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~