Symphogear XV – Episode 1

5 days ago 2

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Are you all ready for some goddamn SYMPHOGEAR!? I took a little break after season four to catch my breath, but my tanks are more or less refilled at this point, and I’m ready to Blast Off Into The Starry Tomorrow of Forever’s Yesterday, or whatever other preposterous seasonal subtitle comes next.

Given that Symphogear’s fourth and fifth seasons were greenlit at the same time, it’s no surprise that season four ended us on a serious cliffhanger. As Adam was atomized by Hibiki’s fists, he warned that the “custodians will soon be descending,” implying some higher power that he, Fine, and others have actually been battling against. But the worldbuilding justification of More Punching was probably the least important thing about that finale – more relevant to the show’s own goals is that it’s already established an antagonist before the season starts, thus leaving more time in-season for roaring and punching. Let’s see how this delightful show tops itself next, as we soar into the final season of Symphogear!

Episode 1

“From the Horizon of Mankind’s History.” Admittedly, that title makes slightly more sense than my example one

We open on what appears to be an ancient, magically-powered temple, with a blood trail down one wall implying someone traveled this way while seriously wounded

With their last breath, this wounded person activates some link between the earth and the moon, before apologizing to Fine and collapsing. Will these assholes leave the moon alone for five fucking minutes

Still, I respect Symphogear’s restraint in opening with an ambiguous teaser, rather than seventy explosions

We return to our main crew somewhere in the arctic, where conditions are worse than expected. “Magnetic flux density around the Pole of Inaccessibility is transitioning fractally!” I dunno, maybe turn it off then turn it on again

 Ah, they’ve found some magic coffin of some kind

Elfnein helpfully condenses this situation to the straightforward “the numbers won’t stop going up!”

Ah, apparently they’re in the antarctic, right around the South Pole

The “coffin” appears to be a kaiju-size Noise

Alright, first transformation sequence of the season! Starting with Hibiki, of course. Let’s see what they’ve got!

IT’S SO GOOD! Like all of Hibiki’s later ones, it’s driven by a strong emphasis on her martial arts skills, with her character movements possessing a remarkable sense of weight and impact. But beyond that, it uses her fundamental movements to guide the exaggerated transformations of her suit, as if her own energy is coiling and releasing as her metal bracers expand and contract. The convincing impact of her choreography, the gorgeous color work and effects animation, the fluidity of the mechanical animation – Symphogear is truly a champion of transformation sequences

I also appreciate that they’re incorporating her scarf more and more. It’s a very cool scarf!

Also, having the actresses sing as if they’re fighting at the same time was one of this show’s greatest innovations. I love how Hibiki basically roars the end of this first line, in time with her fist striking the monster

The team seems to be maintaining the improved synergy of season four, thankfully

The coffin fires out a bunch of drones, which mainly just serve as mini-enemies for our heroes to crash through. Good action dramas understand the value of disposable, “mob” characters – having our heroes easily obliterate the actual villains would be unsatisfying, but we still want to see our heroes striving and kicking ass, and so stories will frequently just toss a bunch of intentionally disposable threats their way. Symphogear delights in cluttering the battlefield with disposable threats, then letting its leads concoct fun combo attacks to effortlessly demolish them

The babies have developed some preposterous new pairs ice skating techniques

Tsubasa can just raise her sword and call down a hundred other ones now, which seems new

Our heroes are frozen when the bad guy “interferes with the laws of the universe via outer physics.” Sure! It’s all the same to me – that clearly scans as “the heroes need another suit upgrade”

Miku and Hibiki are performing a piano-vocal duet of love. Incredible

Sadly, Hibiki still can’t sing very well. The high notes here are basically all sung through her nose

Oh my god, her goofy peace-peace routine with Miku. Miku, your girlfriend is an enormous dork

The US and Japan have developed a program to reach the moon. The United States’ president is still Not-Trump, like in the previous season; jeez, we’re gonna end up with some weird cultural artifacts from this era, huh?

The incidental character animation is so damn generous in this episode. Symphogear has been receiving production upgrades all throughout its run (save for the loss of S1’s uniquely excellent background design), and at this point, its character acting rivals most character dramas out there

And now, of course, the two share a romantic ferris wheel ride. It looks like we’re making up for S4’s lack of Miku at lightning speed

“Lately, my life’s been so normal it’s felt special. It’s made me realize how important normal is.” Symphogear really does portray these two as a married couple, to the extent that their conversations often feel decades more mature than the drama in the rest of the show. Coming to appreciate the reliable comfort of normalcy is not something teenagers are known for being good at

Miku asks a profoundly leading question: “what would you do if I was causing trouble for someone?” Looks like we may be in for a reprise of Evil Miku

A S.O.N.G. lab carrying the remains of Tiki explodes

Elfnein informs us that global warming has unleashed an ancient, forgotten evil, as it so often tends to

Media frequently reflects the cultural anxieties of its era, and Symphogear has touched on plenty of those – global warming, Japan’s efforts towards remilitarization, international terrorism, and the ominous specter of an increasingly belligerent United States all crop up in its drama, alongside the requisite wizards and alchemists and mad scientists

Apparently, some precursor civilization found a cool scorpion in the Middle East, and brought it to Antarctica. The puzzle pieces are beginning to come together

“In order to rule the planet, he would destroy the coffin that surfaces beyond the horizon of time.” OF COURSE. Can’t believe no one thought of that before

Leaping back to Antarctica, we meet a couple of this season’s presumed antagonists, who are watching our heroes get their shit kicked in

“Did the director really try to stop that thing?” Presumably more alchemists, then

Their leader has a sick car

Genichiro assures his subordinates that “don’t worry, I wore extra-warm underpants” as he attempts to storm out and save the wielders. Truly a gem of a character

More minions appear for the final battle, for a reason we’ve already established: it’s time for the wielders to look cool as hell

GodDAMN this show’s highlights are glorious. No more still pans over singing anymore; we’re treated to a full song’s worth of glorious, fluid battle animation, as each member of the crew takes a verse in turn

Oh nice, they actually integrated Elfnein developing countermeasures into the battle proper. She provides a key role on the team, and now that season four has solidified her confidence, she’s now able to be an active participant in the battle, managing their suits from the bridge

Hah, the call-and-response of this song is perfect for a final combo attack

The scale of these attacks is tremendous. Hibiki’s charge at this rolling monster feels almost like a Yutaka Nakamura cut in its sense of space and impact

Oh my god. Hibiki continues to fight in spite of being underwater, because “there’s a song in my heart.” I’m not sure they meant that literally, Hibiki

And Done

Oh, Symphogear. Count on this marvelous show to open with a battle that undoubtedly outshine the final battle of most shows, purely as a way to reintroduce our main cast. Symphogear is driven by enthusiasm and excess, and this episode had both in abundance, shining not just through its spectacular fight scenes, but also through its gleefully labored scifi jargon, and the emphatically married lovey-doviness of Hibiki and Miku. Hibiki’s new transformation sequence is dazzling, and the show already seems eager to demonstrate the entire team at their united best, with all personal doubts behind them. That was a fine opening salvo, Symphogear. Let’s see what comes next!

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.

Read Entire Article