Show of the season.
Oh, Symphogear, you’re back, and you haven’t betrayed me! All my expectations have been met… wonderful attack names, terrible J-pop, allusions to the moon almost having been destroyed… oh, thank goodness, there are still good things in this world!
Three months after the end of the first season of Symphogear, the Noise is still attacking, and they, once again, seem to be “mysteriously” directed by outsiders. Hibiki and Chris are helping protect the transfer of Solomon’s Cane, a mega-weapon that was also a point of contention last season, while Tsubasa is prepping for a concert with American pop singer Maria Cadenzavuna Eve. People lurk around in shadows, and all is not as it seems. Hibiki and Chris more or less spend the entire episode either fighting or under attack, and Tsubasa gets a pretty decent concert scene with Maria (and this coming from someone who typically fastforwards through such things), before Maria goes all dark magical girl on us and declares a takeover of the world. More symphogears, yes!
Although I have typically loved Symphogear for the massive amounts of cheese and the frequent moments of utter derangement, this was honestly a solid first episode generally – certainly not grand theater by any means, but it set up the conflict right away, didn’t wallow in re-introductions, and closed out on a cliffhanger. Maria, for her part, while not having much characterization so far, is a strident character who demands attention. The hints to a tragic background are pretty standard boilerplate for dark magical girls, but it works perfectly fine – in fact, the opening scene, a flashback sans dialogue set to a slower, mellower song than Symphogear typically delivers, is extremely well-directed. I also fele safe saying that the music in that scene is actually good.
The budget appears to have been upped slightly on this go-round; Symphogear’s first season was a pretty good-looking show, but its even smoother here. I’ve heard several people complain about Hibiki’s fight song, but its an upgrade from last season, although Aoi Yuuki’s strength is certainly not in the arena of song. Thankfully, the other voice actresses on singing duty are much easier on the ear, with Nana Mizuki clearly the lead in this category, which makes sense given her past enka singing (I wouldn’t snub another nod to that like there was in last season with the karaoke scene).
I don’t think past experience with Symphogear is necessary to watch this season; I myself had forgotten some of the previous details, but had no trouble following the episode. Symphogear is also one of those shows where a bit of jargon is going to be thrown around, but said jargon actually means very little in the grand scheme of things. However, if you give it a try and like it, you should absolutely go back and watch the first season, too. Definitely a show for the fan of all things cheese-tastic and campy.