Before the fourth season begins airing next month, let’s finish what we started and finish playing catch up with the third season of Symphogear, Symphogear GX~
After the frontier incident, everyone who knew the circumstances believed the Noise were gone and the pain they caused was at an end. But a new conflict approached unseen. In the Yokohama Harbor Oosan-bashi Pier, a new pattern is detected that is similar to the Noise. A combat group wielding mysterious technology stands in the way of Hibiki and the others. When she hears of this enemy of unprecedented strength, Tsubasa hurries back home from England. But the Symphogear users see no opening to counterattack and are forced into a difficult fight. In this situation of extreme disparity, the battle for the song that will end the world begins.
What Symphogear GX does that previous seasons didn’t do as much of is shine a spotlight on the girls’ family life, which adds all sorts of drama. From Hibiki’s dad’s abandonment of his family, to Tsubasa’s peculiar family situation, to Chris’ fear of being alone, we get to look beyond the ass-kicking magical girl facade and see these girls on a more personal level, which is very nice. It’s the same situation with Carol, so, to me, this attempt at a slightly more character-driven story helps make the story in GX the best in the series to date.
However, it’s not all interpersonal drama, as we still have a story driven by an antagonist dead-set on destroying the world. Finé met her demise in Symphogear G, so in comes the alchemist Carol and her group of Autoscorers, automated dolls that serve as her minions. Their arrival takes the story in a different direction, and I welcome the shake-up, since Finé and the Noise had grown a little long in the tooth, at least for me.
That said, Alca-Noise, a more dangerous variation of the Noise, take their place, but outside of the earlier episodes, they also prove to be little more than cannon fodder. In addition to the new villains and the new Alca-Noise, alchemy has replaced heretical technology as the powering force behind Carol & Co. This change seemed to produce more viable opponents, and going into the fourth season, it looks like alchemy will continue to play a role, so it’s a good thing that it worked out pretty well.
You still have the plot twists of the first two seasons, and I felt like GX fell somewhere in-between the first season and Symphogear G in terms of darkness, since it seemed to me that there were a few more fluffy moments than the prior season (including what could be called a beach episode). I don’t think anyone would say that this season had a great story, but compared to what came before, I think it’s a step in the right direction, and a step up in terms of conviction.
Over the course of the first two reviews, a lot has already been said about most of the girls, so this section will mostly focus on the new characters.
Starting off with Carol, she’s the new antagonist, and for the most part, I think she was a worthy follow-up to Finé and Dr. Ver. We get to see a bit more of her backstory than we did of the aforementioned pair, and once her true intentions come to light, on some level, it seems understandable what she’s trying to accomplish. She may not have been the most colorful or memorable Symphogear villain, but it helped that her accomplices helped picked up the slack.
Phara, Leiur, Micha, and Garie are said accomplices, and they proved to be quite adept at being thorns in the sides of Hibiki and the rest of the crew. Micha’s berserker style and wild look was cool, but it’s the other three that get the lion’s share of the screen time. They say styles make fights, and all are very powerful and worthy adversaries of the Symphogear users. They have an eye-catching look that I really like, and their stylish method of combat is quite nice to behold, so I’m glad that they all got multiple chances to mix it up with the girls.
The one new character that isn’t a villain is Elfnein, who essentially a carbon copy of Carol, but without that whole “destroy the world” mentality. She’s pretty cute, and for some reason, she isn’t wearing pants (or much else) underneath her cloak, so fanservice continues to be present and accounted for in this series. 😛
Touching upon the returning characters, Hibiki still has that annoying tendency to want to talk things through, instead of fighting, and even her comrades are tired of it. Her friendship with Miku has been a major source of the yuri subtext involved with this show, and it’s definitely still a thing in Symphogear GX. However, this is an awful lot like the second season, where their scenes together aren’t as numerous as you’d like, yet they’re still saccharine sweet.
Now more than ever, Tsubasa x Maria looks like it could be a legitimate thing, since they’re usually around one another, and there’s undeniable chemistry between them. Kanade x Tsubasa may have been short-lived, but Maria x Tsubasa may be the next best thing. And while Chris is busy trying to be a good senpai to them, Kiri and Shirabe are, once again, the go-to yuri pairing in this series.
By now, it’s pretty much canon that Kiri x Shirabe are an actual thing, since even their duet song Just Loving X-Edge has lyrics like “Let’s kiss and dream of a world that we’ll never cut apart!” Once again, they don’t actually kiss, but it’s all but confirmed that they’re an actual couple. Even their lover’s quarrels are textbook examples of two people who are in a romantic relationship.
At one point, two characters do “kiss”, but there’s a reason I put quotation marks around that word. These two characters may have technically locked lips, yet it’s certainly not a romantic gesture, despite the interlocked hands that accompanied it. When it comes to the yuri, I think this season slightly upped the ante, but there’s still a lot of room for even more. Let’s cross our fingers that AXZ will continue the trend~
Coming two years after Symphogear G, Symphogear GX maintains the very respectable visual standard that the series has set for itself. The battles are more grandiose than ever, and the fight choreography is probably the best it’s been so far. You still have your moments when the art quality dips a little bit, but it’s not a frequent thing, and it’s mostly during the more unimportant scenes, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Overall, the visuals of this latest season seem to be progressing at a steady rate that’s in line with what’s come before, so I think it’s still a pretty good-looking anime.
As should be obvious by now, one thing that Symphogear always seems to do a good job of is music, and GX is no exception. At this point, I don’t know what else there is to say about it. The themes are just as good as you’d expect, and the singing during battle scenes absolutely never gets old. I think Tsubasa (Nana Mizuki) is clearly the best singer of the bunch, but it’s Chris’ lyrics that make her songs so much fun. Long story short, the music is perhaps this series’ calling card, and considering how good it’s been and how good it continues to be, I don’t see that changing any time soon.
With each passing season, Symphogear continues to be the anime equivalent of a popcorn movie. It may not be great at any one thing, but as a whole, it’s silly, over-the-top, and escapism personified. I can’t imagine fans of the previous seasons not liking what Symphogear GX has to offer, which is all the bombast and magical girl action from before, but with a more personal and family-related dramatization.
Aah Symphogear, non-stop throwing the crazy at you…gotta love it.
And on the yuri side we actually got an “I love you”!
Carol was my favorite baddie too. Less crazy, and more character driven to do the wrong thing. Also cowgirl Carol was pretty badass!
Hibiki’s dad kind of creeped me out, but I guess he was supposed to before his big reform. Yeah, everyone worked through some pretty big family (especially father) issues in this one.
I’m pretty sure Kiri and Shirabe each said “I love you” during the second season as well… or maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. 😀
I was a fan of Leiur, but it’s just a shame that her and the other Autoscorers had to pretty much sacrifice themselves to try to complete their mission.
With everyone’s issues seemingly sorted out, maybe AXZ will use that time to make things even crazier than the usual Symphogear season~
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So you like the flashy and fancy kind?
Also was wondering since all the other Autoscorers seem aligned with an element (water, air, fire), that would make Leiur earth, yet she conjures coins? Guess that looks better than her slinging mud.
As far as Autoscorers go, I suppose I do… 😛
The wiki says that one of the four things that the Autoscorers are themed after is one of four suits of an ancient Turkish deck of tarot cards, with Leiur’s being coins~
I had no idea until I read it, but I guess it makes sense? 😀
Symphogear remains as my favourite anime series of all time. I absolutely adore the mix of music, action and yuri, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more of that from AXZ.
Deciding on a favourite season is tough, but I think GX just manages to edge out the others at the moment. Carol might be the reason for that – say what you like about her, but she has one of the best songs in the entire franchise. All the other songs in GX are great as well, with Hibiki’s “Genkai Toppa G-Beat” and Tsubasa and Maria’s “Seiten Galaxy Cross” being a couple of my personal highlights.
“Silly, over-the-top, and escapism personified” is exactly what I want from anime, and Symphogear delivers that in spades.
Being British, I’m used to the word “pants” referring to underwear. As a result, that leads to some rather interesting images being conjured up when I see someone mentioning a character doesn’t wear pants.
I’ve slowly come around on the series, and even though it’s not my favorite anime or anything, it is pretty enjoyable, and I do like it more than I used to~
That’s a pretty nice one, but I’m still partial to Gekisou Gungnir from the first season. And even though I don’t know their names, Kiri and Shirabe had some pretty good songs, too. Overall, there isn’t too much to complain about, when it comes to the songs.
There has to be a doujin somewhere where those characters aren’t wearing “pants”, so it’s probably true in both regards. 😛
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Ooh! Looks like we aren’t the only ones looking forward to AXZ:
It’s still a little surprising to me that it’s as popular as it is. Then again, I probably shouldn’t question Japan’s love affair with magical girls. 😛