SHOW OF THE SEASON but you already knew I’d say that.
Symphogear GX was easily my favorite show of the now-ended summer season. However, I’ve had some trouble writing a review of it because my adoration of it is of the sort that is easier to express in non-verbal noises rather than through the written word. Truly, I think the written word is inadequate to express sentiments about Symphogear GX; on paper, sure, it sounds intriguingly deranged, but that doesn’t quite answer the question of, “Why do you love this show?”. Additionally, was still having its fair share of the absurd and goofy, GX lacks some of the more obviously over-the-top things previous seasons have done (no one is trying to destroy the moon to get back at god for spurning them thousands of years ago). In fact, by Symphogear standards, the villain’s goal is pretty pedestrian – oh, you want to destroy the world because your dad was burned as a witch a few centuries ago and you’ve slowly destroyed all your memories such that you don’t remember what he actually wanted you to do? Yawn! (Putting it like that, though, I realize that in more sedate shows that’d still count as pedestrian, although aspects of how it is executed are more unique to GX.)
But the spirit of Symphogear is strong in this season, strong like the tang of sharp cheese, which makes sense considering that that spirit involves a lot of cheese. J-pop numbers still accompany the fights, and after three seasons, our not-Nana Mizuki vocalists have gotten the swing of things (although Nana Mizuki and Yoko Hikasa still far outshine any of their stablemates). GX also edges up the gay factor, although, admittedly, it’s still dealing in heavily implied as opposed to verbally confirmed territory. Hibiki and Miku are pretty clearly a couple, though, and they’re honestly a much more satisfying one than we even get in allegedly “yuri” shows most of the time, likely since their relationship is fully developed. This isn’t a franchise typically known for its subtlety, but in this relationship, and many of the others between the cast, GX continues to build on what has been fleshed out over the course of the seasons in a way that feels organic. There are a few exceptions (primarily to do with the daughter-father relationships involving Hibiki and Tsubasa), but Symphogear manages to not bring the sledgehammer approach to this aspect of the show. Expanding a bit, one of the reasons this works so well is that so many of the characters at this point have been around each other long enough that it makes sense when they understand each other even without anything being directly stated. We watch Miku quietly become frustrated with Hibiki’s insistence on trying to pretend that everything is fine, and in turn watch Hibiki slowly come to understand Miku’s initial protestation against her own behavior. A lot goes unsaid between characters because it doesn’t have to be explicitly spelled out.
Having lauded the character interactions, though, I do have a bone to pick with the Daddy Problems subplots in this season. Tsubasa’s isn’t handled particularly well, although the personalities involved do somewhat explain how things play out. Hibiki’s issues with her father, though, are basically handwaved away in a manner that’s really irritating considering how clearly the show demonstrates his lack of redeeming qualities in the first half of the show. Hibiki’s dad sucks, and nothing he ultimately ends up doing really refurbishes his character to the extent that GX seems to think it has. SPOILERS I in particular loathed the final scene where Hibiki reunifies her parents – it’s obvious that this is supposed to be a positive moment, but Hibiki’s mother seems pretty reluctant about it all, and Hibiki forcing the issue, while not surprising as a move for a teenager to make, makes the taste left in my mouth all the sourer. END SPOILERS I realize that this is Symphogear, not, say, Dear Brother, but this was a big drag on the season.
Other than that, though, I enjoyed this season a lot. As a longtime fan of this franchise, it delivered ably on what I was hoping for/expecting. That it had a slight bump in animation quality was a nice bonus, although I’m so invested at this point that it could’ve looked like a Sunrise TV production circa 1995 and I’d still have happily gobbled it up. (Granted, given the visual quality of much of the stuff I cut my teeth on, it takes a LOT for me to be driven away from a show solely because of low animation quality.)
If you’re one of the folks out there who still hasn’t caught any Symphogear, while I wouldn’t recommend starting with GX, you could get away with it. The jargon is largely incomprehensible to longtime fans, too, so don’t start to panic if it confuses you. To appreciate the character growth, though, you should definitely start with the original, although please understand that of all the seasons it is the weakest. And, if you are one of the folks out there who still hasn’t caught any Symphogear, welllll, you know, no time like the present, right?