This is review number two hundred and forty four. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is Symphogear G. It’s the second season of that Winter 2012 anime. Oh gosh, the first season was actually my twenty sixth review. That’s a fairly young me, a year ago, with a passion in his heart trying his best to churn out a review. The second season is now my 244th review so that’s certainly special. Dear god, I watched a lot of anime between those two seasons, huh? Anyways, this is a thirteen episode anime about girls singing while they fight. It’s a really good show. Let’s read on.
The show continued the story of the first season. After saving the world from the plans of a mad woman that wanted to destroy the moon, it seems that a new group of villains has appeared to wreak some havoc. These ones are also equipped with the same symphogears our hero uses and they use it to make their plans come to fruition. Their ultimate goal though seems to involve something about the moon and the now famous Lunar Attack.
Taking the Pants Off
I remember the first season of Symphogear and how a lot of people made fun of it. From the animation to the story itself, there was always something to poke fun of in the first season. I was in a weird position where I really enjoyed the show. It’s original in its own quirky way. The concept of magical girls tweaked a bit where the girls use the power of song to fight. I thought that was a pretty unique concept and the story was pretty exciting to watch. I always figured that people just didn’t warm up to the idea of the show. I thought they never will. Imagine my surprise when one of the most talked about show of the Summer lineup is a show people made fun of a year ago. I don’t really know what happened but there was hype for the second season. It took a good year for the premise to sink in to people, I guess. Anyways, I wasn’t really expecting another season of this show. I think the first season ended pretty splendidly. The three girls finally became good friends after a woman planned to blow up the moon. I already forgot why the bad guy wanted to blow up the moon but that was pretty fun to watch. It ended on a good note so I am a bit curious on what the second has in store. I’m glad to see the same style of storytelling present in the show. It’s a nostalgia trip for me considering the first season was one of my earlier reviews. The presentation is pretty much the same and, of all things, the moon is still something the bad guys have on their agenda.
The second season continued where the first season left off. The anime never gave us a refresher so I was a little bit lost at first. I’m also fuzzy on the details now since I have seen a boatload of shows between the first and second season. I do remember that the first season was about the main character being saved by one symphogear user that sacrificed her life to do so. Her partner was so grief stricken that she found the idea of the main character possessing the symphogear her partner used to own as the ultimate insult. The two girls are having a squabble while the world is being attacked by monsters known as Noise. They turn people to dust when they touch them. That’s all I remember. They’re bad monsters so the girls have to protect the innocent. While they’re having this petty disagreement, another symphogear user is wreaking havoc using a device that controls the Noise. Long story short, the three girls agreed on one common goal and that is to stop the actual bad guy from doing some crazy sh*t to the moon. This bad guy, however, turned out to be an ancient priestess that is a powerful symphogear user as well. They fought. The good guys won and the show ends on a happy note. It certainly had its low moments but the show made up for it with some really great ones that balance the show out. The plot is a bit contrived though but it’s an easy enough flaw to ignore and just enjoy what the show has to offer.
For the second season, peace is restored and an evil group of researchers has banned together to terrorize the world. They’re no ordinary group though. They’re a group composed of three symphogear users and a man that possesses Solomon’s Cane, the device that can control the monsters into doing your bidding. They want one thing: to rule the world. It’s a fun concept for the second season. Get the three main characters and pit them off against three evil girls then just let them loose. I actually like the idea because it’s simple enough to pull off and the show can accommodate more subplots while maintaining focus on the actual concept. The only downside for watching this show is that you definitely need to watch the first season. I guess you can block out certain key points of the story. I did that as well but familiarity with the characters and the events of the first season is needed to fully understand the second season. Once you get caught up, you’re pretty much golden and you can finally focus on the three main plot points of the show.
The first plot point is obviously about the evil organization out for world domination. This group called “FIS” has declared war on the world and they have the power to stand up against it. They claim to be a group with pure intentions but they’d go as far as use the monsters known as Noise to achieve their goal. Announcing themselves as the enemy of the world is just the first step though and throughout the show, you slowly realize the rest of the plan this group is scheming. It seems that symphogears and the Noise isn’t enough for this group. They’ll even go as far as awaken some ancient nightmare and even some familiar faces from the first season. There were a lot that happened in this plot point. The main focus though is the main three girls facing off against the evil girls. The interesting part about this face off is that the bad guys are often dealt the short hand. They don’t often come out on top because the main girls are stronger than them and the show often focuses on how their resolve is shaken by the circumstances. As the show progresses, the bad guys would often question their actual goal and get desperate. This leads to some surprising moments for the anime. They aren’t really bad guys though and the show also slowly reveals exactly what their intentions are. A decent fleshing out also reveals that the girls aren’t fully prepared to take on the huge responsibility they have sworn to uphold. The FIS is determined to achieve their goal though and they’ll willing give the girls a push if it was needed.
Under the first plot point, there is the main antagonist of the show. Dr. Ver is the man that holds Solomon’s Cane and uses the Noises to his advantage. He is a very power hungry guy and he really did a lot of things to shake the anime up. He is cold and heartless which makes for some interesting scenes when he is talking to some young girls that aren’t really sure what they’re doing is right. His ultimate plan though is to awaken this monster called the Nephilim. This is a creature the eats ancient relic like the symphogears. He plans to sick this rabid puppy on the main characters. Throughout the anime, he would do a lot of this to make this monster grow stronger and finally have his moment with the main characters. However, it’s not just as simple as that though. It appears that the Nephilim holds more use for the doctor and he has a plan so huge that the whole world can really feel it. With the main characters being too good at their job though, the doctor would get a bit desperate at times and he’ll often do some things that are really just pathetic but often things that really make the anime so much more fun to watch.
The setup for this plot point is pretty weird though. I’m not sure if this was smart but every episode leads to a confrontation against the girls. The evil group would often be pinned down one moment but would slip out in one way or another before they are officially caught. This was interesting because you can expect a fight scene at every episode. If you watch this on an episodic basis then you’re definitely getting something worth your time. I think it’s pretty bad though because the show was revealing everything too early and it might run out of steam towards the end. There were a lot of things that happened in this particular plot point that I think the show was just adding more bulk to the story. It does this so it can proceed to end subplots way too early or hastily develop the plot points as it rolls along. It’s a pretty weak style of storytelling because it gradually becomes a bit convoluted as it progresses and slowly loses sight of the main focus of the plot point. It really came to a point where I got bored watching too many fight scenes. We get one per episode so there were really not a lot of things to set each confrontation apart. I honestly felt that the show often flat lines a bit with the boring moments. There aren’t a lot of things going on and the show often goes through the motions that you’re really just waiting for the next big shocking thing to happen to wake you up. To be fair, the twists and surprises of the show do balance things out. It’s a trait the two seasons have in common but it’s still pretty weak storytelling where the focus is more on flash than substance. Again, this is not that big of a deal if you can let certain things slide though. The show manages to keep me watching despite the poor story so there’s really a lot more to look forward in this show that just a weak plot point.
The second plot point is about our main character, Hibiki Tachibana and her duty as a symphogear. In the first season, Hibiki became a symphogear user because Kanade sacrificed herself to save Hibiki. A piece of the symphogear that Kanade owns now embedded itself onto Hibiki and she can now transform into a symphogear user. This embedded piece is now causing some problems for Hibiki. I won’t spoil much but let’s just say that her days as a symphogear user is numbered because of an unforeseen event she can’t control. The second plot point is mostly about Hibiki’s choice if she wants to stay being a hero even if the situation isn’t advantageous for her. She must simply live a normal life watching on the sidelines. For a girl that sworn to protect people in any way possible, this is a problem that will really test her. She must slowly re-evaluate everything up to this point. Can she ignore the impending danger FIS brings? Is she willing to be with her normal school friends and live a peaceful life? Or is our little hero made up her mind and is ready to die saving people till the end?
The second plot point was a way of giving focus to the main characters. There are a lot of personal conflicts that arise in the show but I think this one was one of the best. With Hibiki being forced to choose between taking it easy or roughing it till the end, there was some needed tension among the main characters that decently matched the tension arising from the other side. This came fairly late in the show though and it honestly felt a bit forced. Like the first plot point, the story has its boring moments where you really just let your mind wander since there is no interesting thing happening. It’s not just a predictable progression the show possess but seemingly a lack of anything worth watching at the same time. Much like the first plot point as well, this boring plot is given a decent jolt a bunch of twists and surprises that keeps you tuned in. I do admire how the story was able to include a lot of the characters and keep things interesting as it shuffles through some pretty intense events. The twists and surprises also build where one moment is toppled by another one later on in the show. I write this review though a bit disappointed because the show does rely on the twists and surprises way too much that I can’t expound on them without spoiling some key factors of the show. It’s iffy but I hope you get the general idea of the show.
The third plot point is simply the f*cking moon. Yes, that thing in the sky is still something of huge interest for the show, for some odd reason. This plot point came fairly late in the show as well. The second plot point appeared towards the second half and I think this one came in a little more late. This plot point is the one thing that ties the anime together though and leads it to a focused climax that the show smartly builds. For people who saw the first season, the main characters were able to stop the villain before she destroyed the Moon. The giant beam from that tower the villain used just grazed the moon thus saving the world. In an unexpected turn that I bet no one saw coming, the moon crisis is actually far from over. The FIS, the new symphogear users siding with evil, the actual villain’s plan, the main characters personal conflicts all meet in one giant battle involving the moon. I’m as perplexed as anyone who watched the show. Let’s face it. The moon thing in the first season was so random that you can’t really take it seriously. The anime had a lot of heart though that you are easily caught in the moment. As much as the moon’s involvement was a bit mind blowing, the show was able to tie up a lot of loose ends thanks to this plot point. This came at a smart time because the show kept adding bulk to itself with all those twists and surprises that the show does turn into a convoluted mess. With the plot point involving the moon, everything comes together splendidly giving the anime a pretty decent ending.
The characters are all pretty decent. The show tried to use them as nothing more than a plot device though. It was just to strengthen the various twists and surprises the show reveals at almost every episode. The characters did have their own subplots and personal conflicts to flesh them out but the show didn’t really do much about it. It just used it as an element for the show’s short sighted goals. Most of the characters personal conflicts are also a bit forced that you can’t really get behind them. I’m not really sure why some of them are having a doubt trip because they were fine a few episodes before and they just suddenly woke up felling conflicted. It’s a bit dull and it does throw you off the story at times. With that being said though, the characters are still a huge component of the show. The main characters are pretty decent. Hibiki is her usual super positive self where she sacrifices herself to save people. She doesn’t really change much but the second plot point was able to give some needed focus on our main character. I love the little flashbacks about her life and the “hypocritical” stance the bad guys accuse her of having. It’s one of those forced things the show has but something that does make the character interesting. Almost everyone from the first season appeared on the second season. The rest of the girls stay pretty much the same and the majority of the focus is on the new characters, mainly the FIS and the three new magical girls.
The new characters made this anime special. They also were important parts of the story. The new symphogear users are all pretty decent characters. Each of them have their own personal reasons for taking up arms and the show was able to flesh them out pretty decently that the audience can get invested in them. The show has a bit of a fast pace but it was still able to make the girls interesting as the show progresses. The leader of the group is Maria Cadenzavna Eve. She has a black type gungnir similar to Hibiki’s symphogear. She was the one that announced war with the rest of the world. As the show progresses, you realize that there is more to her than just a bad girl wanting to rule the world. She joined FIS for a reason and it seems that this drives her to do a lot of the awful things she does on the show. The other girl is Shirabe. She is the silent one in the group but she has a very strong belief as well. She was the one that called out Hibiki as being a hypocrite and she seemed to have taken up arms because she wants a peaceful world only FIS can provide. The last girl is Kirika Akatsuki. She is the energetic one in the group and the one that really values the friendship between her and her fellow symphogear users. She is confident that the bond is strong that she is willing to join FIS just so her friends can live a happy life she thinks they deserve. The circumstances are not on their favor though and it seems this friendship will be greatly tested. The things Kirika do for her friends gives some pretty interesting moments for the show.
I really enjoyed this show. I write this review though a bit conflicted because the things I like are seemingly the flaws of the anime as well. The rushed and shallow plot, the forced conflicts, and the pretentious characters are the things that make this anime really weak but it’s also the things that made me watch it. They’re also the thing that I really love about the show. The show isn’t really that remarkable but it has a simple setup. It has a lot of emotion behind it that I do appreciate. Even if the show does a weird Rocky montage during one of its serious phases, I still love watching the show since it is entertaining despite being faulty. There were enough high points for the show to really even out the weak ones. I know it’s not much but I love a good show and Symphogear is definitely a good show. Satelight is a weird studio though. It falls back on its comfortable mecha genre all the time but it seems to produce different things all the time. All of them are conceptually good though. Can you believe Aquarion Evol and AKB0048 came from the studio? Satelight has good ideas but it seem to produce some pretty subpar anime that can seriously be edited to become something much greater. This show is good and I really enjoyed it but I think it can be better.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty decent as well. If you’ve seen the first season then I’m sure you’ll love the design of the second season. The girls are the typical cute characters with a big head attached to a little body. There aren’t a lot of standout qualities in terms of the design. It’s pretty generic. It has a playful design for the hair though and the high details on the eyes attached to some really defined and curvy bodies. It doesn’t stand out as much as I hope it would but there are still some decent designs to make the characters look good in their own right. This totally changes though when the characters transform into their symphogear. I love the colorful mecha outfit the girls have on. It has a lot of detail work on it to make each outfit stand out and make the girls decent eye candies in return. From the mecha gear in their heads to the ones in their legs, there were some pretty intricate designs here and I really love looking at. This is coupled by a tight skinned body outfit that defines the girl’s curves and breasts even more. This is a wonderful combination when the girls finally go out and just let loose in their fights.
Animation is pretty inconsistent. It’s something I’ve noticed in most Satelight shows. One moment, when the girls are fighting, would be filled with a lot of awesome things. There are some great effects with the way the girls do damage on their surroundings and the flashy special moves the girls do are coupled with some great animation that truly makes the move devastating. This is then combined with some great camera angles and smooth choreography that makes every fight scene in the show stand out. To be fair, most of the time, the girls just fire blindly into the air. This happens when they fight the Noise and the animation was still able to capture the awesomeness of the scene. It even has the time to create a transformation scene for each girl and I love how personal each one was. The animation is a bit bad though when it comes to the normal scenes. When the characters are just talking or when they’re having some fluff moments, the animation drops quality a bit. The facial design gets a bit elongated when the girls turn sideways and certain details are lost. The walking scenes get a bit awkward at times and some movements just don’t feel as smooth as it should be. Much like the story though, it balances things out but only if you can avoid such glaring flaws. I bet some people are already making fun of it. I don’t blame them.
The anime’s OP is “Vitalization” by Nana Mizuki. This is a pretty great song. It has a nice pacing to it and I love how Nana’s voice is so deep that it gives the song a really great personality. It also has a set of lyrics that does fit the anime to a degree. The OP sequence features all the characters and a brief summary of the events of the anime. There are a lot of them but the show was able to squeeze all of it in the OP. The anime’s ED is “Next Destination” by Ayahi Takagaki. This had the same energy as the OP song but it has more solemn lyrics to it. It features a pretty sad friendship of two people drifting apart. The rhythm is pretty great though and the techno beat was a nice touch. It gave the chorus a really lively beat. The ED sequence is about the symphogear users just walking in town. It’s nothing complicated. I love the kaleidoscope effect of the sequence as well.
6/10 “It is built on twists and surprises that does elevate the anime but only for so long that you aren’t reminded how tasking the show can get.”
This was a wonderful show. I still have a soft spot for it since the first season was one of the very first anime I ever reviewed. The anime has it faults but I think it was able to entertain through and through. If you saw the first season then you should definitely try this one out. If you like transforming girl shows with a touch of mecha then you’ll enjoy this anime. If you like some unique concept in your anime like singing magical girls then this show might work for you.