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.
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!
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 IDOLM@STER 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 iM@S 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 iM@S 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.