Check-out Station: Symphogear G ep13 (nothing is impossible for someone who wears their underwear on the outside)
That is that! It is done! And this time I can actually muster up some words for the conclusion of this season, unlike for the original. I’m glad I watched this series, completed it and got to enjoy it for all its great and flawed and ridiculous parts!
I don’t know if you could top the original Symphogear‘s ending, and Symphogear G certainly didn’t. But that’s not a bad thing. A lot got wrapped up, and I’m certainly happy to have some of the show’s more annoying aspects out of the way. For all the excitement that the group Fine brought to the show, they certainly had some dumb, irksome qualities. I found professor Nastassja, or as I called her the entire series, old hag, just a bothersome presence. I didn’t like how her character had to dispense inane, almost redundant knowledge to the girls following her. And I hated how she seemed to be contractually obligated to vomit blood on something once an episode. Sure I know the Symphogear franchise is supposed to be almost hilariously over-the-top, but there’s no way you were going to play up the drama of a dying woman in this way when she just keeps repeating the same actions every episode for THIRTEEN episodes! All I could think watching her scenes was, “die! Just hurry up and die! GEEZ!”
Then there was Shirabe, who was just the absolute blandest, most plainly copied character I can remember this year. She lacks anything that would make her excel or stand out at all. She’s not cute or dynamic enough to be a copy of Yuki Nagao, she’s not emotionless enough to eerily stick in your mind like R. Dorothy Wainwright, and she’s not nearly the tragic, but empty icon we know as Rei Ayanami. Every bit of dialogue she spewed had to be strained through the filter of the emotionless dark-haired girl who finds your naivete especially stupid. Also, I hated how she b*tched at Hibiki for trying to talk things out instead of fighting. She called Hibiki a hypocrite over and over again, but actually talking to the Symphogear girls about the problem may actually have averted much of this crisis. Also, her Gear sucks. Kirika’s is much coooler. That said, I’ll give her credit for being the first in their group to realize that Dr. Ver was just a f*cking psycho who would cause more problems then he could stop. And she nailed that prediction.
I also found myself pretty disappointed in Maria Cadenzavuna Eve by the end of the show. Sure she starts off awesome, and gets a hell of a nice role in the final battle, but in between we see her slowly and assuredly grow more and more aimless, weak and useless, until she’s pretty much a shrinking violet before the whims and emotions of Dr. Ver. How dissatisfied and disgusted I felt when I saw her take an back hand to the face from Dr. Ver, and just lay there crying on the ground while he talked about her becoming more obedient and letting him pump her for babies after the apocalypse. What a failure!
Ironically, Dr. Ver is the worst and best parts of this show. I swear, I don’t think I even considered voice actors capable of overacting aside from Jun Fukuyama until I heard Tomokazu Sugita as Dr. Ver. There’s just something great about the combination of that crazed arrogant voice coupled with the show’s willingness to have his character design go “off-model” as much as it does. If you’ve ever seen the work of brilliant animator John K. (Ren & Stimpy) or Egoraptor, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. At first Dr. Ver starts off as this timid looking scientist who just looks ripe for a murder by Noise, but it doesn’t take you long to realize past his double-cross of the girls that he’s not only evil, but truly insane as well. Even worse, he’s a coward and terrible loser as well. It’s almost like he’s allergic to Hibiki, as anytime she shows up, she’s his complete opposite and solution. Totally defying his scientific logic, or any of his schemes with pure force of will. It’s these moments when we truly see the “best” of Dr. Ver, as he screams and contorts his face in the weirdest ways, he scurries off crying, tripping over himself the entire way. As if the Symphogear franchise weren’t campy enough, he makes the perfect villain in these circumstances. It really boggles my mind as to why the girls of Fine would team with such an obvious sh*tbag.
Of all the magical girls in this show, I was glad to see Hibiki (terrible singing voice and all) still shine brightest in this production, even when the show seemed to constantly threaten to take her out of the picture, probably because she was already almost too overpowered for the story line. As a character, she doesn’t really change throughout the entire production, remaining a shining beacon of hope and unity. But most importantly, being probably the most “Shounen Jump” of any magical girl I have ever seen! There’s a scene that I think is almost legendary in my mind now, where she’s been told to no longer use her powers because they threaten to cripple her entire body and kill her, but she’s (of course) thrown right back into battle, and while attacking Dr. Ver’s gang of Noise actually punches a Noise to bits right BEFORE changing into her Gear! It was completely bad ass, and a hell of a note to end that episode on, it also perfectly encapsulates Hibiki’s fighting style. It’s a straight forward spear, destroying anything it penetrates and attempting to keep anyone it’s protecting far from harm. So while Chris is my favorite magical girl in this show for looks, and Tsubasa is the most impressive fighter by a mile, Hibiki is this show’s bread and butter. It’s not the same without her, it’s not as fun without her, the show probably doesn’t exist without her, let alone get a second season. She sets the tone, pace and overall standard for this entire show.
Speaking of the main Gear girls, I’m glad to see that they got their own time to shine and even bond. I really expected that kind of stuff to take place off camera and between seasons, but they actually took the time to show that these girls still weren’t the best of friends, and that Chris still had a few skeletons to clean out of her closet. She had still been feeling the guilt of bringing Solomon’s Cane into the world, and she still had trouble adjusting to normal school life after being a sexually, mentally and physically abused war orphan.
As for the overall progress of the show, it was a mixed bag of intensity and nonsense. And I think it shows how hard it is to strike a balance between the insanity and standard set by the first season, and the need for the show and characters to progress. If Symphogear G succeeded at anything, it’s having a cliffhanger ending for EVERY episode, and having a good plot twist in EVERY episode. I don’t doubt for a moment that the show set out to make its audience demand to see the next episode as soon as possible. That coupled with the overall intensity and insanity of each episode was almost too much to take. Hell, the show began by showing three straight episodes of battles between the old Gear girls and the new ones, each episode filled with one more Earth shattering revelation than the other. The problem with this is that sometimes, it seemed that some character progression was forced into later episodes. Maria Cadenzavuna Eve’s progression in particular seemed to stagnate for awhile, especially once it’s revealed that she’s not actually the container for the Fine’s resurrection. And by the time she gets started back up, she’s brought back down again as Dr. Ver has already checkmated everyone to get Frontier under his control. By then, it’s far too late for her to find the balls to stand up to him. The same goes for the whole “who is the vessel for Fine” drama that pretty much fell flat by the end. It made for a few good twists throughout the season, and one hell of a bluff. But in the end, the infamous woman merely decides that the chaos going on now isn’t to her taste, and that the girls fighting now should handle things on their own. That’s kinda inconsistent with how the crazy b*tch was behaving last season. And in the end that bit of drama lands with a thud, just like Maria Cadenzavuna Eve’s battle with purity and not sullying her hands with the blood of men. Which by the way, was a complete crock, because just the fact that Dr. Ver was with them murdering soldiers, innocent kids and anyone else he felt like showed that she wasn’t innocent because they were allowing this to happen right in front of them. I’m not saying that this season wasn’t a whole lot of fun though, it definitely was entertaining and exciting to watch for majority of the time, it’s just that little plot points like the ones I pointed out kept the show from being just a bit better of a show overall.
If I were to have any hopes and desires for a third season of this crazy and unique anime, it might be to see a new generation of Gear users take over, even if it means having Kirika and Shirabe taking over. At this point, Hibiki, Tsubasa, and Chris are so powerful that I can’t see much of anything challenging them. I’m not saying I want this franchise to go the route of Precure, but I do think a shake up is in need. This season, the writers for this show really threw everything on the table, and there doesn’t seem to be much left.
In the end, Symphogear G is a campy, ridiculous, exciting anime that succeeds at what it sets out to do, though it doesn’t do much else. And that’s fine. Not every piece of media needs to say something profound, and this show does have a good message that it hammers home without being preachy. Symphogear G merely wants people to understand each other, and have faith in one another’s abilities. And it sticks with that, and illustrates it in a good, though not as great final scene as the one from the first season. Symphogear G, nor its predecessor are “beginner anime”. They’re not a smooth transition into the insane and creative world of anime as a whole, nor mahou shoujo in general. That said, it’s a wonderful subversion of the mahou shoujo genre, and an exhilarating anime in general. And I don’t think I’ve seen a more successful merger of the shounen battle manga style of action and setup with the mahou shoujo genre. I recommend this franchise highly to anyone with an open mind and the slightest interest and experience with anime.
- Symphogear G ep12: you can’t fly with just one wing
- Symphogear G ep11: fighting your friends for your beliefs; fighting your beliefs for your friends
- Symphogear G ep10: what is happening?!
- Symphogear G ep9: the royal rumble of magical girl shows
- Symphogear G ep7 & 8: Trouble’s her middle name!
- Symphogear G ep6: magical girls don’t retire, they explode like a thousand suns!
- Symphogear G ep5: Not for Kids!
- Symphogear G ep4: the power belongs to those watching and waiting
- Symphogear G ep3: bright, but not smart
- Symphogear G ep2: the climax isn’t the end
- Check-in Station: Symphogear G ep1 (we got a diva here!)