Senki Zesshou Symphogear 01 – First Impressions
January 7, 2012 1 Comment
Well Senki Zesshou Symphogear certainly started with a bang, not one, but two major character deaths within the first 10 minutes. Something a little unusual for a show that you could be forgiven for mistaking as a simple cute magical girls sing to kill stuff show. This is another series based around music defeating an unknown menace, much like Rahxephon and of course the ever-present Macross franchise.
This series starts off with Kohinata Miku crying over the grave of Tachibana Hibiki’s grave on a cold and rainy day, surrounded by the devastation of what was a once thriving city. We then jump back two years when Kazanari Tsubasa and Amou Kanade, the members of Zwei Wing, an immensely popular idol duo are battling this shows enemy, the ‘Noise’, that turn every human it touches into carbon. Kanade then sacrifices herself to save Hibiki by singing a song that consumes her life force and turns it into pure power. We then have the story shift yet again to the present day where Hibiki is attending Lydian Music Academy with Miku and runs into Tsubasa again. Tsubasa seems hell bent on destroying every Noise in existence, going on what looks like massive revenge fuelled murder (for lack of a better word) sprees. Hibiki then gets attacked by the noise yet again, only this time she ends up singing exactly the same song that Kanade used and appears to awaken her own out-of-control Symphogear suit called ‘Gungnir’.
This all quite surprisingly happens within the first episode, which is an awful lot to fit into 25 minutes and still make it watchable; Horizon tried it and largely failed. The premise of the show seems simple enough, essentially being about ‘Magical Girls’ fighting an enemy with mechas – reminiscent in many ways to those used in Infinite Stratos – and apparently powered by singing. The series certainly starts off on quite a cold footing, with both Hibiki and Kanade dead, which is a little disappointing. Kanade seemed to be an interesting character, and happens to be on the promotional posters and previews; so killing her off within the first 10 minutes is both disappointing and feels a little rushed. Now having the knowledge that Hibiki is also presumably going to die isn’t completely off-putting – there are series like this that work well – but does make the possibility of a dramatic conclusion a bit tricky, unless of course we get a massive battle.
Visually and aurally, Symphogear is a nice series, the animation is well done with nice comic-book touches in the form of ability names – something which is a nice addition and means we don’t need to sit through the characters yelling their amazing move names over and over again. The music is nice, and while I am not the biggest fan of J-Pop, I have to admit that Mizuki Nana produces some great music, and is also very good playing Tsubasa. I’m curious to see how the story proceeds from here actually; there has been no explanation as to what these Symphogear actually are, what the noise are and why they are attacking humanity. I am also curious to see what happens when one the shows main (?) stars appears to have been killed off right at the beginning, along with the looming – perhaps inevitable – death of Hibiki as well.
There were some interesting little bits added to the show, we have Kanade’s – and later Hibiki’s – Symphogear suit named Gungnir (the spear of Odin in Norse mythology, Gungnir means ‘swaying one’, and according to legend cannot be stopped, the ultimate weapon) and the transformation sequence looks particularly painful and very strange. We also have the odd stone block inside what appears to be the operation room of the organization that are combating the noise as well. Lots of questions and little in the way of answers. I’m not entirely sold on this series, it has a few issues from what I can see, however I will continue to watch it since I am very curious to see how it proceeds from what is a very dramatic start – a guilty pleasure perhaps.