard in his work, demonstrating his solid training in the western classical music. He also uses keyboard instruments to deliver more sentimental soundtracks to a good effect.