Finishing a respectable third in our Which Anime Should We Review Next? poll was this series, which oddly hasn’t had much of a presence here on YuriReviews… until now. With the fourth season coming up in July, now’s as good a time as ever to get caught up, starting with the first season~
Two years ago, a pair of idols, Tsubasa Kazanari and Kanade Amou, collectively known as ZweiWing, fought against an alien race known as Noise using armor known as Symphogear. To protect a girl named Hibiki Tachibana, who got severely wounded by the Noise, Kanade sacrificed herself. Two years later, as Tsubasa has fought the Noise alone, Hibiki ends up gaining the same power as Kanade.
Idols and aliens. It’s a strange concept that you’d think wouldn’t have much of a chance to turn into a really great story, and you’d be mostly right about that. After a promising start to the series in the first episode, Symphogear too often shoots itself in the foot with clichés and a collection of ideas that don’t quite mesh together as well as you’d like them to.
In the very first episode, we see something that drastically changed my outlook on this series. Of course, I’m talking about Kanade’s death, and it’s just so frustrating. Her and Tsubasa had already established great chemistry—not to mention a penchant for some yuri—yet she quickly gets axed. For me at least, she probably would’ve been my favorite character, and being robbed of seeing her relationship with Tsubasa develop even further just stings.
Elsewhere, we see these armored magical girls battle the Noise, an uninspired, generic enemy that doesn’t really serve to be anything more than cannon fodder. For the most part, they hardly even pose a threat to Hibiki and Tsubasa, and even when the big bad gets revealed and the truth comes to light, they’re still underwhelming. Speaking of the big bad, the story became pretty convoluted once that person was revealed, not to mention ridiculous. The way things ended felt a bit like a copout, but it sets itself up pretty well for the second season, so it’s understandable. I didn’t like it, but I can accept it. All in all, the story was rather messy and somewhat melodramatic, yet it was still somewhat entertaining, and I’m hoping things find a way improve for the second season.
I’d say that Symphogear is perhaps at its best during the many battle scenes, and that’s mostly due to some nice production values. Visually, a vibrant color palette and some stylish production spearhead what is, at times, a surprisingly good-looking anime. The battles are often times over-the-top, with comically oversized weapons and flashy attacks that lead to high amounts of wanton destruction, and I found it kind of charming. That said, the quality isn’t always consistent, yet some minor fanservice and the occasional awkward-looking CG object don’t do too much to hamper things, so for the most part, the visuals are probably one of the better aspects of this anime.
In addition to the snazzy animation is an EDM-heavy soundtrack that helps Symphogear stand out from a lot of other similar shows out there. Music plays a critical part in this anime, and fortunately, that’s something that this show does pretty well. In addition to a nice OP and ED theme are plenty of insert songs that feel somewhat awkward, yet are strangely fascinating. These moments were one of the highlights of the series for me, and seeing Hibiki, Tsubasa, and Chris belting out tunes while slaughtering aliens never really got old. In addition to the music, the impressive list of seiyuus include Aoi Yuuki, Nana Mizuki, and Miyuki Sawashiro, so the voice acting is as good as you’d expect it to be. For a show that puts so much emphasis on the audio, at least this investment paid off in the form of entertaining songs and some quality voice acting.
This show reminded me quite a bit of Vividred Operation, so it’s not that much of a surprise that they ultimately share the same score. If you can overlook some missteps involving the narrative, Symphogear does enough things well enough to be a decent watch for sci-fi fans who like a little yuri subtext in their action. It won’t set the world on fire or make you forget about other anime that do this type of thing better, yet it’s mindless entertainment that scratches that neverending itch~
Humm, sorry but… what about the true (at least for me) MCs of Symphogear? A good part of the plot is about Miku, Hibiki and their relationship. Sure, there are some (a lot of) clichè but i found it nice to watch them. And we shouldn’t forget the quasi-confession in the bedroom scene, there’s no doubt on what Miku was about to say, right? right? 😉
Oh, welll, maybe it’s just me. I don’t know why, but i really like the first season of Symphogear, so i may be a little biased.
I think I would’ve liked it more if the story focused more on just those two, but all that other stuff made me not like it as much. 😛
At least Hibiki x Tsubasa didn’t become a thing, so I guess I should be happy about that~
hmm….well, I can’t tell you that the ridiculousness stops, or things get less messy, but I can say that it starts to really embrace that (and the yuri) as the seasons go on. The show is just so incredibly over the top with everything it does (including the drama). I think that’s part of why it appeals to me. It’s just so nuts xD
Plus, it helps that the cast of characters are all quite likable. There will be more story, but if you watch it with an intent to dissect the plot, you will likely find yourself not enjoying it nearly as much as you could.
Either way, looking so very much forward to season 4!
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From what I’ve heard, people seem to like the second and third seasons more than the first, so I hope I end up feeling the same way~
By the time I’m done with all three seasons, AXZ should nearly be here, so it’s a nice little reward to look forward to.
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It doesn’t have the yuri levels of Fate Kaleid, or the gravity of Yuuki Yuuna, but it still sweeps you along with the crazy fight scenes and the gobs of drama. Speaking of fight scenes how about that primal Honoka…err I mean Hibiki? That was pretty bad ass, and uhh, well, primal.
And Hibiki and Miku are such a couple. They bathe together, sleep together, have fights and make up, and now go to work together. So cute. 😀
I think the only genre this show is missing is a giant robot.
I was hoping she’d go primal for other things, not just fighting. Like when she was training to become a better fighter, she was super motivated and doing everything with gusto. It’d be like that, but times ten~
And I’m not complaining that those giant robots are missing. 😛
I’ll be honest and that I didn’t like Senki Zesshou Symphogear at its first season…
And I was honestly surprise by second season announcement (because the series didn’t sell particularly well, hence the joke “Nana Wills it!”)…
I only loved it retroactively when I am enamored by the second season, because to me the series finally embrace its ridiculousness and cheesiness in the second season…
It is not to say that the series wasn’t ridiculous or cheesy from the first season, it just that dark magical girl with dead character in early episode, so soon after Madoka didn’t help my perception of the series as following the bandwagon, and Hibiki’s problem here is just happen to be a cliche that I dislike very much…
The second season has better Hibiki, hammier villain(s), better pacing (at least to me), and better animation management (thus, more consistent animation)…
About yuri aspect, personally, I won’t rate it below 5 because Miku and Hibiki is pretty much a couple (they called each other sunshine, sleep in the same rack [or not when they have misunderstanding], take a bath together, etc.), and the series emphasize so much about their relationship…
Also, there are some flashback between Kanade and Tsubasa…
As for the writing, well this is the writer first attempt in anime, previously he was writer for a videogame series called Wild Arms, so you can feel his liking for complicated plot typical of J-RPG…
Anyway, hope you like the second season better (I must admit, I am afraid I enjoy the second season as much as I did was because I watched live with people from /a/ and /m/, and their comment was gold), and hopefully you stay on the train for the 4th season next summer!
According to this, the series has gotten progressively more popular with each season, so that might explain AXZ and the fifth season being announced.
Anything compared to Madoka probably pales in comparison, so that’s reasonable. Fortunately, I didn’t watch it back then, so that wasn’t an issue for me. Hibiki’s cuteness made me overlook the cliches. I guess I’m easy to please sometimes. 😀
I’ll do the remaining seasons, so if the yuri stays at that level, the scores will likely be around that level. And I’m looking forward to watching the next season as it airs, and maybe you’ll like it as much as you did the second season. Here’s to hoping~