Thursday, August 1, 2013

Symphogear G episode 3 and 4

Yeah, I'm still writing about this.

Episode 3 is mostly a bunch of revelations about things. It's explained how somebody was able to control the Noise during the assault in episode 1. Turns out, Dr. Ver had the Staff of Solomon all along and the thing wasn't actually in its case for much of the time. And yes, he's working for the Finé organization. He also has a method of weakening Symphogear users, apparently. Some sort of gas that reduces their synch ratios.*

We also find out about the mysterious object that showed up in episode 1. Turns out it's a reature called Nephilim, which had grown somewhat by this point. I thought it initially resembled the Adam embryo of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and I guess that makes sense now. Nephilim doesn't really do much, and apparently the Fine organization's plans involve feeding it. Episode 3 is also the first we hear of Chris' new battle theme. It's not as in your face as "Makyuu: Ichaival", but that song was introduced in a "OH MY GOD SHE CAN ACTUALLY DO THAT?" moment, and this song... wasn't.

On a less important but still pretty cool note, turns out the Second Division's new base is a submarine. Mobile bases are neat.

Nephilim is inside that little cage

I think the biggest revelation comes at the end of episode 3, when we find out that Maria is actually another reincarnation of Finé herself! I really don't like this revelation, mostly because I didn't want to see Fine again so soon. And her Hibiki's dialogue with her at the end of season 1 implied we weren't supposed to expect something like this to happen. Of course, that was back when anything after the first season basically came down to whether or not the viewer wanted to imagine what happens next. But as episode 4 shows, Finé has not actually reawakened, and Maria is still in direct control of her body... so long as she doesn't use her Symphogear too much.

Alright, on to episode 4 itself. It has Gear against Gear (or should it be Valkyrie against Valkyrie?) battles, and each of them fight the one they're paired against in the opening sequence. Tsubasa againt Maria, Chris against Kirika, andd Hibiki against Shirabe. Actually, Hibiki pretty much just stands there and be useless, just like the previous time Shirabe goes against her. This is very disappointing. In the first season, while Hibiki was hesitant to fight another person (in that case being Chris), she at least put up some actual effort.

They even dressed up for this. Gotta admire that dedication.

Do they need glasses for reading, or was this a terrible attempt at disguise?

The rest of this episode felt odd for me. The Finé group escape less than halfway through the episode, and that was pretty much the climax of this episode. Afterwards, there's an awkward shift into lighthearted stuff that doesn't quite flow naturally. After short scenes of serious dialogue, we suddenly hear that Itaba (a.k.a. Anime-chan) and her posse are performing for the school festival. Afterwards, the episode just doesn't really settle into serious or lighthearted very well, and the character focus is just all over the place. Kirika and Shirabe get some amount of character interaction, and it bounces between serious and silly a little too quickly for me.

who are you people, anyway?

There's a special ending theme with this episode, with Chris performing at the school festival. The best I can put it is "why?" The sequence is clearly about how Chris has managed to acclimate to the school, and that she realizes how much she loves singing. But really, unlike the first season's special ending seqquence in its fourth episode, this one hardly received any build-up. Chris' involvement in the school festival, and whatever her relationship is like with her new classmates is supposed to be only had like, two scenes to build up on, and suddenly we have a new song for this. Really, I can't think of any reason for it to go like this except as an excuse to have Chris act cute for a while. Seriously, why would somebody really care about Chris' new school life here? Hardly anything was shown of it before this ending sequence, and her new friends are total non-characters. The first season's special ED sequence in it's own fourth episode was so much more interesting, and it was about as story-relevant as can be.

It's hard to say whether or not Symphogear G is getting better or worse now. The larger cast feels like something it struggles with, and I'm honestly underwhelmed by the music. Not that the new songs are bad, but because there has been so many of them so quickly and only Tsubasa's new battle song has actually been used more than once. I liked how the first season had battle songs used on multiple occasions in a short timespan. It gave them some sort of significance. Of course, that's harder to do now, with a larger number of Symphogear users. It's a little less exciting that most of the songs feel almost like one-off things... for now.

The number of Symphogear users (and plot-relevant characters in general) is probably not helping with the odd sense of focus either. Maybe this would be more enjoyable if the show followed Maria's group more closely than the main trio carried over from the previous season. Maria and co. are clearly not meant to be straightforward villains, and I might be able to sympathize with them better if this season focused more on their point of view. Instead, it's all a little vague so far on their part, even though they're honestly more interesting than the main trio now. Tsubasa doesn't have any internal struggles like in the first season, Hibiki is  a little useless now, and I don't really care for Chris' new school life and her interaction with non-characters.

Senki Zesshō Symphogear G is © Project Symphogear G

* Genjuuro's Angels explains about the gas (among other things) here

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