Anime Review: Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ

symphogear axz

Whether it’s due to lagging sales or simply running out of source material, most anime never get a fourth season. In this regard, Symphogear is the exception rather than the rule, not only getting a fourth season, but a fifth as well. You can’t achieve that without a hook, a way to draw viewers in, and Symphogear‘s has mainly been the combination of over-the-top magical girl action and more j-pop than you can shake a stick at. Suffice it to say, nothing has changed with Symphogear AXZ.

Year: 2017

Length: 13 Episodes

Genre: Action, Music, Sci-Fi

After Carol and her group of alchemists bite the dust, another evil organization, the Bavarian Illuminati, has stepped out of the shadows and are intent on fulfilling their long-running quest for a new world order that will regain control of history.

The story in Symphogear has never been its strong suit, and the same applies here. The story is rather straightforward, with the Bavarian Illuminati doing typical bad guy things by sacrificing tens of thousands of people to further their goals of world domination, and S.O.N.G. leads the resistance. It’s nothing you haven’t seen many times before, but it’s entertaining nevertheless.

Compared to previous seasons, I think the story seemed a little less silly (how can you get sillier than blowing up the moon?), and that I enjoyed. The new villains’ motives are stated from the beginning, and they get fleshed out enough to sell them as worthy adversaries that will require the girls to learn some new tricks and further develop their skills in order to defeat.

This is still the same cheesy, clichéd Symphogear you remember, and at this point, I think it’s become part of its charm.

Things like an uninspired attempt at some character development for Chris and attempts at some personal drama for characters like Shirabe felt melodramatic as well. Long story short, the moments in between all the fighting continue to be the weak point for the series, but it’s not the worst thing ever, and they just serve to set the stage for some epic fights.

This is still the same cheesy, clichéd Symphogear you remember, and at this point, I think it’s become part of its charm. You’ll get some ludicrous plot about bad guys taking over the world, and then the girls show up and all hell breaks loose. Crazy musical action ensues, everything blows up, and Hibiki and Co. eventually fight back the threat and preserve peace for another day. It’s simple, but it’s still entertaining, and that’s what’s most important.

symphogear axz prelati cagliostro saint-germain

(from left to right) Prelati, Cagliostro, and Saint-Germain

I don’t know what more I can say of the main group of girls—since they’re all returning once again—so let me focus on the new characters.

It’s pretty telling that not a single MAL member has favorited this season’s big bad, Adam. Even Dr. Ver has some, but Adam, ZERO. Actually, none of the new villains have many favorites on there, so maybe I’m not alone in thinking that these characters were underwhelming. Whether it was Finé, Carol, or Dr. Ver, I think each of them felt stronger in their convictions than Adam, and you can even add Saint-Germain to that list.

Out of all of the new characters, she was easily my favorite, and I think that she has all of the makings to be a future permanent ally of S.O.N.G. She’s sort of similar to Maria in that she gives off that strong and assertive demeanor, and it’s easy to see how she thrived in a leadership role. As for the others…

Prelati’s there just to bring the required cuteness, complete with a stuffed animal froggy for good measure, and Cagliostro is gaudy personified. Actually, both Prelati and Cagliostro used to be men, until they met Saint-Germain and biologically altered their bodies in order to obtain an extended lifespan and permanent youth. Neither one of them made that much of a positive impression on me, and the less I say about Tiki, the better, since everytime she appeared on screen was the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me.

Overall, even though Cagliostro exhibited a lot of personality, I felt like the group as a whole were a little bland—or even worse—annoying, at least compared to the villains in previous seasons. The main group does their part, but I wouldn’t be too shocked if season five ends up introducing an entirely new set of villains, with AXZ‘ put out to pasture.

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But enough about them, what about any yuri content? Well, outside of like two brief moments at the beginning and end of the season, Tsubasa x Maria is largely neglected, but I wasn’t expecting much from them anyway. What’s most disappointing is how we went from a healthy dose of Shirabe x Kirika in GX to a fraction of that in AXZ.

And then there’s Hibiki x Miku. As the main pairing in Symphogear, these two have their moments of domestic bliss, with Miku doing her best impression of a lovely wife. You could say it’s the calm before the storm, since trouble tends to be constantly brewing, and Hibiki leaves Miku to go do her part in saving the world yet again.

Just as before, Miku doesn’t play an active role in the missions Hibiki and the others undertake, so her screentime is somewhat minimal, yet we still kind of got one of those ridiculous scenes that you sometimes see in the movies where one character rushes haphazardly into danger after trying to get through to/talk some sense into the “beast” character. Afterwards, Miku then goes out and catches Hibiki, and all is right with the world again.

symphogear axz yuri

Hibiki and Miku’s nicknames for each other—with Hibiki calling Miku her “warm sunshine” and Miku calling Hibiki her “shining sun”—are pretty telling, and it seems that Miku is going to play a much bigger role in the fifth season, so perhaps we’ll get more moments similar to what we got in G (before they kiss and make up)? 😛

All in all, the characters ended up being a mixed bag for me. While the main group do their usual thing, I found the new additions to be so-so at best. Hibiki and Miku’s relationship takes center stage, but more time spent together would’ve been nice, as would more moments for the other ships.

Moving on, what more is there to say about the production values? Satelight has gussied up AXZ‘ visuals accordingly, but it’s largely the same song and dance as before. This series is still Michael Bay-esque in its excess of action, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, so let’s just say that if you’re a fan of the music in previous Symphogear seasons, you’ll like what AXZ offers, since practically nothing has changed. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I say. The themes aren’t my favorite for this series, though they’re still fine. After all, I won’t complain about another ED from Chris.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with Symphogear AXZ. The series’ signature over-the-top action is still there, but I didn’t care for the villains as much as I had before, and that greatly affected my perception of it. However, almost everything else is as expected, so I doubt Symphogear fans will be too disappointed with what season four had to offer. Now, bring on the next one~

Story: 6.5

Characters: 7

Animation: 8

Sound: 8

Yuri: 5

Total Enjoyment: 7

symphogear axz

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7 thoughts on “Anime Review: Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ

  1. You were supposed to hate Adam. He was very one note, but that was the point. I dunno why you disliked the others so much, but I really liked them and am very sad that they’re all dead 😦 Was hoping for them to be added to the party. Ah well. Season 5 is very likely to be the return of Miku gear, so that’s a fair enough tradeoff.

    I agree that Tsubasa and Maria wasn’t as there, but it was still very much there. And Shirabe and Kirika were in very high levels ._. Chris continues being hte lonesome Gear user. Someday she’ll get someone!…probably

    Personally, easily one of my favorite seasons of Symphogear~ I very much look forward to season 5!

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    • I didn’t mean bad in a “He’s so evil. I hope he gets his comeuppance.” But bad in a “He’s so bad/boring/undercreated that I can’t take him seriously.” 😛

      Apart from Saint-Germain, I don’t think we ever got to see some semblance of backstory for these new alchemists. That probably had something to do with it. Even though the ones from GX were just dolls, their styles were unique, and I think they had more personality than the ones from AXZ.

      Chris has the type of personality that I can see her content being alone for now~

      Eh, GX is still tops for me, but maybe the next season will be better?

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      • Adam seriously needs to put on some clothes (dude, please put something on).

        I have been thinking about it and I am guessing maybe the cast of characters was big enough, so they just wanted something disposable that SONG could vanquish and move on from there story-wise. They probably want to avoid the Nanoha problem of a bloated cast?

        Chris I think has eyes for Hibiki, but figures she doesn’t stand a chance against wife Miku, but can’t help it anyways.

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  2. I really enjoyed this one, even though it was mostly battle focused (and had a few short comings), I still was pulled through each episode and looked forward to the next.
    I especially liked how they touched back to all the story elements that made up the previous seasons. We had alchemists, Dr. Ver, Faust robes, the Ignite Modules, and even Hibiki’s relic crusty left overs playing a role. Lots of nice flash backs mixed in too.

    But yeah, what I missed most were the Hibiki and Miku moments. Not nearly enough couple time in this one.
    Still got to include my favorite scene.
    An adoring gaze from a loving girlfriend:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww. That has me looking to the next season already.

      That was nice, but they shouldn’t have stopped there. Strangely, what I want to see is a battle royale with everyone from past seasons coming back to duke it out one last time! Yeah, I have bad ideas sometimes… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This season was really bland, poorly written, and anti-climatic. I thought the other seasons had some nice character development, meanwhile this season was half-assed everything except animation. The songs weren’t good at all, but I thought it was cute that the whole cast sang the OP from the first season (which is always catchy as hell but the nice colors from the original voices were kind of lost in this remake #musiciannerdingout.) We don’t get angst or fear of character death, either. It’s like bad things happen but everything will still be sunshine and rainbows. Also, the grossly minimal Tsubasa x Maria material is ludicrous and heresy. This season was just disappointing. Next season seems to have much better potential, so I’ll be seething and patiently waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t really disagree with any of that. Was really looking forward to this season, but came away pretty disappointed.

      Before this, I liked each season a little more than the last, but hopefully season five can make everything right again. More Hibiki x Miku is a nice place to start, but more Tsubasa x Maria and more Shirabe x Kirika would be even better.

      Like

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