Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we are storming right back into Symphogear, as it has been far too long since I watched a girl punch a tank, assault the moon, or sing a laser barrage into existence. Regardless of the specifics, you can be certain any given episode of Symphogear will contain at least one preposterous impossibility, frequently complimented by a commentator grimly explaining that Ah yes, when the Shroud of Turin is draped over the Nimblypimbly of Gertrude, of course a giant laser explosion will result. Guided by excess and grounded by its charming idiots, Symphogear is one of anime’s greatest works of pure, gleeful indulgence.

Last episode was certainly no slouch in that regard, as we witnessed the introduction of Ogawa’s glorious Car Clone Jutsu. It’s a rare show that can introduce boob missiles only to immediately eclipse them with something sillier, but Symphogear is a rare show indeed. With an ominous light now piercing the horizon, let’s return to the battlefield of SYMPHOGEAAAARRRRR!

Episode 7

“Cutting the Tangled Thread.” It evokes the correct tone of pompous grandiosity, and it’s also sufficiently vague, but it’s ultimately just a little too coherent as a statement. Giving this one three point five Bikis

At the enemy base, Milaarc leads Elfnein to some kind of massive generator, with a partially broken doll at the center of it

Milaarc’s eyes seem to provide both mind control and general retinal scan abilities. A handy power!

Mind control powers like this always make me a little nervous regarding dramatic integrity. Like “I can disguise myself as any enemy” powers, they tend to facilitate fairly hollow drama, as protagonists are turned against each other not for reasons that naturally build out of their disagreements, but because some third party is just arbitrarily messing with them. That style of conflict can frequently feel groundless and without stakes, leaving the impression that it will simply be resolved when the author decides it will, rather than as the logical outcome of any specific actions by the characters

Of course, that’s not to say such conceits are universally bad – just that they can pretty easily lend themselves to unsatisfying drama. It doesn’t seem like Symphogear is heading in that direction, and regardless, it’s not like Symphogear is a show whose appeal is found in the mechanical solidity of its drama. I’m more thinking of a show like the recent She-ra update, which was quite enjoyable on the whole, but also wasted some episodes on groundless “the gang gets tricked by a doppelganger until the show decides to stop” drama

After extracting what she needs, Milaarc attempts to mind-wipe Elfnein, but it looks like Carol’s spirit intercedes. See, this is Symphogear, Shit always Be Happening without much rhyme or reason

And Miku’s on the table, of course. Couldn’t finish this series without a reprise of Evil Miku

I love the autoscorers, but in retrospect, season three of Symphogear does stand out as a bit groundless. The show exploited most of its natural dramatic resources within the first two seasons, so season three feels the most make-conflict of the five, since the final two benefit from both the inherent coherence afforded by being developed together, as well as the ability to actually resolve arcs and conflicts, given they were designed as the series conclusion

Some very clean cuts of character movement for Vanessa’s counterattacks. The combination of fluid animation and pose-to-pose choreography grants a strong sense of physical weight to her strikes

She pulls out a teleport crystal from her boobs. Really no telling what all she’s got stored in there

“This is Shem-ha. The Anunnaki whose revival Adam foretold.” So the forerunners are the artifacts? I try not to pay too much attention to Sympho-sentences like this, but that seems to be what Genjiro’s implying

I really like Symphogear’s aggressively non-humanoid creature designs, like this awakened Chateau that looks like some kind of alien chrysalis. They’re creative designs in the abstract, and also enhance the sense of these enemies as truly unknowable threats, creatures whose form and function are beyond our comprehension. Scifi can very easily harness the appeal of cosmic horror if it puts in a little effort

Hibiki and Tsubasa surf down the enemy’s tentacle attack, as you do

Kirika blocks for Shirabe, earning some key girlfriend points

I really like this cut of Kirika deflecting as these pillars strike from a variety of directions. There’s a great sense of momentum generated by the interplay of their movements – the rapid, furious collision is followed by a slower-paced sequence of Kirika spinning in response, emphasizing the force of the strikes through her momentum, and also giving the sequence a dynamic sense of timing

Meanwhile, Tsubasa holds steady in all her deflections, an immovable force relative to the giddy spinning of Kirika. Their combat styles reflect their personalities

“Fatal Chains Star Money.” Shirabe, you might have to help Kirika with her attack names

Their opponent unfortunately has that multidimensional being defense trick, where a non-defeated version is plucked from the multiverse whenever they injure this one. I do like that worldbuilding concept; it’s a clever way to conceptualize invincibility

I also like that Kirika is so surprised by this that she straight-up stops singing. Recent seasons’ integration of the battlefield conditions into their songs has been such a great innovation

Apparently, this creature they cannot defeat is simply the excess energy released when the villains vented their system. Evil Miku Mk. II is apparently going to be quite the force

“Thanks to Tsubasa’s quick decision to withdraw, we avoided the worst of it.” “No… protecting the weak is my duty.” Tsubasa looks much happier! I frankly don’t know why, as she hasn’t really experienced any dramatic updates since last time, but it’s still nice to see her smiling

Apparently the Annunaki is humming Maria’s “Apple” song, the one existing relic of her ancestors

“The resonance phenomenon seen during the frontier incident… it would be easy to just dismiss that as a miracle.” Oh FUCK YOU Symphogear. I can’t believe the cheek of this, outright underlining how you’re just repurposing last year’s miracle to be next year’s nonsensical lore justification. At least try to hide it, you assholes!

Alright, whatever, Maria’s descended from aliens or something

“The enemy’s true nature is still shrouded in mystery.” Don’t worry writers, you still got like four weeks to think of something

Meanwhile, Miku reminisces about happy memories while wishing for Hibiki to utterly destroy her. A relatable character

“I’ll be counting on you. Because you’re the only one I can give myself fully to.” There’s subtext, there’s overt text, and then there’s whatever this is. No, not supertext, that already means something else

And of course, over in the infirmary, Hibiki’s just murmuring about Miku in her sleep. These two

“Now that your actions have become a threat to the world, isn’t it painful to go on living?” “The old me would’ve been willing to disappear to save the world. But I borrowed this body from someone I care about. I don’t want to disappear!” An exchange built on Symphogear’s most fundamental values. Nearly everyone Hibiki befriends is initially ready to die for their beliefs, in large part because they don’t see any meaning in their continued existence. But through the support of Hibiki and the others, they discover that their lives are meaningful purely because others care about them. This season’s villains embody the opposite of that revelation, seeing themselves as monsters who could only be hated by the world

And Elfnein is saved by the autoscorers, whose bodies were still linked to the Chateau! Holy shit, this actually makes some sense as a dramatic development, and also works as the most indulgent possible last-season fanservice. You are outdoing yourself, Symphogear

Oh Garie, how I missed you. Michiyo Murase’s voice acting just can’t be beat; her gravely deliveries basically make her the inheritor of Mayumi Shintani’s legacy, evoking that specific pack-a-day smoker charm. There’s a reason she literally plays the characters Shintani would in new Trigger shows, like Sucy and Itami

Chris wipes a tear away learning that Miku and Elfnein are safe. Of course she’d be the one on the verge of tears

“We’re wounded and our god-killer is out of the fight.” I love that in Symphogear land, a god-killing weapon is now just one of the standard weapons in their arsenal. “Shit, my god-killer’s still at the drycleaners, gonna have to sit this apocalypse out”

Mika and Garie are given the job of escorting Elfnein, presumably because the fandom has unanimously agreed they are the best autoscorers. I wonder if the staff regretted killing off Garie so abruptly her first time around

This detail of Garie’s hand going haywire as she attempts to gesture is heartbreaking

“Your hands are awesome, Mika! I love them!” God bless this show, giving the autoscorers the love and support they need two seasons after the fact

NOOOO why did they bring Garie back just to smash her again. TOO CRUEL, SYMPHOGEAR!

“She’s too much of a handful, so I used my foot instead.” Vanessa, you are under arrest for that pun

And with no other options, Elfnein summons Carol herself. AW SHIIIIIII-

And Done

God damn you, Symphogear! How dare you bring back the autoscorers just to crush them again, after all this time! Cruelty aside, it was delightful to see the girls again, and also an unexpected treat to have a largely Elfnein-focused episode at all. Elfnein’s become an essential part of the team, but her dedicated conflicts tend to be associated around achieving scientific breakthroughs, rather than actually contributing on the front lines. This autoscorer gauntlet served as a fine celebration of both her kindness and her courage, while providing one last set of highlights for our ball-jointed companions. You better fix them up when all of this is over, Elfnein!

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By admin