Vitalization by Nana Mizuki
Please let me hear…
Because I’m here
Don’t hide the feelings you were born with
There’s no need for a reason for colors to be drawn to each other
Passionate feelings pierce the sky—true song
When did it start? For me to breathe
Why is it? I seek you
The overflowing noise is always
Distancing the reality and sneering
The light sneaking past as wished is too bright…
Instead of choosing solitude to protect the peace
Because I want to feel the warmth of hands
That I would never have known alone
The melody of life I give to you alone
A prologue to eternity that paints a beautiful rainbow
This heart’s vow cannot be stolen by anyone
Let’s fly, combining our voices
Because the sky is waiting
After yet another long break, it’s time for Under Your Radar! This time, let’s discuss the 2013 anime Symphogear G (Japanese title: Senki Zesshō Symphogear G, commonly translated as “Swan Song of the Valkyries: Symphogear G”), the sequel to Symphogear, a series I’d covered much earlier in Under Your Radar. That’s a really old post, and not really up to snuff at this point.
The basic premise is simple: The characters sing, which powers their armor and allows them to fight. It’s an unusual take on the magical girl formula, since the characters use tech to fight instead of magic. This time around, the main enemies aren’t the generic, deadly mooks that are the noise, but rather… fellow Symphogear users from America who escaped and decided to become a terrorist organization. That’s one way to up the ante, I suppose.
I rather like the continuity here, as well. The moon is still broken, for example. The enemies also taunt Tsubasa using the song she used to sing with her fellow idol, who died back in episode 1 of season 1. And the same armor used by said idol and Hibiki. Of course, the latter plays into the finale. Also important is that the main villain from season 1 ends up being partially-reborn, leading to one character having a bit of an identity crisis. Thankfully, this is tied in far better than last time.
I also appreciated that Chris, who defected from the villain’s side in season 1, had a hard time getting used to the team. Season 1 had no time at all to dwell on this, nor the events between the first and second halves of episode 1 of season 1, which are expanded upon slightly. Apparently everyone unreasonably hated Hibiki for being the only surviving audience member at that fateful concert.
Given the standard 13-episode count, the series can’t really stray from this. The entire run is your usual magical girl warrior type of series, with the two groups fighting each other. Except, there’s a few major difference that paints this whole season separately from the first one. Where Hibiki was learning the ropes in season 1, she’s effectively incapacitated for most of it this time. She isn’t even supposed to be fighting, given how dangerous her fusion with her ancient relic has become.
Also, while I was hyped for the two groups of Symphogear users to fight each other, this is promptly hijacked by a crazy scientist. We get a lot of fights, sure, but what a rip-off. Also, with so many major characters, screentime was at a premium. Hibiki and Miku got so little screentime together, so the plot requires season 1 for you to understand how close the two are.
The musical end of things came out better here. The quality is just as high before, and they don’t tease us with just the chorus of some songs like in season 1, since they have a lot of songs to cover between all the Symphogear users here. I count 8 users in total here, and the character soundtrack discs always have two songs, plus they tend to play most of them. Additionally, there are other insert songs by other characters, like a made-up generic anime opening that the characters’ friends sang. They even ran a song in Cantonese from an old Jackie Chan film, which is amusingly fitting given who sings it.
I also appreciate how the end of this actually feels like a grand finale while leaving doors open. The first season ended pretty suddenly, all things considered, but the pacing is far better here. The threat of the noise is so thoroughly concluded, and in such a natural manner that the new season running soon, Symphogear GX, had to outright replace them with something else. The animation quality is also notably higher.
There’s just one thing I wish had happened that did not. Since the characters need to sing to power their armor, I wanted to hear them desperately trying to sing over each other for an advantage in their fights, but this didn’t happen. Two very similar songs were merged into a duet when the characters fought, but otherwise they just played one song at a time.
Even though it’s almost 2 years since it aired, that they went and made a lesbian yandere love confession in dubstep for this series still amuses me oh so very much. And it’s definitely on purpose – bonus short episodes that came with the blu-rays have the characters explain where the song and music come from, so the character who sang that song realises what she sang and becomes quite embarrassed. These shorts also fill some explanatory blanks present across the series, like what happened between the final two scenes of the final episode of season 1.
Symphogear G has not been licensed.
I’d have preferred if Hibiki wasn’t out of commission for most of it or if the villains weren’t hijacked so thoroughly, but I had fun. This isn’t exactly a deep series, so some issues with the plot won’t hamper the enjoyment. It had good music and combat, which is what I wanted from it.
I hope that the new season has a higher episode count to account for all the characters, however.