First Impression – Senki Zesshou Symphogear

Magical girls, dance sequences, music, action … I’m so in.

So, I initially said I wasn’t interested in this, but ya know what? People sometimes change their minds, and this is what I’ve done with Symphogear. And because of that, it gives me my first opportunity to team up with Hawthorne on a post!
Of all the shows airing this Winter, Symphogear is the one I’ve been looking forward to most. Magical girls, futuristic action, and hopefully plenty of glorious J-pop, what more could I possibly ask for?

Hey everyone, Hawthorne speaking, one of the three new freshies here at Metanorn. In case you missed the New Years post from last week I wanted to just take a second to introduce myself. I’m a soon to be college student from the US with a love for the diversity anime and manga offer. I have fanboyish tendencies, but I’ll try my best to stay levelheaded, though I doubt it’ll last very long. I’m really excited to be a part of the team, and hopefully this post will give you a little more insight into my personality and the the way I blog. I’m into lots of genres, but music-themed anime have a special place in my heart (wow, that came out pretty lame), but anyway, I’m really glad I get the opportunity to blog SZS for the next few months and I hope you’ll join me for the ride. ^^

One is the new three. Times are changing.

The premiere starts pretty solemnly with a girl arriving to a destroyed town carrying a bouquet of flowers in her hands. She visits a graveyard where she grieves over her lost friend, Hibiki, who died singing on the battlefield. (Spoony bard, anyone?) We’re then thrown two years back to a “Zwei Wing” concert where the living Hibiki learns her friend Miku, the crying one from before, won’t be coming. (“EHHH!?”) To make matter worse, she barely even knows who Zwei Wing are!

“We got this!”

Inside the concert hall we meet the members of Zwei Wing, Tsubasa, the discouraged girl with the blue hair, and Kanade, the fiery red head. Genjuro, the “commander” with the creepy red tux, is also present, reminding them how important the day is. No really, it’s important, future-of-mankind important. We also get a glimpse of a strange glowing rock inside a laboratory apparently run by Kyoko, who looks like she just go back from a fashion show.

Budget breaker.

After some words of encouragement from Kanade, the duo head out to put on the performance. Hibiki is in love with the show from start to finish, but things go bad when creatures known as “Noise” awaken from the glowing rock. The creatures, who look like neon bugs, wreak havoc on the audience killing anyone without warning.

Hide your lolis!

Turns out Kanade and Tsubasa aren’t JUST performers, they’re also magical girls. (SHOCKER) A song initiates the transformation sequence as Tsubasa and Kanade easily destroy the Noise. Hibiki looks on in fear unaware of how much danger she’s in and after a sudden explosion (where the heck did that come from anyway?) she’s thrown into the fray. Kanade attempts to save the helpless Hibiki, but it’s just not enough. Hibiki is thrown back in blood by the Noise.

Budget breaker, part 2.

Kanade sings a final song that kills off the remaining Noise, and apparently herself in the process. Tsubasa tries to stop her, but fails to do so. We then see Hibiki in the hospital, alive and well. Back to the present now (pre-graveyard) Miku and Hibiki are attending Ridian, a school most likely for the performing arts. We learn that Hibiki is attending the school in hopes of meeting Tsubasa, who is also a student.

Elsewhere the army is fighting an enormous Noise, however, normal weapons have no effect. Tsubasa appears from orders of Genjuro and using her sword skills literally slices the Noise in half. She attends school the next day, to Hibiki’s surpise, but their first meeting doesn’t go exactly as planned. Rice has a weird habit of sticking to your cheeks, I guess.

After school Hibiki is happily running to buy the new solo CD released by Tsubasa, however, the piles of dust all over the street reveal that the Noise have once again arrived. Tsubasa learns of the situation, but is unaware of Hibiki’s, who is now running from the Noise with a little girl. She narrowly escapes and runs to some kind of factory where she takes refuge on the roof, you know, instead of maybe going indoors or something.

Who ya’ gonna call … Gh– Nevermind.

Hibiki’s escape was for naught though as the Noise suddenly appear before her. With a final act of faith she sings a song very similar to that of Kanade’s transformation song. An ominous beam of light shoots out from the mark left by the Noise’s attack back at the concert and the people back at the laboratory (Genjuro, Tsubasa, and Ryoko) identify it as a “Gungnir”. The song’s power takes over Hibiki’s body and we’re left with what looks seems like a completely different, and strangely evil, shadow.

Burned into my mind!

 End Thoughts:

Encourage Films is the lead studio in charge of production, but I felt that this anime is looking almost exactly like something out of Satelight (who’s on assistance). A lot of the settings, idols singing and using song as their form of fighting and fighting an alien species is incredibly Macross Frontier-ish. Quite honestly, I just came off a bad experience with the Macross F 2nd movie after having enjoyed the 1st film, so I kind of went into SZS a bit jaded. Good god, that second movie blew…

It’s unfair to judge the SZS concert scene vs. Macross (especially the movies), but with [email protected] and most recently Persona 4 doing dance sequences, animation studios are going to have to do some really crazy good work with choreography to wow me over; their value is almost at dime-a-dozen, but some hiccups in the concert animation did not help Symphogear out. Action sequences were great, and the one twist I like is that the girls actually fight instead of letting some idiot (like you know, Alto) fight out in space; love story be damned! However, their fluidity was halted at times by the move banners displaying on screen. I could give a damn what the move’s called, just let Tsubasa kill an entire alien army by herself. Pausing great animation for nothing is something I fear will be stuck with throughout the course of the series. Of the things the episode did best was where it better do great in, music. Good songs and music with Elements Garden involved, who you’ll also be hearing some of in the Mouretsu Pirates anime.

It’s an interesting story mechanic to show Tachibana’s eventual death and then go back in time to see one of the girls on the series’ main picture die. Not really knowing much of anything about the story beforehand, it’s a surprise to me to off one of the main poster girls, though once the battle broke out at the concert, flags were raising up all over the place of her eventual demise. I get that Tachibana is enjoying her first concert, but how do you not join everybody else in running the other way? Anime needs to work on creating more interesting situations in which to put the innocent soon-to-be-hero in peril. It looks as though Tachibana acquired Kanade’s Gungnir powers, but the dark image of her at the end was a really cool conclusion. It seems as though being a magical singing girl takes a lot of work to control.

Well, I went a little overboard and took over 300 screencaps; I think that says a lot about how in love I am with everything that happened this episode, or maybe I’m just a little crazy. I went into this expecting something much different than what I watched, for instance, I expected the show to be on the darker side and I knew magical girls were involved, but I had no idea that it would move into that gloomier aspect so quickly. I mean, if that much went on in the first episode, should I expect it to be that way from now on? Well, I sure hope it is.

I was a big fan of [email protected] when it was airing the last two seasons and the dance sequences gave me chills at how amazingly animated they were, but there was one thing that annoyed me that Symphogear avoided. I remember in the later episodes of [email protected] the performances were often cut off with clips of random people talking, or pan shots of a building. It really cut down on the time spent actually watching the idols perform; I’m guessing it was less stressful on the animators that way. However, Symphogear did an awesome job of showing me what I wanted to see, the choreography. The performance was about a minute and a half long, more or less, but the focus was almost always on the dancing and singing. I’m hoping the budget wasn’t “blown”, so to speak, because I’d love to see more performances, though I’m pretty sure the focus has been shifted away from that now. I’m not familiar with the people behind the music, but I loved, loved, loved it, especially the ED. I know it’s only the first episode, but I’m just as excited to get my hands on the OST as I was for the Triple H album last season.

Like jrow, I thought the pauses in the action for naming the moves were … weird, but at the same time I thought they were pretty cool. “BLUE FLASSHHH!” Okay, maybe it’s not as cool when I say it … but anyway, I appreciated how much time was actually spent showing the action sequences. I much prefer brief pauses with the moves name to minutes of dialogue about how it works and why they used it. (Oh god, I really hope they don’t do that.) Anyway, I think it’s safe to say I’m really hyped for the upcoming episodes. All of the plot elements surrounding Hibiki are really interesting, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the timeframe between her death and this new Gungnir power. Ugh, I really can’t wait, I’m so impatient.

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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31 Responses to “First Impression – Senki Zesshou Symphogear”

  1. skylion says:

    Good review, thanks for taking the time to share you’re thoughts.

    At some given point even the most causal fan is going to get hit with the Minmei meme. I don’t think the Macross comparison is entirely fair, even to a minor degree. The idea of defeating the evuls with the power of awesome has been in popular entertainment for quite some time. Charlie Daniel’s and The Devil Went Down to Georgia comes out of left field at you now.

    My first impression, which adds to the Minmeimeme, is that I see a lot of recycled parts on screen. I know, no such thing as an original story, just an original spin. With that in mind, they look like they got a good show on their hands, one that I will be anticipating. I look forward to the Inori vs. Tsubasa AMV’s.

    Hello, I’m your main character, and I’m already dead. LOL Trolling creators are trolling. At least, that was/is my gut instinct on Hibiki.

    • Hawthorne says:

      I felt trolled, I had to check back on MAL to make sure she was really a main character. -_- Now I’m just curious to find out if she’s actually dead, or if we’re going to find out in the end that we were double-trolled and she’s really alive.

  2. akagami says:

    Welcome to Metanorn Hawthorne!

    I didn’t really know what I would be getting when I tried it out, but it’s surprisingly decent. The concert animation… was weird, like they sort of used 3d models but didn’t.

    Premise is interesting enough, and I’m curious to see what happens to Hibiki. One thing that confused me was that she died at the beginning, then skipped back two years to when she saw the concert. Then they skipped back to the present when she’s in school now. Hold on, so the present is when she died? Or her death scene at the beginning was in the future? Or was I just watching some bad subs? Hmmmm….

    BTW, love the Yankee-kun Megane banner ^^

    • Gecko says:

      I think her death scene is probably in the last episode or something like that. She went to the concert, and then it skipped ahead to when she’s in school. Sometime after gaining this new power she’ll die.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Thank you, I’m happy to be here. ^^ I think Gecko is right about the whole dead/alive thing, it seems like from now on we’ll be watching what happened between the time frame of the Gungnir power and her eventual death.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    This is pretty good for a first episode. I might get a little more into mecha with this. Cyber style magical girls powered by music is a new one for me.

    Kanade, Tsubasa and Hibiki’s armor look great. But Hibiki’s armor looks more intense with those glowing yellow eyes and that extremely painful transformation. As if her body was being ripped apart and reassembled with machinery. Like a viral infection.

    They really are coming up with inventive ways to create a story. Who ever thought having a concert would be used as a means to secure peace for humanity? And the Noise monsters look like giant mutated ghost bugs that kill on contact. I’d hate to be surrounded by them. I’m definetly following this.

    • Hawthorne says:

      I love the character designs too, especially Kanade’s and her sword/spear, it’s too bad that we might not get to see her ever again though. -_-

  4. Karakuri says:

    Congrats on your first summary post Hawthorne!

    And oh hi there Madoka (aka depressing loli story) replacement (and oh look, Yuki Aoi is the main character again. I think I know where this is going).

    I think I’ll like this anime. The concert scene (or at least the music in it) was fabulous. I love Elements Garden’s music. …Was that May’n I heard in there? If not, then Kanade’s seiyuu has a really similar voice.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Thanks! 😀 I was really excited about my first post for some reason.

      I was thinking the same thing when I was watching, comparing it to Madoka, I think I’ve been doing that a lot lately. It might not have a very original premise, but at least we can both agree the music is awesome~

      • Jay says:

        I can see that there are people who comapre this to Madoka. IMHO, this should not be compared with Madoka, even if we saw a Madoka-like death or a Berserk Madoka on the ED sequence.

        …not yet. Most of us are impatient for the next episode, right?

        • Hawthorne says:

          I see your point, but if a large balloon monster appears in episode three I will have to reconsider. ;D And yes, very impatient!

  5. Samantha Zan says:

    The thing that kind of budge there was just how everything looked. Maybe it’s just how everything looked really shapeish to me. Like to me Tsubasa’s hair looked like someone went on Photoshop or even Macromedia flash and took the line tool and then just opened the lines a lot and connected everything to make it look like her hair.

    Besides that, all the other animation was just okay, I mean when all the audience members were dying, I really wanted to see a little bit more carnage, but then again this is a magical show (BUT MADOKA DID IT!! DX).

    So besides that, I thought the transformations were really cool, singing for powers? Neat idea. I also though that the concert and the battle scenes were amazing. Singing was great too, but then again *COUGH* NANA MIZUKI *COUGH*.

    I think ‘ll be watching this for another episodes or so. I think this is going to be a least decently enjoyable.

    • Samantha Zan says:

      Oh I also just LOVED Hibiki’s face at the end too.

    • Hawthorne says:

      At least we got some carnage! DX I was thinking they might wimp out and show a couple bloody hands or something. It’s good to hear you’ll be watching more though, maybe episode two will impress you a little more. (:

  6. Joojoobees says:

    On the positive side: I think the artwork was good. I enjoyed the use of color. The first transformation sequence was interesting.

    Unfortunately: I can’t see myself following this show, because the setting doesn’t convince me at all, the events were contrived, and the dialogue was a bit goofy.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Well, at least you found something good. (: I liked the artwork too, I have like a whole folder of scenery just from this one episode, I couldn’t find anywhere to use it though. -_-

  7. Toori-chan says:

    I can feel the wave of awesome J-Pop music coming for this season. I’m just gonna stick with this series just for the awesome musics. Love the ending song the most.

  8. Namika says:

    Hmmmmmm. I may check this out for the J-pop .3.

  9. Kitty says:

    Congrats on your first post Hawthrone!! *hands you cookie*
    I’m still unsure what I just watched. Singing bishojuo + blood + aliens…. is there some new genre out that I missed the anime meeting minutes on?

    The pauses in battle reminded me of a Marvel comic with POW or BAM!! (totally geek) the backgrounds were stunning and the characters drew me in. Kanada ;_; I liked her. I’m still undecided, but its only 13 eps, so I’m most likely continue with it.

    • Hawthorne says:

      I was thinking the same thing when I saw them! (also a geek >_<) Kanade's transformation scene kind of felt like something out of a Marvel comic too.

  10. anaaga says:

    Yay Hawthorne!

    I’ve never watched [email protected] before, so I can’t really compare them whatsoever. I wasn’t into the dance too because I was too busy focusing on the stage design and the use of colors. It was definitely beautiful
    I thought it was going to be…crap. Really, the synopsis sounds so shitty I actually facepalmed at it. It was surprisingly dark though. You actually see people dying here unlike some anime where they apply the whole “WE GOT INVADED BUT NOBODY DIED” crap. I was actually impressed at how they can make the plot decent just by adding the darker element

    And I need the OST. Now.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Agh, I hate when they do that, but they weren’t afraid to show a little blood it seems, which made it so much more intense. And ugh, I need it too, I’m stuck with replaying the scenes for now. Dx

  11. Overcooled says:

    Hawthorne’s first real post! =D

    I agree that the move name taking up most of the screen like a comic book sound effect is a bit weird…but I do like what they did to combine singing and fighting. This should mean we’ll get a lot of cool songs (and hopefully not the same ones over and over and over…). I wonder how they can sing and not get out of breath while moving around so much. I mean, wow.

    The dance sequence seemed pretty average animation-wise while the fighting looked a lot better. Also, I don’t know if it was my audio but I couldn’t hear the song they sang in the concert over all the bloody screaming of the audience. =.=

    It’s a weird show…but I think I like it so far. The plot is incredibly stupid, but I’ll watch it for the action and transformation sequences. Cheap thrills…why not!

    • Hawthorne says:

      I was thinking that maybe each of the girls (Kanade, Tsubasa, and Hibiki) might have their own fighting themes, but it’d be so awesome if they had new songs every time. (:

      Cheap thrills, woo~ I’m mostly watching for the music and the action too, that doesn’t mean I’m not excited for the next episode though. ^^

  12. Kyokai says:

    *First post, pat on the back* Welcome to the Meta team. <3

    And what a show to begin with. Dancing magical girls, the best combination ever! xD

    • Hawthorne says:

      Thank you Kyo! =D (I think I’ve said this like 20 times now, but I’m really happy to be a part of the team!)

  13. amado says:

    this one reminds me a lot of the mai series. having “zwei” in there doesnt help. even the plot twists seem similar.

    anyway, this will be on my list. for the yuri!

    • Hawthorne says:

      I haven’t seen the series you mentioned, so I can’t really compare. D: (You’ve gotten me interested though.)

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