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So, ready for some more twists and turns around wishes and hopes with some magical girls punching and kicking? Wixoss was the more grounded one here, so let’s talk about something a little more out there yet outstanding. Symphogear has been a franchise with a lot of mixed seasons. The first one was kind of eh, G was fantastic, and GX was in between the two in terms of quality considering that has the strengths and weakness of both. So that begs the question of where AXZ is and I think this follows the old Star Trek movie rule of the even numbers being incredible. In my eyes, AXZ challenges G for being the best series in Symphogear at this moment. A bold statement, but one I think is true. Don’t read further until you’ve seen up to AXZ because this is a season 4.
AXZ starts with Hibiki falling behind on her homework yet again with Miku watching her. Then, all of a sudden, Hibiki is taken away to the country Val Verde where she, Chris, and Tsubasa with the rest of SONG are fighting against the Bavarian Illumanti (Neo Nazis) who were behind the events of GX. Song is destroying them and their tanks single handedly. That is until the Bavarian Illumanti Alchemists of St. Germain, Prelati, and Cagliostro as sexy anime girls start fighting against them. They use the secret of alchemy to form a giant dragon that a symphogear can’t easily defeat. Of course, that is when Hibiki’s punch from her Gungir stops the dragon in its place leading to the Alchemists retreating for now. This is where the plot starts.
So that means diving into the details of this story. First, it’s the Symphogear players against the alchemists which the alchemists win by having the power to deter the Ignite Module upgrades from last season. That requires more research from Elfnein to find a work around. Also, Kirika, Shirabe, and Maria run out of LiNKER so they can’t use their gears, which puts even more pressure on Elfnein while working with Maria to find the one connection to allow for the creation of LiNKER. Not to mention that this is a season focused on team work and combo moves while the villains work by themselves. Something which creates some good chemistry between the girls and lessens the strength of the villains.
And there is so many details to cover and some mysteries beyond explanation, but this is a season with a lot of good emotional beats placed in the right moments to make them feel much more genuine. I say this because each girl is given a major moment to shine without having thousands and thousands of things going on while emotional beats happen. Not to mention, makes them feel more rounded out in their own way despite this show being four seasons in. There are still boundaries for them to traverse because they are not flawless people. Everyone has their thoughts and concepts they are working on even if they are repeats.
Some of them aren’t though. Kirika and Shirabe are characters that used to be just the joke characters, but they aren’t in this story. Kirika and Shirabe being tasked with teaming with other characters shows more about them. Shirabe doesn’t trust anyone else while Kirika is too self-sacrificing which is why Shirabe can only work Kirika and Kirika can work with anyone. It’s a dynamic that makes sense and connects Shirabe to Tsubasa while Tsubasa learns to be more open minded. There is more, Chris learns to find a way to push pass her past and Maria learns to listen to her own wise words because she doesn’t have as much faith in herself as she does with other people.
That leaves Hibiki and I love to see her trying to open up her first in friendship then punching in hate. Especially with Saint Germain who has lived for who knows how long. This is the main emotional arc of this season and it is really, really good. It starts with Saint Germain not even trying to see Hibiki’s point of view or ambition, but with the reveal of Saint Germain not being the top dog and is constantly suffering, she sees more value in Hibiki’s open hand because it allows her the chance to oppose her boss. They don’t admit it, but Saint Germain does become Hibiki’s friend and her fate is warm but sad. Gasp, a mixed emotion That is a phrase that I just made up. Also, as established before, Hibiki is the key to the defeat of this show’s main villain and magic. That was actually set up. Wow, writing is powerful.
I also love how low key the finale of AXZ is in comparison to all the other seasons so far. So there is a giant Hibiki relic problem, but it’s mainly saying no to the bad guy. No flying through another dimension, miracle abilities, or anything else crazy and I like that. I also like how international thoughts and general nationalism makes their appearance too. It is grounded to the point where real-world politics can happen. The alchemy problem presented by the villain is something that affects all of Japan and the rest of the world and the threat of a nuke on Japanese soil again is a real thing. That aspect of national pride and US scummiest is something that weighs over the show. “What do you mean this is happening on our soil?” and such. I like that too because it means that what SONG does matters to rest of the world.
In terms of fanservice, besides the somewhat absurd clothing and character designs here, AXZ isn’t that bad and placed in appropriate moments for the most part. There are a lot more shower scenes in this season where all the girls bathe in the same place after missions and I like that. Especially since this is a show about team work and each of them are revealing to themselves to each other in more ways. Not to mention this leads to some romantic tension as well considering that there are some clear pairings. The major questionable fanservice comes from the villains in the form of the lead bad guy who is male this time. He has a habit of using his abilities and his clothing just disappearing from his body for all to see. It’s random and pretty disturbing at first, but the guy literally doesn’t care. Such confidence.
Otherwise, AXZ looks really good. I can mention how a lot of things are the same like character designs, transformation sequences into Symphogear clothing and the Ignite modules are still what they are with some updates, and things like that. Still solid because they were solid before. What is different is that AXZ plays around with its characters and settings more. They put them in a war scenario to allow a more grounded approach to the super powered girls fighting against tanks and tossing them into the air with good mechanical design as well. There is a reason why AXZ feels so different compared to other seasons. I also love the combination attacks. The animators behind this show put so much work and thought into what would happen when different character’s abilities work together and it shows in art and effort. What a beautiful show.
Symphogear AXZ is wonderful. An absolutely solid show. I don’t know what it is, but everything just works in it. All the character writing is on point, the plot is very unique and special, I loved the villain interactions for the most part, and it just looks amazing. There is so much heart, honesty, fun, and drama when it is needed. It’s all well balanced. I don’t know what to say otherwise besides this and G and very close to being the perfect version of Symphogear that could be available. If you watch the franchise, keep going because there are some absolute gems in this franchise that are just ready for you. I now wonder what the next season will bring considering that I am following the old Star Trek movie formula here. Hmmm. We will find out in the future I suppose.