New season of Symphogear? Your move, Richard Dawkins!
The first episode of Symphogear GX: Believe in Justice and Hold a Determination to Fist. opens with a scene featuring one of the characters punching out a cross-section of a mountain so that the out-of-control space shuttle they’re trying to slow down and stop doesn’t smash into it. A couple minutes later, another character comments that the mountain is now the third-highest in the world. All of this is to say that the latest season of Symphogear is off to a fantastic start, although if you weren’t enchanted by previous outings, this won’t change your mind at all.
Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately), given all that, I really don’t have a huge amount to say about Symphogear. You either already love it or you don’t; sure, we know that a new villain is in the offing, and that we’re going to get to watch Maria et al. fully work with Hibiki et al., but it’s still the same old Symphogear of cheesy idol music, goofy plotpoints, and incomprehensible, English language jargon (it really is a pity that the show peaked its Engrish in season one). The animation here is surprisingly good, and leagues ahead of where it was in the first season, which is nice (although don’t expect KyoAni-tier skill). And we do also get something reminiscent of the space vampires in Macross 7 (also one of Satelight’s productions, although Symphogear is one of the uncommon properties from the studio that doesn’t have any Shoji Kawamori*), in a continuation of the fitful references to that series that have been scattered across this one so far.
If you are reading this and are a complete innocent as regards this series, go back and start with season one. One of the things the show does a really good job with is in developing Hibiki, who starts off as equally energetic and bumbling and must carve a steep path to be equal to the tasks she faces. Tsubasa, too, is handled pretty well. Both are certainly types, and cover similar terrain to others before them, but their characterization and development is handled very well. Tsubasa becomes less bitter, brittle, and hostile while retaining an essentially serious character, while Hibiki goes from being energetically obnoxious to energetically determined and competent. They’re both honestly hard to like at the outset, so it’s impressive that they don’t change so wildly that they become different people while also changing such that they become likable as characters. Anyway, if you start here, you’ll miss this piece, and it’s certainly the thing the show does best, although I will admit that I don’t think prior knowledge is a necessity for trying this season. If you’re scratching your head about esoteric terminology while watching, don’t worry, it’s not you! None of us have any idea what they’re talking about. That’s just the Symphogear way.
* So, useless information, but Satelight’s other, albeit no longer, go-to guy Kazuki Akane, whose name adorns several of the production credits for the studio’s less enjoyable efforts and who has worked with Kawamori several times, is the guy keeping you endlessly on hold for Akito the Exiled, as Satelight got sick of his shit and he went back to Sunrise. Why does this matter? It doesn’t, I just felt like letting you know that the guy responsible for the putrid Geneshaft is in charge of the OAV that Code Geass fans have been alternately pissing themselves with joy over and fuming about for the past eighty years.