Walking into this third season of Symphogear, I feel like I was set up with some questionable expectations. I hate it when people tell me “this season isn’t as good as the others”. Even if saying a season isn’t as good as the others doesn’t count spoilers because nothing is given away, it’s still bad. At least to me. That sentence “this isn’t going to be as good” permeated through my mind watching this season as I set up my own sort of expectations for it from episode to episode. This might be why I came out more positive on Symphogear GX then a lot of my peers. It’s been more than a month since I’ve watched it, but my feelings on it have not changed that much. I think GX is a pretty good follow up to G. You know, even if it’s not quite as good.
Symphogear GX starts in the most bad ass and most Symphogear like ways possible. I guess those two words are same thing. Anyway on one end of the planet in America, Tsubasa and Marie are having their duel concert yet again. Which, of course, was set up last season and was something that Tsubasa dreamed of. This time, they are doing it just to do it. No hidden motives, no collusion. In space, Chris and Hibiki are helping a space shuttle that is currently crashing onto the Earth. This involves following it while it moves in the atmosphere and Hibiki eventually punching K-2 so hard it’s now the third tallest mountain on Earth. All things that set up a great explosion of excitement in the series. Well, before the new villains show up.
Following all those bad ass scenes, in which it was assumed that the Noise were gone, there is another Noise attack. Surprise. Except there is a twist this time to make them different. This new model is Alca-Noise thus created by alchemy. Also, mechanical dolls called Auto Scorers are chasing after a loli by the name of Elf Nein as well. Tsubasa is attacked by an Auto Scorer at her concert and barely gets away. The Auto Scorers are creatures of alchemy as well, so it fits the theme. The normal Symphogear powers don’t work on them, which is where Elf Nein comes in. With the ancient alchemist Carol controlling the autoscorers, the Symphogear users must adapt or the Earth will be destroyed. Usual Symphogear lots.
Symphogear GX is the direct follow up to G. A lot of plot points in G that were not resolved then are resolved here. You know, for better or for worse. This is the necessary middle chapter of the five seasons of Symphogear because this is where the question of what to do about Kirika, Shirabe, and Marie is answered. The Symphogear unit becoming a bigger group and a possible family unit. Something which seems to be the major goal of this season and I think it does that very well. Every character has a smaller arc that they wish to overcome. Some of those are definitely better than others, which is why GX is a larger mixed bag. Still, it is a very cute and gay magical girl series too. An even gayer entry then before from having more shippable couples.
Unfortunately, the character with the weakest subplot for me is the main girl, Hibiki. Mainly, because she is repeating the development she achieved in Symphogear G. Will Hibiki find it in herself to attack people instead of wishing for peace between people? Again? The plot with Hibiki and her Dad just feels there to be there as well. Still, I think that Hibiki and Miku talking about Hibiki’s father to enforce their relationship together makes it average at best. I can say the same thing about Tsubasa’s arc with her father and Marie’s finding herself subplots. The difference is that the two helped each other in both scenarios. I think that means something. Especially when the two are always saving each other on top of in their own Symphogear princess carry moments.
Chris, Shirabe, and Kirika had the best subplots in my opinions. Shirabe and Kirika are obviously still in love each other and they are the “those two guys” of this series. They roam around unrestrained and just do what they want for the most part since the beginning of G. Those two finding a sense of responsibility in GX shows how much they’ve grown and how much they’ve respected Genjuro, the leader and SONG., they group they are now attached to. Chris, on the other hand, learns to be a cool senpai which is the best direction for her. She is the best girl in Symphogear after all and her embracing and opening herself up to people, like her gay kouhai, is great. It’s something she needed to find her place after struggling so long. She isn’t paired with anyone in general, and I think that’s fine. She just needs to stop being flustered about the gay around her because I have a feeling that’s not stopping.
Some hold overs from G in GX are Shirabe apologizing to Hibiki for calling her a hypocrite, Dr. Vers showing up to become the hero that saves the Earth for once before dying, and the placement of Marie, Shirabe, and Kirika in SONG. This season was where the necessary upgrades came as well. Oh, the fanservice came back kicked up a notch too. The Alchemy Noise were too much for their normal Symphogear suits to handle leaving them naked out in the streets a lot. The camera doesn’t focus on them too much and/or blurs their nakedness out, but the first half is still filled with nudity. There is normal titillation, but I think that’s fine. Until Elfnein’s Ignite modules, which a character has to resolve the darkness in their hearts to get a boost, shows up. Woo, more powerful magical girl costumes, transformaations, and abilities!
I haven’t talked about the villains yet and there isn’t too much to say about them. Well, for Carol at least. Carol is the ageless loli whose powers mean absorbing other memories and using them and her own to make them work, which is why she doesn’t have much of a personality. It makes sense, but I don’t like it. The fight between her and the Symphogear Users was pretty boring in the end because of it. All of which is why the second half isn’t as interesting. The Autoscorers are great though. They are fun, well dressed mechanical women dolls that are very strong and have their own great personalities. (I may be attracted to some of them which is why they were more interesting to me.) The Autoscorers villainy in the first half is what sold me on GX in the first place and it’s sad to see them disappear.
On an animation and art level, GX is about the same as G. Very solid over all, great fight animation, similar but different character designs, and such. There is just much more attached to it. For instance, the sound design and creepy doll animation of the Autoscorers was on point and I loved just watching them move let alone fight. The Ignite module also provided a really cool, new Magical Girl transformation sequence. Each girl moves faster and their abilities have been greatly boosted as well. With Symphogear’s generally solid production values, the fights are great, areas around them explode in great ways, and the difference between one Symphogear outfits compared to another one is felt pretty well done too. Those Ignite Modules have so much impact and I really dig them.
So I am going to say it, I think still that Symphogear GX is a good. It has tons of flaws regarding subplots and execution which means it is not as good as G, but the best moments, the best action scenes, the most emotional moments, and the girls growing together once again push it slightly over the edge of being Good. If this season isn’t as good as what comes next, then I am pretty excited about watching the next Symphogear season soon. I do plan on watching the first season of Wixoss first, so beware of that post happening first. For now I’ve said it once and I will say it again, GX is a solid middle chapter of this story showing that Symphogear, even when its not at its best, is still very entertaining.
I completely agree with the sentiment on expectations. I feel like my first viewing of Higurashi no Naku koro ni was hindered, because everyone kept focusing on the hyper-violent moments. Upon my second viewing, a decade later, I thought to myself, “I really wish that people had introduced this to me as more of a mystery, slash, character drama.”
Symphogear GX is not the worst installment—I personally enjoyed it more than the first season. I was a little let down with Hibiki’s arc with her father, too. From what I can remember, I think Carol’s transformation into a yodeling behemoth-creature was the best part of her story.
And Chris might just be the best tsundere/onee-san character. 😄
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Yeah, the focus on the wrong things can really throw things off for expectations. Gah.
Yeah, it was still much better then the first season. Oh yeah, Carol’s transformation was pretty epic.
Chris is just too good for everything.
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