Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anime Review: Senki Zesshou Symphogear G

a.k.a. Season 2 of Symphogear, the first season of which I reviewed after it aired in winter 2012.

I have described season 2 of Symphogear as feeling like an extended Symphogear: The Movie. Art and animation-wise, it looks more polished and... well, animated than the first season, and its story still isn't good, but it sure is plottier.

It even kicks off in a very action movie way, with Hibiki and Chris saving a scientist (Dr. Ver, who you'll read about below) in a high speed train chase. This season builds off the results of the previous season's conflict.

While the first season's villain, Finé, failed to destroy the moon, she shot a hole in it. Being hit like that knocked the moon off course enough that it is going to collide with the Earth at some point. The governments of the world say that the moon will take centuries to reach that point, but it's more like ten years.

This season's villains are: a pop idol named Maria who is a Symphogear user and possibly the vessel for Finé's reincarnation; two younger Symphogear users named Kirika and Shirabe who look up to Maria and were once considered possible vessels for Finé's soul; Dr. Natassja, an engineer who knows how the Symphogear armor works, spending most of her time worrying about Maria, Kirika and Shirabe and coughing up blood; and our only real villain, Dr. Ver, a biochemist whose research focuses on Symphogear users. Dr. Ver manipulates Dr. Natassja, Maria, Kirika, and Shirabe to achieve his goal of destroying most of the world so he can rule what is left more easily.

While this season is better than season 1, Dr. Ver is a worse villain than Finé. I could buy Finé earning the trust of the people she worked with before betraying them, but I didn't have it in me to feel for Maria when Dr. Ver betrayed her... because it was obvious well before that you can't trust his stated intentions. And he's just generally more annoying than Finé.

The returning cast makes up for it, though. The main reason to watch this is to watch Hibiki, Tsubasa, Chris, and Miku do cool things to propel an intentionally ludicrous story forward. I appreciate that Miku gets to do something important and cool each season without any super-abilities.

This season, though, Miku also does stuff as a Symphogear-user. The relic Hibiki uses to transform is spreading through her body, meaning she can't transform without hastening it. Miku finds out that Hibiki will likely die because of it, and becomes a Symphogear-user, courtesy of Dr. Ver (who obviously doesn't have her best interests in mind), in the hopes of better being able to save Hibiki.

Also, Miku's fighting song is basically a love song about Hibiki. (The song starts at 0:43.) Here is a translation of the lyrics. I rate Miku's seiyuu, Iguchi Yuka's, singing ability above Hibiki and Chris's.

Maria's seiyuu, Hikasa Youko (a.k.a. Attack on Titan's Mikasa and K-ON!'s Mio) has a good singing voice, but aside from her duet with Tsubasa, her songs didn't leave much of an impression on me. Mizuki Nana still has the prettiest singing voice in the entire show, but she's Mizuki Nana.

Also, Kirika and Shirabe fight after Kirika switches sides, resulting in a really lesbian battle duet song. I don't have a clip I'm happy with (partly because I couldn't find a clip without the servicey henshin at the beginning, partly because it's harder to like the song itself when Shirabe's butt crack keeps flashing through her battle outfit- which is maybe a weird thing to specifically complain about given the rest of the service in this show, but as awkward as, say, fighting in a very cleavagey sentai suit like Chris's would be, I'd take it over the butt crack outfit- and I didn't care about these two as much as Hibiki and Miku anyway), but they do duel and scream that they love each other a bunch of times.

Now past her mourning over Kanade (although she still has some flashbacks about her), Tsubasa is mostly the cool sempai this season. Even though I liked seeing Tsubasa get past closing everyone off because of her grief, I was happy to see her get a love interest who is not dead this season. I was surprised it was Chris, but actually kind of wound up shipping them, and even Hibiki saw it.

Arguably the most surprising thing about this season was Genjuuro singing during the obligatory training scene. (Please do watch this season's training scene, actually. It's pretty great.) He gets to punch a flying boulder, and apparently Tsubasa's manager can run on water.

This season's final conflict itself was dumb, as expected, but it had Hibiki being no less active without her super-abilities (which, spoiler, she does get back), the aforementioned Tsubasa x Chris, Miku throwing a magic sword into a tear in space, and Hibiki reminding me of Ultimate Madoka with her speech in space about not being alone. And it's followed by a nice final scene for our four leads.

Story: This is trashy crap, but it is crap that I enjoyed and would watch a third season of.
Art: B
Overall: B-

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