Monday, 21 October 2013

Anime REVIEW: Senki Zesshō Symphogear G

Senki Zesshō Symphogear G

Like I mentioned in my first impressions post a few months back, I was pretty surprised to hear that Symphogear was getting a second season. But despite its flaws, the series had definite potential and I was excited to see where a further 13 episodes could take it. Once again appearing as a joint production between animation studios Satelight and Encourage FilmsSenki Zesshō Symphogear G takes to the stage once again for more music, monsters and explosive battle action.

Symphogear G Hibiki Tachibana
Hibiki knows how to pull off the badass scarf look

The series continues with Hibiki, Tsubasa and Chris' battles against the Noise as part of the 2nd Division Mobile Response Disaster Corps. When a terrorist organisation naming themselves after the ancient Priestess Finé emerge, proclaiming to be saving the world from the incoming collision of the moon into the Earth (a result of the first season's final battle), the team find themselves with a new fight on their hands. Not only are there three new Symphogear users amongst them, but one of them is rising singer Maria Cadenzavna Eve - a user with a black Gungnir and calling herself the reincarnation of Finé herself!

As they struggle to battle them and their control over the Noise thanks to the evil Dr Ver, Hibiki's condition begins to change. Not only is she growing more powerful, but the Gungnir relic fragments embedded in her chest might just also be killing her...

Symphogear G Finé Maria Kirika Shirabe
Bad girls.

With a whole season of set up behind them, Synphogear G doesn't have to spend quite so long on establishing the mythos and can get right to the action. This is important to note as the show throws around a lot of names and descriptions for various relics, so if you aren't familiar with first season you may struggle to keep up. The main introductions are for our three new Symphogear wielders Maria, Kirika and Shirabe - girls brought up to be potential vessels for the reincarnation of Finé. With three team members on each side, it's nice to see how the relationship between the two sets of girls are paralleled. Though they may be "villains", there's a lot more to our new characters than that and they show just a strong a bond as our heroes, if not stronger. They are also joined by Nastassja and Dr Ver, whose backstories are a little thinner. Nastassja is simply a mother-like figure while Dr Ver is an utterly crazy bad guy (you should see the faces he makes) - that's all you need to know really.

Symphogear G Dr Ver
He's a maniac, maniaaac!

However as interesting as these new characters might be, our old favourites are also experiencing changes of their own. While Hibiki may be the same happy-go-lucky girl she always was on the surface, underneath both her mind and body are harbouring some pretty dark secrets. Meanwhile Tsubasa is becoming much more of an mentor and team player, while Chris struggles to accept that she now has a stable life and a proper place to call home. Chris especially is one to watch in Symphogear G, getting all the best moments and arguably the most satisfying character development to boot.

Symphogear G Miku
DUN DUN DUUUUUN!

Symphogear G continues it's predecessor's tale of good vs. evil, but more the most part the moral ambiguity between the two sides is played up (at least for a while anyway). The episodes also feature a lot more twists and turns, with plenty ending on either cliffhangers or jaw-dropping moments. The Symphogear battle suits have received some minor design tweaks, as well as some flashy new transformation sequences. Your opinion on this may vary, but the fan service element has also received a boost too.The first season had its fair share of butts and boobs, but here it's a lot more noticeable when Chris' giant bust is taking up half the frame. That being said, the fan service doesn't get in the way of the story telling so surely that makes it the good kind right?

Symphogear G Hibiki Maria Tsubasa Chris Kirika Shirabe
Obligatory final battle costume change

It's just a shame that for a series where music plays such a key part, that the soundtrack is rather forgettable. Don't get me wrong the thumping beats of the first Symphogear season are still very much alive and very fitting to the scenes they accompany, but none of the songs hold any lasting impression that will stay with you after completing the series. Symphogear G does have some nice little moments where the music isn't complimenting a fight (such as Chris' school performance), but if you're anything like me you'll only be remembering lyrics because you read the subtitles.

Despite still having a few flaws here and there, Symphogear G is still a massive improvement over its predecessor. The wider cast allows for a more diverse viewing experience, the plot has really been amped up and the animation is just as gorgeous as ever. While before I was indifferent to Symphogear getting a second season, now I'd quite like a third just to fix my issues with the music and make this a really perfect show.

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